Nepal Earthquake – How you can help

UCC Response
On April 25, 2015 a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal causing significant damage and destruction in Kathmandu and surrounding areas. Since Saturday’s quake, our partnership through the ACT Alliance has been responding and working hard to help stabilize the situation through provisions of food, water, medicine and temporary shelter.

UCC Disaster Ministries is supporting these essential on-the-ground efforts, as the death toll continues to rise. Currently it is reported more than 4,000 have died as a result of the earthquake. The earthquake, the worst to hit Nepal in over 80 years, also triggered a deadly avalanche on Mount Everest.

The avalanche buried part of the mountain’s base camp, which was full of mountaineers who had come for the start of the main climbing season. An army spokesman told Reuters that at least 18 bodies had been found on Mount Everest. Google executive Dan Fredinburg was among those killed in the avalanche, CNN reports.

Powerful tremors also rocked neighboring countries, impacting people in India, Tibet, Bangladesh, as well as two Chinese citizens on the Nepal-China border. The earthquake’s epicenter was 50 miles east of Nepal’s second-largest city, Pokhara. Geoscientists noted that the shallowness of the quake amplified the power of its tremors at the surface, adding to the destruction. Strong aftershocks continued throughout the afternoon, as rescue teams scoured the rubble for survivors.

Nepalese authorities struggled to assess the full scale of the damage across the remote Himalayan nation, with communications systems down in many areas. “We are totally cut off from most parts of our country,” Nepal Disaster Management Authority official Ram Narayan Pandey told Reuters.

Thousands of people rushed into the streets of the capital in an effort to remain safe, The Guardian reported, with many too afraid to return as the city was rocked by aftershocks.

Hospitals in the capital were flooded with the wounded, with one converting its parking lot into a makeshift clinic, according to The Associated Press.

In neighboring India, people rushed out of their homes as tremors rippled through the country, HuffPost India reported. India sent a 40-member rescue team and three tons of relief supplies to Nepal by plane to aid relief efforts. Pakistan also offered “all possible help” to the devastated nation.

How You Can Help
Generous donations to the International Emergency Fund allow Disaster Ministries to respond to global disasters. To send your support, please give to this fund.
Also our congregation will accept your donation for Disaster Ministries and forward them asap.

Tauffest am Muttertag


Mehrere Kinder werden in der Woche vor Muttertag und am Sonntag selber in deutschsprachigen Zeremonien in der Johanniskirche getauft. Der Gottesdienst am 10. Mai um 10 Uhr ist eine gute Gelegenheit sich selber der eigenen Taufe zu erinnern. Gross und klein sind ebenfalls eingeladen sich taufen zu lassen. Dazu ist eine vorherige Absprache mit Pfarrer Daniel Haas unter Telefon 801-368-1180 noetig. Im Muttertagsgottesdienst wird es deutsche Lesungen, Gebete und Lieder geben.

Multiple children will be baptized in German language ceremonies at St. John’s United Church of Christ in Rosenberg TX the week leading up to Mother’s Day and on that Sunday itself. The 10 am worship service on May 10 provides a great opportunity to remember your own Baptism. Young and old are invited to be baptized themselves. That requires consultation ahead of time with Rev. Daniel Haas at 801-368-1180. The Mother’s Day Service will include German language readings, prayers and songs.

Please RSVP on Facebook.

Christ Among Us

Everything the church is about can be summed up in one dinner table conversation:
A Sermon for the Third Sunday of Easter 2015 based on Luke 24:13-49.

Denominational Church

When I bake bread I use 1 1/2 cups of water. The bread turns out just right with a yummy crust when I follow my simple recipe that I developed a few years ago. Like any good recipe it doesn’t work if you don’t follow the measurements. You need to understand what 1 1/2 cups are. A half a cup is a fraction of a cup. The bottom number is called denominator. Of all the fractions the denominator tells you which numerators belong together.

Churches are the same way. We are all one and the same body of Christ that starts with water: the water of Baptism. After that things got messy and we divided ourselves into different “churches”. Ultimately we are all numerals on the same scale but we set ourselves apart.

Luckily we in the United Church of Christ hold on to the concept of the denominational church. We share a common denominator, a shared family name for all our more than 5000 congregations: United Church of Christ.

As the body of Christ is symbolized in a loaf of bread so the church is carefully crafted with a recipe that has worked from day one: Be in covenant with one another and have structures in place to live out that covenant. A local church works closely with its sister churches in the same Association – in our case the Houston Association. The Associations work together as a Conference – in our case the South Central Conference. And we all share in the missions and ministries of the National Setting. Every “level” of church life has its unique flavors and responsibilities but ultimately we are all numerators of the same denominator.

douglasandersOur Conference Ministry, the Reverend Douglas Anders, ministers to our churches in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. He will be giving the Sermon next Sunday, April 26 in our 10 am service at St. John’s United Church of Christ. Ultimately being part of a denominational church is about relationship: recognizing kinfolk and sharing time, talent and resources to make the world better as a whole. Because ultimately that’s where the whole thing is headed – that one day there won’t be separate denominators anymore but the one Body of Christ: 1/1

Experiencing Resurrection

On Facebook and in real life bad news spread easily.
Regarding Good News we tend to be like doubting Thomas:

A Sermon for the Second Sunday of Easter 2015 based on John 20:24-31.

A God Budget for Tax Day

Jesus said to them, “Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were utterly amazed at him. (Mark 12:17)

Today’s emperor is the Congress with its power of the purse and the IRS enforcing the rules. Your CPA or software tells you exactly what you owe them. They will want that this week. Paying your taxes is about paying you fair share but like with any institution federal and state budgets are mixed bags. My biggest complaint would be that we have not had a federal budget for the longest time. And even once we do everybody will find things in it they want to support. And of course you will find things that you don’t want to support. That’s all politics and politics are about the process. You don’t have to love the results but you have to honor the process. “Give to the Congress what the tax code tells you.” is Jesus’ straight-forward message.

The second part of that verse is a little more complex: “Give to God the things that are God’s.”
As a pastor I am not your spiritual bookkeeper that tells you how much you owe and there isn’t a software for that either. But I can suggest one mathematical approach nonetheless:
What do you owe God? – Everything!
In numbers that would be infinite. Because ultimately all of creation, all the blessings we receive in life are given and sustained by God. Ultimately we don’t own anything but are mere stewards in God’s vineyard. There is no hard and fast deadline for the giving Jesus is talking about here. Neither is it clear what should be included on that balance sheet. Maybe a good starting point would be to track your expenses and then as a second step you could become intentional about adjusting your “God Budget”. Here is a simple worksheet to get you started, not just financially. But please also include the time and the talents that you invest:
God Budget

He washed my sins away

Sister Act film poster.jpg
Sister Act film poster” by Source. Licensed under Wikipedia.

“Oh happy day! Oh happy day! Oh happy day!
When Jesus washed, oh when he washed, he washed my sins away”
I admit it: I just love Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act. When that energetic, loving nun turns around that run-down neighborhood, her songs are an inspiration. Bringing Aretha Franklin’s tune to a broader audience also helps spread the message of Easter. The lyrics really contain everything you need to know from Good Friday to Easter Sunday, from Jesus’ death on the cross to his glorious resurrection. Have you stopped humming yet?

The image of washing our sins away with Jesus’ blood is somewhat disturbing because it sounds so archaic but hey, that’s what you get for basing your faith on ancient texts like this one:
“If we walk in the light as God is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”
(1 John 1:7 –Watchword for the Week of Sunday 12 April 2015)

That’s what Holy Week is all about: He washed my sins away!
And actually that extends well beyond that one special week, because I will sin over and over again and I will need cleansing over and over again. It is literally the original vicious cycle.

But not only that: The song as well as God’s purpose for us don’t stop there:
“He taught me how to watch, fight and pray, fight and pray! And living rejoicing every, everyday!”
Remember how Jesus asks the disciples to keep watch while he goes out to pray? – They keep falling asleep! They don’t fight their inner laziness and they fail to pray when it is so crucial. And rejoicing every day? – That sounds so hard because some days are just so hard to bear that nobody would want to rejoice. My hope would be that, when you have one of those days, when rejoicing sounds like too much to ask, that God may send you a sister Mary Clarence who may rock your world and teach you to sing “Oh happy day! Oh happy day! Oh happy day!”