We have houses evacuated in our city of Rosenberg and the Brazos River still threatens to endanger lives and property. Whenever the National Weather Service issues a flood watch or a flood warning people are sure to compare it to the situation with Noah. It so easy to compare any inconvenient water to that which killed almost all life on planet Earth. Not only natural disasters trigger that comparison but also the reference to the sin that presumably caused it.
Any natural disaster will have some preacher up in arms proclaiming the end is near because you-know-who did this-or-that. I am writing these reflections in a much calmer situation: The weather forecast looks dry for the next week. The crest of the flood is here and turned out less disastrous than originally expected here in Rosenberg. And most certainly has nobody preached of fire and brimstone denouncing the sin that led to our flood warnings. So in a very stable situation after the flood has passed, the rainbow is out and we are all safe and dry, let us take a sober look at what actually caused the Great Flood for which Noah built the Ark. That story is to be found in Genesis 6:1-8:
When people began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that they were fair; and they took wives for themselves of all that they chose. Then the Lord said, ‘My spirit shall not abide in mortals for ever, for they are flesh; their days shall be one hundred and twenty years.’ The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterwards—when the sons of God went in to the daughters of humans, who bore children to them. These were the heroes that were of old, warriors of renown. The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, ‘I will blot out from the earth the human beings I have created—people together with animals and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.’ But Noah found favor in the sight of the Lord.
Yes, you read that right: demigods roaming the Earth, Sons of God having babies with human mothers, just like it was the case with Jesus and Mary. Only in this early incarnation God did not approve and vowed to undo that.
The Flood was not caused by human sin!
The Flood was caused by demigods abusing their power.
Let that sink in for a minute:
God is not in the business of punishing people!
God is in the business of making amends for what his sons messed up!
God is a loving parent cleaning up after his kids!
We just sent our congregation’s donations of $250 to UCC Disaster Ministries in order to help in the aftermath of the Nepal Earthquakes. Now the Houston area itself got hit by disaster. UCC Disaster Ministries are checking in and assessing the damage as well as the need for help:
Dear friends in Christ,
Your conference and those who have been impacted by the recent storms and flooding have been in my prayers this weekend. I wanted to let you know that we are here to support. I want you to know that you are not alone and my office is here to help in any way that we can.
Are you aware of any of our congregations or members that have been directly impacted?
Peace and Blessings,
Executive, UCC Disaster Ministries
And from the South Central Conference of the United Church of Christ:
I am hoping your church survived the torrential rains but if you did sustain any damage, please be in contact with me. Our prayers are with all who sustained damage from the weekend severe rains and flooding. We continue to pray for those are still missing in central Texas (and their families).
Rev. Douglas Anders
If you suffered sustained damage please let the Rev. Haas know. He can connect you to help. He can be reached on his cell at 801-368-1180 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you were on the lucky side you can keep those affected in your thoughts and prayer and you can donate to UCC Disaster Ministries to help both in your neighborhood as well as around the world: http://www.ucc.org/disaster
Wouldn’t it be nice to know God?
Wouldn’t it be nice to have God in your heart?
Wouldn’t it be nice to bring God to people?
Wouldn’t it be nice to bring people to God?
Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to handle God?
A Sermon for Ascension Sunday 2015 based on Acts 1:1-11.
Our congregation is gearing up for its 75th anniversary next year. We will be celebrating a great past full of wonderful people, missions and ministries. I think its only fitting to also mention our parents and look into our family tree:
St. John’s United Church of Christ was born out of a vision form our mother church Friedens UCC in Beasley. They provided the original staff and energy. Friedens UCC was 29 years old when they gave birth to little St. John’s. That is a good age to become a parent – well established yet young and energetic enough to dare new adventures. As you can tell by their German first name they had their roots across the Atlantic. I am speculating here but it might well be that the original Friedens people came from the Braunfels area in Hessen where a lot of people in our region originated from. It stands to reason that they came out of the Schlosskirche in Braunfels, Germany. That church was built in the 16th century as a church used by both Protestants and Catholics simultaneously.
Going back only two church generations we made it across an ocean and a language barrier. Our church family tree is full of risk-takers and adventurers. On the occasion of the church’s birthday we are reminded that we are not autonomous but that we are part of a long and proud lineage. We can celebrate our ancestors all the way back to the day of Pentecost. That was when in Jerusalem the disciples received the Holy Spirit in order to live as the Body of Christ. Pentecost is often called the birthday of the church. Without Jesus physically around his friends now had to deal with one another and with the world “only” with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. And when we “do church” here today we can only do that because people have dared to allow the Spirit of God to move them into new and unexpected places.
Our ancestors have been taking risks, tearing down tradition, starting over in life and faith. That has been our church family’s tradition. As we are gearing up for our anniversary we need not only look at the past 75 years but also dare ask the big questions:
What does God want St. John’s to look like 75 year from now?
And what can we do to make room for that Spirit right here right now?
Come Holy Spirit! Come!
Multiple children were 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 provided a great opportunity to remember your own Baptism. The Mother’s Day Service included German language readings, prayers and songs.
Mehrere Kinder wurden in der Woche vor Muttertag und am Sonntag selber in deutschsprachigen Zeremonien in der Johanniskirche getauft. Der Gottesdienst am 10. Mai um 10 Uhr war eine gute Gelegenheit sich selber der eigenen Taufe zu erinnern. Im Muttertagsgottesdienst gab es deutsche Lesungen, Gebete und Lieder.
Thursday May 14, 2015, is Father’s Day. At least in my book. Since I live both the US and German cultures I get to celebrate two Father’s Days on different dates. This upcoming German variety has a powerful customary expression: A bunch of dads going on a hike without family – basically taking a day off from fathering. Instead they pull a little red wagon full of beer and get wasted in public places. It has been a tradition for over 100 years. Honestly I have never celebrated that way but it is a cultural icon you should be aware of.
All this daytime drinking is possible because German Father’s Day also happens to be a national holiday. The way most of us think about German culture it is totally within the realm of possibility to dedicate a national holiday to drinking beer in the park but actually it is a major Christian holiday: Ascension Day! Yes, churches do have a hard time filling the pews on a holiday where the guys prefer hiking. But at least the theme for the worship service is pretty clear: “Jesus goes back to his heavenly father”. So Ascension is truly Jesus’ Father’s Day. That’s the way it always has been. For almost 2000 years!
Then I moved to the US and this whole connection is gone because in America we don’t join those two celebrations. So I had to look at the more serious implications of Ascension. How do you celebrate Jesus going back to heaven when it is not linked to a Father figure waiting for him up there?
Jesus Christ is no longer among us. He is not dead, he is risen after all. But he is still gone, ascended into heaven. How do you maintain a long distance relationship like that? Ascension poses a challenge: There is this huge gap that remains between God Almighty, creator of the universe and us little creatures down here on Earth. For a brief time in history we had Jesus walking among us, preaching, and teaching, and healing. Then: Ascension! Pouf! He disappears just us quickly and unexpectedly as the angel had appeared to Mary announcing his birth to begin with. God’s presence among us is fleeting at best. Maybe that’s the takeaway from Ascension Day: God the Father will always be hiking through the Garden of Eden whether we see him or not and he’s got our back no matter what.
Kids wonder how they fit in. They dream about what they will be when they grow up. At Camp Discovery, they explore God’s plan and purpose for them right now, right where they are in life. Every day is a new day and God gives us opportunities to help when we open our eyes. Kids learn they are the hands and feet of Jesus when they help their parents, siblings, friends, and neighbors. Camp Discovery teaches kids, “We love because He first loved us” 1 John 4:19.
THERE IS NO CHARGE TO ATTEND VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL. WE WELCOME CHILDREN 4 YEARS THROUGH 13 YEARS OF AGE EACH DAY FROM 9 AM UNTIL 12 NOON THE WEEK OF JUNE 8 – 12.
St. John’s United Church of Christ 281-341-5159 Rosenberg, Texas 77471
1513 West Street at Avenue M www.stjohnsunitedchurchofchrist.org