The Fourth of July is often interpreted as a breakup story: Abusive mother Britain hurting her children in the colonies. Eventually the kids hit puberty, become rebellious and as soon as they find the willpower and strength they move out. The Declaration of Independence lists a host of grievances, abuses and usurpations of power. Having listed all the wrongs they had to endure our forefathers “solemnly publish and declare, that these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States”
But guess what: Moving out of your parents’ house after graduation does not disconnect you from them emotionally or culturally. They are still relatives. You still relate to them. Case in point “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” still uses the same tune as “God Save the Queen”. You cannot not relate to family. You may become rebellious and cut them off but that only cements the relationship. The Declaration of Independence naturally addresses “our Brittish brethren”.
Israel’s forefathers share a similar story where Abram and Lot go separate ways. Genesis 13 lists a host of grievances, abuses and usurpations of power. Having listed all the wrongs his shepherds had to endure Abram said to Lot, “Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.”
Despite their physical and economic – political if you will – separation Abram and Lot remained together it what the Bible calls “covenant”. The mutual bonds of a covenantal relationship do not go away just because you declare independence and create your own nation. Our forefathers wrote the Declaration of Independence showing “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”
The goal of the Declaration of Independence is to remain well connected to the world community: to share reason and power and passion with them, to strengthen the covenant of humanity. Like Abram we are going to be over here on this pasture but we will join the world community in all its major organizations and stay the closest and strongest ally of “our Brittish brethren”. May this 240 year old document continue to inspire us to show “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind”.
This year’s Vacation Bible School is all about water. We will transform our church into an ocean of excitement as Surfers and Lifeguards glide through surfer–themed music, crafts, recreation, Bible stories, and more! It will run from June 27 through July 1, from 9 am to 12 noon.
The story on Wednesday will be Jesus’s Baptism. That is where the book of worship reminds us of the deep wells from which our faith springs:
“We thank you, God, for the gift of creation called forth by your saving Word. Before the world had shape and form, your Spirit moved over the waters. Out of the waters of the deep, you formed the firmament and brought forth the earth to sustain all life.
In the time of Noah, you washed the earth with the waters of the flood, and your ark of salvation bore a new beginning.
In the time of Moses, your people Israel passed through the Red Sea waters from slavery to freedom and crossed the flowing Jordan to enter the promised land.
In the fullness of time, you sent Jesus Christ, who was nurtured in the water of Mary’s womb.
Jesus was baptized by John in the water of the Jordan, became living water to a woman at the Samaritan well, washed the feet of the disciples, and sent them forth to baptize all the nations by water and the Holy Spirit.”
How do you keep the excitement of your Baptism alive?
2016 CROP WALK for Hunger
The Fort Bend County CROP WALK for Hunger was a success and thank you for participating. We raised $12,038 and had 118 walkers. The Silver Sneaker went to St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church in Needville for the most walkers of 37. The Golden Sneaker award was given this past Sunday to St. John’s UCC for the most money raised of $2801.00 with 30 walkers. These sneakers are held for one year and will be passed on to the 2017 CROP WALK winners. Rae Harborth wishes to thank everyone for your support and to those that participated.
The General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ issued a statement mourning the loss of those murdered, calling for prayers for their families, and expressing horror and frustration over how commonplace this kind of tragedy has become. The incident happened early Sunday morning June 12, when a gunman killed 50 people and injured at least 50 more in a crowded gay nightclub in downtown Orlando, in what law enforcement is calling an act of terrorism.
For us in the Greater Houston Area it becomes evermore important to support the Houston Pride Week. When terror strikes America rallies together and stands up united. The Houston LGBT Pride Celebration® is still scheduled for Saturday, June 25, 2016 in Downtown Houston. Pride Houston® will be honoring those who lost their lives in Orlando, FL — and around the world in our fight for equality — prior to the start of the Houston Pride Parade®.
Here is the text of Rev. Dorhauer’s complete statement:
“The United Church of Christ mourns the tragic loss in the aftermath of what is now believed to be the largest mass shooting in the U.S. We are mindful of the many family members whose grief will be deep, and will linger for some time. We lift every one of them up in prayer.
We are grateful to President Obama for the swift action suspending HIPAA laws so that loved ones can be with their injured spouses and help make decisions about their care — an often overlooked right that many in the LGBT community cannot take for granted.
While it is too soon to speak about motives, the United Church of Christ nonetheless calls upon all leaders of religious and political bodies to end the constant rhetoric that demonizes same gender loving people. Our speech has consequences, and this is not the first time violence has been directed at the LGBT community with very tragic consequences. It is long past the time that we end this, including tolerating what amounts to hate speech and homophobia masquerading as religion. It is also long past the time that America enacts sane gun control legislation. Our souls and spirits cannot abide for long when this kind of tragedy is commonplace; and when no substantive action is taken in response to these mass shootings. Our grief, all too real, is not assuaged by what can be the redemptive act of doing all we can to reduce the likelihood of it ever happening again.”
“Zachor!” is a Hebrew commandment usually translated as “Remember!” The problem with the Western word “remember” is that it relates to the past: bring back to memory what once was. That is not the intention of the Biblical authors. They want to speak into the present of God’s people whenever and wherever that may be. When the people receive the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai we are not supposed to remember that as history long gone. We are supposed to stand there with them. Remembering in a biblical sense is acknowledging God’s presence in our present time!
As the world remembers D-Day this week, it has to be clear that we do not (only) remember a past event. We have to retell these stories as if they mattered today because they do. Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks produced the HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers” in 2001. It remembers the story of Easy Company, 2nd Battalion of the 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. Over ten episodes we join the soldiers from their preparations leading up to D-Day to the end of World War II. Along the way Easy Company liberates one of the Kaufering concentration camps which were subsidiaries of Dachau.
As I rewatch Band of Brothers I remember (zachor) that D-Day is not just a response to Pearl Harbor, not just an act of self-defense or retaliation. D-Day is the faithful response to the horrors that Nazi Germany afflicted upon the world – especially the Jewish people. These crimes are usually remembered as the “Holocaust” which is a reference to biblical holistic offerings, where an entire animal is burnt as an offering to God – not just some parts. It is a very expensive and rare kind of offering (Exodus 20:24). Jews prefer to not be remembered as animals slain on an altar. The term Holocaust implies that an offering is pleasing to God which the concentration camps where totally not. The proper term is “Shoah” which means destruction (Zephaniah 1:15). How we remember and what words we use matters.
The Holocaust Museum Houston (yes, it is really called that) offers a lot more to learn about the Shoah. Please join us as we practice Zachor and remember. Please join us on Thursday, June 16th, 2016, from 2-5 pm at the Holocaust Museum Houston, 5401 Caroline St, Houston, Tx 77004. This field trip is appropriate and important for all ages. Admission to the museum is free that afternoon. Please call the church office to coordinate carpooling. If nobody requests a ride we will just meet at the museum.
“God comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.”
2 Corinthians 1:4 (MSG)
Let’s join together in prayer with our neighbors and churches from across our cities and pray for all that have been affected by the floods. From residents with homes under water, to first responders, and clean-up volunteers, we will all gather to worship and seek comfort, strength and wisdom from God during this difficult time.
All are welcome on Monday, June 6, 7 pm,
at St. John’s UMC, 400 Jackson St, Richmond, Texas 77469!
Please RSVP on Facebook