Walter Wink reminds us that, “Jesus Never Said “BE PERFECT”! In the popular mind, there are two kinds of people: normal and abnormal, normal and deformed, normal and disabled. Some are okay, others are not. But if pressed, we soon discover that almost everyone has disabilities, and that we are not talking about an either/or, but a continuum that runs from slightly disabled to extremely disabled.”
We are all made in the image of God with all the small or big things that make each and everyone of us unique and special. At St. John’s United Church of Christ every body is welcome and we will do our best to accommodate your needs. Here a few examples that we hope make your time at church easier and more enjoyable:
Our facilities offer two ADA compliant restrooms: One for women and one gender neutral. Besides the men’s restroom there is a second non-ADA but gender-neutral restroom.
SPECIAL NEEDS PARKING
Parking for persons with decreased mobility is specially marked and close to the main entrance. Please only use them with the appropriate tag displayed on your vehicle.
If you find yourself in a situation that you cannot bring your own wheelchair just honk and an usher will bring a wheelchair to your vehicle. In the sanctuary you will find several shorter pews that leave room for wheelchair seating.
SPECIAL NEEDS SEATING
If the pews don’t work for you there is a more comfortable couch area in the Narthex. Sound is transmitted from the sanctuary and communion will also be served in the Narthex.
At the time of Holy Communion you will find an individually wrapped wafer on the bread plate. It is gluten-free and kept separate from the other breads. Should your tray already be out of it, please feel free to request another one.
For those managing their alcoholism, we congratulate you. We help you by offering grape juice as a fully acceptable wine substitute at the time of Holy Communion. You will find white grape juice in the cups in the center of the communion tray.
Should the sound from the speaker system not meet your hearing needs, please ask an usher for help. They can give you a receiver with an earphone that transmits directly from the various microphones throughout the sanctuary.
If you prefer to listen to the service again throughout the week or cannot attend any given Sunday, we offer audio recordings on CD that can be picked up at the church office during regular business hours.
LARGE PRINT BULLETINS
The outline of our service along with prayers and hymns is printed in a bulletin. Besides the regular print we offer large-print bulletins with at least font size 18 throughout. Please request one as needed.
ACCESSIBLE TO ALL
As a United Church of Christ congregation we believe that God’s love is accessible for all. That is why we strive to be open, inclusive, affirming and accessible in all aspects of our life, including buildings, worship, education, fellowship and service, and thereby enabled to proclaim God’s word with and to all persons. You are welcome here!
St. John’s United Church of Christ is a great place for children with lots of programming year-round. Every week our worship there includes a special children’s moment to help the kids relate to what the grownups are about to hear in the sermon. After that the children are invited to our well-equipped and friendly-staffed nursery for Children’s Church. All local activities are free of charge.
During spring break we offer a fun day for kids. This year it had a St. Patrick’s Day theme and the weather cooperated so we could play tons of outside games, on top of all the crafts and snacks that were going on inside. From spring break to Easter St. John’s United Church of Christ Children’s Choir Choir rehearses beginning Wednesday, March 22, 2017 6:00-7:00 p.m. Choir will also rehearse on March 29, April 5 and April 12th Children will sing during the worship service on Easter morning, April 16, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. Children of all ages are welcome.
In the summer we encourage all children and youth to attend summer camp at Slumber Falls in New Braunfels, Texas. Camps are typically a week long and have approximately 40-60 campers. Slumber Falls intentionally keeps the numbers low to provide each child with the opportunity for lots of individual care and attention. Over the years, Slumber Falls Camp has been known for creating lasting friendships. With small cabin groups, team building, and spiritual enrichment, it is easy for campers and counselors to form those lasting relationships that model our relationship with God. Activities include group games, team building exercises, engagement with scripture, singing, skits, swimming, hiking, volleyball, basketball, star gazing, campfires, talent shows, nature exploration, river wading and so much more. Sign up early to get discounts and don’t hesitate to ask for scholarships.
Another summertime favorite is Vacation Bible School. Every summer we offer a week long program full of songs, crafts, games, and snacks that attracts dozens of youngsters. From younger children to teenagers everyone will have something to do that is fun and meaningful. Faith and community can enrich everybody’s summer experience. In 2017 please plan to join us August 7-11.
November comes with the celebration of St. Martin’s Day, a cherished German holiday tradition. Every year around November 11, St. Martin is coming to St. John’s on horseback. We start by making paper lanterns with the kids. After a shared meal we will follow horse and rider into the street for a lantern procession. Great fun for young and old!
Every December St. John’s welcomes a special visitor: Santa Claus! The children get to enjoy games, crafts, and snacks. Saint Nick is available for photos. Also the children have a chance to create their own gifts for people they care about. This is a morning full of holiday cheer!
Leading up to our Christmas Eve service the children practice for the Christmas Pageant. Do you want to be Joseph or Mary, a shepherd or an angel? If you don’t want a speaking part you can always be a sheep. It’s important to show up at the manger, no matter how old or young you are. But as a child you get to actually participate and celebrate the miracle of the birth of Jesus Christ. Grownups just get to watch.
On top of Sunday activities and the seasonal highlights, boys ages 10-18 are also welcome to our Boy Scout Troop 309. They meet every week and go on lots of fun trips. All in all your child has up to 258 hours of quality programming available every year. That equals about an hour every weekday. Come to church! It’s worth it!
Last year was my 20th High School reunion in Germany. I did not go. But a friend of mine did. We talked about it a few months later. He was astonished that most people in our graduating class seemed to still be able to call each other without using a different area code. We agreed that probably the small sample of those who actually attended the reunion was not representative of our entire class. Of course, local people come to a local gathering. Our classmates who live in the US, in South Africa, and Australia, did not show up. No surprise there. So overall I guess my graduating class is split down the middle. There are really two kinds of people:
1. dwellers, who stay local and make themselves at home where they grew up and
2. vagabonds, who move regularly, explore the world, and reinvent themselves constantly.
I am a vagabond. I left my hometown right after high school, never to return. That is the norm in the ministry. Divinity schools are usually not available where you grow up and you cannot effectively minister to people who knew you as a child. But then again, a lot of professions ship people all over the world. The military rotates you from one assignment to the next every three years, the oil and gas industry makes people follow the boom and bust cycle from one place to the next. Refugees are running for sheer survival. We vagabonds have a great example in Jesus who is famous for saying: “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20).
Then there are dwellers like my classmates who stay local. I envy them. They can rely on friendships they have established for decades. They can even tap into the vast network that their parents and grandparents before them created in the community. Everybody knows where they belong in the story of the town. They have their own spot carved out in their particular place. They belong. The Psalmist is famous for feeling at home like that – at home with God: “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long” (Psalm 23:6b).
The church needs to be a place for both dwellers and vagabonds. It does not belong to those who have been there for a long time. The church needs to stretch the comfort zone of dwellers. On the flip side the church cannot let vagabonds pass by without offering nourishment along the way. It has to create an oasis for vagabonds. The body of Christ needs to provide opportunities for dwellers to leave their comfort zone and for vagabonds it needs to provide opportunities to learn stability.
I practiced dwelling recently by getting a landline phone. Since I moved to the US I have only had a cell phone and kept the number wherever I went. Now there is an actual wire buried in the ground to keep me connected. I am practicing being in one place. On the flip-side I have seen dweller friends volunteer in places they had never dreamed of. When you support people that are totally unlike you, you grow in totally new dimensions. Even if you stay local you can still expand your horizon. Both takes practice: Learning to stay put and learning to get out there. Practice what you are not naturally good at! It is worth it!
If you think of church as tidy, think again! During the season of Lent we are shaking things up. Mardi Gras was an evening full of stories and pancakes. What a mess we made there: eggs and flour everywhere! That is how it is supposed to be. Lent is a season that calls us out of the ordinary. A lot of times that happens through the medium of food. Mardi Gras was a farewell party for overindulgence and Ash Wednesday was the beginning of the Lent season.
A few times over the next weeks we will gather for a “rice charity fast with prayer and communion”.
First as a lunch on Wednesday, March 8 at noon,
then as a dinner before Church Council on Monday, March 20 at 5 pm,
then again as a dinner for Bible Study on Tuesday, March 28 at 6 pm.
Everyone will get a cup of rice. The suggested donation for that is $5. You read that correctly: $5 for a cup of rice. The reason is simple. $5 is what a lot of people spend on their lunch in this country and a cup of rice is what most children in hunger-stricken countries eat for the whole day. Through our own eating we remind ourselves of our situation of over-abundance and by “paying full price” we can alleviate some of that injustice. Each time we will discuss where our donations should go to fight hunger. Following our meal we will go into a time of praying for one another and finally celebrate Holy Communion. It all begins and ends around the table.
There will be much more opportunities to eat during Lent:
All children age 4-10 are invited to join us for Spring Fun Day on the Friday of Spring Break (March 17, 9am – noon) There will be St. Patrick’s Day snacks. A more traditional Lenten feast will be our congregational field trip to the Fish Fry at the KC Hall that same evening at 5pm. A field trip on Thursday, April 6, will take us on a tour of the painted churches in Schulenburg with lunch at a local smokehouse. We will gather at St. John’s UCC for carpooling at 08:30. Once there, the cost of the guided tour including lunch is $20.95.
Meals at St. John’s UCC pick up again throughout Holy Week:
On Thursday, April 13, at 6 pm, the Brotherhood will provide soup & salad for our Maundy Thursday Service.
On Friday, April 14, at 11:30 am, the Guild will provide a luncheon before our noon Good Friday Service.
Everything comes full-circle on Easter morning. The eggs to which we said our good-byes on Mardi Gras come back in the form of Easter Eggs. The Easter breakfast and Easter Egg Hunt at 09:00 on Easter Morning, Sunday, April 16, remind us that life and joy have returned that day!
This Lent season I invite you to shake things up: in your eating habits, in your schedule, in your spiritual practice, in your giving, the places you go. Christ was risen to a new life for the purpose to allow us a fresh start. Start something new this season! Eat differently!
Start of German school rescheduled to fall
The German Institutue for the Southwest did not have enough registrations to start classes this week. I will meet with them to discuss a communication campaign during the summer so we can get registration for fall going. The new dates are September 16 – December 9, 2017 (no class on November 25).
herzlichen Dank an alle, die unser deutschsprachiges Krippenspiel im Dezember unterstützt haben. Eine große Hilfe dabei war das Team des German Institute for the Southwest. In Kooperation mit dem Institute die Johanniskirche nun Sprachkurse für Kinder, Jugendliche, und Erwachsene an.
In einem Haushalt voll von German Native speakers haben meine Kinder mit dem Deutschsprechen kaum Probleme. Lesen und Schreiben sind aber eine andere Geschichte und darum bin ich froh, dass wir dieses Angebot am Start haben. Dann denke ich auch die englischsprachigen Familienmitglieder, die gerne bilingual werden möchten. Es gibt Kurse für Kinder, Jugendliche, und Erwachsene. Zu mehr Infos und zur Registrieriung geht es hier entlag.
Für Kurzentschlossene: Heute Abend findet unser Aschermittwochsgottesdienst statt.
Für die Vorausplanenden: Unser zweisprachiger Ostergottesdienst wird am 16. April 2017 stattfinden (9 Uhr Frühstück und Ostereiersuche, 10 Uhr Gottesdienst).