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What does a Therapy Dog have to do with Holy Communion?


“I am the way and the truth.” (John 14:6)

Cisco and her dog are now certified as a therapy team. That means our church council member and her dog can go to pretty much any facility and allow students, residents, and patients to experience the healing interaction with a calm animal companion. They get to pet the dog and feel the comfort that comes with that. In clinical environments it is important for people to stay connected to their outside “normal life” reality. Residents may miss their pets. So a therapy dog can bring familiarity, allow touch and connection or bring back childhood memories.

The love that a dog provides is great. I am just learning that myself with our new puppy at home. It only makes sense that our church’s Family Ministry has now invited Cisco and Emmett to join us when we bring communion to the residents in various local care facilities.

You may wonder what does a therapy dog have to do with holy communion?
Quite truthfully: Everything!
Communion is all about love:
– The love of God entering our bodies represented in bread and wine.
– Our love for one another by sharing this time and place together.

When Jesus says he is the way and the truth that connects us with God and one another, there is a direct link to Cisco’s therapy dog. His name is Emmett, which in Hebrew is spelled אמת and means TRUTH!

Thanks for helping us #FindJoey

Joey was about two years old when he came to the childcare center at St. John’s United Church of Christ. He was malnourished and Rae Harborth and her team played a vital role in providing a safe and nourishing environment for him.

Joey is 45 years old now and according to his sister, “he is blessed and highly favored and doing real good!” We at St. John’s United Church of Christ respect the family’s desire to remain out of the public’s eye.

Over 51,000 people on Facebook alone and many more through TV and newspaper helped us track Joey down. St. John’s United Church of Christ wants to thank all of y’all for your leads, your prayers, and your concerns.

Your weekly HELPER 071217

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As is the Garden, so is the Gardener

From Rev. Jeremy Albers

For the 4th of July break between camps, I decided not to do a mad dash to the Dallas-Fort Worth area to see family and friends. Since the move in May, I have been in summer camp mode and Annual Meeting mode. Needless to say, many items around the house were put on the back burner, leaving mounds of boxes and other items around and about and my potted plants did not make the “To Do List,” until this weekend.

Shifting focus to the outdoors has been therapeutic for me since I was a young kid. I spent hours in the backyard designing, creating, and building flowerbeds and living art. Retired women in the church also shared this love of gardening and connecting through nature. They would give me plants from their yard to plant at the parsonage. All I had to do was help them clean out their beds, weed, and thin their plants. As a twelve year old, I thought this was a deal! I got free plants out of it.

Over the years, the back yard of the parsonage continued to grow, change, and mature. Being present in this backyard was healing and restorative. My parents and I could not help but see the people behind the plants. Our yard became a symbol of the love, community, and presence of many people in our congregation. When my father finally accepted a call to a different church, it was everything that I could do not to want to dig up the entire backyard, which would have been a near impossible task for me, and move them all with me. So many of the people were no longer with us but remained in spirit in that parsonage back yard.

Walking around Slumber Falls Camp, I get that same sense of love, community, and presence. While not all of these sensations come from plants, I can feel it in the buildings, spaces, and friendships that form lasting relationships. Working on the director’s house this holiday and moving rocks, sticks, and other brush, I was reminded of an old German proverb, as is the gardener, so is the garden. With the completion of the new pool, the building of the new Bruce Cabin, road and parking lot resurfacing, and the cleaning up of the camp, I am excited and filled with an awe of how Slumber Falls will continue to serve the campers, participants, and congregations in the future. I am looking forward to seeing how the camp will transform to stay relevant to our churches. I am energized in the thought of new relationships and connections to this place that is a reflection of the church – past, present, and future. How will this garden we call Slumber Falls be shaped, as we, the God bearers unto this world, tend and care for this ministry? May our ministries enhance our witness to the gospel message and be a reflection of God’s light, love, and joy in the world.

Peace,

Jeremy

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Brexit 1776? – Happy Independence Day!

#Brexit1776
Well-meaning, patriotic, happy American friends share this meme a lot these days. There are indeed a couple of things that the American Declaration of Independence and the British vote to leave the European Union have in common:

1. People want to rid themselves of perceived oppression.
In 1776 the thirteen colonies made their case against King George: “He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us. He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.”
In 2016 the British electorate did not really know why they did not want to be part of the European Union anymore. As a matter of fact it wasn’t until after the vote that Brits started googling “What Is The EU?”.

2. People are concerned about the status of migrants
In 1776 the biggest concern for America was and ought to be: How can we get the most people here and make them citizens as quickly and as smoothly as possible? The king of England is hurting us by putting up a fence around our borders: “He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.”
In 2016 the overall British sentiment was: “We don’t want no refugees!”

If you have to parallel the Brexit of 2016 to an event in American history, I propose 1620. The pilgrims were one group of migrants who formed what later became the United Church of Christ. They declared their #Brexit1620 by leaving Britain and finding a new home in America.
In 2017 the United Church of Christ declared itself an Immigrant Welcoming Church. At #UCCGS the pilgrims’ sons and daughters remember what it means to be a refugee.
July 4th is not a Brexit but opening your welcoming arms to those oppressed by ruthless empires: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)