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Submitted by Rev. Dr. Don Longbottom
As I write this article, I do so seeking your wisdom. The National Council of Churches and our President John Dorhauer have invited us to be a part of the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s martyrdom. The gathering place is Washington D.C. The intent is to continue the work begun by Dr. King.
Living here in Texas and Louisiana, we know that our nation is engaged in a season of soul searching with much weighing in the balance. Voices have been raised in recent days that seem desirous of taking us back to a time before integration and affirmative action. The national narrative of diversity and inclusion is being strongly challenged.
This proposed gathering is an answer to this challenge. The primary question is; Will we in the progressive church rise up and answer this call? So then, I come to all of you. How important do we believe this gathering to be? Getting to Washington DC and staying a day or two will be neither cheap nor easy. Let me describe planned events and then ask for your assistance.
Act Now! Envisions three days of events. April 3 begins at 7pm with an inter-faith event at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral with a Service of Repentance. April 4th begins at 9am with an interfaith service of Prayer and Preparation at the Lincoln Memorial. Beginning at 10am thru 2pm is a rally on the Mall designed to Awaken, Confront, and Transform our hearts and our institutions. April 5th is Lobby Day with the opportunity to visit your political representatives.
I would make the following proposal that we plan to participate in the April 3rd meeting at the Greek Orthodox Church, stay overnight, and then participate in the action on the Mall. Most of us would then make our way back to Texas or Louisiana. I leave you with the following questions.
Do you wish to participate?
Are you willing to be a “go to” organizational person in your Association?
Would you be willing to share in the cost of a chartered bus?
Would you be able to spend the night in a local church?
Please call the Conference Office at Slumber Falls and share any input you may wish to share. The phone number is 830-625-2212 and you may speak to Stacey Silvey. You can also leave a reply below to share your input.
Peace and Grace,
At least once a year, Christians are reminded of Jesus’ prayer for his disciples that “they may be one so that the world may believe” (see John 17.21). Hearts are touched and Christians come together to pray for their unity. Congregations and parishes all over the world exchange preachers or arrange special ecumenical celebrations and prayer services. The event that touches off this special experience is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. In the greater Houston area we are gathering for our 5th Annual Ecumenical Prayer Service during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on Thursday, January 25, 2018 at 7:00 P.M. This year’s Host Location is St. Paul’s United Methodist Church 5501 Main Street, Houston, TX 77004.
This year’s theme was created by our ecumenical partners in the Caribbean. Today Caribbean Christians of many different traditions see the hand of God active in the ending of enslavement. It is a uniting experience of the saving action of God which brings freedom. For this reason the choice of the song of Moses and Miriam (Ex 15:1-21), as the motif of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2018 was considered a most appropriate one. It is a song of triumph over oppression. This theme has been taken up in a hymn, The Right Hand of God, written in a workshop of the Caribbean Conference of Churches in August 1981, which has become an “anthem” of the ecumenical movement in the region, translated into a number of different languages.
Singers are invited to help us demonstrate Christian unity by ministering with us as an interdenominational choir for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity’s Prayer Worship Service. Prayer Service Choir Rehearsals will be on Tuesdays, January 16th & 23rd, 2018 @ 7:00 p.m. @ St. Paul’s United Methodist Church. Please do not hesitate to join!
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is a time to come together to pray in common and encounter one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. It is an opportunity to recognize the richness and value that are present in each other as we join Christ’s prayer, “that they may all be one” (John 17:21) All are welcome!
The January Calendar of Events is available for your use.
This week the church will be celebrating Epiphany. Epiphany is when the wise men from the East finally arrive to see the newborn king. No, they don’t go to the stable in Bethlehem but a house without a city mentioned. The story tells us that they came “from the East”. A lot of times in the Bible that refers to what is now the Baghdad area. It was a long and dangerous trip. For 1,000 kilometers they were just following a star not really knowing where they were going. It takes a lot of dedication to follow a star down to 300 meters below sea level and back up to almost 900 meters. Yes, Google Maps shows the wonderful details of the journey.
I imagine such a trip to be a spiritual struggle as well. It takes a leap of faith. The wise men jumped head over heels into a crazy adventure. Our modern-day equivalent could be jumping into a new job or relationship. Do you remember the excitement and the hesitation you felt at such pivotal moments in your life? What would that look like for your spirituality: If you were to open that old book, make prayer a habit, dedicate time and money to God’s work? Would you embark on a 1,000 kilometer journey to find the Son of God? What struggles are you willing to take on? Once you follow the wise men into the unknown desert one thing you will find for sure: Yourself. May that be your greatest Epiphany!