Perfect Imperfection

Setting up in the sanctuary for services is serious business. The flowers need to sit just right, showing their “good side”. The liquid fuel candles need to be filled and the tapers adjusted to the proper length. The brass pieces need to be shined. The paraments with the proper liturgical color hung, table clothes and antependia to match. It takes a dedicated and experienced group of people to make sure everything is just right. And that is truly important because visual distractions would divert attention from the Word of God that is proclaimed here. When for example the altar’s antependium is crooked -depending on your personality – you will inadvertently want to jump up and correct it or feel uncomfortable having to look at it for an hour. Others may feel disrespected because the church did not carefully prepare for their gracious visit.

Look at the image above. It is blatantly obvious how the antependium is not perfectly centered. Here is the good news: It’s okay to not be perfect. As a matter of fact that is what the message of the church is all about. When Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead he showed himself. And what did the disciples see: The wounds still in his hands! Even Jesus did not overcome death without imperfection. If that was good enough for God Almighty, maybe our little imperfections are perfect enough in God’s eye as well. And if they are good enough in God’s eye, shouldn’t they be good enough for us? So while all our diligence in life is important – be it at work, school, home, or church – perfection is not the goal. There will always be scars left – even after resurrection.

Funeral Services for Fritz Oberhoff

Funeral services will be held on Tuesday, February 19, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. in the sanctuary of St. John’s United Church of Christ located at 1513 West Street in Rosenberg.  Following the service will be the internment at Davis Greenlawn Memorial Park located in Rosenberg with a reception then following in the Parish Hall of the church.  A viewing for family, friends and neighbors will be held on Monday, February 18th from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at Davis Greenlawn Funeral Home. 

Happy Valentine’s Day

“Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die. “, are Romeo’s romantic last words after he poisoned himself. Romeo thought his beloved Juliet was dead and he could not imagine living on without her. Shortly after Juliet enters the stage and is equally dismayed. She tries to lick some poison of Romeo’s lips but it wasn’t enough to kill her. So she stabs herself with his dagger. What a deadly passion! William Shakespeare knew that love can be brutal. He was part of a long and proud tradition that understands that passion leads to the cross, that dedication can get you killed.

This week is Valentine’s day and usually this day is celebrated with flowers and chocolates. I am a really big fan of chocolate covered strawberries – very festive, very sweet, very loving. But amidst all that sweetness, the bitterness of the day usually gets overlooked. Valentine’s Day is named after St. Valentine. Not much is known about his life and ministry but he is known for his passion. Valentine was a Christian martyr of the 3rd century. The Roman Empire cracked down on the early Christian church and killed great numbers of them. Valentine passionately refused to give up his faith and was consequently beheaded. Romeo died for Juliet, Juliet died for Romeo, Valentine died for Jesus, Jesus died for all of us. So much death, so much love, so much passion. The symbols for February 14th are neither dagger, nor poison, nor cross nor an ax to chop off heads. But amidst all the romantic sugary sweetness, St. Valentine’s raises inconvenient questions like: What are you passionate about? What are you willing to die for?

Run and Give for Helping Hands

February is Helping Hands month at St. John’s. For many years we have supported our local food bank. This past weekend we had a great kickoff event for this month’s food drive. Scouting for Food collected 10,233 pounds of food for Rosenberg-Richmond Helping Hands. 333 pounds came from our own pack and troop 309!
Our Souper Bowl of Caring Dinner and Auction brought in $3,644 to financially support Help Hands.
But the love doesn’t stop there. Next Saturday you are all invited to the first ever Helping Hands Fun Run at Seabourne Creek Park. Come and run against hunger in our community!

Baking is living

Jesus is called the bread of life. You may have heard that before. But do you know what implies: Baking is living! On Sunday, St. John’s UCC will once again host a fundraiser for the Souper Bowl of Caring. Basically it is a month-long push to support our local food pantry. We do that by sharing a meal of soup and auctioning off all kinds of fun things. It all starts with a worship service that also includes holy communion. Bread and wine symbolize Jesus Christ, the bread of life. This year we are going to take it a step further: We are going to make bread during our worship service! The kids will knead the dough and toss it onto griddles. In effect we will create a bread that is pretty similar to what Jesus actually ate at the last supper with his disciples.

The act of preparing bread is a profoundly worship-like experience. At first you gather, like the congregation does. You gather your ingredients and equipment. You are getting ready. Then you start preparing your mind – you literally meditate on what you are about to make, what it is going to look like, what it is going to smell and taste like. You craft your recipe like you ponder scripture. Then comes the time for mindfulness. That’s when your hands hit the dough. You are in the middle of a creative mess. The phone can ring all it wants, you can’t answer right now because you are literally stuck to the project at hand. You are forced to be present to the dough, with body, mind, and spirit once the kneading has commenced. A church service tends to last longer than the 22 minutes an average person can focus on an average TV episode. Baking is the same way. It forces you to practice patience. Your dough has to rise. Can you handle it when you can’t do anything? All your effort does not make a difference, the yeast does as it will. Isn’t that what makes faith so hard – to surrender control? And once the bread finally comes out of the oven you get to share it. Eating alone doesn’t taste nearly as good as sharing does. The virtue of altruism comes into play here, the giving. That is what we are trying to inspire through the Souper Bowl of Caring: A profound spirituality that leads to an extravagant generosity. Enjoy.

SFC 2019 Work Camp Volunteers Needed

This past year, groups have led retreats, campers enjoyed the summer programming, and visitors continually commented on the beauty of Slumber Falls Camp. One of my first remarks after thanking them for their kind words is to tell them that this is a ministry that love has built. Each year volunteers give of their time, energies, and skills to shape the facilities and programs offered here. Without volunteers, this camp would not be what it is today.
In the past two years, we have collated comments from groups, researched other facilities, and formulated a strategic plan on keeping Slumber Falls Camp in good working order with amenities to enhance our groups’ programming. Work Camp is one of the events that has the most impact in the year, and it sets the stage for what our guests will experience.
This year, we have a long list of potential projects ranging from dead tree removal, bunk bed construction, camp store updating and inventorying, painting projects, tree trimming and flower bed construction and maintenance, observatory maintenance, cleaning and building updates to highlight just a few. If you or your church has noticed a project that you would like to take on, we would love to chat with you to talk logistics. If you are skilled in a particular area, let’s talk about possible projects!
The cost for this event is only $15 to help cover some of the food expenses. Registration is open online or you may click on the registration link below.
Please join us for this special event that means so much to us and we hope to all of you!
Rev. Jeremy Albers,
Director of Outdoor Ministry

Sing and Pray for Christian Unity

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, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.” John 17:21 For Greater Houston the 6th Annual Ecumenical Prayer Service During the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will be held on Thursday, January 24, 2019. The Ecumenical Prayer Service begins at 7 P.M., but you are cordially be invited to be there at 6:15 P.M. for a gathering with a light meal. The 2019 Host Location is ChristChurch Presbyterian 5001 Bellaire Boulevard 77401.

The Liturgy for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2019 has been prepared by Christians from Indonesia. With a population of 265 million, 86% of whom are reckoned to be Muslim, Indonesia is well known as having the largest Muslim population of any country. However, about 10% of Indonesians are Christian from various traditions. In terms of both population and the vast extension of the country Indonesia is the biggest nation in South East Asia. It has more than 17,000 islands, 1,340 different ethnic groups and over 740 local languages and yet is united in its plurality by one national language Bahasa Indonesia. The nation is founded on five principles called Pancasila, with the motto Bhineka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity). Across the diversity of ethnicity, language and religion, Indonesians have lived by the principle of gotong royong which is to live in solidarity and by collaboration. This means sharing in all aspects of life, work, grief and festivities, and regarding all Indonesians as brothers and sisters.

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 take place on Tuesdays, January 15th & 22nd, 2019 @ 7:00 p.m. @ ChristChurch Presbyterian 5001 Bellaire Boulevard Bellaire, Texas

New Year, New You

The new year lays freshly in its diapers in front of us. How the New Year will turn out to be has yet to be determined. Everything is possible. New year’s resolutions are made, some might already be broken. The New Year is a symbol of new beginnings. For Christians the new calendar year started in the middle of the Christmastide. We just remembered God’s Word made flesh dwelling among us. We found hope that God became one of us so we humans learn to understand that we are beloved children of God without fear, forgiven and free.

As we continue the journey into the New Year, create it, live it and mold it we should not forget that God has always loves us and that there is not one single moment in our lives that we have not been loved. Also, we should not forget that in this Word made flesh we are a new creation. The Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!” In Christ we have every day, every hour, every second the chance to start anew and fresh. We do not need a New Year to change. Christ welcomes every moment we change to become better and grow in Him. God does not need the new year to love us. God does this every nanosecond of the world’s existence.

So really, we are not starting a NEW YEAR these days. The big thing that God promises this season is a NEW YOU. You don’t have to be the same you have known. You are a new creation. I hope that you experience many moments during this year where you hear, see and feel the love of the Triune God at work in your life, causing and initiating within in you a change for the better.

May your New Year be full of Love and Change!