Skip to main content
#
Grace United Church of Christ, Houston Texas

Clerical Comments 

They went into the house, and when they saw the child with his mother Mary, they knelt and worshiped him. They brought out their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and presented them to him. Then they returned to their country by another road, God had warned them in a dream not to go back to Herod. Matthew 2:11,12.

The magi arrive with their gifts for Jesus on the Day of Epiphany, traditionally celebrated on January 6. Epiphany is a great festive day in the Christian tradition. The long journey of the magi reminds us of our own journeys of faith. The magi followed a star. What or who has helped us to reach Christ in our lives? The gifts of gold (royalty), frankincense (priest) and myrrh (death/sacrifice) symbolize the life, death and meaning of Jesus. What gifts do we bring to Jesus and what do they symbolize?

It has been a tradition at Grace and other congregations to bring nonperishable food items, wrapped in white, to church on Epiphany Sunday as gifts to be shared with the local food pantry. These gifts remind us of Jesus’ concern for the poor. White is the color of the Epiphany season because it is the combination of all colors. The magi represent all the nations of the world and the hope that one day all nations will be united in the love of God that is revealed in Christ. All are invited to bring nonperishable food items to worship on Sunday, January 1 and 8.

The magi are forced to return home by another road because Herod wants to find and kill the Christ child. The Epiphany festivities take place in the context of a world that is often threatened by God’s way of love and justice for all. In what ways do our lives and choices reflect the way of God or the way of Herod? Are we threatened by God’s love, or do we celebrate and share that love? Two roads are offered, one leads to Herod, one leads to love. What road will we travel this new year? Once we have knelt in the presence of the Christ, I believe we will choose love. I look forward to traveling with you on love’s highway this Sunday. Yours in Christ, Pastor David


 

MARK YOUR CALENDAR

Jan 01 - NEW YEAR'S DAY, First Sunday after Christmas, Holy Communion

Jan 08 - Epiphany

Jan 08 - Daylight Savings First Sunday after Epiphany, Baptism of Christ Sunday

Jan 11 - Graceful Diners at Spring Creek Barbeque in Missouri City

Jan  15 - Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday

Jan 29 - Annual Congregational Meeting after worship

Sr. Bus Trip

Hello, friends of Grace UCC Senior Fellowship and Silver Sneakers @ L.A. Fitness on Eldridge. We're planning another fun trip on Friday, November 4th, to La Grange, Texas. We will visit Monument Hill & Kreische Brewery Historical Sites, lunch at Reba's Deli and Pizzeria, and then a short visit to the Texas Quilt Museum, just down the block from the restaurant. 

Since it is a 90 minute trip we'll need to leave from the L. A. Fitness parking lot (1555 Eldridge Pkwy, 77077) @ 8:30 a.m. Lunch will be at 12:15, and then to the quilt museum @ 2:15. We'll arrive home between 5 and 5:30 p.m. The total cost will be $9.00 which includes $3 for Monument Hill/Kreische Brewery Historical Sites and $6 for the Texas Quilt Museum. We will have a trained docent for each location and will give you time to peruse the area more and the gift shops. Lunch will be at your own expense. The only other expense will be to help with paying for our bus driver's lunch, usually around $1 each. Please bring me the $9 cash in advance in an envelope with your name on it. That will help me and save time once we arrive. Please let me know you're coming simply by responding to this email as soon as you can so I can get an idea of the size of bus we'll need.

Your loving travel coordinator and friend, Donna Cardinale

Writing our life — with God’s help

A journalist once said you can measure the quality of a piece of writing by the quality of what has been cut. No matter how beautiful or interesting a phrase or sentence is, the piece may be stronger without it.

Rabbi Evan Moffic applies this wisdom to life in general. Too often we refuse to let something — a habit, a memory, a process — go, even when it no longer serves us. Thinking of our life as a book, we can cut out, edit or rearrange some pages or sentences to reflect our new learnings and growth.

This is not always easy, but we don’t have to do it alone. “God is our ‘editor-in-chief,’” says Moffic, “and we are part of God’s story. [While] God … gives us free will to decide what to write on the pages of our lives, … God is always there for conversation and consultation. And God left us a great guidebook called the Bible. Its lessons make our writing shine with truth and beauty.” With God’s guidance, what will you “write” in the new year?

Wisdom from MLK

A picture containing text, clipart

Description automatically generated

I am convinced that love is the most durable power in the world. It is not an expression of impractical idealism, but of practical realism. Far from being the pious injunction of a Utopian dreamer, love is an absolute necessity for the survival of our civilization. To return hate for hate does nothing but intensify the existence of evil in the universe. Someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and evil, and this can only be done through love.

—Martin Luther King Jr.

Baptism is serious business!

Baptizing people into God’s family has always been a ministry highlight for Pastor Stan Purdum. One Sunday, he had the privilege of welcoming three infants and two young boys to the baptismal font, along with all their parents. After baptizing the babies, Purdum turned toward the families with older children, who’d been instructed to have their boys step forward one at a time.

Immediately, the 3-year-old shouted, “Not me!” and bolted for the exit. His father caught the youngster and carried him back as the congregation chuckled. This time, Purdum wasted no time completing the sacrament.

“Maybe this young boy was not greatly wrong to try to duck baptism,” he later pondered. “Far from being a harmless little ceremony, baptism begins a lifetime commitment to God, which over the long haul is no easy thing. It lays upon us the responsibility to live up to the vows we have made.” How seriously do you take your baptismal vows?

Pursue Jesus — and your passions

If you struggle with making and keeping resolutions, you’re not alone. It can be discouraging to focus on what you’re doing “wrong” and all the difficult changes in store. Yet January offers great opportunities to listen to God’s direction. After all, Jesus came to give us abundant life and wants us to pursue him.

As you review the previous year, ask: What brought me joy? How did I grow? How did I help others? What did I do that no one else could have done? Whether your list includes spending time outside, mentoring or coaching young people or making crafts to give away or sell, continue doing what brings you joy. God gives us each unique gifts and circumstances, so live passionately for him this year!

—Janna Firestone


Another year for God

Another year is dawning; dear Father, let it be,
in working or in waiting, another year with thee.…

Another year of progress, another year of praise,
another year of proving thy presence all the days.

Another year of service, of witness for thy love;
another year of training for holier work above.

Another year is dawning! Dear Father, let it be,
on earth, or else in heaven, another year for thee.

—Frances Ridley Havergal

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Natalie B 01/02, 

Raymunda S 01/07, 

Hallie M 01/09, 

Amanda E 01/10, 

Laura B 01/14, 

Marissa B 01/15, 

Judah P 01/16, 

Ervid R 01/20, 

Tiffeny B 01/23, 

Millie W 01/25, 

Esther P 01/29, 

Kemi K 01/31

Update Food Barrel Collections for 2022

Grace UCC members have been generous in bringing items for the food barrel.  Lisa Lum has been taking the items to House of Amos on Beechnut and Boone Road.  Since we also have a strong connection to CCSC (Christian Community Service Center) with volunteers in their Food Pantry on Bellaire Boulevard and financial contributions, Council has given its approval to alternating monthly collections for both locations.  January has been designated for House of Amos; February for CCSC Food Pantry on Bellaire Blvd; alternating the rest of the year.  Families in crisis situations may receive a distribution of food from House of Amos every 30 days. During this pandemic, CCSC is serving a bag of groceries to families as often as they need, with no restrictions on their zip code or the number of times they can come. Both locations ask the clients to complete an application form. Most needed items at this time are cereal, peanut butter, meat (tuna or chicken), fruit, hearty soups, pasta and sauce, vegetables. Thank you for your continued generosity in helping our less fortunate neighbors.  You can learn more about each organization at their website: http://www.houseofamos.org/ and https://ccschouston.org/

Christian Community Service Center - COVID-19 Update:

CCSC is open & helping those in need. CCSC is continuing its work and mission, while taking the necessary precautions with our staff and volunteers.  The CCSC food pantries are essential services - serving as a grocery store to our clients - in compliance with the "Stay at Home, Work Safe" order issued by the City of Houston.  Your assistance is needed now more than ever. CCSC continues to closely monitor recommendations from local and national officials and experts regarding the COVID-19 outbreak. After significant consideration, we have made the following adjustments to program operations:
*The Emergency Services sites (3230 Mercer and 6856 Bellaire Blvd) are focused on providing food to those in need. We have modified operations to get clients served quickly - foregoing interviews and supplying a preassembled grocery package. Thank you to Donna Cardinale and Jane Eixmann, who continue to volunteer to help serve clients during this pandemic.
We are conducting phone interviews for financial requests for help with rent or utilities for residents living within our zip code range. If you need financial assistance and live in one of these zip codes: 77002, 77003, 77004, 77005, 77006, 77007, 77010, 77011, 77012, 77019, 77020, 77021, 77023, 77025, 77026, 77027, 77028, 77030, 77031, 77036, 77046, 77056, 77057, 77072, 77074, 77081, 77096, 77098 and 77401, please call for an appointment--713-8719741.
 
The community can help by donating nonperishable food items or making a donation.  Go to ccschouston.org and click on the "Make a Contribution" button.
*JobNet is primarily serving clients via phone, e-mail, and online tools. In person appointments may be scheduled for limited services, based on need. New and existing clients are encouraged to call JobNet at 713-626-8320 to receive ongoing virtual support during this time.
*Scheduled Martha's Way classes are postponed until further notice.
 
There are two convenient ways to make a donation:  Donate on-line by visiting our secure website www.ccschouston.org OR Mail a personal check to CCSC, PO Box 27924, Houston, TX 77227 (Please make checks payable to CCSC with "Back To School" written in the notes section.)  Donations needed and accepted year-round!
UCC officers share prayer for Ukraine

by UCC Leadership | published on Feb 24, 2022

“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”   Proverbs 6:16-19 

As the attention of the world turns to the ignored cries for peace from the people of Ukraine, we the officers of the United Church of Christ join our prayers with those of churches and people of faith all over the globe that the attack against Ukraine will cease. As a Just Peace Church, the United Church of Christ calls for the de-escalation of violence and a return to diplomatic negotiations, the only true way conflict ever ceases. We urge our members to pray...

Holy God, Hear our prayers for all those who will die today because of war in Ukraine and other war-torn countries all over this world. Grant them an end to the suffering of this world and eternal peace that is only found in You.  

We pray for the people of Ukraine, Russia, and all nations — that war and bloodshed can be avoided and a new, just peace can be forged out of this crisis. We ask God grant wisdom to the leaders of nations, calling them to end provocation on all sides and invest instead in “the things that make for peace” as called for in all our faith traditions (Luke 19:41-2). 

We pray for an end to the deep insecurity and mistrust on all sides, and call on leaders to build trust, based not on military might or alliances, but on the basis of our shared future and common humanity. Now is a time in which past harm should be acknowledged and addressed, and new partnerships can be envisioned. 

We pray for and call on our leaders to have the courage to take small, verifiable, and independent steps toward peace, inviting others to reciprocate. Now is time to invest in conflict resolution, diplomacy and international cooperation — not more weapons which only escalate tension in the region. 

Be with those suffering in ways that we cannot. Protect them from devastation in ways those positioned in authority will not. Shield and comfort them as they confront the terror of violence that surrounds them. Hold them close to your heart and stay the hand of the enemies against them. Give us the courage and the strength to cry aloud against wickedness in high places that dare to harm others made in your image. Comfort the children and heed their cries to be saved from harm in this world.  

Make us a people who love our children, all of our children, more than we love greed, power, and control. Overturn governments of tyranny wherever they are found. Disrupt the intentions of evil and give us power to stand against demonic forces of greed and control. Grant that peace and justice come to warring nations by the hands of those courageous enough to stand and study war no more. Let Thy kin-dom come on earth as it is in heaven, we pray.  

In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

The National Officers of the United Church of Christ

  • The Rev. John C. Dorhauer — General Minister and President
  • The Rev. Traci A. Blackmon — Associate General Minister

The Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson — Associate General Minister

 to all our guests!

    Soaring With The Spirit

    Grace

    UNITED CHURCH O F   C H R I S T
    8515 Brookwulf Drive
    Houston, Texas 77072
    PH: 281-575-7866

    Worship 10:00 AM Sunday School for all ages 11:30 AM