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Grace United Church of Christ, Houston Texas

Clerical Comments 

From Grace UCC Minister of Outreach

How do we go further than just making it a day today?

We each have a path that is ours to take. For me, I started with Faith, Hope, and desire. The struggle of all humans existing in this world is finding a spiritual base providing sanctity from the iniquity within and without when we embark on our spiritual journey, frequently found in religious thinking. Removing oneself from the dictatorial practices of any religion requires the help of a spiritual entity.

Understanding Faith is at the heart of my spiritual journey. What does that mean? These were two separate things for me in my growth. I grew up in a home where the word faith was not used or displayed. I never graduated eighth grade and had no clue what faith meant. In my world, at almost fifteen, I needed tangible things that were there. Existing in a world of pure iniquity manifests in the faces of all inclined to see and of those who can do nothing more than hang on as they are victims of the evil that permeates; I lived in this place, my childhood home.

For myself, that spiritual entity has no bounds. It could be the wind that blows, a leaf that falls on my shoulder, the world waking up when I have my morning coffee by the pond, or the faces I see in the mountains of sacred ground.

Nature brings wellness and joy to my soul – walking, drifting, sitting in the sun, breathing forest air, running water, fishing, the waking of all of God's creatures in the early morning, waves rolling on the rocks of a California beach, marveling at the endless number of stars in the night sky of the desert, where lights do not exist. I thrive and feel life abundance in these settings because I gain the complete understanding that-–I and the ecosystem, and all of God's creatures become interconnected in an intensely spiritual way. Through my spirituality, I have come to understand that life is more than the material world.

Nature allows me to sense realistically, more importantly, be linked spiritually to the presence in nature that is the same presence I connect with at gathered meetings. Sensing and feeling that spiritual presence in nature comes easier than finding it at times through worship – although I have faced Spirit in both settings.

However, this is not nature worship, but more accurately, it is worship surrounded by nature. To me, a forest is like a house of worship, only better. The space of nature helps me to feel grounded; all my senses know that the world includes all of nature, not just the humanmade parts.

The start of each day provides an occasion to open my soul to the gift of the Spirit, evidenced in all of Creation's impressive multiplicity of folks, animals, and seasons. I am summoned to the presence of blessings and being mindful that this day is a day in which to be grateful. Stopping to be mindful of the beginning of the day centers opens me to the presence of others. In searching for meaning, healing, and supportive relationships, the Spirit is there through my longing. I am invited to join with energy that enables me to create ways of taking care of myself and others as we move through the process of living and dying. Through the practices of nature, I can practice gratitude throughout the day. I practice gratitude by digging deep and finding that which is the hardest to find gratitude. This type of gratitude is what I require of myself—being mindful that all of God's creatures have worth.

Faith is the constant love of the Creator – God, Jehovah, Jesus Christ, and Allah. These are all the different names for the one God of the Hebrew, Christian, and Muslim. For myself, faith is the promise of God, which lightens the burden of immorality manifested in this world. Through faith, the means for living in a world of evil with dignity, salvation, and hope is possible.

What brings you joy and at the same time brings you closer to earth and God?  

Blessings and Grace, Brenda


 

MARK YOUR CALENDAR

Senior Bus Trip

Greetings to all of my friends at Grace UCC and Silver Sneakers. You are all cordially invited to join me on our next bus trip, Wednesday, May 25th, to the Brazosport Museum of Natural Science, and then to lunch on Surfside Beach at the Seahorse Bar & Grill. (Please note it will NOT be on May 18th, as I originally announced in the Silver Sneakers class this week. So sorry if this change causes you to not be able to go!)  

 

We will board the county bus in the L. A. Fitness parking lot, 1555 Eldridge Pkwy, 77077, @ 9:30 a.m. so please be there by 9:15 so we can get everyone checked in. Also, please be ready to give me $1 (correct change, please) for the bus driver tip. The museum has free admission, but they may ask for a voluntary donation. Your only other expenses will be lunch and maybe to buy something at the gift shop. I plan for us to be back by 4:00 p.m.

 

If you want more information about the museum here is a link to their website:  https://bcfas.org/brazosport-museum-of-natural-science/

And, here is the website of the Seahorse Bar & Grill (this is where we ate when we went to the Texas Sea Center in Lake Jackson in this last October):

http://www.oceanvillagehotel.net/seahorse-bar-grill/?fbclid=IwAR3t7U8ZY-PvzV5ZKevfXNDOm2OZMn_XzX2P7aTjKibw6SriB22Aro5LiV

Please bring a hat, a bottle of water, and wear comfortable shoes for walking.

May 01 - Potluck luncheon after worship - bring a dish to share.

May 07 - Houston Association Spring Meeting at Berring Memorial UCC. Registration and Opening Worship 9 AM

May 25 - Sr Bus Trip to Brazosport Museum of Natural Science, and then to lunch on Surfside Beach at the Seahorse Bar & Grill (details below)

May 27-29 South Central Conference Annual Meeting at Camp Allen

May 30 - Memorial Day

On Sunday, April 24, we welcomed these new members into the family of Grace UCC.

Kathyrn W, Ayesha L,  Elayne W, George W, and Nicholas W

Welcome to Grace UCC and sharing in the life and mission to the church!!

Renewal of Baptism Vows

On Sunday, April 24 Kathryn W and Ayesha L also renewed their baptismal vows. We celebrate this witness to God's work in their lives!

Please Remember in Prayer

Please continue to remember Barbara C , Lisa L, Mae Delle J, Martin W and their families in your prayers. Prayers are also requested for Donna C's husband Tom. Thank you.

Members: Barbara C and Family, Perla F, Mae Delle J and family. The Family of Dnarrius J, Lisa L, Jay P, Tatiana R, Gene S, Jessie S, Martin W.  Friends: Leah B (Laura B), Barbara & Milas D (Juli K), Rick J (Laura B), Billy P (Sonny P), Dick S (Juli K)

JUNE NEWSLETTER

Please send all articles for the May newsletter by 5/15/2021, to graceucchouston@sbcglobal.net

Contact Information: Grace United Church of Christ

8515 Brookwulf Dr., Houston, TX 77072-3838 

281-575-7866 

Website: graceucchouston@sbcglobal.net

Congratulations to Erin J who is receiving her master's degree this month!

If your son/daughter is a graduate this year, please contact Pastor David and we will honor them in the June newsletter.

Mr. Rogers, to grads — and to us all

Our world hangs like a magnificent jewel in the vastness of space. Every one of us is a part of that jewel, a facet of that jewel, and in the perspective of infinity, our differences are infinitesimal. We are intimately related. May we never even pretend that we are not. … Deep down, we know that what matters in this life is more than winning for ourselves. What really matters is helping others win too, even if it means slowing down and changing our course now and then. …

[Roman philosopher] Boethius wrote this sentence: “Oh happy race of mortals if your hearts are ruled, as is the universe, by love.” … [There is a] deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive: love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed. So in all that you do, in all of your life, I wish you the strength and the grace to make those choices which will allow you — and your neighbor — to become the best of whoever you are.

—Fred McFeely Rogers, 2002

Honor thy teachers

When President Eisenhower invited James Michener to a White House dinner, the bestselling author replied: “Dear Mr. President, I received your invitation three days after I had agreed to speak a few words at a dinner honoring the wonderful high school teacher who taught me how to write. I know you will not miss me at your dinner, but she might at hers.” Instead of taking offense, Eisenhower answered: “In his lifetime, a man lives under 15 or 16 presidents. But a really fine teacher comes into his life but rarely.”

Fine teachers are indeed worth cherishing, whether they hold classes in churches or public schools, on Sundays or on weekdays. Let us honor and appreciate all teachers, all year long. Thank you for preparing lessons with care, for going above and beyond to meet each student’s needs, and for sparking curiosity about God and everything he created. You’re a blessing!

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY - May 8

God's hands

Exactly a century ago, Irish physician Alexander Irvine published My Lady of the Chimney Corner, a book dedicated to his saintly mother. The protagonist, Anna, lives and ministers to others as Irvine’s own mother had done.

In the story, Anna visits a neighbor who has just lost a son at sea. After talking for a while, Anna suggests they pray together. With heads bowed, she reaches to place a loving hand on the grieving mother’s forehead. Afterward, the woman says, “I think I felt his touch upon my brow,” referring to God.

Anna says, “God is everywhere looking for hands to use. Sometimes he takes the hand of a doctor and uses it in healing. Sometimes he takes the hand of a mother to soothe the brow of a fevered child. And sometimes he takes the hand of an old critter like me to bring a bit of help and comfort to a neighbor. But they are all God’s hands, and God is everywhere looking for hands to use.”

A Mother’s Day hymn  by Peggy Ferrell

Sing praise to our Creator God!

Earth prospers from the way

God “mothers” each new child into

This world day after day.

God fabricates in motherhood

A channel from above

That longs to share with every child

God’s comfort, grace and love!

Sing praise to our Creator God,

Who “mothers” us from birth!

Providing what we truly need

Throughout our lives on earth.

Memorial Day

More than 150 years ago, Memorial Day took shape amid the backdrop of the U.S. Civil War. Before it ended, women began decorating the graves of fallen soldiers. In 1868, when May 30 was designated as Decoration Day, loved ones placed flowers on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers alike.

By 1882, Decoration Day became known as Memorial Day, and soldiers who died in other wars were honored too. Over time, it became a day to remember all loved ones who have died — in war and otherwise. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be observed on the last Monday in May. On Memorial Day, we pause to remember people who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and for our freedom. We also pray for those who continue serving, especially those in harm’s way.

MAY BIRTHDAYS

Rachel K - 2, Patrick P - 5, Hano M - 9, Jason D - 10

Peter L - 11, NamNam P - 11, Niesan E - 13

Jaime B - 16, Ken and Tim M -17

Aster F Z - 21, Jessie S - 22, Dave M - 25

Dmitry R -30, 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

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