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Grace United Church of Christ, Houston Texas

CLERICAL COMMENTS

Clerical Comments

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary of Magdala came with Mary to inspect the tomb. Suddenly, there was a severe earthquake, and an angel of God descended from heaven, rolled back the stone, and sat on it. Matthew 28:1-2

The first Easter happened on a Sunday. The sabbath that begins at sunset on Friday, ends at sunset on Saturday marking the last day of the week for our Jewish brothers and sisters. According to Genesis, God rested on the seventh day after six days of creating the world. The day of rest was Saturday. The created order was completed on Friday. This makes Sunday the first day of a new week. Jesus died on Good Friday and after three days rose on Sunday, the first day of a new week. Every Sunday since that first Easter, is a reminder of the resurrection, a constant assurance and celebration that life is greater than death, love is stronger than hate. As the first day of the week, Sunday reminds us that a new creation is possible for us and for the world. Sunday means that we have work to do in praising God and in sharing the Good News of God’s love with the world. Some churches end their worship with the words, “our worship has ended, our service begins.”

The pandemic, and an abundance of caution, has kept us from being together in the sanctuary for an entire year of Sundays. I greatly miss worshiping together in the sanctuary. I had hoped that we could have at least an outdoor worship on Easter. But Harris County is still in the Red Zone and we have been asked to stay home. I would not like to break with compliance only a few weeks before getting the “all clear” and risk spreading this terrible virus. It is hard to wait. It is frustrating to wear a face mask. It is worrisome to think that hugging our loved ones could make them in the hospital. Hopefully, the church understands that we are called to bring healing and not harm to the community.

Being unable to worship in the sanctuary witnesses to the fact that the church is not a building; though the building is closed, the church is not. Years ago, song writers Avery and Marsh wrote the song, I am the Church, You are the Church. The first verse challenges the idea that the church is a building with the words: The church is not a building; the church is not a steeple; the church is not a resting place; the church is a people. Not being able to return to the building has caused us to rethink church. We have had to go online. As awkward as this is, it has allowed those who are homebound or working on Sundays to still connect with the church. When we gather on Zoom, I am reminded that the church is the people. My heart fills with joy when I can see the faces of our church members or hear their voices on the phone. I am reminded that the church is the people when we help distribute food and participate in local and global missions. I am reminded that the church is the people when I hear of members supporting other members with phone calls, emails, cards, and prayers. I am reminded that the church is the people when we stand in solidarity with those who have been marginalized. 

On that first Easter morning, Matthew records that there was a severe earthquake. This pandemic has shaken the church and the world, but the work and mission of the church to share God’s love continues. Easter proclaims that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ Jesus, not a pandemic, not death itself (Romans 8:38-39). I appreciate Matthew’s image of an angel rolling back the stone in front of Jesus’ tomb, especially the words, “and sat on it.” I see the stone symbolizing everything that tries to separate us from God and God’s will for creation. The stone is no match for God, the victory has been won decisively. Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen indeed. Happy Easter. A new creation has dawned, a new week has begun. Let’s get to work!

´╗┐Yours in Christ, Pastor David 

UPCOMING EVENTS

 

 Upcoming Grace Events 

April 4 - EASTER SUNDAY! Worship online

April 15 & 29 - Brighter Bites Food Distribution for area Head Start Programs 2:45 - 4

April 17 - Special Meeting called for the Conference vote on the final Conference Minister Candidate, the Rev. Phil Hobson (see his introduction statement below).

There are also two Zoom meetings with Rev. Hobson, April 7 at 7PM and April 10 at 10AM. Call Pastor David for link and details. Our own Marilyn R was on the search committee!

May 15 - Houston Association Spring Meeting on Zoom. Our Member in Discernment, Brenda Fluitt will participate in an Ecclesiastical Council as a step toward her ordination.

June 12 - SCC Virtual Annual Meeting

July 11-18 - UCC General Synod

Introducing Rev. Hodson

March 13, 2021

To my friends in the South Central Conference of the United Church of Christ:

I am so excited to be a part of the renewing and expanding work of the Spirit across the South Central Conference! As the grandson of a pastor and student of history, I have seen the mighty work of God across the generations to renew the church. I am confident the Divine continues to imagine new ways of being the church and carrying the vision of “the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven” forever forward.

A little about me: I am the devoted husband to Joelle. We’ve been married since 2008 and are the proud parents of four sons: Xander (9), Xane (7), Xackary (3), and Xavier (4 months). I received a Bachelors of Science from Purdue University and a Masters of Divinity from Southern Methodist University. In the pastorate, my focus has been on evangelism, administration, and finance. I have served in congregations that have experienced renewal, moved through the process of a merger to attain new growth, and seen lives transformed through church planting. I have a passion for seeing fresh expressions of the Spirit’s power at work across every aspect of church life. I also believe strongly in relational ministry, am looking forward to

spending time listening to and learning your stories. I see the role of the Conference

Minister as one who is here to help. On my desk is a bronze sailboat given to be my grandfather many years ago. The

Scripture etched upon it is my guiding light in ministry and I invite you to pray it along

with me as we embark on this next chapter of faith and life together: “‘For I know the

plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord. ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you;

plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Blessings, Rev. Phil Hodson

 

All church events have been postponded until after the pandemic ends.

Worship will be by video found on line and Facebook

MARCH BIRTHDAYS

Bing P  03/01,  Sierra D 03/03, Jackie R 03/03,

Isabella L  03/09, Valerie R 03/10, Jennifer L 03/13,

Mila B  03/18, Ronald W 03/18, Joshua P 03/19,

Jack L  03/21,  Bonnae N 03/24, Marlon P 03/29

 HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

THANK YOU TO ALL GRACE UCC VOLUNTEERS WHO HELPED DELIVER

FOOD CONTAINERS FROM BRIGHTER BITES. 

Hundreds of boxes of fruits, beans, and vegetables from the FOOD BANK where shared throughout this past year from the church parking lot. THANK YOU!!

We distribute the food every other Thursday (March 11 & 25) from the church parking lot for two Head Start Communities from 2:45 - 4:15. Call the church office for details.

Volunteers are welcome!

Update on Church Building

Dear Friends,

As you know, the church building suffered a great deal of damage caused by broken pipes during the ice storm.  The damage was primarily to the classroom wing, kitchen, fellowship hall and the entry hall near the front door (by the nametag board).

The remediation company is about to finish their work of removing damage and mold, and drying out the building.  We are now at the stage where a contractor is to be selected and decisions made as to the details of the repairs.  The council is asking for volunteers to serve on the Re-Building Committee to help with the decision-making.  We need your guidance. If the spirit moves you to serve, and I pray it does, please contact me.

Email:  jaroszewski@att.net

Cell:  713-703-0202

Blessings,David Jaroszewski, President

The church was just awarded a $1,900 grant from Houston Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston to help with the rebuilding. Miguel C was a huge help in securing this grant. Bless you!

We have also applied for a Solidarity Grant from the United Church of Christ. We hope of hear soon if this application was successful.

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!

Slumber Falls Winter Work Weekend - March 12-14, 2021

The Slumber Falls Winter Work Weekend is March 12-14 instead of February 5-7, 2021. Hopefully this will allow us to avoid any cold wet weather. If you are planning to attend, mark March 12-14 on your calendar for now! Just like the Fall Work Weekend, there will be no charge for this event although "love" offerings are always appreciated.

Register Now for Summer Camp 2021 at Slumber Falls!

June 20-23  -  CIT Training Camp

June 23-26  -  Springs Alive

June 27 - July 3  -  Roaring Rapids & Sports Camp

July 4 - 10  -  Geek Week & Streams of Faith 1

July 11-17  -  Eco Camp & Living Waters

July 18 - 24 -  Streams of Faith 2

For more information and to register go to www.slumberfalls.org or call the church office.  Discounts for early registration - Scholarships are available!

 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