Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside everything that impedes us and the sin that so easily entangles us. Let us run with perseverance the race laid out for us. Let us not lose sight of Jesus, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection. Hebrews 12:1,2a
November is a month for giving thanks. For many, our thanksgiving is centered around the Thanksgiving feast near the end of the month. Our United Church of Christ Pilgrim ancestors gave thanks to God that at least some of them had made it through that terrible first year in the new land. I wonder how we will mark the end of this pandemic and the challenging year of 2020. How will we offer thanks? I am not aware of any special holidays that mark the end of the 1918 flu pandemic that killed 500 million people, a full third of the world’s population, and 675 thousand U.S. citizens. Maybe it was too painful to remember. There may not be a holiday, but I imagine that like the Pilgrims who survived that dreadful first year, those who survived the flu were also grateful.
As we navigate our way through this current pandemic with no end in sight, we might find it hard to be thankful. We have lost so many and so much. We can empathize with all our ancestors who faced the hardships of famine, war, pandemics, slavery, and injustice. None of them knew how long their trials would last. And yet so many of them faced their difficulties with a courageous faith that kept them going forward. Through their tears they could see the bright future that God intended for them. They carried on.
November first is All Saints Day which falls on a Sunday this year. On this day we will honor all those who surround us in that great cloud of witnesses. We are inspired by their faith and the way they ran their race, not losing sight of Jesus, “who leads us in faith and brings it to perfection.” This year we will light a candle for one of the saints of the church who died at the beginning of this year, Jane Woodward. Jane W. was an ancestor of Thomas Rogers, a Pilgrim who sailed on the Mayflower and signed the Mayflower Compact in 1620. Jane W. had the spirit of her Pilgrim ancestor as she faced life’s race with bold and courageous faith in God. Even during this pandemic, we can be thankful, we can lift our praise to God for all those who have gone before us and all those who are inspiring us today by their courage, especially the first responders and essential workers. Jane W. would have been first in line to help. How can we not give thanks when we can see the saints through our tears as they shine in the bright light of God’s love? I give thanks to God for all of them and for each of you, fellow pilgrims, and look forward to being with you again in worship.
Yours in Christ, Pastor David
At a recent anti-racism protest, Black participant Patrick Hutchinson saw a white counter-protester fall. Fearing for the injured man’s life, Hutchinson hoisted him over his shoulder and carried him through the crowd to seek help. Hutchinson was called a hero but says he just wanted to do the right thing.
According to Jesus, the right thing is to “love your enemies [and] do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27). It’s easy to love and be kind to our friends and people with similar beliefs. But when someone shows kindness to a member of an opposing group, we witness more than a hero; we see Jesus’ love in action.
Upcoming Grace Events
All church events have been postponded until after the pandemic ends.
Worship will be by video found on line and Facebook
Nov 05 Halima P, Nov 09 Kaleb P, Nov 13 Melinda L, Nov 21 Akpen M, Nov 22 Ethan and Andy F, Nov 29 Hannah M, Nov 30 Gary K,
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 the month of June and July from the church parking lot. THANK YOU!!
We distribute the food every other Thursday (October 08 and 22) from the church parking lot for two Head Start Communities from 2:30 - 4:30. Call the church office for details.
Volunteers are welcome!
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.
Back to School Changes
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CCSC has adjusted the 2020 program so we can continue to equip low-income students with the academic tools to succeed while using logistics that minimize social gathering.
Unfortunately, our annual community event originally scheduled for early August has been cancelled. Instead, CCSC will expand partnerships with high-need schools to deliver academic supplies and uniform vouchers directly to these campuses. CCSC has created Back To School campus "adoptions" like this for many years (in addition to the community event) and already has tools in place to move forward. We are confident this approach will result in successful support to students who need help in an unprecedented time. How you can help: Sponsor A Student! $50 provides a new school uniform/shoes and a grade-appropriate school supply package for 1 student.
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!
to all our guests!