Greetings to you this late-January-kinda-cold-still-covid-times day! We have borne and continue to bear heavy burdens, but we do so together, knowing that our Creator holds us in the palm of their hand. Thanks be to God!
UCC of Austin has been my church home for seven (or eight?) years now, and I am grateful to be a part of this worshiping, learning, serving community. One of the many things that appeals to me is the diversity of faith-related activities in which people connected with our church are involved. Back when the pandemic
started, someone started a zoom Bible study of the Psalms. At the time, I was happy to be able to participate in a church activity without having to leave the house. Two years later, I’d LOVE to leave the house, but I’m not crazy about Covid stage 5 interactions.
Our happy little Tuesday noon zoom group has finished our journey through the Psalms, enriched by both scripture and honest conversation. The Tuesday noon zoom book study carries on. We are currently reading a book titled The God Who Sees: Immigrants, the Bible, and the Journey to Belong. It’s written by
Karen Gonzalez, who came to the USA from Guatemala as a child with her parents. She is a seminary graduate who currently works with an agency that helps refugees from around the world resettle in the states. Her own personal experiences and education have prepared her well to weave her own immigration and faith journeys throughout some of the many migration stories in the Bible that she recounts.
The book began by discussing the story of Naomi and Ruth from the very short book of Ruth (four chapters) in the Bible. Gonzalez reviews the “Disney princess” version of Ruth that many of us learned in Sunday school as children. Then, she points out the immigration aspects of the story that have been there all along; we just needed a new lens to see them. Bible story chapters are alternated with chapters that tell their stories based on sacraments such as baptism and communion. Those sacraments mean different things to different people and different faith groups. I love how Gonzalez tells the story of her faith formation as she also describes her journey of migrating from one country to another. The journey of growing up, the journey of thinking about what we believe and why, is one that resonates broadly.
The God Who Sees is available through booksellers online. There are also a few copies of this intriguing book available in the church office, if you’d like to borrow or purchase from there. Contact the church office if you need the Zoom information.
I invite you to join our group at noon on Tuesdays between now and Holy Week as we read and discuss immigration stories from scripture, and how they inform our lives here and now. We’d love to have you join us, once or often!
Dear Caring Friends,
When asked why they were attracted to United Christian Church of Austin, folks often say they love our emphasis and action on Social Justice. Whether you love the Period Party, the PRIDE booth, advocating at the Capitol, working for justice in Israel and Palestine, growing and harvesting food, filling our Little Free Pantry, setting up an apartment for a refugee, or working at Bethany Faith Food Pantry or Round Rock Serving Center, you like to take action to make our world a better place. Whether you join the Tuesday Book Club study of “The God Who Sees” to learn more about immigration, listen to Rev. Dr. Jenny Veninga talk about the complicated situation in Palestine, or listen to Rep. James Talarico tell why his faith informed his decision to go into politics, you are educating yourself so that you can become a better advocate for justice. If you support any of our monthly collections, give money to the budget, or contribute to youth mission trips and/or fundraisers, you are involved in social justice.
The Social Justice Team helps facilitate all of the above and wants YOU to be a part of our Team. You may have an idea that is just rolling around in the back of your mind that will change everything like Rebecca Molis and her persistence in establishing a Little Free Food Pantry. The same for Cindy Metcalf who introduced us to the Period Party many years ago and Katherine and Olivia Griffin-Erickson for carrying the Party onward during difficult circumstances. The Social Justice Team has a pretty good track record of making ideas real.
While the pandemic has changed how we do things somewhat, we are ready to plunge back into face-to-face action as soon as we are able. We will need you more than ever then. Our meetings are on Zoom on the fourth Monday of the month at 7 pm and all are welcome to come, speak up, and get involved in one special project or in all the projects as your energy and time allow. Please join us!
Social Justice Team Lead
As much as I want to soldier on with life "as normal," the pandemic again has thrown us a loop: Austin has now entered Stage 5. I personally have gone through all of the classic Kubler-Ross stages of grief again:
So it is in this positive Stage 5 of Acceptance that we have decided to re-examine and boost our safety practices, renew our attention to the quality of our online and remote ministries, and prioritize in-person worship over other in-person church gatherings.
For this reason we have postponed our Time and Talents Fair on Sunday and will be pivoting to offer this online soon. Please stay tuned for details. We also encourage all teams, groups, and committees to gather online or outdoors if at all possible. We've gotten through this before, and we'll do it again, hand-in-hand and with the grace of God.