April 22, 2022
Dear Church Family,
During this year’s Lenten series, Holy Week, Easter Sunday, and the resumption of church traditions (including various children’s activities and congregational singing), I have been struck most by the number of different children and adults participating in our worship services. It has been especially meaningful after 2 years of the pandemic, to see so many people—new and familiar— leading prayer, playing instruments, reading the call to worship, waving palm branches, and more.
This Eastertide also marks 10 years since I had my first opportunity to read scripture before a church congregation—making this season even more special to me. Ten years ago, I was in high school, and though I had attended church nearly every week of my life, I had yet to see anyone other than a man or teenage boy address the congregation from the podium on a Sunday morning. The Sunday I served as the scripture reader for the first time, I was the first female that church had ever allowed to walk up to the podium and address the congregation. Ever since, serving as liturgist has remained one of my favorite ways to connect with my church family during worship.
These past several weeks, I’ve been reminded again and again of how inviting everyone in the church to be involved in all the elements of worship makes for a much richer and fuller shared worship experience. And after two years of anticipation, this Easter Sunday, the church felt more vibrant than it has felt in a long time. I could feel the joyful energy even as I watched online.
I am so grateful to this family—for how it welcomes all to participate and for the array of people that have volunteered to plan, lead, and participate in worship during the buildup to Eastertide (whether from the stage, the pews, from home). Family, thank you for helping to make worship such a beautiful experience each and every Sunday!
UCC Executive Committee Recording Secretary/Historian
April 14, 2022
There has been a thought rolling around my mind the past week or so: "I have nothing left to say about Easter. We covered the resurrection of Christ last Easter, the Easter before that, and the Easter before that... What could I possibly say that hasn't been heard a million times before?"
I shared this thought with my clergy group last week and one of my friends joked, "I think this is finally the Sunday for a 15-minute 'Litany of Silence' in place of the sermon! I'm just going to tell people to 'sit and ponder the wonder of resurrection for 15 minutes' and then call it." We all laughed.
But truly, how could a sermon ever encapsulate the wonder of the resurrection anyway? Shouldn't we just stand at the tomb in awe? Human language attempts to point toward the Divine, but it can only approximate in metaphors; it will forever miss the mark. After all, the Holy is, by its very definition, "the Ineffable One;" God's name in the Hebrew Scriptures (YHWH) is a word that cannot even be pronounced! It can only be described as "the sound of breathing."
And in our Christian tradition, we believe that the characteristic action of the Ineffable One is something akin to loving/forgiving/saving/resurrecting -- all at the same time! It's something as fresh as white Easter lilies and as resounding as a chorus of trumpets. It's something that illuminates your life like a sunrise and joyfully surprises like a duckling breaking forth from her egg. It's something that warms the heart like the softest baby bunny and transforms you like a caterpillar transforms to a butterfly. Most of all, this grace is something that happens again and again and again, just like the return of Spring.
And so yes, beloved, my humble words could never adequately proclaim the Resurrected One, but these things point in its direction.
Holy Week is upon us, and this year, it is full to the brim with opportunities for worship and fellowship. This Sunday is Palm Sunday, but this year, I'm so excited to share with you the tradition of beginning Holy Week with a Passion Play. The entire congregation is invited to participate in a dramatic reading of the Passion of Christ which includes candles, drums, bells, and Taize singing.
Join accompanist Julie at 9 AM for an Intergenerational Pickup Drum Circle. You'll learn a simple rhythm to play during our Children's Palm Processional at the beginning of the service. No drumming experience is needed, and all ages are welcome!
There's also great stuff happening after worship; Emily will be holding a short "Worship Workshop" for any children interested in serving as an acolyte at 11 AM. Children younger than 2nd grade will learn more about communion.
And finally, we'll end the morning by going to Aviator Pizza at 11:30 AM for the return of our monthly "Second Sunday Socials," in which we all meet at a family-friendly restaurant after worship for lunch.
Holy Week will continue with a Maundy Thursday Potluck Soup Supper at 6 PM, followed by a Foot-Washing Worship at 7 PM.
On Good Friday, we invite you to experience Intergenerational Prayer Stations of the Cross during an Open House any time between 6-8 PM.
Finally, come celebrate Easter Sunday here at the church! Welcome the dawning of Easter at our Easter Sunrise Bonfire Service outside at 7 AM. If that's too early for you, join us in person or online for our Traditional Easter Worship at 10 AM. This will be our first Easter in the sanctuary since 2019! This service will be followed by a family Easter Egg Hunt.
Beloved, come and fill your Holy Week to the brim with God's love, Worship, and Easter candy as we celebrate that resurrection is happening all around us!
April 1, 2022
Did you feel the buzz this past Sunday morning? It was like an energy was coursing throughout the church. Children were in the Sanctuary and Education wing doing in-person activities, adults were helping and worshipping and SINGING – it felt exciting and overwhelming and beautiful. And while it might feel new and unfamiliar for the children (for them, 2 years is an ETERNITY!), there is an element of comfort for them, too. The songs, the people, the elements of worship that we continued on-line when we couldn’t be in-person…these things brought comfort and continuity to adults and children these past two years.
Please allow me to use some water references, in keeping with our Lenten theme, of course :). Even though schedules and activities may look different than they did 2 years ago, we are not facing totally uncharted waters, friends. We are swimming in a familiar ocean – the wind is calming down, the clouds are clearing off, and we’re ready to put on some sunscreen and dip our toes in the waves!
After the last two Sundays, it’s clear that our children are jumping in feet first and it’s up to the rest of us to swim with them!
Here’s how you can support our children’s ministries programs:
Most importantly, the best way to support our children’s ministries program is to continue doing what you always do – share love, show kindness, and give our children time to grow. What beautiful and important people they (and you ALL) are. And what a privilege it is to be with them each week.
With gratitude and love, always,
Emily Jamison Guerrero :)
Director of Children's Ministries
Outdoor Worship at 8:30am on 1st Sundays of the Month
We are proudly affiliated with both the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
3500 West Parmer Lane, Austin TX 78727