“So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” - Gen. 2: 3
It’s almost July. And here we are, breathing and busy. So maybe it’s time we take a moment to reflect.... In June, we celebrated Vacation Bible School – each day welcoming 40 children and 22 volunteers as we shared stories of building the kin-dom of God together. We have 20 Youth and 8 adults who are returning this weekend from a transformational week on their mission trip in Wise County, Virginia. We have wrapped up a very busy year of Small Groups, New Member Classes, Discussion Groups, building a playground, Youth Groups, Book Clubs, Christmas Pageants, Easter Egg Hunts, Second Sunday Socials, Social Justice projects…
In Worship&Wonder, we tell the story of Creation using Godly Play. The story tells us that after each day of creation, God looked at that day and said, “It is good.” God creates day and night, land and plants, creatures of the air and water, and creatures with two legs, four legs, and more to live on the land. And then on the seventh day, God made a special day to rest – because after all the work of creation, God was tired! And so God asks us, too, to take a day to rest – each week. A day to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. A day to reflect, refresh, and refill our buckets. God says that when we rest, "It is good."
Now, rest can look different for each family and for each person. Some rest by going camping, and some rest by staying at home and watching movies. Some rest by taking a walk, or going swimming, and some rest by napping. For some, rest looks like activity, and for others, rest looks like quiet time. In whatever way you find rest, God asks us to make it intentional – truly acknowledging our busy day-to-day tasks and taking a moment (a day, if we can) to honor that time by resting. God asks us to take Sabbath time.
This summer, our church is taking some Sabbath time. July is the seventh month of the year, so it is fitting that in the seventh month we take some time to rest ourselves. Worship will continue each Sunday at 10 am. but our activity level may decrease a little. We will have a couple special events, including the Adult Discussion Group meeting on the 1st and 3rd Sundays, our Sip-N-Sing evening of hymn-singing and fellowship on July 11, and the 5th Sunday Social Justice Project. But our church staff is making time for travel and family, and so office hours will look a bit different during the month. Thank you to all of the amazing volunteers who made this year and this last month of VBS, Pride, and Mission Trip possible...you deserve a rest!
Our hope is that you and your family will be able to find a way to rest. Find time to remember the Sabbath. Make intentional moments of refreshment and relaxation. Breathe. The work of building the kin-dom of God can be difficult and exhausting. But when we take time to honor the Sabbath by resting our bodies and minds, we are ensuring that we have renewed energy to begin again the work of sharing God’s love in the world. Breathe, dear family of faith, and rest.
With love, always,
This Sunday, ABIA will get the joy of being filled with many faces of UCC youth and adults as we prepare to head out on our summer mission trip. For one week, we will serve with Appalachia Service Project doing home repair in Appalachia, where 21% of the community lives below the poverty line.
ASP’s theme for the week is Love Strong and is based on Luke 10:27 which says “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and your neighbor as yourself.” As stated in our introductory email from ASP:
This verse is a call to action, urging us to live as people who love God with everything we have and who extend the love of God to all people in need, our neighbors. We love God when we live fully in relationship with God and our neighbor. We love our neighbor when we reach out with compassion to all in need. This connects deeply with ASP’s core value of “accepting people right where they are and just the way they are.” When we accept all people, share God’s love with them, and embrace them as neighbor--we become those who Love Strong.
I couldn’t think of a better theme for our group of youth who work tirelessly to live out their faith and live out their call to love one another exactly as they are. I am grateful to our youth for constantly leading by example.
My gratitude doesn’t only extend to our youth though. I am beyond grateful for a congregation that continues to support our youth through all of their various programming. Through fundraising, mentoring, volunteering, words of encouragement, and of course - donations of snacks, you help to make these important trips possible. These trips are foundational to building a program that lets youth know that they can be the hands and feet of Christ in this world through their service to others, as well as through their welcoming and inclusive nature.
Please be in prayer for all of our participants over the next week, that they may grow together and may learn from each other and from the homeowners that they will serve. Please also keep all of the homeowners in your prayers, as well as the staff of Appalachia Service Project.
Peace be with you always,
Thank you to everyone who helped make Vacation Bible School a success! Throughout the week, we have had 40 children with 22 adult volunteers supervising (and that’s not counting all of the volunteers who helped prep the church for this week!). Our building has been wonderfully full of energy and joy!
We have learned about the people of Babel and that building a tower so high it reaches the clouds is not really what God has asked us to do. Staying in one place, completely in our comfort zone isn’t the goal either. God wants us to make life a journey – knowing that sometimes, we have to go someplace unexpected.
We learned that Abram and Sarai set out on a journey through the desert. But God was with them on this journey, just as God is with all of us. Abram built altars many times during their trip to mark their gratitude for God being with them. We reminded each other that God is with us and loves us – always. So, how do we mark important times or places – significant moments – in our lives?
Then the story of Nehemiah brought up ideas of teamwork. How do we work together to make music, or buildings, or towers of marshmallows? But more importantly, how are we to care for others and include people with different ideas and experiences than our own?
We shared two parables this week. Our drama team presented the Parable of the House on the Rock, which brought up the question – what is the foundation in our lives and how can we build our houses (our lives) on solid rock? And the Parable of the Mustard Seed helped us wonder about tiny things that grow into big and wonderful and welcoming things. Also, how teamwork, cooperation, and collaboration can get some amazing things done!
At the close of the week, we shared the story of the Breakfast on the Beach. The disciples had been fishing all night and caught nothing. When Jesus tells the disciples to cast their nets on the other side of the boat, they are shocked to pull in nets, bursting full of fish. Back on the beach, they fellowship together around a fire, enjoying a meal of freshly caught fish and bread. Jesus then says to them – go out into the world. Care for others, share love, and welcome all people. We talked about how we can do just that in our own lives, every day!
And so I thank you, dear friends! Thank you for understanding how important this week of ministry is to our church family and our community. Thank you for believing in, encouraging, and supporting our adults, youth, and children as we planned and prepared for this incredibly meaningful and beautiful Vacation Bible School! Thank you for always making time for the important work of our children. Thank you for loving people of all ages for who they are and where they are on life’s journey. I am grateful for ALL of you.
With love, always,
June marks an exciting month in many ways: VBS begins next week, our youth travel to Appalachia for their mission trip at the end of the month, and of course, it’s Pride Month! I love that I am part of a congregation that values the importance of Pride Month and recognizes all of those in the Pride Community, however they identify.
As part of our celebration of Pride Month, we’ll have a booth at the Pflugerville Pride Pfestival on June 10th. Our booth is themed “Chapel of Love” and we need volunteers to join us from 3-8pm on the 10th to help us share the love! Our hope is that we provide a space that lets all in the Pride Community know that we want to affirm and love them for exactly who they are. We believe that Love is Love and ALL are welcome at the table. So come help us offer blessings over all who choose to visit our booth.
Last year for Pride Sunday I preached on Psalm 139. I spoke about waiting until I was 45 to come out, about how while I have been constantly searching for myself, God has always known me. Through my relationship with God, I have come to know myself better. I want to continually get to know myself better so that I can hopefully help others to see themselves better, and see themselves as what we all are, beautiful children of God.
This Sunday I look forward to preaching on Genesis 1:26-31. We are all made in the image of God, and God proclaimed that it was good - very good. Each and every one of us is who we are intended to be, beautiful children of God, created as God’s reflection. I hope you will join me in all of your fabulous rainbow colors this Sunday as we celebrate Pride Sunday at UCC.
Pastor Meghan Dever