“God has not given us a spirit of fear, but the spirit of power, of courage and resolution, to meet difficulties and dangers; the spirit of love which will carry us through opposition.” 2 Timothy 1:7
Last Sunday, I encouraged you to not give up your fight, even in the midst of these discouraging times. When we decide to follow Jesus Christ, we make a commitment to live into Christ’s call to working for a more peaceful and just world for all; this means fighting for the oppressed and for the sanctity of Creation, even when we are weary. We are indeed weary.
On the surface, this fight may appear like mixing politics and religion. Preachers must always be mindful that we walk a fine line when we preach the Gospel, which has always been provocative. The Gospel of Jesus Christ even today remains scandalous because it upends principalities and powers, which are always political.
There is a difference, however,
between lovingly speaking up for the values of the Gospel as we have heard them,
and shouting into the divisive partisan politics of our days.
There is a difference between
“speaking the truth in love,”
and contorting scripture to support our existing political persuasions.
We must always go back to the scandalous Gospel of Jesus Christ as our starting point,
not to our own egos.
Just the other day, we received yet another piece of heartbreaking news: there will be no charge in the killing of Breona Taylor, and two more police officers have been killed. This tragic loss of three innocent lives, the global outcry of God’s people for the dignity of black and brown people, the widening political divisions in our country, and the void of peace and justice throughout our world brings us to our knees...
And on our knees in prayer, may we find the strength to make it one more day, to fight one more day for ourselves, for our children and families, for stewardship Creation, for the uplifting of the poor, for the sanctity of black lives, for gender equality, for the turning of swords into plowshares, for the healing of all that divides, and for a more just and peaceful world.
Rev. Anna Kreisle Humble
Finance & Stewardship Update
Nominating Committee Announced
As we near the end of the 3rd quarter, we have so much to celebrate.
In addition to these financial strengths as we move into the 4th quarter, a nominating committee charged with nominating leaders for 2021 has been formed. Members include:
Next year is THE YEAR to be in leadership as we will be continuing with our Holy Conversations resulting in setting the course for United Christian Church and then fully entering into the Pastoral Search process. So, please prayerfully consider if approached by the nominating committee.
“Jesus’ divine and human natures are in relationship; they are not boards glued together but are the two natures in relationship in one person. This makes the relationship of persons through Jesus the place of God’s presence. Relationships in ministry are so significant not for what they get us but because they become the concrete yet mysterious place where the divine and human come together.”
Andrew Root, The Relational Pastor [Downers Grove, IL InterVarsity Press, 2007] p. 161
As an assignment for grad school, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on this passage from Andrew Root’s, The Relational Pastor. When I stepped into this role in 2014, one of our seniors asked to meet with me. He had been an incredibly active part of the youth group, and was sad that his youth minister was leaving. But, he felt very called to make sure I knew as much as I could about the group, what he had gotten value from, and what he hoped for the future, beyond him graduating. Even though I had been volunteering with this group for awhile, his conversation and meeting with me really opened my eyes to how very relational this group was. This group felt called to care for one another, and in turn that made them feel called to care for the community and world around them.
I am well aware that I am changed and will continue to be changed and challenged by the youth I serve, and am in relationship with. This is such an incredible blessing, and it my responsibility and joy to recognize that and share it. As long as I recognize it, it opens me up to receive from them, and from God. It is not my job to “bring them to Christ” or tick off certain attendance requirements. It is my job to make sure each and every youth who comes to our church knows that they are loved, they are heard, they are seen, they are cared for. It is my job to love them as my neighbor, because this is how God loves us.
I tell you all of this not because I want you to hear my story, but because I want to hear yours. Where are you in relationship in this congregation? Is your relationship allowing God’s presence to transform not just you, but also the church? How might the mindset of being open to not just receiving, but giving, help you build your relationship with this church? As we continue in our stewardship month, I hope you are able to take some time to reflect on your relationship with United Christian Church. I hope you find yourself joyfully receiving and giving, and feeling the embrace of God’s love.
Meghan Trout, Youth Ministries Coordinator
"Sing to God a new song, for God has done marvelous things.
Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills sing together for joy." - Psalm 98
If going to church has taught us anything, it’s this: you really need to be okay with metaphors to get very far with the Bible. Floods clapping hands? Hills singing together for joy? These things are impossible. Of course, that doesn’t mean they aren’t true, or that they can’t happen.
That’s why I have such hope for this year’s stewardship campaign. So much is different now than it has been; so much has gone wrong. Some among us spent much of the year furloughed; some of us lost our jobs altogether. Some of us were lucky enough to keep our jobs, but are now fearful for the future, and working to save money in new ways. A successful stewardship campaign may seem impossible.
And yet, just a few months ago, our financial situation looked impossible, and then God provided through your generosity and creativity. Just a few months ago, I would have said that transitioning overnight to a completely online church was impossible, and yet, we made the leap of faith together. We are people who believe in beautiful impossibilities, who shape our lives around the happening of things that simply cannot happen.
Tomorrow, we will begin distributing pledge cards at our Kickoff Saturday from 11:30 – 1 PM at the church, where you can drive through and receive a Blessing Bag, filled with worship gifts to you from your church family. During the month of September, you may complete your pledge card online at uccaustin.org/pledge or by mail. We will celebrate your participation in God’s generosity Sunday, September 27th at 10 AM in worship online. Until then, we pray together in joy:
Holy One, for you the floods clap,
for you the hills sing.
You know my situation better than anyone.
Take my credits and debits,
ins and outs,
my pluses and minuses,
surpluses and lacks,
and show me how to use them
to join the great chorus of Creation. Amen
Rev. Anna Kreisle Humble