Every year, I both love and dread World Communion Sunday. As a progressive Christian, I feel self-conscious about celebrating the diversity of the global Church given that I’m a privileged white woman serving a predominantly privileged white church. Most likely, my ancestors colonized and dominated people from places like Africa, Vietnam, and Latin America. So what right do I have to speak on behalf of those very cultures who are still on the margins today as a result of my ancestors' and culture’s actions -- to sing African songs, read Vietnamese poems, and butcher the pronunciation of the Lord’s Prayer in Spanish? These cultural treasures do not belong to me. At the same time, I want to lift up and honor our global siblings in a way that doesn’t involve social plagiarism, stereotypes, or irreverence.
It can be a fine line, however, between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation. Though it may seem like I'm splitting hairs or politicking here, I believe it’s an important question for us to consider as followers of Jesus. After all, Jesus showed honor and respect for people of other cultures when he praised the Samaritan, dined with Gentiles, and commissioned us to make disciples of all nations baptizing them into the Church, thereby including every culture and race into God’s family.
So how do we, like Jesus, respect people of different cultures on World Communion Sunday? This is one of the questions we'll be asking this Sunday because asking these questions out of concern for our global neighbor is part of what it means to live in worldwide communion. Although we may never land on clear or definitive answers, it is in asking that we honor Christ in the other and grow into the Family of God.
"Privilege does not have to be negative, but we have to share our resources and take direction about how to use our privilege in ways that empower those who lack it." - bell hooks
We at UCC are constantly trying to find ways to share our privilege and we will have opportunities to do that in the next three months. Whether we share with our own community as our children and families will be doing by baking bread this Sunday or whether we share with the wider community as our youth will be doing this Saturday at the CrysalisQ Playdate, we are a community with a heart for making lives better through love.
Here are some ways you can share:
1) In September and October, we will collect items to go into Church World Service Hygiene kits. These kits go to those who are dealing with disasters or are in a refugee situation. Right now, many are going to the areas of the United States like Kentucky who have experienced unprecedented flooding. Some go to ministries on the border of Texas and Mexico. Here is what we will be collecting:
Service for distribution.
2) During our Community Building sermon series, we will have a blessing of the prayer shawls. If you have a prayer shawl you are working on (even if it is partially finished), bring it to church that Sunday to be blessed.
3) In October and early November, we are collecting canned goods for the Bethany Faith Food Pantry Thanksgiving boxes. We don’t know what we will be assigned yet, but will find out before October. The Social Justice Committee will buy the boxes used for the distribution and our youth will assemble and fill them in November.
4) Please continue to fill our Little Free Food Pantry by bringing non-perishable food items for our Children’s Collection on Sundays.
5) Finally, put Sunday, March 5th at 2:00 pm on your calendar for the Austin CROP Hunger Walk at Camp Mabry.
Please keep your Social Justice ideas coming. We are currently trying to find a meeting time for the team that works with our new small group schedule, so keep an eye out for announcements. Send any thoughts, questions, or comments to email@example.com.
Social Justice Team Lead
This Sunday is “Kickoff Sunday,” but truth be told, the activity around church picked up weeks ago. Last week, youth and volunteers finished up the Gaga Ball Pit in what was formerly our garden area for the youth to use at their Youth Group Kickoff Party this Sunday evening, preceded by an information session for families with youth interested in our Confirmation Class.
After months of anticipation and even getting temporarily lost in the mail, the first piece of our Children’s Playground has arrived: a cave! In addition to tracking all these shipments down, Emily has been preparing the schedule of Godly Play lessons for our children during worship, with an all-new story about the fierce prophetess Deborah! We'll also be resuming our Children's Offering before the children's sermon, collecting from the congregation spare change and nonperishables for the Little Pantry. For Second Sunday Social, she's also planning a Bread Baking Party for World Communion Sunday, so please RSVP for that!
Our Small Groups are taking RSVPs for this fall. Groups will meet every other week for authentic conversation, community building, and fun. See below for the schedules and more information.
Kelley has been printing up helpful UCC Fall 2022 brochures with our events and groups and gorgeous Devotional Journals for you based on this month's sermon series. Pick up your copies at church on Sunday. Kelley’s also made Conversation Cards based on our series for use in your small groups and framed gorgeous new Artwork associated with each Sunday to display in worship.
Personally, I’m enjoying getting to know all the new friends who have been coming through our doors lately. I’m excited to hold another UCC 101 after worship this Sunday and New Friends & Members Potluck at my house next Saturday to get to know many of you better. If you’ve been worshipping with us for some time now, and UCC feels like your church home, you’re warmly invited to come up front during the Sending Hymn any Sunday in September to become a member.
There's so much to celebrate that I hope you join us for Kickoff Sunday, either at our monthly 8:30 AM Outdoor Worship Service OR our weekly Hybrid Worship at 10 AM (sanctuary & online) to kick off a fall semester of community building, faith formation, and service in the name of Christ.