As we head into the fall and into a new month, we want to take a moment to recognize that more change is coming. We are beginning a new sermon series, looking at the church as universal. We'll start with World Communion Sunday on Oct. 1 and end with Día de los Muertos on Oct. 29. We are starting our Outdoor Worship back up this Sunday and soon we will reintroduce passing the plates in our indoor services. We are beginning our month-long participation in the Bethany Food Drive. And we are preparing to welcome our Interim Senior Minister, Rev. Janet Maykus, in two weeks!
We are so grateful for the many ways this church continues to be a companion to one another through all of life’s changes. May we continue to travel together, sharing God’s love for all, with all.
–Your UCC Staff
A Prayer “For Summer’s Ending”
From Ash and Starlight: Prayers for the Grace and Chaos of Daily Life
Thank you for all the ways you’ve companioned me this summer.
You’ve traveled with me as I made road trips to visit scattered, special family, waited at airport gates thick with frustrating delays, buckled kids in the car for an adventure at the zoo, driven across town to eat crisp cold salads with a dear friend, folded clothes and packed the suitcase another time.
You’ve traveled with me, Jesus, as I’ve sat in medical waiting rooms, as I’ve kissed loved ones goodbye while holding back tears, as I’ve lingered by the window with a cup of coffee, overcome with too many thoughts to name…
You’ve made your presence known through tracked-in sand on the kitchen floor and the smell of fresh strawberries dumped on the counter.
I’ve heard your voice in the joyful shrieks of children in sprinklers and the creak of the porch swing as dusk settled. You’ve held me through weeks that were stressful and weeks that evaporated in elation… weeks when I was complacent and selfish and weeks I was sacrificial and servant-hearted… weeks when I was honest and integrated and weeks I didn’t even recognize the person in the mirror….
You never failed to remind me how you loved me and still had good for me to do.
Sometimes I caught your message…
How I thank you, traveling and strengthening One, for going with me through these summer months… for offering reassurance as I enter the fall and all its change.
I hold out my gratitude for what was and my quiet hopes for what’s to come.
Genesis 46:4 * Deuteronomy 31:8 * Psalm 139:7–10 *
“Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?…
If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.”
—Psalm 139:7, 9–10
Greetings Social Justice Team Members!
This Sunday, we look forward to adding some members to our Social Justice Team. How exciting to have our friends fully commit themselves to becoming a part of our UCC family! How so, you ask? You may not realize that all new and current members, and even all our guests, are part of our Social Justice Team! We all have a place on the Social Justice Team and we try to practice social justice from our youngest children to our most senior members.
In fact, you are invited to participate in one of our favorite and most fun social justice events - The Period Party - after church this Sunday. This project will benefit Hope Medical Clinic, and possibly Out Youth, Casa Marianella, Safe Alliance, and some of our school partners. Hope Medical Clinic is a new recipient for our products and they offer free primary, compassionate, and high-quality healthcare to resettled refugees, immigrants and other underserved people. We will also be making a donation to Flo Code, our long time partner in this project. Flo Code has changed their operations since COVID, and they now supply unopened packages of period products to their partners which they can purchase with our donation. Many thanks to Katherine Griffin-Erickson for making this happen.
It is not too late to purchase period products! And Dads, it’s not too late to introduce your sons to the feminine hygiene aisle of the grocery store. Bring anything you purchase on Sunday.
And did you see the pictures of the youth from last Sunday making dog and cat toys for Williamson County Animal Shelter? Our youth have such a heart for helping - making lives better for people and animals. They did hard work in Appalachia this summer and will continue to do the hard work soon at Bethany Food Pantry by assembling, decorating, and filling Thanksgiving boxes for their clients.
We are so excited and thankful that on October 1st, GECKO (God Encourages Caring Kindness and Outreach) will be starting for our 4th and 5th graders. Our older elementary students will meet once a month to practice what they have learned in our Children’s Ministry with a monthly service project. Thank you especially to Tracy Brown and our adult volunteers for heading up this effort.
One of the improvements that came out of our legislature this season was that period products and baby care items, including diapers, are no longer being taxed at the cash register. If you want to continue to vote for people who reflect values like this, I will be available for the next three Sundays in Fellowship Hall to assist anyone who needs to register to vote, change their address, or change the name on their voter registration. The deadline for registering before the November Constitutional Election is October 10th. I am now able to assist those in both Travis and Williamson County. I also have mail in registrations for those who live in other counties.
Watch for upcoming collections of canned goods for the Bethany Thanksgiving boxes and a special Advent project.
With you in service and justice,
Social Justice Team Lead
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23
As someone who’s been thinking a lot about generosity lately, it seemed to me that there was a glaring omission on the Spirit’s list of fruits. Really? Generosity didn’t make the cut?
I really wanted to know why generosity wasn't on the list, so I asked a resource I've come to appreciate in my research: ChatGPT. ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence chatbot that uses natural language processing to create humanlike conversational dialogue. And it gave a surprisingly good answer. Let’s see what it said.
While generosity isn’t explicitly listed as one of the fruits of the Spirit in this passage, it can be understood as closely related to several of the qualities mentioned.
As we seek to cultivate fruits of the Spirit in our lives, we may well find that acts of generosity naturally align with these virtues, reflecting the teaching and example of Jesus in our relationships with others.
Join with us in seeking and sharing,
Stewardship Team Lead
In case you don’t know me, or we haven’t met (yet!), I am the Worship Music Leader for UCC. I have the privilege of selecting the music to accompany each service, directing the UCC Choir, and I am a happy member of the UCC Bell Choir.
As you probably have gathered by now, September’s theme is “Cultivating Generosity,” and this coming Sunday the 10th, I hope you will join us, either in-person or online, for our 10AM worship service. It will be full of music and love and stories of how your generosity has already benefited some of our staff and volunteers, specifically by sending them to programs where they can learn and enrich their lives and service to UCC.
The generosity of this congregation continually floors me, between the time and work of our volunteers...to the care for one another...to the monetary donations! I am blessed to be part of this family of believers, and I hope y’all feel the same about me.
In purely UCC-Music-News, World Communion Sunday is coming up on October 1, and the Pop-Up Choir is beginning rehearsals THIS Sunday at 12:30 (or whenever you can make it after the Second Sunday Social). Please let me know if you’re interested, and I can send you the music to practice!
I am also looking forward to restarting the once-a-month early services in our beautiful outdoor chapel, and possibly holding more Sip-N-Sings, once the weather cools a bit. More to come on that in the near future…
If we haven’t already met, I look forward to meeting each of you. If you have any questions, concerns, constructive criticism, or just want to say hi, please reach out to me in person at church, via email, or on Facebook. I value all opinions and hymn requests from each of you.
Peace be with you,
Dear Church Family,
I have a slight nerdy bent so when preparing for this article, I decided to google the word stewardship to get a definition. Here’s what I found:
People often use scripture verses to foster stewardship and encourage giving. “God loves a cheerful giver.” “Whoever sows sparingly will reap sparingly.” “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not man.”
My favorite verse about stewardship is from the Old Testament: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.”
That sounds more like the joy of taking care of something. Adam wasn’t put in the garden to earn a profit and rely on that profit to feed his kids, protect him from a drought or flood, prepare for retirement, and still use some of that profit to be generous to others. He was supposed to take care of the garden. Give it what it needed. Take what it provided.
How do we think of stewardship differently if we think of UCC as our garden? Do we think, “The children's ministry really needs a lot of water.” Or, “The apple tree should just give apples because that’s its job. We shouldn’t have to give it sunlight.” Of course not!
Imagine sitting in a peaceful, fragrant, colorful garden. Each plant was given what it needed in time, energy, and resources. And each provides joy, in its unique and perfect way.
Keeping a garden alive in Central Texas is not easy. (We tried it at UCC! We now have a Gaga Ball pit instead.)
But keeping the garden that is UCC blooming is possible. We give the garden what it needs in the form of money, time, energy, and care. We are rewarded with its beauty: children’s programs, paid utility bills, mission trips, community, and connection.
We don’t give because we are supposed to. We give because we are one of the required resources for the garden. And because we are each one of the beautiful flowers that bloom.
2023 Stewardship Team Lead