Grace News April 7, 2020

Holy Week and Easter

Palm Sunday’s remembrance of the joyful welcome Jesus received in Jerusalem is a prelude to our remembrance of the final days and hours of Jesus’ life; his last meal with his disciples – now the Lord’s Supper for us, his last teaching with startling call to wash one another’s feet as a sign of humility and servanthood, his betrayal, trial and crucifixion, and the silence of the tomb.  These stories are central to our faith, and yet it is likely that we will hear them in new ways in these startling and fear-filled quarantine days of the pandemic.

We will do our best to offer you ways to participate in the telling of the story and our worship and prayers.  And we will send out the good news of Easter as meaningfully as we can!  Check the website every day.  Update us with your email addresses if you are not getting our notices!

Christian Formation

Be Bold!

Join us for a Journey Through Acts during the Easter Season! Beginning on Easter Monday and ending on Pentecost Sunday we will read all the Book of Acts.Each week there will be a video from Angie, a PDF packed with historical information, Greek insights,and theology. Some questions and topics that we will explore in this study are:
1.   Who is Acts written to? 
2.   Is Acts the second part of Luke’s Gospel?
3.   Do we have to live in a commune? 
4.   Baptism
5.   What is an apostle?
6.   Early Christian Martyrdom and Persecution 
Bring your questions to our website weekly or email Angie, graceelcaapd@gmail.com.

The schedule of readings is as follows:
Week 1 April 13-19:  Acts 1-4:31, Week 2 April 20-26: Acts 4:32-8:24, Week 3 April 27-May 3: Acts 8:25-13:12, Week 4 May 4-10: Acts 13:13-17, Week 5 May 11-17: Acts 18-20, Week 6 May 18-24: Acts 21-24, and Week 7 May 25-31: Acts 25-30

Easter Flowers

We have decided that we will make our Easter garden on the front steps of the church, if possible, weather permitting. Our hope is that you may be able to safely retrieve them, one at a time, later that day or early in the Easter week, and Pastor can greet you from a safe distance and offer an Easter blessing.  Watch, wait and we will see! 
Mindi Graver and Pr. V, for the Worship Team

Click here for the Easter Flower list

April 12, 2020 (Resurrection of our Lord)
Psalm 118:24 – This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Today we give thanks for new life. Even with all the distressing news about the environment, we can all recommit to caring for our Earth in gratitude for God’s all-encompassing, loving  relationship with every atom and molecule of creation.

For the Pastor’s Desk

The Lord’s Prayer – Loving our Enemies

How does the Lord’s Prayer take shape when we pray it especially with our enemy in mind?  This is the question with which we ended last week.   What happens when we pray “Our Father…” intending to pray to, “The Father of Jesus, of me, and of my enemy?”  This change in emphasis or context in the very address of the Lord’s Prayer flows out into the rest of the petitions, connecting them in ways that are not so obvious when we read them as just a general list of basic things that we need or want.  Phrase by phrase, let me give some examples.

“Hallowed be your name” – “Hallowed” means holy, unique, sacred, powerful, and able to save is your name, but now we offer this praise to God who is the Father of me AND my enemy, the one who is taking something from me.  This petition of praise for the holiness of God acknowledges God’s righteous rule over me and my enemy, alike.  It circles back to the very beginning of the prayer, the way we name God as “Our Father” in the first place.  That God is the God of me and my enemy is an expression of God’s holiness itself.  There is no other God to turn toward, other than this holy one, the  creator and redeemer of my enemy as well as me.  The Lord’s Prayer begins by helping the one praying it to remember that this is so.

“Your kingdom come; your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” – God’s kingdom is the reality of God’s will being done by his children, the outward expression of God’s inner desire or will.  Now we pray that this be done not only in heaven, where all are right with God and one another, but also on earth, here where my enemy and I are fighting over something.  To pray such a prayer is to recognize that somehow I am reinforcing this boundary between earth and heaven. This boundary runs between me and my enemy, but also right through my own heart, my own anger, my own desire to demonize my enemy.   Even if all I can name in this moment is that I am in some sense a victim, that I am hurt, insulted, depleted, laid low, usurped, or otherwise diminished by my enemy.  This is not about whose “fault” it is, not yet.  It is simply the recognition that having an enemy exposes our mutual distance from God’s Kingdom, which is supposed to be “drawing near.”

“Give us this day our daily bread.”  Here, “daily bread” may mean food, if that is what my enemy and I are fighting over.  In many places in the world, God’s children do not have daily bread, the necessary food and sustenance to grow, to live, and to work with health and strength. This is a scandal, in a world overflowing with abundance!   Something is awry in a world where people are deprived, by the economic arrangements favored by the wealthy, of enough daily bread to survive.  Over the past decades, let us be thankful, the hard work of many people has ensured that a smaller part of the world’s population is facing famine or critical food shortages.  But many are still hungry.  And so our first and most necessary hunger – for food – becomes a way to express our hunger for whatever it is that my enemy is taking from me. 

But now I’m  almost out of space for this week…and it is the week when we remember the story of Jesus and his enemies.  Who were they?  The Roman soldiers who arrested him, the leaders and teachers of his own people who were threatened by his teaching and popularity, his disciples, like Judas, who betrayed him, or the other disciples who could not stay awake with him and pray, who ran away or denied their relationship with him, presumably to protect themselves. 

Jesus knew what it was like to have enemies.  As he faces them he seems to be guided, in his own thoughts, words and actions, by this prayer that he taught his disciples, by the goal of making  peace between God and us. 

Blessed Holy Week to you all, and…

God’s Peace, for peacemaking,

Pastor Verkouw

Our Grace Family

Former Zion member and Grace friend Thelma Williams is 101! 
She would love to hear from folks at Grace.  Send her a note of well wishes at:
200 Katy Fort Bend Rd, Apt 5406
Katy Texas 77494

Prayer List

 

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