This Week: 


Message from Pastor Grant Housewright for 5/24/2020


Ref: Coronavirus


Hello, Redeemer,

 

Grace and peace be with you now and always!

 

In light of our president's comments on the 22nd,  I feel we need to remind ourselves that plans to hold in-person worship are not politically oriented, regardless of which political party holds the majority. Rather, they are founded on health and medical reports in Harris County and Houston.

 

Even though we truly have no idea when we will re-enter our building, we must faithfully remember that we have never closed.  We're still, and will continue to be, the Church, because the community of Redeemer is not confined between four walls.  It is in us and all around us.  It will serve us well if we don't forget that.

 

Our Bishop, Michael Rinehart has reminded us that, since cases have not declined significantly in our area, and since over 70% of our worshipping numbers are over 65 years of age, we must wait Phase Two or even Phase Three.  We should never allow the health of our older individuals to be jeopardized.

 

In the meantime, let us remind ourselves, again, that Redeemer has never "closed".  We continue to worship through sermon and music videos, brief mid-week devotions, emailing a men's Bible study, phone calling each other, asking if our people need anything, feeding our neighborhood through the use of our outdoor pantry and praying for one another's faith, hope and well-being.  I have heard that some folks even light candles on Sundays for a time.

 

Yes, the normal to which we were accustomed has been replaced with something new, but faithful perseverance is the key to being and remaining the people of God.  

 

Remember, you can phone, text or email me at any time.  You are always in my prayers!

 

 I would like to offer you some words from Tom Trenny (Grace Lutheran, Eau Claire, WI):

 

 

 

“Our church is open.

 

Open to patience and wisdom. 

 

Open to science and common sense.

 

Open to discovering new ways to connect when it is unsafe to “do it the way we’ve always done it.”

 

Open to saving lives by giving up some of the traditions and sacraments we hold dear.

 

Open to wearing masks to show we love our neighbor. 

 

Open to keeping the sanctuary closed so more of us can come back together safely when it is time. 

 

Our church is open to following Jesus who, himself, spent time in the wilderness.

 

 We will remain open, and someday, by the grace of God, we will be able to worship together again.” 

 

 Your bulletin for Sunday, May 24, 2020 is attached to this email. 

 

 Two more emails with videos for May 24th will also be sent to you.



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            Subject:Finance Committee - April 25

Greetings in Christ's name to all of you this day!

Over the past couple of days, there has been discussion regarding an in-person Finance Committee meeting this coming Saturday at the church. As you know, I have been staunchly advocating all of us NOT gathering in Redeemer's building in any fashion.  

The three bishops of Texas and Louisiana sent out a notice yesterday revealing a three-phase plan to gather again for worship.  We were told that until the following criteria is met, we will not be able to enter Phase One, "which allows churches, arenas, movie theatres, et al, may reopen, but observe strict social distancing protocols".  (There is more to Phase One but, for now, that is the gist for you and me for the present moment.)

--- 14 days of declining symptoms
--- 14 days of declining cases
--- Hospitals able to treat all patients without crises care
--- Robust testing program in place for at-risk healthcare workers, including emerging antibody testing 

"Texas and Louisiana have not seen 14 days of declining cases. Most of our communities are at least two weeks from implementing even phase one."  

"One a community has seen 14 days of declining cases, and hospitals are not overloaded, churches may begin to meet in person, though we will need to practise extreme hygiene and social distancing.  The fellowship hall/gathering space should remain closed. Next week we will provide recommendations for social distancing at church, along with some liturgical recommendations for the first Sunday black."

So, there you have it; this is where we are for the time being.  I want to, however, let you folks know that the polity of the Evangelical Lutheran in America will not allow for orders, commands and demands. Therefore, if a committee feels that it is necessary to meet, then strict guideline need to be implemented: no handshakes or hugging, wipe everything down, which is what our office manager does on those days she and I meet (Tuesdays and Wednesdays presently). Nancy and I go up there on another day to do the videos and wipe, also. 

Please, and this is a strong please.......when your committee meets Saturday, please observe these recommendations. I care about all of you and, during these difficult times, I worry about you and want to protect you. Do you understand?!

Also, since I respectfully disagree with this gathering, I still want to attend, virtually. Conference me in, please.  If any of you feel you are sick, please stay away and contact Rob Work so that you attend virtually, as well.  To Rob: please set this up for those who will not be in attendance.  If there is cost involved, Redeemer will pay for it, because Nancy is not playing for worship right now, so there is some money saved.  

Please take these words to heart an stay safe and healthy!  Serious!

Peace!
Pastor H

 

 

 

 

Sermon from

Today's text causes us to consider one of the real mysteries in the Gospel. Here was this man, Jesus of Nazareth, who loved people; healed people; told people how much God loved them; told them they could have wholeness of life just by saying "Yes" to God. Yet, why did the religious people, the educated people, the leading citizens of the time, reject Him almost immediately? Why did they murder Him? What was at the root of their problem with Jesus? Why this fear, and then anger, and hatred? 

 

Some time ago, there was a national poll taken in America in which a large number of people were asked what they thought would happen if Jesus came back again. The majority of persons polled were honest enough to say, "I think we would kill Him again, only probably more quickly than before." You may agree or disagree with that consensus, but the fact is that in every one of us (every now and then) there is something that resists Jesus' Gospel. There also is a part of us that is drawn toward it. You wouldn't be here today if that were not true. You believe in new life in Jesus, but there is a part of you and a part of me that is threatened by it. And the fear turns so easily into anger and hostility. We hear Him say, "I have come to bring fire to the earth" (Lk.12:49) and we feel threatened. We lash out at it. We say to Jesus, "Keep out. We don't want to set the world on fire! We're not going to change!" OR' "it's too hard to change".

 

Author Rob Bell asks us to ponder the mysteries of the Gospel. Mysteries which include the dusty, messy, bloody and unexpected stories about this man, Jesus of Nazareth. This Jesus who touches lepers ( whom no one else would touch), who hears the cries of blind people ( who had been told to be quiet), who dines with tax collectors (whom everybody hated), and talks with a thirsty, disreputable Samaritan woman (with whom he wasn't supposed to talk). Over and over again we see Jesus going to the edges, to the margins, to those in trouble, those despised -- those no one else would touch -- those who were ignored.

 

Over and over again we see him going to the weak, the blind, the lame, the losers. He moves toward them; he extends himself to them; he reaches out to them and meets them in their place of pain, helplessness, abandonment and failure. He is living, breathing evidence that God wants everybody, everyone, to be rescued, renewed and reconciled -- to ourselves, our neighbors, our world -- and our God.

 

There are (of course) consequences to Jesus' teaching and touching, talking and dining, healing and helping. In His very insistence that God is for everybody, Jesus challenged the conventional wisdom of his day that God is only for some -- and doesn't care about the others. In His standing in being on the side of the poor, he confronted the system that created those kinds of conditions. In His declarations that God can't fit in any one temple, he provoked those who controlled and profited from that very temple.

 

In today's Gospel Lesson, Jesus says, "I have come to bring fire to the earth!" (Lk.12:49).

Self-centeredness and pride, which are the root of all our hostilities and enmities, must go. "I have come for division." Jesus says, "From now on a household of five will be divided: three against two and two against three; the father divided against the son, son against father, mother against daughter, daughter against mother" (Lk.12:51-53). 

 

He will not be content with things as they are, but is eager to realize things as they ought to be. There will be those who accept the transforming Power of His Spirit of Love and compassion, and those who will reject it. Among all the fathers and sons, mothers and daughters of the world, there will be those who accept the call to go to the edges, the margins -- and those who will reject it.

 

The following words were found inscribed on the tomb of an Anglican bishop buried in Westminster Abbey:

"When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change. So I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country. But it too seemed immovable.

As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing my family, those closest to me, but, alas, they would have none of it.

And now, as I lie on my deathbed, I suddenly realize -- IF I HAD ONLY CHANGED MYSELF FIRST -- then by example I would have changed my family. And from their inspiration and encouragement, I would then have been able to better my country and, who knows, I may have even bettered the world."

 

We recognize that there is a need for change, but it makes us uneasy. We find it threatening when we realize that substantial change for the better means a repudiation of so much we have stood for all our lives. We find it threatening to be called upon to renounce that which, like nothing else, is of our own special workmanship, namely, our own egos.

 

In all of His preaching and teaching, Jesus consistently calls us to a change of heart that reaches deep down, beneath the surface changes of fad and fashion. Jesus calls us to forgive those who hurt us, to pray for those who mistreat us, to bless those who hate us, to give aid and comfort to those who need us, to humble ourselves before the weak, to be most merciful and compassionate toward those on the margins society -- to do all these things consistently means that we must reorder our lives.

 

Jesus calls upon us to free ourselves from all traces of egoism and pride, from self-interest, to put aside our heavy preoccupations with achievement and success according to ordinary standards. To those who would seek to follow Him, be prepared. You might, like him, be chased out of the synagogue by a lynching party; be abandoned and betrayed by His closest friends; be mocked and scourged and crucified. Those were the consequences of Jesus' teaching and touching, talking and dining, healing and helping ministry of Loving service to others.

 

And now, Jesus calls upon us to rebuild our entire lives. Not on our deathbeds, but today -- let us change first. And then by our example, we may be able to change those we thought impossible.

 

So let us go forth as teaching, touching, talking, healing and helping witnesses to the mystery of the Gospel that draws us closer to our brothers and sisters everywhere -- especially to those at the margins.

Let us go forth as living, breathing evidence, that God wants everyone to be rescued, renewed and reconciled -- to ourselves, our neighbors, our world -- and our God.

July 07, 2020

WORSHIP TIMES10:30 Sunday Morning

 

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