Thursday, September 29, 2011

World Communion

One piece of what makes The Gathering The Gathering is sharing our communal meals. We believe that "Communion" is made as we sit down at a table together to share food and share ourselves. Our meal is a sacred way of tying us together and tying us to God.

Is this why so many traditions consider sharing a meal together sacred? Is this the meaning of "World Communion Day"? How does Jesus' table fellowship fit in? Feminist theologian Janet Walton says a sacred meal is powerful because it embodies memory, imagination, power, encounter, freedom, relationships, presence, and blessing. We'll explore these notions Sunday night when we gather for worship. Our offering will be designated for Concho Valley Food Bank.

Our potluck theme is international - e.g., how might our neighbors in Bangladesh, Mexico, Sweden observe World Communion Day?

We ALWAYS have plenty of food during the potluck, and in fact, the abundance is one indicator of our delight in gathering around the table together. So please know that you DO NOT need to bring something in order to come to The Gathering, and also please know that whether you bring anything or not, there is ALWAYS enough for all who come to the table. You are welcome to come and receive; you are welcome to be nourished from the abundance; you are welcome to bring and share.

You are welcome at The Gathering - no matter how you are inclined to attend!

World Communion Sunday
October 2, 2011, 5:30 pm
618 Locust Street

Friday, September 23, 2011

UCC 101

Join The Gathering this Sunday for a fun and fact-filled evening of learning everything you ever wanted to know about the "rest of the family" - the United Church of Christ. Why did we, The Gathering, choose to be UCC? Who exactly are our cousins?

What do:
"God is Still Speaking,
"Never place a period where God has placed a comma"
"No matter who you are or where you are on life's journey, you are welcome here"
- actually mean?

From where did these phrases come? And who cares about all this? The evening promises to be interesting and enlivening! I bet you can guess where our offering will be designated: sure enough, the United Church of Christ! Specifically, "Our Church's Wider Mission" offering, which you'll learn more about Sunday night. See you then.

Sunday, September 25,
5:30 pm, 618 Locust Street

Friday, September 16, 2011

Consider Compassion

This Sunday's worship will build on the Season of Peace theme "Consider Compassion." Our offering will be designated for Calvary Episcopal Church, Bastrop, to help with wildfire recovery efforts in the Bastrop area. A former colleague of mine is the current Rector, and Father John Loving, formerly of San Angelo, recently served as their Transitional Rector. In addition, we will continue to receive beans and rice for Project Dignidad.

This Sunday is a Communal Meal Sunday, in that we will share a potluck following the worship service.

Gathering for Worship
5:30 pm, 618 Locust St.
Sunday, September 18

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Engaging the Legacy of 9-11

This Sunday is the ten-year anniversary of September 11, 2001. I have mixed feelings about this: from a religious perspective, I have no interest in revisiting the traumatic images nor celebrating the subsequent on-going wars and deaths of hundreds of thousands of people across the globe. But it is important to explore the deeper questions evoked by the anniversary - specifically, what have we, as a nation, become? And what is a faithful response to fear, terrorism, threat?

Beth and Harold Peterson have been concerned with these issues since September 11, 2001, and we are fortunate that they will lead our exploration and discussion Sunday night. About the evening Beth writes:

In the years following our shock, horror and grief about 9/11, we have come to realize that we, as Americans, have been involved in the use of torture, contrary to the United Nations Convention Against Torture. What do our faith traditions teach us regarding torture? Join us September 11 to view a video and discuss the moral issue of torture.

Our offering is two-fold: 1) we will again collect bags of beans and rice for Project Dignidad, and 2) our monetary offering will be designated for the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT). NRCAT is a membership organization of religious organizations committed to ending torture that is sponsored or enabled by the United States. Since its formation on January 16, 2006, more than 300 religious organizations have joined and over 57,000 individual people of faith have participated in our activities. Members include representatives from the Baha'i, Buddhist, Catholic, evangelical Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Orthodox Christian, mainline Protestant, Quaker, Sikh and Unitarian Universalist communities.

We will not have a potluck meal. Feel free to bring drinks and snacks.

Spirituality and Practice website has a beautiful collection of prayers, art work, spiritual practices, and contemplative writings concerning the anniversary of 9/11. Some of the contributors include Mark Nepo, Joyce Rupp, Sylvia Boorstein, Ram Dass, and Sharon Salzberg.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Labor Day: Forgotten Arc?

This year, jobs, workers' rights, and the power of corporations have very much been at the center of political conversations and conflicts across the United States. It seems Labor Day has both come at a great time to remind us of the importance and value of "the common worker" and also has lost much of its significance.

Labor Day was established to honor workers and commemorate their contributions and struggles, past and present, to bring justice and dignity to the workplace and to society. Since its founding 100+ years ago, the struggle for justice and dignity in the workplace clearly continues. Currently, more than two million full-time, year round US workers live below the poverty line, struggling to pay for necessities such as food, housing, healthcare, transportation, and childcare. Since 1996, thousands of faith communities have focused Labor Day weekend services on injustices facing low-wage workers and the religious community's efforts to support workers' struggles for living wages and family-sustaining benefits.

The Gathering will join this effort Sunday night as well as reflect on what makes "work" - whether it's sweeping, teaching, painting, preaching, banking, gardening, or whatever else - sacred. Our monetary offering will be designated for an organization whose "work" is to end hunger and poverty and care for the earth by helping others work: Heifer Project. They stress that "by giving families a hand- up, not just a hand-out, we empower them to turn lives of hunger and poverty into self-reliance and hope.

In addition, you are invited to bring the classic healthy hardy budget meal: one pound bags of beans and one pound bags of rice for a special offering for Project Dignidad. Our potluck will be dishes containing beans and rice and anything that accompanies this delicacy.