Pastor’s Word: Keep Our Light Shining

Judith_blogDear Church Family,

How could any more possibly happen in less than two weeks? We had Annual Conference, and Les, Christina, Jonathan and I learned so much! We are excited about what the Conference is doing. The entire conference was invited to join in and address extreme asset poverty in two designated zip codes, one rural and one urban. The urban zip code designated is 75246!! Sound familiar? Grace UMC is the only United Methodist Church within that zip code!

No wonder we have 92 children signed up for Project Transformation in grades 1-6 and 80 of them showed up on Wednesday, our first day!! From the looks on their faces, they loved every minute of it! On that first day, as a special gift from the North Texas Food Bank, each family left here with their own SACK OF POTATOES!!! And the story goes on…

After the congregation gathered in the new Fellowship Hall on Sunday, June 2nd, to behold the new Kitchen and Fellowship Hall, Grace had an event the following Saturday for those organizations and donors who had given grants to Grace. It was a momentous event! Two of our new members, Danny Simpson and David Cavazos, transformed the Hall into a night to remember, replete with instrumental music and black linens. Under the direction of Chef Gail Blair and Alida Smith, the girls from alley’s house prepared a panoply of delightful food. Sylvie Ndjungu described to honored guests the multiple potential uses of the kitchen.

Acknowledgements were made to Mellen West, Kathy LaTour, Susan West, Gary Marrs, Steve and Brigette Hawks, David Lightfoot, and Roger Baggerman, trustees and pastors past for bringing us to where we are today. Dale McEowen provided tours of the entire church, Stephanie Bohan let those on tour take a peek at the “new” Agape clinic under construction, and “a good time was had by all!”

This first week of Project Transformation has seen volunteers from the congregation, and they have been so helpful. I hope you find time and a place to be involved this summer in Project Transformation and/or Vacation Bible School. Grace, let’s keep our light shining in 75246!

Grace and Peace,
Judith Reedy

Pastor’s Word: Blessed to Be a Blessing

Judith_blogDear Church Family,

The day has arrived! This Sunday, June 2nd, immediately following our 10:50 worship service, we are all invited to bless and – for the first time – feast our eyes upon our new kitchen and fellowship hall! This has been a dream of the congregation and its pastors as well as a need for many, many years and it has come true!

As a church family, you will be part of blessing this new facility, and you will get a peek at the Agape expansion in the basement as well. I believe that you will be amazed, impressed, and grateful! Some of you will remember the online picture of a very old, non-functioning, and gigantic South Bend stove. This same stove – completely refurbished, functioning superbly well, and shining (thanks to David Lightfoot) – is one of the centerpieces of our new kitchen! This is only one example of the transformation that has occurred over these past few months. You will not want to miss this moment in time!

On this same day, we will welcome our eight new Project Transformation interns to Grace and to our community! To celebrate their arrival, we will be serving finger foods in our new kitchen immediately following worship and the blessing of all things new. You will be doubly blessed on this day – you will see a new creation, and you will meet the young people who will be working with Grace to transform the lives of those in our community!

We are blessed to be a blessing, and I am anticipating with great joy sharing this time with all of you. Whether you have been one who has dreamed about this for years or whether you have just arrived on the scene, you are a part of the joy!

Grace and Peace,
Judith Reedy

Pastor’s Word: Billie Watts

Judith_blogDear Church Family,

For the last few newsletters, Billie has been writing about various staff members, providing juicy tidbits most of us did not know! In her profiles of our staff, Billie’s love for each shows right through each of them. That is Billie! Someone in the choir said, “When she came, she just loved all of us and we could tell it, so we just loved her right back!” And that is indeed what has happened – all over Grace. Billie has loved us so unconditionally and authentically that we have all just loved her right back!

Billie’s last Sunday with us, her last official day with us, is – appropriately – Pentecost Sunday! Let the drums begin their beat and let the Spirit begin to move! We will spend that day worshiping together, being served Holy Communion by Billie, and hearing from her. I cannot think of a better way to spend Pentecost.

I know that Billie’s spirit will stay with us, because someone cannot love you that much and not leave some of that love with us – to encourage us, to remind us, to support us in our daily
walk. Billie will be here with us this Sunday, serving communion with me, and she will be here on Pentecost Sunday as well. (On Mother’s Day, we are “loaning” her to Lovers Lane United Methodist Church to preach there!)

I am so glad that Bill Bryan helped Billie find Grace. It has been a win-win! I look forward to seeing you in church this Sunday, or on Saturday, if you are attending the women’s retreat!

Grace and Peace,
Judith Reedy

Pastor’s Word: The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Judith_blogDear Church Family,

Monday morning staff meeting began with high anticipation of sharing a meal with Grace community, the Missional Wisdom community, and beyond. Brian McLaren and Jonathan Wilson Hartgrove would break bread with us and share their wisdom with us about gospel-bearing in a religiously plural culture.

Monday afternoon, just a few hours later, the staff and the Bonhoeffer community quietly worked together setting up for the long-anticipated event, having heard the first pieces of news from the Boston Marathon.

The juxtaposition of these two events did not fit. When the evening came and our tables were heaped up and flowing over with food (somehow the word “potluck” has survived and is recognized by people across all age groups), we opened with a moment of silence and words reminding us of some of the feelings of disbelief and horror we felt upon first hearing about 9/11.

Throughout the evening, however, hope was palpable. Over one hundred people had gathered in the parlor, and more quietly assumed their places in the balcony, eagerly listening for words of wisdom to direct us and help us formulate our own thoughts and responses to gospel-bearing. When supper was over, Elaine Heath set the stage for us.

Those moments of intense listening in close quarters and from the balcony were right out of To Kill a Mockingbird. Those moments of response from McLaren and Hartgrove were right out of the gospel as each responded to every question from those gathered with, “Let me tell you a story.” Two days later, West happened.

I thank God for each of you every day and for making a place such as Grace where, in the best of times and in the worst of times, all are invited to gather, be heard and be blessed.

Grace and Peace,
Judith Reedy

Pastor’s Word: Easter Sunday

Judith_blogDear Church Family,

What an Easter Sunday! It is without a doubt the very best Easter Sunday I have ever witnessed! The Holy Week services, the music, the marketing, the participation, planning and preparation, and the presence of almost 300 people made this Easter Sunday memorable!

Violet felt the same way, though her comparison basis is quite different from mine. Violet, at 11 months, was experiencing her very first Easter Sunday. She sat on the back row in her Easter dress and accessories, waiting breathlessly at 10:50 for something momentous to happen. Then it did! The choir began to sing and process slowly down the aisle. From my vantage point all the way up on the chancel, I could see and hear her response. “Oooh!” she exclaimed again and again, accompanied by the waving and kicking of her arms and legs and the movement of her entire body which kept her Easter dress alive and fluttering.

“Oooh!” I thought, as the choir continued into the loft and the drummers began to accompany Billie and Mary in duet and the children simply flooded Christina for their Easter message. “Oooh!” I thought as the entire church applauded Jean for his new U.S. citizenship. “Oooh!” as Hal accompanied the choir on “Mary at the Tomb.”

The stage has been set. We will spend these next packed six weeks of Eastertide testifying with our new members’ luncheon, our kitchen, our clinic, our worker’s defense project, our hosting of Brian McClaren and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, our highlight of missions, our expanded Open Door hours, Confirmation and Mother’s Day Sunday, and getting ready for Project Transformation. Oooh, indeed!

I look forward to seeing you this Sunday at Grace and to hearing another great sermon from our intern Billie Watts!

Grace and Peace,
Judith Reedy

Pastor’s Word: The Power of Persistence

Judith_blogDear Church Family,

A little girl was telling her father about how some of the boys in the neighborhood had set traps to catch birds. He asked her what she did about it. “I prayed that the traps might not catch the birds,” she said. “Anything else?” the father asked. “I prayed that God would keep the birds out of the traps.” “Anything else?” “When the boys weren’t looking, I went and kicked all the traps to pieces.” That is persistent praying!

I have often asked the question, “How does Grace do what Grace does in mission?” I quickly discovered that we have people outside Grace who love and support Grace and we have people inside Grace who continue to write grants for Grace’s missions. THE EXTRAORDINARY PIECE TO ALL THIS, HOWEVER, IS THAT THE PEOPLE CALLED GRACE ARE PERSISTENT!

Persistence leads us to ask not simply what God can do for us, but how our requests might fit into God’s desires for the world. It is not enough to pray for peace if we ourselves are unwilling to be peacemakers, or to pray for the homeless and hungry if we ourselves are unwilling to provide food and shelter for them. There are some prayers that God will not answer without us.

If you have not signed up with the missions committee to bring potato salad, baked beans or cole slaw to the DAIRE center on Saturday, March 16, or if you have not signed up to go along, please consider this your opportunity to be persistent.Thank you for continuing to kick all the traps to pieces!

Grace and Peace, Judith Reedy

Pastor’s Word: Where Do We Go?

Judith_blogDear Church Family,

In Alice in Wonderland, Alice asked the cat, “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
The cat replied, “That depends a great deal on where you want to go.”
“Oh, I don’t much care,” said Alice. To which the cat responded,
“Then it doesn’t matter much which way you go.”
“But I want to go somewhere,” protested Alice.
The cat answered with wisdom and insight, “Oh, you are sure to do that!”

There is no other time in the Christian year than Lent that we need to pay more attention to where we are going. The cat spoke real truth: Whether we pay attention to or really care about where we are going, it makes no difference, because we will go somewhere. It’s like that old saying “Everywhere I go, there I am.”

In these holy days mixed with the air of some things unholy, let’s take time to pay attention to where we want to go. Many of you started the Lenten season on Ash Wednesday. Others started this past Sun-day, Monday, and Tuesday at small group Lenten studies. Still others of you are on your own personal spiritual journey, discovering where it is you want to go. It is comforting to me to know that we are on this journey together.

Speaking of where we are going, we have received notice that Grace has been selected as a Project Transformation site for the months of June and July! As the Project Transformation interns shared with us in January, this intergenerational program focuses on the children and youth of our community for 8 weeks. This has all the promise of helping in all three goals adopted for 2013: Inspire involvement, improve our community, and increase awareness of Grace. You will have the opportunity to be involved in this transforming ministry!

Meanwhile, thank you for your willingness to wor-ship wherever the Spirit leads us!!

Grace and Peace, Judith