June 1, 2022
After heavy rains, drainage from the courtyard between the education building and the fellowship hall is very slow. In fact, we jokingly refer to the area as Lake St. Philip’s. After a few days, it becomes stagnant and begins to stink and become a breeding ground for mosquitos. A stagnant body of water cannot be life giving, and in fact, can eventually grow deadly bacteria. Next Sunday, we celebrate Pentecost. It is that time when the Holy Spirit filled the disciples of Jesus so they could be poured out – meaning they were to use the gifts they were given for God’s purpose. And so it is to be to this day.
The problem is, we like that full feeling and don’t want to let it go. Thinking of stagnant water, it is easy to see the danger for the church that does not continuously pour itself out. We can become stagnant. Pouring ourselves out becomes life-giving – for us as individuals and for our church. No matter what our age or ability, it is not enough to just be filled. If you want to help make St. Philip’s a healthy, life-giving church, there are many opportunities to pour yourself out for others. Talk to me or other leaders about how you can help with our Freedom Fest Celebration, Vacation Bible School, caring ministry, prayer ministry, teaching ministry, facilities care, music ministry, fellowship or others ways you can help meet the needs of others by giving of yourself. As you pour yourself out, you will find yourself constantly being filled with the life-giving Spirit of God. View here
May 17, 2022
THE FACE OF THE LIVING GOD
I have discovered that Christ is
made known in the sharing of life.
Peace comes when we look for
the face of Christ in everyone we
meet. I share with you some of
my encounters over the years
with the living Christ.
When I think of caring, I think of her. In spite
of the pain and disappointments in her own life, I have
watched her care for others. I remember clearly the times
she has cared for me. She's growing older now, still, she
takes her place among those who gather for worship. She
sits alone - but not for long. Upon seeing her, two young
children rush to sit by her side. Their eyes meet, they smile
at each other and she surrounds them with her arms. The
room is filled with the presence of the living Christ.
Last night we talked. Rather she talked and I listened. I listened as she shared her concern for the adolescents of the community, the risks she takes as she shares
her faith in a work setting, the painful loss of a loved one.
Now each moment of life is a gift from God. She wants
every child to know God's love and care. She takes her
place among those gathered at the communion rail. As she
receives the bread, I hear my own voice saying, the body
of Christ broken for you. I feel her touch my hand. Our
eyes meet and I behold the face of Christ.
He takes his place at the table. Slowly, he kneels
at the rail. His hands are wrinkled, his fingers bent. He
struggles to pick up the cup. The words I speak confront
me - The blood of Christ shed for you. He looks up. Our
eyes meet and I behold the face of Christ.
She takes her place beside him. Her hands are
small and smooth. I heard it is her first time in church. She
is excited to find that "snacks" are provided. Eagerly she
takes the cup. She seems surprised to hear me speak her
name. As you drink this, remember that Jesus loves you.
She looks up. Our eyes meet, and after a moment of holy
silence, she says, "I will remember,” and I behold the face
He's the first one to the steps for the children's sermon. It is obvious, he has a story to tell. He flashes a big
smile. Look, he says. Right here. I lost a tooth today. The
other children begin to arrive. Many teeth are missing. How
will I shift this conversation to Jesus Christ? Was there a
parable of the lost tooth? I look at the children. So many
stories here. How quick they are to share their lives and
their love. How close they are to holiness. I look at the
smiling, toothless wonder beside me. He is looking at me.
Our eyes meet and I behold the face of Christ.
Not much holiness here I thought. Not at a volleyball tournament. The competition is hot, the players are
tired. At last we are taking down the nets. Rather, I was
taking down the net and she was talking. "I love my new
Bible. I read it every night. My mom tells me to go to sleep,
but I say just let me finish this story. Its my favorite book. I
pray every night after I read." Finally when she took a
breath, I asked her what was her favorite story. "Oh, that's
easy, the part where Jesus is raised from the dead to live
with us forever. Some people don't believe its true, do
you?" Suddenly, it is the voice of Christ I hear, "Do you
believe?" Our eyes meet, a strange warmth fills my soul.
Yes, I believe, more than ever, I believe and I behold the
face of the Christ.
May your days be enriched by the presence of the living Christ! View here
May 3, 2022
Three weekends ago, I decided
to make a quick trip to College
Station to see the bluebonnets
along the way. By the time I
would see a good field, it was not
convenient to get off the road. So I began to
look, not for bluebonnets, but for cars stopped
alongside the road. It worked every time. Not
only did the crowd get to enjoy the flowers, but
they drew others to the beauty as well. I decided
to test this theory on other things – like restaurants, for example. When I was growing up, my
parents would only stop at restaurants where
there was a crowd. They reasoned that if no one
was eating there, it must not be good. I have
learned the wisdom of that thinking, and it was
reinforced that weekend when I stopped to eat.
Not only did the crowd enjoy a good meal, but
they drew others to a good meal as well.
Well, being a pastor, I can’t help but wonder
what that says about a church. Do the best
churches have the most people in worship? My
experience tells me no, but my guess is that is
what crosses the mind of folks searching for a
church. That means, our presence matters. It
matters to us – as we are spiritually fed; and it
matters to others – as we draw them to the place
where they can be fed as well. Hope to see you
Sunday. Remember, some people will be looking for a church this Sunday - and a full parking
lot will be the sign for them that good things are
happening at St. Philip’s. View here
April 19. 2022
What a glorious Easter we celebrated together. We had 159 people join us in our two services. That included lots of visitors and is the most positive sign we have had post covid that things are looking up for the church. We need to hold on to this positive sign when things don’t look so good. And we need to remember the Good News of Resurrection when things don’t seem so great in our lives.
As a child, I loved to climb trees. There wasn’t a tree I couldn’t climb (still isn’t by the way.) It was another world looking from the top of a tall tree. Getting down from the tree was where I had a problem. My mom or dad would often have to talk me down, repeating often, “Don’t look down.” While the view from the top of a tree is magnificent, looking down is terrifying. Life can be pretty dreadful if we spend our time looking down. There are things that are distasteful and destructive and discouraging in this world. It is easy to look at all that is around us and get disheartened and frightened, but Jesus says that at such a time, “Look up, lift up your head to the Lord.” Fix your mind and heart on what is right and good.
The clouds may be heavy where you are traveling right now. But look up. Above the clouds, the
sun is shining; somewhere kind winds are blowing
and the skies are cloudless and clear. Above the
clouds of gossip and meanness, there is fellowship, a
joy divine. Look up. Above the clouds of disappointment, there is a plan you cannot see from your present perspective.
Look up. Jesus lives, and by faith, looking up,
you may see the blessed sunshine and move in the
calm, pure atmosphere of the Holy Spirit. This is the
good news of the resurrection: Because Jesus lives,
we can face whatever tomorrow brings. Alleluia! View here
April 5, 2022
During Lent, we are called to change
our direction – to turn from the ways
of the world and return to God.
Such change is always difficult. Of
course, we aim for perfection, and
that is admirable. At the same time,
we know, as does God, that our human imperfections make that goal a real
challenge for us.
Thus, the goal of Lent is not to make a plan for change
and follow it to the letter. Rather, the goal is to make
a change that sinks deeply into life, drawing us closer
to self, others and God. Such change requires a move
from head to heart. The prophet Jeremiah describes
this shift: “This is the covenant that I will make with
the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I
will put my law within them, and I will write it on their
hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my
people” (Jeremiah 31:33).
This change – this turning towards God – becomes imbedded in our heart - the place from which we make
all of our best decisions. This is the shift in direction
we hope for this Lent.
Well, believe it or not, the season of Lent is coming to
an end. Next Sunday is Palm Sunday and the beginning
of Holy Week – the culmination of our Lenten journey
toward the cross. We have all probably experienced
some failures to make the changes in our lives for
which we had hoped. We have failed to follow Christ
as faithfully as we had hoped. Our failures to reach
our goal, though disappointing, can actually help us
achieve the goal, for we gain something by losing our
way: the drive to find our way back. If we have strayed
from the path to which Christ calls us, now is the time
to make some final adjustments to get back on course
– to turn our face toward the cross, no matter how
painful that may be. During the next week (and beyond) may this practice of returning to God take root
and begin to grow in our hearts. The result is a life
that is being transformed day by day into the likeness
of Jesus Christ. It is that transformation that will lead
us through the dark days of Holy Week and into the
joyous light of Easter morning. View here
March 22, 2022
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Easter is a day to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. What a joy it will be this year to again celebrate “in person.” Finally, the church is beginning to open up more and more. More people are coming back to church. We are seeing guests again, and we are able to gather for fellowship and study. As we enter into a deeper and more personal relationship with Christ, the power of Easter comes alive in our lives, and now, especially, we realize that it is so much more than a big celebration on one Sunday of the year.
The power of Easter grows in us as we respond to God’s love through ministry to others. For many, Christ will be known through us and through our gifts of love. Our special Easter offering is typically directed toward ministries that address the needs of persons in our community and beyond. This year we will again support the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) with our Easter offering. UMCOR is known to be the first in and last out in when disaster strikes throughout the world. This year we have seen the struggle of people who have had their lives shattered by war. They endure pain most of us have never experienced. Refugees from Ukraine and Afghanistan seek shelter, help and relocation. And, in every case, UMCOR is there to help.
I know many of us have taken a financial “hit” due to the pandemic and to stock market losses due to fallout from crisis throughout the world, but if you are able to give a little extra at Easter, it can make a big difference. We will be collecting for this special offering throughout our Lenten season. Mark your check “Easter Offering” or put it in the envelope enclosed in this newsletter, send it or bring it to the church, and your contribution will used to spread the love of Jesus Christ throughout a hurting world. You can also make a contribution online at www.spumchou.org/donation or text to donate at 281.666.2810. Enclosed in the Campanile is a plan for Holy Week this year. We hope you find it helpful and will join us as often as possible. Remember to keep your eyes on Jesus. He is faithful – always has been and always will be. View here
March 8, 2022
STRENGTH FOR THE HARD TIMES
David J. Wolpe, in Teaching Your Children About God, tells the following story:
A boy and his father were walking along a road when they came across a large stone. The boy said to his father, “Do you think if I use all my strength, I can move this rock?” His father answered, “If you use all your strength, I am sure you can do it.” The boy began to push the rock. Exerting himself as much as he could, he pushed and pushed. The rock did not move. Discouraged, he said to his father, “You were wrong, I can’t do it.”
The father placed his arm around the boy’s shoulder and said, “No, son, you didn’t use all your strength—you didn’t ask me to help.”
Lent is the time when we are called to walk in the wilderness for a while, to get in touch with our greatest needs, to discover our needs often turn out to be “wants” and our “wants” turn out to be the things that separate us from the life God desires for us. In the wilderness, we come across “rocks” that we cannot move by ourselves. And we learn, like the boy in the story, that we too have failed to use all of our strength – that our strength comes from beyond ourselves. The apostle Paul says it like this, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) Thanks be to God for the strength he gives.
There are people in the world today that need strength from beyond themselves. They are refugees from Ukraine, and from Afghanistan, and from other places near and far. We may not personally be able to offer refuge, but we can support an organization that can help. All money we donate to United Methodist Committee on Relief can help get needed relief to those refugees. I encourage you to set aside an offering this Lent to be sent to UMCOR as our church Easter offering. When we work together, we draw on strength beyond ourselves to help those in need. View here
February 22, 2022
Can you believe that Lent is just around the corner? The season begins with our Ash Wednesday Worship Service on March 2. This season is a call to turn from the ways of the world and return to God. Such change is always difficult. Of course, we aim for perfection, and that is admirable. At the same time, we know, as does God, that our human imperfections make that goal a real challenge for us. Thus, the goal of Lent is not to make a plan for change and follow it to the letter. Rather, the goal is to make a change that sinks deeply into life, drawing us closer to self, others and God. Such change requires a move from head to heart. This change – this turning towards God – becomes embedded in our heart - the place from which we make all of our best decisions. This is the shift in direction we hope for this Lent. Our failures to reach our goal, though disappointing, can actually help us achieve the goal, for we gain something by losing our way: the drive to find our way back. The practice of returning to God takes root and begins to grow in our hearts. The result is a life that is being transformed day by day into the likeness of Jesus Christ. Remember, we are here to help each other on this amazing journey of faith.
Let us begin it together on March 2 at 7
p.m. as we kneel at the altar to receive the cross of ashes
on our foreheads, a sign of our willingness to be transformed by Christ. We will gather again each Wednesday for
soup and a brief video from a study on “Witness at the
Cross” by Dr. Amy-Jill Levine. We will have the added enrichment opportunity of having a Jewish Rabbi join us on
March 23 to teach us about a traditional Seder meal. This
Lenten season promises to help us prepare for a great celebration of Resurrection. Let’s come together on Wednesdays during Lent to encourage each other on the journey. View here
February 8, 2022
We are off to a good start with our “souper bowl of caring.” This past Sunday we collected $377 ($217 for Bengals and $160 for Rams.) We will have the soup pots out again next Sunday, so we have one more week to get a final count to make our Super Bowl winning prediction. All funds collected will go to Braes Interfaith Community to purchase food for those in need. Our very first St. Phil’s ‘Sup was enjoyed by 52 people. The food and fellowship was great. Once again, Ryan outdid himself. I am looking forward to our February ‘Sup which will happen on February 27 and will prepare us for Houston Rodeo season. And then, we begin the Lent season with our Soup Suppers. Ash Wednesday begins the season on Wednesday, March 2 and we continue with our Soup Suppers on Wednesdays beginning March 9. Our Lenten devotional time will focus on a book by Amy-Jill Levine, “Witnesses at the Cross.” I am excited about the good things happening at our church. I hope you are, too and will join in as you are able. And, why not invite friends and neighbors to join us. Who knows, it may be just what they have been looking for, and we will all be blessed by each other’s presence. View here
January 25, 2022
This past week it has been pretty chilly outside. Today, it is not only chilly, but very wet. On these days I am thankful for a warm and dry space to live and work. At the same time, I am even more aware of the many people who have nowhere to escape the cold weather. Homelessness seems to be on the increase and resources can’t seem to keep up. I look around at rooms at the church that are empty most nights and I wonder why we don’t open our church as a warming station during cold weather? We can come up with many reasons why it wouldn’t work and mostly it is the inconvenience to us. But the image of the church as a warming station is stuck in my mind and heart - not just in freezing weather, but in times when hearts are frozen by disappointments, rejection, abandonment , etc. We are surrounded by people who need a place where their hearts can thaw out, and they can discover the joy of life. It thrills my heart when guests speak of the warmth of this church, and it is my deepest prayer that those for whom life has frozen out their joy, will discover it here at St. Philip’s. May we open our doors as a “warming station” in our community. How about we start by inviting people to join us for St. Phil’s ‘Sup on Sunday, January 30 at 6 p.m.? Together we can enjoy a hot, delicious meal and fellowship that can warm our hearts. Who knows, this time together may be just what someone needs to discover renewed joy and hope. View here
January 11, 2022
This month we are looking at how we are called through our baptism to put on Christ- to serve as Christ served and love as Christ loved. Even in biblical times, when the marketplace was nothing like it is today, people still had to be reminded that “wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Find someone who gives willingly, and you’ll see someone who understands the importance of prayer. Find someone with a rich prayer life, and you’ll see someone who feels compelled to worship regularly. Find someone who worships regularly and you’ll see that person is also motivated to serve. At the very core of such life is a shift in thinking, a transition from fear to confidence, from despair to hope, from sadness to great joy. Many of us are fearful about having enough for our own needs, but without a willingness to let go and let God, or to release what we hold so tightly (whether it is our time, attendance, prayers or money), we are not given a full opportunity to see God work in and through us. A church in which each person gives and serves according to the Lord’s leading is a church in which anything is possible.
As we move forward in 2022, let us spend time in prayer, and let confidence in God, not fears of these troubling times, lead us all to a prosperous future as individuals and as a church.
Please join me in the following prayer over the next month:
We thank you for the great opportunities for growth that lie before us. We praise you that you are taking us on a journey with you – one that can reap an incredible harvest for our families, our congregation and our community. Help us to grow closer to you, to see more of you, and to learn everything you want to teach us in the coming days. We give you thanks in advance for all you will do through us, in the mighty name of your son, Jesus, our savior. Amen. View here
December 28, 2021
I have included these goals and characteristics of a vibrant church at the beginning of the last few years. I don’t think we can be reminded “too often” of what it means to be a church that is in the business of reaching people for Jesus Christ. Let us take these practices to heart as we come to the end of a challenging year for churches everywhere and prepare to begin what will likely be another challenging year.
These general rules were designed by John Wesley to help Christians pursue the goal of sanctification.
1. Avoid those things which are inconsistent with the life of faith and bring harm to others.
2. Do good of every possible sort and practice our faith.
3. Pursue growth in our spiritual lives.
As we follow those rules, we become more positive, more humble and more joyful. We will demonstrate respect of others, maintain confidentiality, publicly support other leaders, and accept differences among people.
As a church, let us strive for excellence in these things:
1. Let prayer be the beginning of everything we do.
2. Let us be driven by our vision and mission.
3. Let us value leadership that leads by example and loves others.
4. Let us seek to call, equip, and empower the laity to do ministry.
5. Let us continually work to maintain an outward focus.
6. Let us value worship as the hub through which the church is gathered and from which the church is sent.
7. Let us make use of effective marketing for our ministry.
8. Let us pursue outstanding follow-up in each ministry area.
9. Let us lift up and encourage others to fulfill the expectations of membership.
10. Let us seek to constantly improve and innovate our ministries, in order to reach an ever-changing world.
May we all be challenged in 2022 to let our commitment to Christ be evident in all we do. May we use every means we have to invite others to join us as we fulfill our mission to “Share God’s Love with All Our Neighbors,” and keep moving forward in our vision “to love all people and spread the Light of Christ.” View here
December 14, 2021
Advent is a time when we seek
peace, hope, joy and love that
comes with Jesus Christ. That happened this year with Las Posadas .
What a wonderful experience those
four nights turned out to be. We
processed in the surrounding neighborhood carrying the light of Christ,
singing songs in Spanish and finally being
welcomed in by our host families for punch, sweet
breads and hot chocolate. It was a time to experience the joy of Christ as we sang and laughed together. There was such love for others as we celebrated together. I saw hope for a world where diversity is celebrated and valued and peace that comes
when that happens. Thanks to the many people who
helped make Las Posadas a reality in our church
community. We welcomed our pilgrims to the church
parsonage, to the Miller’s home and to the Greenhill’s
home for nightly celebrations. Norma and Carmen
Molina, Liliana Crump, the Greenhills, the Millers,
Tana Wilkinson and Rosalba Benjume provided
punch, hot chocolate, sweet breads and tamales.
Marisol Sanchez provided piñatas. Isaias Molina
made the carrier for Mary and Joseph and many others helped decorate the Fellowship Hall and roll tamales. The final worship service and celebration at
the church with the guest soloist and mariachi band
was over the top thanks to the multi-talented Ryan
Pennington. Thanks to everyone who helped in any
way, from the planning stage to the end, to make Las
Posadas such a meaningful experience. Christmas
is a time for giving and you have given much of yourselves.
Christmas is a time for giving and there are still many
more ways to give to this church and to others. Now
is a good time to catch up with your giving to the
church if you are behind or to make a special gift to
our Christmas offering this year. This year our
Christmas offering will support Heifer International,
which enables families to provide for themselves and
build income by gifting them with animals. Included
in this newsletter is information about Heifer. You may designate money for a
specific animal if you choose. Please return your gift
to the church by Christmas Eve.
You can also make a pledge to support our ministry
in 2022 by sending in your pledge card and skills
inventory if you have not already done so. If you
need a stewardship packet, you can call the church
Someone made a comment to me during Las Posadas that they always like to join us because we do
good things at St. Philip’s. Thank you so much for
your love and service to Jesus Christ through this
church. You are helping to bring the peace, hope, joy
and love of Christ into the world. View here
November 30, 2021
Last month I attended a block party in my neighborhood and was a little embarrassed to have lived at the parsonage for 16 years and only know a few of the neighbors by name. I was embarrassed that is until I met someone who had lived in the neighborhood for ten years and did not know the family across the street from her. Unfortunately, this scenario is all too common in our world today. We miss out on the opportunity to know and be known by those around us. At the block party, I found out that the neighbor who has walked by my house every day at 4 p.m. - who always stopped to talk when I was in the yard - is now bedridden. I regret the months that he lay in bed – alone – and I did not even notice he had stopped his daily walks. I found out that another neighbor had died the month before. There were other concerns and joys that were shared among people I had not known before. Now we have a connection – a connection that has the potential to grow into relationship if we choose to nurture it. In many ways life in our churches is no different than life in our neighborhoods. Too often we are too busy to take time to really know each other, to share our stories with each other, to truly be a community of faith. This Christmas we have an opportunity to change that. As we walk our Las Posada routes, we can take the time to stop and get to know each other, to share fellowship and prayer, to share our lives. Las Posadas will pass, but the relationships nurtured, the community established has the potential to grow if we choose to nurture them. I hope you will join us on December 9 & 10 at 7:30 pm, December 11 at 6 pm and December 12 at 5 pm. You can join the walks any or all of the days. Each night will end with fellowship, refreshments, and prayer. On December 12, we will end the night with a brief worship service, live nativity, tamale dinner and pinatas. This Christmas, let us be people who offer ourselves in Christian fellowship and love to each other and to the community around our church. View here
November 16, 2021
Beginning in Old Testament times, the people of God brought their “first fruits”, the very best they had to offer, to honor God, who had blessed them with so much. On Sunday, November 21, we will come to the altar to pre-sent our gifts for 2022. By this time, you should have received a letter containing an “estimate of giving” card and a skills inventory. I ask that you prayerfully consider what you can give to the ministry of Jesus Christ through this church and bring it to church on Sunday. If you did not receive a letter, and wish to offer your gifts, there will be cards available on Sunday.
Very soon, many of us will gather with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving. We will eat more than we should and hopefully, we will take a moment to give thanks to God for the food and the opportunity to share life together. This ability to give thanks for all situations in life was the source of joy in the early church and it had incredible results in the lives of those disciples and apostles, and in the lives of all those around them. They lived happy and triumphant lives, they rejoiced even when they were being afflicted and persecuted, and their fellowship continually grew until it reached the ends of the earth.
What do you think would happen if each one of us sud-denly became a more thankful person? I know for sure that as more thankful people we become more appre-ciative people – especially of the people we love and far too often take for granted. And as more thankful and more appreciative people, we become more con-tent, less envious of others, and we live a more joy filled life. So as we come, once again, to the season of Thanksgiving, where is your sense of thankfulness? This year let us make a commitment to give thanks. Give thanks in all circumstances. Give thanks for everything. Give thanks at all times. And let us begin by bringing our best to the altar to thank God for His many blessings. View here
November 2, 2021
Can it really be November already? November is a month to remember and give thanks. On Sunday, November 7th we will remember and give thanks for the saints of this church who have entered the church triumphant this past year. They have supported this church with their time, talents and gifts for many years. They are the ones who have encouraged us and influenced our faith through their witness. We feel their loss on a daily basis. I hope you will be present on Sunday to stand in remembrance of: Walter Boyd, Florence Bryan, Pennie Butler, K.C. Creamer, Bernice Galloway, and Peggy McGowan.
On November 7 at 5:30 p.m. we will gather in the sanctuary for our annual charge conference led by our District Superintendent, Dr. Elijah Stansell. All are invited to come together for this important meeting.
November is also a time to express our gratitude for all God has given to us. It is a time where we enter into a covenant of offering our time, talents and resources to further the ministry of Christ through this, His Church. God has given us the privilege and responsibility of being good stewards of all of His gifts, so this time of the year is often known as stewardship month in the church. I hope your heart is filled with gratitude as you reflect on all God has gifted to us. Our Stewardship theme this year is Now, More than Ever, Receive Hope, Be Hope, Share Hope. We will hear from church members, via video, in our worship services, on Facebook and on our website, about how the church has been a source of hope in our community and how our giving helps keep that hope alive for so many. November 21st is Covenant Sunday. You will have received a pledge card in the mail by that time or you can make your pledge online. This card represents the covenant between you and God to support his church with your prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness. Plan to bring the card to the altar or fill out the card online on or before November 21 as together we praise God from whom all blessings flow and declare our willingness to let God use us to further God’s kingdom on earth. View here
October 19, 2021
The past two years have been challenging ones for all of us. Covid has forced us to adapt to a changed reality. We put our masks on and keep our distance from others. It has been hard for the church, which by its nature is called to draw close in fellowship, to comfort each other with hugs and to gather for worship. It is a time when many have become more comfortable staying at home. Those who were alone already have become more alone and often lonely. Now, more than ever, we must find new ways to be HOPE in the world. In fact, that is the theme of this year’s stewardship emphasis. NOW, MORE THAN EVER, RECEIVE HOPE, BE HOPE, SHARE HOPE.
Karen Wilkson and I are looking for people who will be willing to share, on video, what that means for them. If you would be willing to share with us what the church has meant for you during this challenging time, please give me a call and we will guide you through recording your own video or arrange a time when we can come to you and record. I believe we can come through this time stronger than ever, but only if we are willing to see this time as an opportunity to do new things. All of us can help and maybe the most important thing we can do is pray. I suggest an acronym that may help us push forward. It is PUSH (Pray Until Something Happens.) Time after time we have witnessed the miracles that happen when God’s people join in prayer. Lives are changed for the better, solutions and answers that seemed to elude us suddenly become clear to us. God makes a way where there seemed to be no way. Why is it we so often have to get to the crisis point before we remember that? I believe God has great plans for St. Philip’s. I continue to believe the years to come will be as fruitful as the past, but only if we refuse to give in to our fear, and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. If we truly believe the gospel is true, we will not be afraid to give sacrificially of our time and finances because we have the promise that God will provide all we need. So pray continuously, believe the gospel and watch God’s miracles unfold right before our eyes. View here
October 5, 2021
My granddaughter loves playing softball and I try to watch her play as often as I can. I especially love the way all the fans cheer for all the girls, no matter what team they play on. They cheer for members of their child’s team as well for the members of the opposing team. It is refreshing to be around people who are less about the win and more about the fun of the game. I know it won’t always be that way for the girls, but I am loving it for now.
Watching the game reminded me that all of us need people around us to urge us on and remind us that we matter in this game of life, that our contributions and gifts are valued. Sometimes, we need someone to shine the light on the dark path up ahead, and cheer us on in an often fearsome world. And sometimes we need to be a cheerleader and a light for others.
The apostle Paul was one of the church’s best cheerleaders. So if you, or someone you know, needs some “cheering on”, try the advice Paul offered the members of the church in Philippi.
Rejoice in the Lord always
Act boldly, don’t micromanage your life because, in a little while, it will all be changed
Pray honestly (let your requests be known to God)
Reflect on your life – where you have messed up, where you have succeeded, and those who have supported you – and offer thanks for all of it for it has made you who you are – and you are a precious child of God.
Carry on. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to reach the goal. As long as you stay in the game, you have a chance.
And most of all, remember that on God’s team, WE ARE ALL WINNERS! View here
September 21, 2021
This Wednesday, we will welcome the Fall season, and with it, the pre-diction of cool front. It won’t be cold, but cooler weather will be a nice re-lief from the heat. These hot summer days make the cooler fall days that much sweeter.
As I anticipate this cooler weather, I imagine God’s grace falling on us in the same way – bringing refreshment for our souls. At times our souls can feel as hot and dry as the earth around us. And we begin to wonder if there is any life left within us. And then, it happens, God’s grace washes over us and we are re-newed.
We have an opportunity to be refreshed and renewed regularly. We call it worship. Do you remember how it was before Covid, when we saw each other more often? While we are back at in person worship, we only see about half of our congregation each Sunday. The body of Christ suffers when we don’t come together regularly. I know Covid is still a serious concern, but know we are doing all we can to keep our congregation safe during worship. We continue to distance and wear masks, so I encourage you to make your way back to worship as soon as you feel it is right for you. It just is not the same without you. Worship is a time to come before God and offer our dried and parched lives to praise God and to be renewed, refreshed and used by God. Why do we ever doubt that God will bring renewal and refreshment to God’s creations? God has done so from the beginning and will continue to do so. Thanks be to God, who’s grace falls over us like gentle, life-giving, cooler weather. Hope to see you back in the pews soon.
I am looking for a few people who are willing to use their gifts of creativity to decorate the Pumpkin Patch and for a few people who are willing to use their gifts to manage our garage sale on Saturday, October 16 (must be an early riser.) Please give me a call if you can help with either of these opportunities. View here
September 8, 2021
As I meet with various ministry teams in our church, I hear frustration over what we lack in resources- people, facilities and money. But, think what can happen if we think of what we have rather than what we lack. I share with you today an excerpt from Tom Berlin’s book, “The Generous Church.”
“Think about what happens when the church lives the generous life that Jesus described as the kingdom of God. Such churches have a mind-set of abundance. When they do not have money, they assume it can be raised if the importance of their endeavor is properly explained. If they don’t have enough volunteers, they find ways to widen the search by asking people in the community who may not even attend their church. If a member feels called to start a new ministry, they encourage the member rather than offering reasons it won’t work. These churches believe that when God gives a vision, resources will follow. They are willing to endure the discomfort of the time between identifying what they need and receiving what God will offer. Like the children of Israel in the desert, they would prefer to have all the provision for the journey up front, but they are content to pick up the manna day by day, learning to trust that God will not forget their needs as they follow God’s will.”
Let’s grow to be such a “generous church” even as we maneuver through a very difficult season of life. View here
August 24, 2021
We talk about Jesus, sing about Him, watch movies about Him, teach our children about Him, tell our children how much He loves them, and offer prayers in His name – even praying as He taught us – and yet too few of us really have a close relationship with Him.
Some of us have a “term paper attitude” toward Jesus. We rely on what we’ve heard others say about Him. We have nothing but footnotes in our faith, and few original ideas. We may know all about Jesus, but still not know him. That’s why the way we answer Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?” defines our relationship with Him.
As in any personal relationship, our perceptions may change. Our understanding of who Jesus is should reflect a progressive, dynamic relationship. It requires time for us to come to know Jesus. Albert Schweitzer said, Jesus reveals himself “in the toils, the conflicts, the sufferings that followers shall pass through in his fellowship” until finally “they shall learn in their own experience Who He is.” May the challenges we face during these trying times lead us into a closer relationship with Jesus Christ and may that relationship sustain us and empower us as individuals and as a church family. View here
August 10, 2021
Here we are again, having to deal with something we thought we were on the other side of. Covid is again sending us into a more cautious existence. One thing we have learned about ourselves is we are a resilient church family. Hopefully we can continue to welcome new people safely throughout this most recent threat. It was such a joy to spend last week with our VBS kids and to welcome them, along with their families to church this past Sunday.
Gregory of Nazianzus, A.D. 381 said this of Jesus. He began his ministry by being hungry, yet he is the Bread of Life. Jesus ended his earthly ministry by being thirsty, yet he is the Living Water. Jesus was weary, yet he is our rest. Jesus paid tribute, yet he is the King. Jesus was accused of having a demon, yet he cast out demons. Jesus wept, yet he wipes away our tears. Jesus was sold for thirty pieces of silver, yet he redeemed the world. Jesus was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, yet he is the Good Shepherd. Je-sus died, yet by his death he destroyed the power of death.
Whenever we feel life is too hard, full of too many problems and impossibilities, let us remember we are empowered by one who overcame the impossible. We are more than conquerors through him who loves us. Let us find our strength, our hope, our life in the name and power of Jesus. View here
July 27, 2021
It is hard to believe that our 2021 youth mission trip is now one week behind us. The youth had a great time and did lots of good work. They developed some skills they never knew they had. They built fences and wheelchair ramps, painted houses and rescreened porches, and used power tools they had not used before. They met many wonderful new friends and got to know each other a lot better. Hans Crump and I had the privilege of serving with them on the trip. Hans was a real asset with his construction knowledge, and I spent more time in the kitchen on that week than I have in over a month. The highlight of the trip for me was seeing our youth step up to lead in worship, share in small groups, and host the families they served at a dinner and worship service. It was really a great week. Thanks to all of you who bought stock and loaned tools and transported youth to help make the U.M.A.R.M.Y. trip happen. And then, to top it off, I had the joy of confirming four of our youth in worship on the Sunday morning after we returned. I hope you noticed that something was missing this past Sunday ---WEEDS!!! Thanks to Jan Knight, Hans Crump and Mike White who spent Saturday morning getting rid of the weeds that had overtaken our beds and the playground. It is always a joy for me to spend time with such dedicated people. It is such a good feeling to work hard and be able to see the results of your labor. And now…on to Vacation Bible School…which begins on August 2. This will be a busy week preparing for another action-packed VBS. Be praying for God to send children to learn and play and grow in their faith. Pray for the adults and youth who will lead VBS. And again, thanks to all of you who help in so many ways to make these events possible. View here
July 13, 2021
Little Things That Make Big Ripples
As individuals and as a church, we love to do big things that make big splashes. We have celebrated one big thing - our Freedom Festival celebration. We had lots of people and lots of excitement, and I continue to praise God daily for all of those who worked so hard to make this event happen. I am especially grateful to Charlsie Groom and her team and Ryan Pennington, Tom Wilkinson and the kitchen team for great food for the event. You cannot imagine how many hours the celebration leadership spent at the church the week before the festival. And I hope you notice our new welcome sign in the front lawn. It is truly a community effort. Thanks to Karen and Bill Wilkson for helping bring this project to fruition.
During the first week of August, we will celebrate another big event – Vacation Bible School. We again need lots of helpers to serve as crew leaders, station leaders, kitchen help, etc. Mary Ann Mueller is even coming from Florida to lead this event. We look forward to seeing children enjoying this week.
As I write this, I am preparing to spend a week with our youth on their mission trip. We will have 16 youth on this trip. Pray for all of us. I am sure it will be a great week.
We are going to confirm four of our youth in church this next Sunday, July 18th.
After August 1st, things will ease up a bit as we prepare for school to start back up. While we always get excited about big events, let us remember that little things can make big ripples. Do you remember how you could toss a small rock into a pond and watch the ripples spread across the entire pond? I think our greatest moments in ministry come in times like that – in the little things we do that have a lasting effect on people’s lives. I suspect that the card we send to a homebound person, the visit to the hospital, the call to one who is grieving the loss of a loved one, or the hug offered to one who is struggling does more to spread the love of Christ than even our most successful big event. Calling a child by name can mean more to that child than a whole week of fun-filled activity.
Big splashes are great, but I believe the kingdom of God will be ushered in by the little things that make big ripples. So, in between the big events that make a big splash, try doing one little thing each day that will make big ripples in your family, in your community, and in the world. View here
June 29, 2021
This past weekend our Board of Stewards met to study the book, Being the Church in a Post-Pandemic World by Kay Kotan. We spent three hours reflecting on key traits for a healthy, vital and culturally relevant church in the post pandemic world. We identified our strengths and also traits where we need to do some work. We discerned that we are a resilient church. We have actually continued to find new ways to reach people during the pandemic. We have made improvements to our facility and even gained new members. But we also have some hard work still to do in the areas of flexibility, innovation and spiritual growth. I am so proud of our Board for their commitment to the ministry of this church. Two thoughts have stuck with me. As a church we are so busy focusing on obstacles that we neglect opportunities for spiritual growth. So often we gaze at problems and only glance at promise. We have our gazes and glances mixed up. What we need to do is glance at obstacles and gaze at promise. We often look most intently at roof leaks, the air conditioning roblems, cost of programs, and lack of volunteers. (I think you get the picture.) And we only glance at the potential for reaching out to our community. We gaze at the lack of children and only glance at the young family next door to us. Let us, today, commit to changing that. Let us practice gazing at the potential, the promise of growth, and only glancing at problems. I think this practice just might transform our lives and transform our church. Let us celebrate the good works we are doing, but let us always be open to ways we can improve our service to Jesus Christ through this church.
On Sunday, July 11 we will receive our 2021 confirmation class into church membership. Confirmands are Iva Crump, Lucy Molina, Nathalie Molina and Madison Richardson. Also, on July 11 we will commission our youth mission team as they leave for their work in Bryan, Texas. I hope you will join us in celebrating the faith journey of these young people. View here
June 15, 2021
There are moments when I feel overwhelmed by the “burdens” some of our members are carrying. That overwhelming feeling is lifted as I watched you time after time reach out to those in need and comfort them. I am so blessed to serve a church where people really do care about each other and where those in need feel they are able to share their struggles without being judged by others. I want to share the lyrics from one of my favorite songs, “Broken and Beautiful” by Mark Schultz. I think it describes the church, which is not a building but a gathering of God’s children who need the encouragement and strength that comes through a relationship with God and each other.
There’s a businessman, there’s a widowed wife
A smiling face with a shattered life
There’s a teenage girl with a choice to make
It’s crowded here in church today
And the preacher says as the sermon ends
“Please close your eyes, bow your heads
Is there anyone in need of prayer?
Oh, Jesus wants to meet you here”
‘Cause we all fall short
And we all have sinned
But when you let God’s Grace break in
It’s beautiful, beautiful
Come as you are
Surrender your heart
Broken & beautiful
Well, he’d never been to church before
But he came today as a last resort
His world was crashing in
And he was suffocating in his sin
But tears rolled down as hope rushed in
He closed his eyes, raised his hands
Worshiping the God who can
Bring him back to life again
And it’s beautiful, beautiful
Come as you are
Surrender your heart
Broken & beautiful
There is someone today who needs the comfort or help you can offer. May we continue to be a church where people find a place to surrender their hearts and find healing and grace. View here
June 1, 2021
Summer is right around the corner (oh wait, it is already here), and many people are already anticipating summer vacations. Unfortunately, the church, along with school and work, often gets forgotten during “summer vacation.” However, the church does not shut down during the summer. We still use the same amount of electricity and water and air conditioning whether we have many or few here during the summer. More importantly, some of our biggest outreach efforts, like the Freedom Festival, Vacation Bible School and the youth mission trip, take place in the summer. To provide ministry during the summer, here is what you can do to help. By all means, enjoy your vacations. We all need time away. But remember to keep your financial commitment to the church up to date, just as you do your household bills. And remember ministry doesn’t happen without volunteers. So plan to give some time this summer to help with our Summer ministry. Programs and dates are: Youth fellowship, Sunday from 4-6 p.m. (folks needed to provide meals,) Sunday School, starting June 6 at 9:15 a.m.; youth mission trip, July 11-17, Vacation Bible School, August 2-6, 5:30 – 8:00 p.m. We also need ushers every Sunday morning. There are many ways you can support these ministries, so please call the church office, and we will pass your name on to the appropriate people. There is great joy in serving Christ through his church. Discover it for yourself this summer. View here
May 18, 2021
THE FACE OF THE LIVING GOD
It has been good to see so many of you returning to in person worship. I am so grateful for the technology that has enabled us to worship even during the time we were apart, but there is nothing like seeing you in the pews. With the new CDC announcement, we will begin “mask optional” gatherings on Pentecost Sunday, May 23. If you have been fully vaccinated or have had covid and have covid antibodies, you can worship with your mask off if you choose. We will continue to use every other pew. It will be great to see your whole face again. We will have a wonderful celebration Sunday so it would be a great time for you to join us in person.
The hardest thing for me during the past year has been the time when we could not meet together in person. I have missed seeing the face of the living God in you. Christ has so often been made known to me in the sharing of life together. I share with you some of my encounters with the living Christ over the years. View here
May 4, 2021
Most of us could never have imagined the change that took place in our lives, our churches and our world in March 2020. Our world essentially shut down for a time and our lives moved from in person encounters to virtual encounters in our personal lives, our businesses and our churches. During that time I have heard people comment, “I can’t wait to get back to normal.” We are now living in liminal times, the time between the “covid” season restrictions coming to an end and the post-covid season beginning. The reality is we will probably not return to the “normal” we knew pre-covid. Some of the innovations we developed during covid times will continue to unfold in our future. What an opportunity we have to continue to do something new. Do you realize how seldom we have this opportunity to let go of things that were not working that well and unleashing new and exciting ministry? The past month has felt like an awakening. People are returning to in-person worship. New people are joining our church family and that is great news. Our Board of Stewards will be reading “Being the Church in a Post-Pandemic World” together. This will a time of assessing and revisioning where we go from here. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for our church.
Pentecost Sunday is May 23 and it will be an exciting next step for our “coming back to life.” The chancel choir will be singing for the first time in over a year. It may be a good Sunday for you to return as well. What better time than a day that is considered to be the birthday of the church. In a way it will be a re-birth for the post-pandemic church. Hope to see you then, if not before. View here
April 20, 2021
I can’t recall where I heard this story, but it made such an impact on me that I have shared it twice before. The last time I shared it was six years ago, and I think it is time for all of us to hear it and reflect on its meaning for the church again. It is a modern parable of heaven and hell. The description of hell is given. A table is spread with a sumptuous meal. Yet around the table sits a group of sad, dejected, and angry people. They are starving. They sit at a table of plenty but can eat nothing. The problem: they can hold a fork, but their elbows will not bend, so there they sit, forever, with plenty of food before them but unable to eat. Their famished bodies wither away. Next is the image of heaven. It also is a table running over with delicious food. Around the table, however, sit happy and healthy people, laughing and loving one another. Oddly enough, their elbows will not bend either. So how do they solve the dilemma? They feed one another. It seems to me this is also a parable of our faith journey together. Jesus desires for us the fullness of life. He provides for us a fellowship where we can learn and grow. He sits before us a table with everything we need to live and thrive, but sometimes we are like those with elbows that will not bend. If we are to grow as the body of Christ, we need to help each other so we can feast on that which God has set before us. A family of faith working together, serving each other within our church and in our neighboring community, and glorifying God – that is the church at its best. May it be so with us.
April 6, 2021
What a difference a year makes! Last year our Holy Week worship services were livestream only with only our worship leaders in the sanctuary. It was so wonderful to have so many back in the sanctuary this year for worship. We waved our palm branches on Palm Sunday, experienced a foot washing and Holy Communion on Holy Thursday and welcomed the most people on Easter morning that we have had in worship since we had to shut down a year ago for Covid. Thanks to our Youth for leading a wonderful service at 8 a.m. and to Philip’s Joy and the Bell Choir for truly uplifting music at 10:30 a.m. One member expressed Sunday that they had to go to the back lot to find a parking place. Hopefully this is a sign that we are beginning to return to pre—covid times. My soul was so filled with joy that I was singing praise to God for the rest of the day. And this Monday morning, my heart is still filled with joy and with great appreciation and thanksgiving for everyone who made Easter morning and indeed all of Lent such a wonderful and sacred time. May the joy of Easter fill us with hope and keep us praising God in the weeks and months to come. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! View here
March 23, 2021
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Easter is a day to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. What a joy it will be this year to celebrate “in person.” Finally, after a year of Covid restrictions, the church is beginning to open up more and more.
As we enter into a deeper and more personal relationship with Christ, the power of Easter comes alive in our lives, and now, especially, we realize that it is so much more than a big celebration on one Sunday of the year.
The power of Easter grows in us as we respond to God’s love through ministry to others. For many, Christ will be known through us and through our gifts of love. Our special Easter offering is typically directed toward ministries that address the needs of persons in our community and beyond. This year our Easter offering will be directed to the Houston Food Bank, which has helped so many during the pandemic and throughout the year and the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), which is the first in and last out in natural disasters throughout the world.
I know many of you have taken a big financial “hit” due to the virus, but if you are able to give a little extra at Easter, it can make a big difference. Mark your check “Easter Offering” or put it in the envelope enclosed in this newsletter, send it or bring it to the church, and your contribution will used to spread the love of Jesus Christ throughout a hurting world. You can also make a contribution online at www.spumchou.org/donation or text to donate at 281.666.2810. Enclosed in the Campanile is a plan for Holy Week this year. We hope you find it helpful and will join us as often as possible. Remember to keep your eyes on Jesus. He is faithful – always has been and always will be. View here
March 9, 2021
About seven years ago, I attended a seminar with Dr. Elaine Heath, who was at that time a professor at Perkins School of Theology. She said some things that caught my attention then and still ring true today about the mission of the church.
• The mission of God is shalom.
• The church’s mission is to go to “hell,” the gated community in a person’s life that locks out God’sshalom, and break down the gates because that is where Jesus goes.
• The question for us to ask as a church is:
- What is your neighborhood hell?
- What would it take to go there with Jesus?
• Missional wisdom means evangelism is never exploitive, violent or manipulative
- We are to be “sent out” people who become good news for our neighbors. If we accept this idea of mission evangelism, there are two questions we must ask ourselves:
• What must we give up to become people of missional wisdom?
• What must we take up to become people of missional wisdom?
Far too often, we think of evangelism as finding creative ways to attract people to our church. If we are to grow our church into an authentic Christian community, we must pay attention to where God is already at work in our community and find ways to “do life together.” I challenge each of you to spend some time reflecting on the questions posed above in bold print. I would love to hear your feedback. I believe God is at work in our community and is calling us to work with Him. View here
February 23, 2021
A friend of mine, Rev. Kip Gilts suggests a different path for this Lenten Journey. He speaks of “being called on a treasure hunt - a daily treasure hunt. There are 8 treasures for which I will be on the lookout every day during Lent. These treasures are found in Philippians 4:8, ‘Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things…and the God of peace will be with you.’ I will get up every morning looking for something that is true, something that is honorable, something that is just, something that is pure, something that is pleasing, something that is excellent, something that is worthy of praise. When I discover each of these treasures I will write them on a little piece of paper. At the end of the day I will place those eight treasures on the table and think of them, reflect on them, give thanks for them, and place them in my Lenten Treasure Chest. I share this with you for two reasons: 1) Personal accountability: once it’s out there I’m committed; 2) Invitation: perhaps you could use such a treasure chest in your life. If so, come on and join me on a Lenten Treasure Hunt.” I love this idea and will be adopting this practice during Lent. I invite you to join me. View here
February 2, 2021
Lent is just around the corner. The season begins with Ash Wednesday on February 17. This season is a call to turn from the ways of the world and return to God. Such change is always difficult. Of course, we aim for perfection, and that is admirable. At the same time, we know, as does God, that our human imperfections make that goal a real challenge for us.
Thus, the goal of Lent is not to make a plan for change and follow it to the letter. Rather, the goal is to make a change that sinks deeply into life, drawing us closer to self, others and God. Such change requires a move from head to heart.
This change – this turning towards God – becomes imbedded in our heart - the place from which we make all of our best decisions. This is the shift in direction we hope for this Lent. Our failures to reach our goal, though disappointing, can actually help us achieve the goal, for we gain something by losing our way: the drive to find our way back. The practice of returning to God takes root and begins to grow in our hearts. The result is a life that is being transformed day by day into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
Remember, we are here to help each other on this amazing journey of faith. Let us begin it together on February 17 at 7 p.m., either “in person” or online, as we receive the cross of ashes, a sign of our willingness to be transformed by Christ. Due to Covid-19, the ashes will be placed on a square of material and distributed during the service, or you can come by the church and get your ashes from 12 p.m.—1 p.m. on Ash Wednesday. It is a tough journey we take. Don’t try it alone. View here
January 19, 2021
On January 12, our Board of Stewards met and adopted goals for 2021. They are lofty goals, but things we believe need to happen for us to remain vital as a church and to prepare us to welcome our community “back to church” once we can begin to live in a “post covid” reality. I invite you to look over these goals, which are on page two of this Campanile, and think about specific ways you can help. We welcome any ideas you may have to offer.
I also want to share with you some of the improvements we continue to make to our facilities even during this pandemic. We have a new roof on our education building. Repairs have been made to the heat in the education building and the sanctuary. Joe Little initiated a group called “the fixers” who have been tackling repairs they can handle. They meet every Wednesday morning and invite all interested persons to join them. The facility team hosts monthly work days to clean up around the campus. Thanks to all who have helped keep our church looking good through this difficult time. View here
I called my sister on the first day of 2021 to wish her a Happy New Year. When I asked how they were spending the day, she said they were making resolutions. The new year is our chance to close out the books on 2020 and start fresh in 2021. What about you? How will you use this opportunity? What is that you hope to do or stop doing or change this year?
I challenge each of us to reflect on the promises we made when we joined this church. Let us evaluate how well we have kept those promises and what improvements we might make in 2021. Take a moment to reflect on the ways God has blessed your life. Think of the ways your church family has supported you in difficult times or the ways they have shared in your joy. Can you imagine living through the last year without the support of your church?
We still have challenges ahead, but because of the faithfulness of so many, we know we do not face those challenges alone. As you are making your resolutions for 2021, let one of them be to keep your promise to support your church with your prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness. View here
December 22, 2020
I love it when Facebook memories pop up. They usually feature my grandchildren and remind me of their younger selves. This week pictures popped up of Piper at our live nativities in years past and I was again in awe of her love for Jesus. She loves pictures of Him. She loves the baby in the manger. She loves the stories about Him. When she was younger, she was so enamored with the baby Jesus that He rarely stayed in the manger. More often He was in her back pack going to school with her or in her toolbox going to work with her or in her Doc McStuffins medical cart making emergency calls with her. Every chance she got at our live nativity in the memory that popped us yesterday, she had the baby out of the manger holding him. It was very sweet then and still is. She does not yet get the spiritual significance of her action. Hopefully, what she lives out in her childhood play will be the foundation of a lifetime of loving Jesus. But even now, she is teaching me. I began to wonder how my days would be different if I literally took Jesus with me everywhere I went. Maybe we should all try taking him from the manger of our nativities each morning and let him influence everything we do and guide our interactions with everyone we meet. My guess is our eyes would be opened to the needs of others and that we would think more before we act. Could the key to the peace and joy and hope and love we desire really be that simple? It is a start. I hope to see you at our Christmas Eve service at 6 p.m. (either in person or virtually.) View here
December 8, 2020
It is hard to believe that there could be someone who doesn’t know anything about Christmas, but imagine with me that you run into such a person just before Christmas. They see all the lights, the shopping, the singing and they wonder, “What is this all about?” What would you tell them? Where do you begin? Would you talk about the decorated Christmas tree? Would you tell them of the tradition of exchanging gifts? Maybe you want to tell them about the true meaning of Christmas and the birth of the Christ Child. Again the question, “Where do I begin?” One way to express the meaning of Christmas is to share that Christmas is the celebration of light coming into the world. There are the multi-colored lights that illuminate houses, the candles that burn in the windows. There are the lights that twinkle in people’s eyes during the season – especially in the eyes of children. The Christmas story in the Bible is full of events that are filled with light – the appearance of angels to the shepherds, the bright star that leads the wise men, and of course, the birth of Jesus, who came to light a world filled with darkness. Christmas also reminds us that there is a light that shines in all of us. Jesus would grow up and later teach us, “You are the light of the world….Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16.) Where do we begin in sharing the true meaning of Christmas? We begin by letting the light of Christ shine through us. View here
November 24, 2020
We begin the Advent season this Sunday, November 29. Things will be different as we continue to find ways to keep our congregants safe during this pandemic, but we have planned a wonderful season of celebration. I hope you will join us in person or online as we hear God’s message of hope, peace, joy and love as it comes to us through the music, the spoken word and the fellowship of believers. This season will have the opportunity to touch the lives of many folks who “check out” church during the Christmas season. Let us welcome them with open hearts and share with them the love of Christ. May the sharing of our lives give them hope. Let’s keep on praying and keep on believing and keep our eyes open to the miracles of God in our midst. I hope to “see” you at some time during the Advent season.
November 10, 2020
Reflecting on these times reminds me that the church is a living organism made up of people with differing skills and opinions and ideas. When we are all working toward the same goal it is great fun and beautiful to watch. Our goal at St. Philip’s United Methodist Church is to “Grow God’s children and share God’s love by seeking, serving and caring for all.” Let’s make sure we are paddling in the same direction and that we are never riding with the brake on. To do that each of us must at all times keep that goal in front of us, assess our own actions in light of it, and work together so we are all moving forward. Sometimes that means we take the lead. At other times we must follow another’s lead. There may be many ways to reach the goal, and covid-19 has changed how we go about it, but we will never get there if we are just going in circles and we will tire out before reaching the goal if we must travel with the brakes on. View here
October 27, 2020
Thanks to all who have helped with our worship set up in October. This Sunday, November 1, we will worship in the sanctuary. We will continue to need help maintaining CDC protocol. So, if you can serve at a check in table or serve as an usher, please let us know. We will celebrate All Saints Sunday on November 1st and we will be remembering those who have transferred to the church eternal in the past year. I hope you will join us as we remember these saints. Lastly, you should have received an estimate of giving card by now. If not, please call the office, and we will send you one. View here
September 29, 2020
It was great to “see” some of you in worship on Sunday. It was a beautiful day to be outside and I look forward to being outside again next Sunday. Remember, if you plan to attend in person, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office at 713.666.2175. Hope to see you next Sunday “in person” or “online.”
This Saturday, our pumpkins arrive at 8 a.m.—all 1500 bulk pumpkins and numerous boxes of specialty pumpkins. If you are able to pick up a pumpkin, please come and help us unload.
Not only is October the month of pumpkins, it is also Stewardship season. This year, our theme is “What if…?” What if this year can be extraordinary in terms of our outreach and discipleship? The Covid-19 shutdowns have been difficult, but they have also given us a chance to try new things—new things that can open up new possibilities. It is much easier when I remember that all I have is a gift from God and my giving is my grateful response to God. I guess the question I ask myself as I make my commitment for 2021 is not how much can I afford to give, but does my gift reflect my gratitude for what God has done in my life? How do I know if I am giving enough? Joy is still the best indicator for me. View here
July 21, 2020
Even though we are not having “in person” gatherings yet, the work of the church continues. Thanks to our musicians, worship leaders and technical support people who have worked so hard and used their incredible talents to ensure our online worship is high quality and inspirational. Thanks to Joe Little and helpers who have been cleaning the cross and painting flashing to protect from rust and enhance the appearance of our roof areas. Thanks to Mike White who has painted all the poles supporting the walkway roof and has kept our grounds mowed and looking good. Thanks to Isaias Molina who fixed water leaks and got our prayer garden fountain running again. Thanks to Barbara Kile who was seen pulling weeds around the sanctuary. Thanks to Bill Wilkson for volunteering to teach a Bible Study online. Thanks to Gary and Joyce Wright who get the Campanile ready to mail. We truly have an incredible congregation who truly love this church. View here
June 24, 2020
I have to say, I never imagined myself living in a world such as the one in which we all now live. Never would I have thought schools would be shut down throughout the world, or people all over the world would be wearing masks and working from home. Racism is raising its ugly head and people seem out of control. Things are happening that don’t make any sense to me. Sometimes I feel like I am living in some science fiction movie or a horror film. This past weekend I visited the cemetery where my parents and grandparents are buried, and I found myself wondering out loud what they would think of all this. I think it is “getting to” all of us. I struggle with how to respond to all of this. It is depressing and I find myself longing for a “Word from the Lord.” View here
June 9, 2020
While we did not open the sanctuary fully on June 7, we have begun to invite people to be trained to serve when we do open. On June 7, we had 8 persons come to learn the new protocol for in-person worship. This next week, we will include 10 more. It is our hope these persons we serve as greeters, ushers and screeners when we open fully. These persons are invited based on their readiness to return as indicated on our survey. You can complete the survey by clicking on the link on the homepage of our website. View here
May 27, 2020
We have tentatively set June 7 as the first Sunday to welcome folks back to our sanctuary. We would like input from our congregation on your readiness to return to in-person worship. You can complete a survey by clicking on the link on the homepage of our website: www.spumchou.org. It will help us a lot moving forward if you let us know your thoughts. We will be closely watching covid-19 statistics for our area and our target date might have to change, so watch for emails sharing up to date news. View here
May 12, 2020
Our last Campanile was sent out two months ago. We just have not had anything to report. Covid-19 has pretty much shut everything down. I don’t know about you, but I am ready for this isolation to be over. I am grateful we have the ability to worship online, but I miss seeing you on Sunday mornings. I just wanted to give you an update on some things that have been happening so you know we have not just been idle. View here
We are in uncharted territory these days. COVID-19 has caused us to re-think everything we do. Every cancellation has a ripple effect on our community life. How do we remain faithful and responsible? The decisions we must make are not easy. It goes against everything within me to cancel church activities. At the same time, it seems irresponsible of us to ignore attempts to flatten the curve of the spread of this virus. View here
The 40 days of Lent can be one of the most powerful and awesome times in the Christian year. Imagine a congregation of believers united for a season of spiritual enrichment. Practicing the spiritual disciplines of prayer and fasting strengthen a believer’s spiritual walk. What if we would give up our lunchtime, and substitute it for a time of prayer, meditation or study. Further, what if we would place the funds we would have normally spent on lunch in a weekly offering? This will serve as a symbolic sacrificial gift, as a reminder of Christ’s sacrifice for us.