Rev. Janet Maykus, Senior Interim Minister

Rev. Janet Maykus, Senior Interim Minister

1 Corinthians 10:17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

Since 1940, Christian Churches the world over mark the first Sunday of October as World Communion Sunday. It is a day that we stop, raise our eyes above the planes of our own societies and take time to recognize and celebrate Christian unity with global brothers and sisters.

Some denominations, such as ours, celebrate communion each time they gather. Some celebrate one time a month and others quarterly. I remember discussing communion practice with my classmates in divinity school. Some wondered how in the world we kept the service “special” celebrating whenever we gathered. I wondered how they kept it “special” not celebrating each time they gathered. What became apparent was that we all understood the practice to be an act of great and holy unity.

How we celebrate and the elements we consume vary from one denomination and congregation to another. Within our own denomination we find some congregations who pass trays of small shot glasses and tiny pieces of unleavened bread and others that share one loaf and one cup; while still others such as ours, may do both.

In the Disciples’ fellowship in the Equateur Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, grape juice and wine are in short supply, so they use a red soda called Vitalo. If Vitalo is not available, they grind spinach seeds in water, strain the liquid, and add sugar to make a red element for the cup. The bread is often a sugary cookie. In the Julien Carrioll Center in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, communion is dispensed by the children, the innocent ones, of the congregation. Our Christian family in east Africa spend the day before they partake communion in “kasha”. Kasha is the Swahili word for a time of prayer and fasting. Kenyan Christians participate in kasha so they may approach the table in an attitude of repentance.

We all come to the table unworthy. We all come to the table knowing it is not ours, but Christ’s table, therefore there must be room for everyone, friends and enemies alike. Communion is a celebration of the oneness of our faith in the face of the obvious divisions among us. Jesus prayed that people would be “as one” just as he and his Creator were one. Sadly we have not surmounted our differences to live as one.

When we eat the bread and drink the cup this coming Sunday, I will pray for unbroken unity. I pray we will recognize our brothers and sisters in Christ, regardless the ways we differ from one another, as holy kin, so that the kin-dom of Christ may be known here, now, and forever in this place. Perhaps if we practice this unity monthly, quarterly, or every time we gather enough, one day, we may get it right and be able to live as one.

Bound By Faith

Bound By Faith

As we inch into the seventh month mark of the pandemic shutdown, I have been pondering how I might illustrate this time to someone in thirty or forty years. I read an article recently by Dr. Aisha Ahmad in which she shared how the sixth month mark in any sustained crisis is always difficult. Well, you can say that again Professor Ahmad! Nonetheless, we must power through because this is not the end of the story. Perhaps the story will be how the world relearned how to do grocery shopping, host meetings virtually, worship using social media and various other platforms, and even teach classes online for students from kindergarten to graduate level work. Oh, the stories about hoarding are sure to creep into the mix but surely the stories about strangers and neighbors helping one another with much needed supplies to care for their families who were all homebound will prevail.

Stories are so important to each and every person. They tell us where we came from, what our families believed in, how our families came to be where they are today, and they also help create traditions. As we have each had to pivot in one way or another, let us be reminded that this time of everchanging, complicated and emotionally challenging time is all part of the story. The story of not only our individual lives but also of our communities, our nation, and our world. Let us be reminded that our faith and our steadfast commitment to constantly learning and growing as individuals and as a community shall prevail. As a community of faith, may we lean into one another. May our faith be part of the story of this time in our lives and in history.

As we march forward through the last ninety days of 2020, what will your story tell about your journey through this historical time? What stories and traditions might you carry into the new year and into the new way in which we must live? Let us pivot and be intentional in our faith and in the stories that we create about our journeys. Blessings, Pastor Heidi

A Message From The Music Minister

A Message From The Music Minister

Hello Central Christian Church! I’m excited to share some upcoming plans for the Advent season. Although our worship this Advent and Christmas season will look different than in the past, we are going to have a few new and exciting events that I am personally looking forward to, and hoping that you will too!

First off, we will have a midnight Zoom service!! It will be an informal type of service that will be a chance for us all to be together at midnight to share in that special moment when Christmas Eve becomes Christmas Day. Since I will not be visiting family during this time of Covid-19, it will be extra special to get to be with my church family for Christmas, and maybe many of you will be in a similar position? I’ve never attended a midnight Christmas Eve service before, so I’m especially looking forward to this experience with all of you!

We will still have a facebook streaming Christmas Eve service which will be more like our typical Christmas Eve service, and that will be streamed at 7pm.

Many of you may remember our “Reverse Advent Calendar” from last year…where we would bring a different type of item with us each Sunday to the service, such as school supplies, pet food, or canned food which was then donated to a specific organization. It’s called a reverse Advent calendar because instead of getting a little gift each day (which is how a typical Advent calendar works) we are giving a gift instead. So along with this idea, we will be hosting “drive-by” giving at our beautiful church building for about an hour each Sunday (details will be provided at a later date), where you can drive by to drop off your reverse Advent donations, see a few of your fellow church members, and even pick up a physical Communion (prepared in a Covid-19 safe way) and receive a blessing from Reverend Janet.

This will be a fun way to still bring us all together at the church while not all at the same time, staying safe and keeping a distance…while still being able to do something wonderful for the Austin community! I’m looking forward to seeing you all in person, even if it’s just for a short time and through a car window.

Those are just a few of the plans for the season, but I hope you feel as excited about them as I do! We will also be having asynchronous courtyard Christmas decorating…but we’ll announce more about that at a later time! Wishing you all the best, Mark

Bound By Faith

A Message From Our Executive Pastor

As I sit down to write this month’s article, I am at a loss. My mind is all over the place. Maybe I should write about this. Or maybe I should write about this other thing. Maybe I should write nothing at all because it all seems so inconsequential compared to all that is happening around the world. And then, I began to hum that familiar church tune, Blest Be the Tie that Binds, and my spirit is lifted. Lifted because it reminds me of so many wonderful times gathered with friends, fellow church folk, and youth mission trips when we would gather ‘round in a circle, hold hands and share in song and praise. None of these things can we do at this moment, yet the words to this song seem to say it best:

Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love:

the fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.

When we are called to part, it gives us inward pain;

but we shall still be joined in heart, and hope to meet again.

            Music truly is therapy for the mind, body, and spirit. Music transports us to another time or place and reminds us of loved ones, or special moments and times in our lives. Perhaps there is a special song that you sang at camp as a kid, maybe there is a song that reminds you of a departed one, perhaps a song for your first dance or at your child’s wedding. Music really can take us back to a particular time and place in which we can relive all the senses of that moment. Not all songs are serious or sorrowful, some are filled with laughter and make us chuckle as we recall the moment. May you fill your mind, body and spirit with song to bring you love, laughter and hope.

God Be with You Till We Meet Again,

Pastor Heidi

A Message From The Music Minister

A Message From The Music Minister

I’d like to talk about something I’ve been seeing among people I know, and how it relates to Covid-19.

I’ve noticed a high level of denial in people…not denial that the pandemic exists, or that it is a serious threat…but denial that anything bad could happen to them. Maybe this has been the fear of every parent who has had a teenager, dealing with their child thinking they are invincible, but that general feeling has taken over among people of all ages. I believe that feeling of being invincible is a large part of what continues the spread of this disease.

Even during this time of rising hospitalizations in the Austin area I am getting text messages to hang out with friends, to grab a drink and catch up (before the bars closed down), to go to friend’s home for dinner etc… Whenever I answer with a strong “NO” the reply back is along the lines of “It will be fine”, “I feel fine”…which I reply “You’re fine until you’re not”.
With Covid-19 people are highly contagious a few days before they even show symptoms. So someone can feel completely fine, host a dinner party, pass the virus on to their guests without realizing at all, then feel sick a few days later. A friend of mine hosted a dinner party at his home. He must have decided that socializing was more important than maintaining his health or the health of his guests, and each person in attendance must have made the same decision. As far as I know, nobody has become ill from that party, but that is quite a gamble to take. 

Similarly, a group of friends has been hanging out together going to restaurants and bars on a regular basis. One person in this group realized he had been hanging out with a friend who recently tested positive, so he let everyone in the social crew know that he was not feeling well and needed to get tested. The group of friends was really scared for a few days, and then got a text back saying that the one friend ended up with a negative test result, and then the next text was to make plans for their next group hang instead of thinking how lucky they were and possibly needing to change their behavior after a “close call”.

Another friend’s mother recently got quite sick, after many people in their church congregation tested positive for Covid-19. She refused to believe she had the illness, and my friend’s sister continued to visit their mother every day and also became sick and even lost her sense of taste and smell…but she continued to believe it was only a case of bad allergies and then went to Sea World with her husband and 3-year-old daughter.

Another example is just a few days ago a coworker from Keller Williams said we should all “be brave” and have a team lunch because she was missing us all…not only was I offended that she saw taking unnecessary risks with our health and well being as “being brave” but that she has had so much contact with various clients showing them homes and she was not even thinking about how she could possibly be in the stage of “feeling fine” while being highly contagious and then passing that on to people she was fond of and missing.

I’ve even seen text messages warning people not to allow the use of thermal temperature readers (which many places use as a safety measure although people can still pass the virus before they have a temperature) saying that those machines are putting the “mark of the Beast” on you.

These are all personal stories that I’ve seen in my daily life, and I’m just one person. I am sure all of you have similar stories within your friend groups or families. And the common theme in this is that all of these people believed that their actions were okay because they “were fine”…whether they were denying to themselves that they were sick, or that they did legitimately feel fine without thinking about the possibility they could be a few days away from no longer “feeling fine”. And when this feeling of “it will be fine” is multiplied across the entire country it contributes to spreading this disease and more people die that otherwise wouldn’t have if people had been more cautious.

It’s impossible to go back in time and change our social plans once we realize we are “no longer fine”, and that we very well may have exposed people we care about to a relatively unknown disease that could have lasting consequences…from increased risk of stroke to permanent lung damage. So for the foreseeable future I’m living by the idea of “you’re fine until you’re not” both when it comes to others and when it comes to myself, and I would encourage everyone here at CCC to do the same. Please do everything you can to keep yourselves safe during this time.

Rev. Janet Maykus, Senior Interim Minister

Rev. Janet Maykus

 

February brings Valentine’s Day and Black History Month.

We should never pass an opportunity to tell someone we love them. Years ago, after a series of sad events, my beloved started posting on Facebook “Good Night, I Love You” each night, and “Good Morning, I Love You” each morning. He knew it made him feel better to tell people he loved them, and he hoped it would make others feel good. As his life turned from sadness to happiness, he stopped posting his declarations of love to the world. To his surprise, people contacted him and asked what happened to his posts. He began to hear stories of how that little love note to the world affected others.

Years later, he continues with these posts, and, at least once a week, someone tells him how much they look forward to being told they are loved. Today you’ll hear him ending each phone call with something like, “Thank you, I appreciate you” or “Goodbye, I love you”. He even says this to telemarketers: “Thank you for calling me because I wanted to tell you that I want to be off your list. Thank you, I know your job is hard.” Watching this unfold, I’ve learned that love is never in short supply; in fact, the more we love the more love we have to give. Love is also contagious. If we start sharing our love, others follow. The light of love is something in which we all want to bask.

So, I invite you to give it a try. Don’t resist telling everyone you love them. You will get so much more than you expect in return.

Just as we shouldn’t reserve love for one day of the year, we shouldn’t reserve celebrating and learning the history of the African diaspora for one month of the year. At Duke Divinity School, one of our required courses was Black Church History. Being a history buff, I was excited to delve into what was, for me, unknown territory. My eyes were opened to a world that was operating right beside me that I had never explored or had even been encouraged to explore. Everyday, Americans are touched by something be it food, culture, or religion that has its roots in the unholy slave trade.

This month, I also invite you to explore Black History. Re-read Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, check out the sculpture of Austin’s very own Margo Sawyer, attend one of Jennifer Rousseau Cumberbatch’s performances at the Neill-Cochran House Museum, make it to The Elephant Room when Ephraim Owens is playing, go to the Blackout Market at the African American Cultural and Heritage Center on February 22, read anything by C. Eric Lincoln, learn about the work of (Disciples of Christ) minister, The Reverend Doctor William Barber II, and every time you have a cup of coffee, look back to Ethiopia. Once you get started, you’ll realize that you will need much more than one short month to explore this rich and textured history.

As with any real exploration of history, there is deep and raw pain in America’s Black history. The sins of slavery continue to haunt and hurt all of us. Perhaps if we hold each other in love, every day, one day we will work to true repentance and reconciliation.

So, here’s to a month-long journey of love and exploration!

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