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July 12, 2020 Thrid Ward Food Distribution

A bazillion volunteers, including a couple dozen from our Lutheran congregations showed up on a hot summer day to distribute food, among other things.

This is the Houston I love, that pulls together as a community when there is need.

The Houston Food Bank, the largest food bank in the US, provided mountains of produce.

Volunteers donated and distributed children’s books. The first photo below are the Euschers, on the right. The second flooring feature the Stephanies (Stark and Gossett).

Food got distributed and people got fed. Voters got registered. People filled out the census. Families received donated children’s books. The remainder of the books are going to be distributed at a local school’s book fair.

Like the feeding of the 5,000, there were leftovers. Police offered to take food around the neighborhood. The Houston Food Bank agreed to pick up the rest.

Below are Houston Councilwoman Carolyn Evans-Shabazz and Human Trafficking Director Kathryn Griffin. Katherine has done this work for 19 years. She knows the work because she was once a victim. She’s the first felon in Houston to wear a badge. Powerful story. Someday, when we can gather again, she would be a super speaker to invite to help people understand modern-day slavery.

Congresswoman Shiela Jackson Lee welcomed and thanked the crowd.

Thank you to all who pitched in. Let’s see, we had folks from Christ the King Houston, Kindred in Montrose, Living Word in Katy, Tree of Life in Conroe, Zion in Houston, Augustana in Houston, Kinsmen in Houston, St. Martin’s in Sugar Land, and where else?

On this day in 1974, Martin Luther King’s mother was assasinated

Many people are aware of Martin Luther King’s assassination, but did you know they also killed his mother?

Alberta Christine Williams King (September 13, 1904 – June 30, 1974) was shot and killed as she sat at the organ at Ebenezer Baptist Church, by Marcus Wayne Chenault, a 23-year-old Black Hebrew Israelite, six years after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. She was 69 years old.

George Floyd March in Houston June 2, 2020 loop

Today was a remarkable and emotional day in Houston. At 1:00 George Floyd’s body arrived in Houston. By 1:30, around 100 Houston-area clergy of every race and creed (including around a dozen Gulf Coast Synod pastors) gathered to pray prior to the march. At 2:30 we walked over to Discovery Green together.

Thousands gathered at Discovery Green. George Floyd’s family spoke, encouraging a peaceful and respectful march to honor George Floyd.

https://www.click2houston.com/news/local/2020/06/02/watch-this-is-what-the-family-of-george-floyd-said-during-todays-march-in-houston/

Organizers asked us all to watch out for instigators, and point them out if we saw them. “We are here to honor George Floyd. Let’s not dishonor his name. Let’s do this right.” Then a pastor led the group in prayer, and the crowd began the march to City Hall.

The presence of clergy throughout the crowd has an important effect. Faith communities bring a sacred focus to an event like this. The presence of the Mayor and Chief of Police is important too. They grieved along with the community, rather than being against the community.

Houston rapper Trae The Truth, served as emcee at Discovery Green:

At City Hall the Mayor spoke, along with Rep. Shiela Jackson Lee and Rep. Green.

The march went without any major incidents. I saw no vandalism or violence. Houston has no curfew. The police do not use rubber bullets. I commend the city for handling things so well.

Chief Art Acevedo

I commend Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, for his leadership during the pandemic. He has been a clear voice and good friend in Houston.

He was unequivocal, early on, in condemning the police violence that led to the death of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis, and suggested days later that he officers involved should be charged with murder or manslaughter:

https://www.msnbc.com/mtp-daily/watch/houston-police-chief-officers-involved-in-floyd-killing-should-be-charged-84049989552

He joined those protesting the death of George Floyd in the Houston marches:

Chief Acevedo was out in front condemning the racist comments and actions we saw rising as the coronavirus pandemic emerged:

https://youtu.be/55zNLGUPkeI

The Leading Causes of Death in Texas

As of today, May 26, 2020, confirmed coronavirus deaths stand at about 1,500 in Texas. Some believe those numbers are inflated, while others believe they are severely under-reported, failing to account for those who died with no coronavirus test.

Some people are passionately believe the numbers are higher or lower based on ideological and political reasons, rather than facts. At the end of the year, all of the deaths in Texas will be tallied and compared with previous years. That should give us a pretty good picture of the truth. In 2017, 198,106 people died in Texas (and 382,050 were born). I wonder what 2020 will hold.

Coronavirus deaths will have to reach over 4,000 to make the list of the top 10 causes of death in Texas. State officials predict a maximum of 2,400 coronavirus deaths in Texas for 2020. It sounds optimistically low. That estimate was made under the assumption that stay-at-home orders would remain in place.

The infection rate per capita is fairly low in Texas. It’s hard to know if we will reach 4,000. Time will tell. A lot will depend on whether we have a fall resurgence. Let’s prepare for the worst, but hope for the best.

2014 Top Causes of Death in Texas

  1. Heart Disease – 41,293 deaths
  2. Cancer – 38,727 deaths
  3. Stroke – 9,852 deaths
  4. Chronic lower respiratory diseases (COPD) – 9,642 deaths.
  5. Accidents – 9,598 deaths.
  1. Alzheimer’s disease – 6,755 deaths
  2. Diabetes mellitus – 5,327 deaths
  3. Septicemia – 4,102 deaths
  4. Nephritis and related diseases – 3,997 deaths
  5. Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis – 3,663 deaths

2017 Top Causes of Death in Texas

Meanwhile, the daily counts right now show COVID-19 as the number one cause across the US:

Via Lucis

Kinsmen Lutheran Church

13 stations of light

  • Pastora Adriana Johnson Rivas
  • Pastor John Jairo Arroyave
  • Pastor Gabriel Marcano
  • Obispo Miguel Rinehart

Tercera Estación:

Jesús Resucitado se manifiesta a María Magdalena

Te adoramos, Cristo resucitado, y te bendecimos

Todos: Porque con tu Pascua diste la vida al mundo

Texto bíblico (Jn 20, 11-16):

María se quedó afuera, junto al sepulcro, llorando. Mientras lloraba se inclinó para mirar dentro y vio a dos ángeles vestidos de blanco, sentados donde había estado el cuerpo de Jesús, uno a la cabecera y el otro a los pies. Le dijeron: “Mujer, ¿por qué lloras?” Les respondió: “Porque se han llevado a mi Señor y no sé donde lo han puesto”. Dicho esto, se dio vuelta y vio a Jesús allí, de pie, pero no sabía que era Jesús. Jesús le dijo: “Mujer, ¿por qué lloras? ¿A quién buscas?” Ella creyó que era el cuidador del huerto y le contestó: “Señor, si tú lo has llevado, dime dónde lo has puesto, y yo me lo llevaré.” Jesús le dijo: “¡María!”. Ella lo reconoció y le dijo en hebreo: “¡Rabboní!”, es decir, “¡Maestro!”

Señor bueno, que te haces carne y hueso para darnos tu paz a través de los que luchan cada día por sanar, proteger y ayudar a los demás, y que en ellos caminas de manera especial entre nosotros, no nos dejes desesperar, no permitas que nuestros ojos se nublen para reconocerte en carne y hueso en nuestros hermanos y desde ellos te podamos oír decirnos: ¡Paz a ustedes!

Undécima Estación

Jesús Resucitado encarga a sus discípulos su misión universal

Te adoramos, Cristo resucitado, y te bendecimos

Todos: Porque con tu Pascua diste la vida al mundo

Texto bíblico (Mt 28, 16-20):

Los once discípulos partieron hacia Galilea al monte que Jesús les había indicado. Cuando vieron a Jesús, se postraron ante El, aunque algunos todavía dudaban. Jesús se acercó y les habló así: “Me ha sido dada toda autoridad en el Cielo y en la tierra. “Vayan, y hagan que todos los pueblos sean mis discípulos, bautizándolos en el nombre del Padre y del Hijo y del Espíritu Santo. Y enseñándoles a cumplir todo lo que yo les he encomendado a ustedes. Y sepan que Yo estoy con ustedes todos los días, hasta el fin del mundo”.

Easter 2020

A tribute to our creative Gulf Coast Synod leaders on the strangest Easter Sunday of my lifetime. We’ve been at home for a month now, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Addy dances her way into Easter just before Advent Lutheran Church in Houston’s Easter livestream.

I came across many of these by casually browsing my Facebook feed. If there’s a picture of you and your congregation that you’d prefer not have up, just let me now. Likewise, if you don’t see your congregation, feel free to send me a photo to add to this post.

Maundy Thursday around the Gulf Coast Synod – April 9, 2020

Holy Week

Okay, so Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and they had a parade to welcome him. They rolled out the proverbial red carpet with palm branches and garments instead. Why would they do that? Jesus had been gradually building a crowd as his ministry moved from his home town in Galilee to the north, through Samaria, then south to Judea, finally arriving at Jerusalem. His soulful preaching (Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7) and his healing ministry among those who were cast out of social and religious circles made him popular with the people. Of course Jerusalem, the biggest city, would have the biggest crowd, but beware of popularity. After all, the most popular restaurant in the US is McDonalds. Let’s that sink in.

The parade would be his undoing. Huge crowds cheering and waving palm branches attracted the attention of the authorities. It looked too much like one of Caesar’s triumphal marches. Who does he think he is? Pronouncing him “King of the Jews,” was nothing less than treason. The Romans tended to crucifiy people who threatened to overthrow their government. Jesus’ tantrum in the Temple also got him crossways with the religious authorities. The Temple was, after all, Jerusalem‘s financial center, and its largest bank. Don’t ever mess with the economy.

Crowds are fickle. Popularity is fleeting. Cries of “Hosanna!“ quickly turn to “Crucify him!” as the tide shifts this week. Popularity is a thing. It’s a real thing. It’s a seductive thing. Ego-expanding accolades can tempt us away from saying and doing the hard thing, the right thing, the unpopular thing. Even Jesus will pray this week, “Let this cup pass from me.” Who doesn’t prefer popularity to the way of the cross?

Preaching the truth about this world will not make you the most popular preacher in town, but the truth will set you free. We know the world is messed up, but we prefer rose-colored glasses here in the “developed” world. People want to hear preaching that tickles their ears. Please don’t disturb me with the troubles of the world.

The Good News isn’t all that good if it doesn’t confront the most brutal facts about the world. Jesus breathes our poisoned air. He confronts reality as it is. He is not exempt from the suffering we see every day, if we open our eyes. He casts his lot with the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. God shows up in a violent world, and engages the forces of death by giving away his life in an act of selfless, sacrificial love. God on the gallows. God on the lynching tree. We who follow him believe it’s either Jesus’ way of being in the world, or it’s game over.

Easter proclaims that life conquers death, all evidence to the contrary. God is revealed in the common, ordinary, humble, suffering of this world and in the companionate who care about them, not in those who seem to dazzle us with their wealth or self-proclaimed greatness. Hope is more tenacious than despair. Love is a more powerful, life-transforming force in the world than hate. This trust in a love that is stronger than sin, death and the grave is an absurd faith, which is probably why the apostle Paul called it the “foolishness of the cross,” and those who follow it “fools for Christ.”

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