church is for EVERYONE (even little green kids)
Well I’m still in Texas (I’m not but the blog is, so stick with me, I’ve only got one more after this blog from here), and I’m feeling like a big kid.
I’m on my way to NASA!
Anyone born in the late sixties or early seventies will have a special place in their heart for NASA.
A year before my birth men walked on the moon for the first time; As I was being born Apollo 13 was in trouble; I watched the first shuttle launch in school; I saw the first shuttle disaster on tele; I wanted to be an astronaut!!!!
So here I am on the way to the Mission Control in Houston. I’m not going to go into detail here – this is not a tourist blog but the tour was great, a real high point of my trip. There were some amazing things to see – a real NASA skip (with NASA written on the side); Mission Control but the biggest thrill, however, was the Saturn 5 rocket!!!
I made a model of one of these when I was a child, it had a little Neil Armstrong and everything. I knew the scale of a man to the machine but seeing it was MINDBLOWING!
Huge doesn’t do it justice – the jets of the rockets had a 40 ft diameter and there was 5 of them – this thing is unbelievably big; massively large; unfathomably vast. Even that doesn’t make it clear how big it is!
I mention it because I have been in awe of the this machine for years and as amazing as it is it was nothing to how I felt that evening. My hosts (Megan and David) took me from NASA to a suburb of Houston to the Grace Lutheran Church where we met the pastor Lura Groen.
Grace is a fantastic little place in a hip neighbourhood of Houston that does some utterly amazing stuff. The three things I want to mention are –
- The Neighbourhood food bank that was going on when we arrived.
This is such a simple idea – local growers bring their produce to the church where a local co-op hires some space and sells good, local grown food for fair prices. Everyone wins – the church gets a working presence in the community, the community gets fresh local food and the growers get some money. WIN/WIN/WIN. Simple and brilliant.
2) The work they do with Homeless teens.
Lura gave us the grand tour and one of the big things the church does, in conjunction with the other organisations, is to have a ministry to the local homeless youth, many of whom are gay. On Thursday evenings there is a drop in session held at the church with a safe place to talk (the church board has made the best room in the building available to the homeless – that speaks volumes, it says ‘you are valuable AND you are welcome’, words these kids may not here from anywhere else. There is a clothing bank and a food bank where good (hip) clothes and healthy food are available. They also supply things that we take for granted but to the homeless are luxuries – toilet paper, sanitary products, batteries etc. It is an amazing work that is not only needed but also really well done – Simple and Brilliant!
3) Wednesday Night Worship
We arrived in time for the Wednesday Night Communion service. This is a small service held in a small side chapel. As with the House for All Sinners and Saints the liturgy was very traditional and yet was so fresh. It was a simple gathering where prayer, music and short sermon were shared and then we gathered around the table and shared the communion elements. It was made VERY clear that this was an open table and EVERYBODY is welcome. These weren’t just words spoken out of habit – this was a heartfelt invitation to all who wished to hear and come that this table was open to them!! It was formally informal or informally formal – in all the tradition and well known words there was an openness that was so wonderful to be a part of.
The service at Grace Lutheran struck me as living up to that verse that says we must accept the things of God as a child. It wasn’t childish but it was child-like – simple, profound and somehow very truthful. The service (indeed my whole experience was) simple and brilliant.
But what has that got to do with the SATURN 5 rocket – well this – as impressed and awe-struck as I was by the technology of the 1960’s that had 1,000,000 components and put men on the moon I was not as impressed or as awe-struck with that as I was with the wonderful work and the presence of God that I saw and felt at Grace. THAT was amazing in every sense of the word.
They welcome they extend goes as far as green, alien children – honestly, it was in their stained glass windows – look-
I couldn’t put this in anywhere but I must tell you y’all; I touched moon rock!!!!