Nov 18

Holiday Events 2014

18 November 2014

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

As the holiday season approaches, La Trinidad wants to bless your family with encouraging programs and events to lift your spirit.

Celebration of Providence
Wednesday, November 25, 7:00 P.M. LT Gym

Martha Villalva (210) 763-2025 is coordinating this church-wide pot luck meal for the evening before Thanksgiving. The menu is “anything but turkey.” Come and enjoy an evening of fellowship as we reflect on God’s blessings and give thanks.

 

Advent Hanging of the Greens
Saturday, November 29,

The worship committee invites you to join in adorning the sanctuary with the traditional evergreens of the Advent Season.

 

United Methodist Women Navidad Blanca
Saturday, December 6, 10 AM

The UMW of La Trinidad host their traditional Navidad Blanca with a collection of dolls to give away to children in need.

 

Children’s Advent/Christmas Program
Sunday, December 7, 11:00 AM service

The children of La Trinidad are rehearsing during Children’s Church and after worship to prepare for a special program on the Second Sunday of Advent.

 

Choral Cantata
Early Service, December 14. Late Service December 21

Come enjoy the spirit of Advent and Christmas with the La Trinidad Choir as they bring forth the sounds of the season on two different opportunities.

 

Christmas Eve Candlelight Service
December 24, 7:00 PM

Enjoy a traditional service of lessons and carols with the lighting of candles to warm the heart for the coming of the Christ child.

 

More events may come together between now and then, and of course, we welcome you to our weekly worship services at 8:30 (Bilingual), 9:45 (Spanish) and 11:00 (English). May the Lord bless you with love and hope as we celebrate the gift of God’s Son.

With love in Christ,

Rev. John P. Feagins

Nov 08

Services for Mark Alvirez

From David, Pauline, and Dan Alvirez:

We want to thank those of you who have expressed you sympathy in different ways.  They have been of comfort to our family in the midst of our loss.  Arrangements for the two memorial services have been finalized.

 

Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014, 5:30 p.m.

River Legacy Living Science Center

703 NW Green Oaks Boulevard

Arlington, TX.  76006

Following the service, we will gather at a  restaurant for a meal and fellowship.

 

Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014, 2:30 p.m.

La Trinidad United Methodist Church

300 San Fernando

San Antonio, TX 78207

A meal will be served in the fellowship hall following the service.

 

If anyone plans to attend the service in Dallas, please let me know as they want to have an idea of how many people to plan for.  My phone numbers are 210-691-8816 and

210-382-5150 (cell). My email is dalvirez@sbcglobal.net.

Jun 24

Refugee Crisis – 24 June 2014

Dear Friends and Family of La Trinidad UMC and coworkers in Christ,

One hundred years ago, violence associated with the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) drove many families to seek safety and refuge in Texas.  When they arrived, they sought out communities of faith that would embrace their people, language and culture and provide important social connections and resources to help them establish new lives.

The influx of these families caused a small church in San Antonio to experience tremendous membership growth, to change its name, build a beautiful place of worship, and to become the largest Latin-American Methodist Church in the United States.  That church is now known as La Trinidad UMC!

Today, one hundred years later, disorder, crime, poverty and violence in Central America have created a new wave of refugees.  Honduras was recently designated as the “murder capital of the world” where gangs control 40% of the country and actively recruit and kidnap young children, pressing them into criminal activity and prostitution.

Unfortunately, our current immigration laws, political culture, and secular news media have become increasingly xenophobic, punishing both the immigrant and those who would offer aid.  While the Civil Rights era successfully dismantled the racist regime of laws known as Jim Crow, many of its principles and objectives were simply rewritten into the zero-tolerance immigration and criminal justice systems, depriving our most vulnerable neighbors of the status they need to be afforded basic rights and opportunities that we take for granted.

Over the last 16 years, around 4 million people have been deported in a crackdown far surpassing the impact of the the infamous “Operation Wetback” that took place in the 1950’s under President Eisenhower.  Like “Operation Wetback” the current crackdown disproportionately targets Latin-American immigrants and their families often separating U.S. born children from a foreign-born father, mother, or both for the remaining duration of their childhood.

Today, highly profitable Wall-Street traded corporations lobby our politicians for harsher immigration measures while also receiving lucrative Federal contracts run private prisons, their “guards” being mere employees who lack the appropriate training in law enforcement.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/07/private-prisons-immigration-federal-law-enforcement_n_1569219.html

These “detention centers,” whose deplorable conditions were featured on the PBS Frontline special “Lost in Detention” are currently saturated with detained immigrants and their families.  As a result, many new arrivals are simply being processed and released, many at bus stations in Laredo and McAllen.

If the refugee is an unaccompanied minor, however, he or she is held for 72 hours in immigration detention, then placed in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services (Office of Refugee Resettlement).  The Federal Government then attempts to reconnect the child with family members here in the U.S. or in their country of origin (in order to deport the child).

Over 40,000 unaccompanied minors ranging in age from 5-17 are currently in Federal custody.  These children, some mere toddlers, are being held in large concentration camps in the Rio Grande Valley, Arizona, San Antonio, and Oklahoma among other places, without access to lawyers, media scrutiny, or help from religious and charitable organizations outside the official “contractors.”  One of these camps is being operated at Lackland AFB with over 1000 children youth currently living in military dorms.  Many other children are being bussed around the US to other camps, such as the large camp in Nogales, AZ.

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/immigration/2014/06/18/arizona-immigrant-children-holding-area-tour/10780449/

Tomorrow, I will participate in a conference call with area religious leaders regarding the status of the unaccompanied children.  I am making every effort to find out what options exist for the loving, Christian people of our churches to respond to the needs of these children, and what possibilities exist for the children to have free and full lives.

In Laredo, where refugee families are being released at the bus station, the United Methodist Holding Institute has begun providing transitional services.

Holding Institute needs the following items in order to continue this ministry:

BOTTLED WATER
HYGIENE ITEMS (travel size containers)
WIPES
DIAPERS
UNDERWEAR (packaged children’s sizes)
PACKAGED SNACKS
TOTE BAGS (grocery size)
DRAW STRING BAGS

NEW: NEEDING THESE ITEMS AS WELL

SHOELACES FOR CHILDREN’S TENNIS SHOES
CHILDREN’S SIZE BELTS
TOWELS (for use at Holding Institute shower facility)

If you desire to support the effort at Holding, please bring these items to the gym on Sunday.  Raquel and I will take them to Laredo on Monday to Holding Institute.  You may also make a financial designated contribution to this cause.

Please remember these families and children in your daily prayers as we seek to faithfully respond to those who are so close to the heart of Christ.

Thank you and God bless.

Rev. John P. Feagins

Post Script: Later today, I received this response from BCFS:

Hello Rev. John P. Feagins,

Thank you for contacting BCFS Health and Human Services via our website to inquire about assisting our ongoing operations with immigrant children.

We greatly appreciate the interest of your congregation, however our contract with the federal government doesn’t allow for the use of volunteers with this operation. Department of Homeland Security just released some information about donations on their website that includes links to state programs that may be accepting donations or volunteers: http://www.dhs.gov/information-donations

Thank you very much for reaching out to us. Have a blessed day.

Feb 13

News 2/13/2014

Dear La Trinidad Church Family,

We have a busy weekend ahead!

This Friday, the LT Senior Adult Ministry will be gathering at the Luby’s Cafeteria on Fredericksburg and Hillcrest for their annual Valentine’s Day Luncheon.  All our senior adults are invited to come.

This weekend, the Sewing for Preemies group will be gathering in the gym in the morning at 9:00 A.M. for their monthly workshop.

Following this, through the LT Youth Outreach Ministry, the Lanier Basketball Team and supporters will be holding a pot-luck meal in the gymnasium to celebrate the team’s accomplishment in making the playoffs.  The team members will by dyeing their hair blond and this year, to fulfill a pledge, Mayor Julián Castro will be joining them.  We expect the local media and considerable support from our community for this event, and I would love to see a good showing of our own congregation.  It isn’t often we can do so much “outreach” from within our own gym!

The pot-luck meal for the Lanier team is from 1-4 PM PM on Saturday February 15.  Its immediately following the sewing for Preemies activity.  Brother Alex has asked that our L.T. family be generous in bringing food offerings to help show hospitality to guests from the community at large.

This Sunday, the United Methodist Women are offering a Valentine’s “Malt Shoppe” Lunch, fund-raiser  after the 11:00 A.M. worship service.  Tickets are $6.00.  The event features a Blue Plate Special consisting of Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, a Yeast Roll.  Ice cream sodas and sundaes will also be available.

We are blessed to now offer three Sunday services at La Trinidad, an 8:30 AM service in bilingual format, a 9:45 AM service in Spanish, and an 11:00 AM service in English.  The new format expands the range of people who can be served by the early service time while creating a much more convenient and creative approach to Spanish-language ministry on Sundays.

The Edith Parker Sunday School class now meets at 8:30 AM, with students attending the Spanish service.  A new music ensemble has formed to support the Spanish service, and additional classes can be added as needed at either 8:30 or 11:00 for people attending that service.  We are seeing many new visitors to our services and appreciate the strong commitment to worship and to inviting others throughout La Trinidad.

Confirmation classes have begun in the parlor with 7 students enrolled.  Confirmation will take place on Easter Sunday at the 11:00 AM service with Bishop Joel N. Martinez preaching.

The LT Choir holds its weekly rehearsals in the choir room on Wednesday evenings at 7.  To participate in choir, please visit a rehearsal or speak with Esther Hernandez, our choir director.

Here in the church facility, work to renovate the quilting room in the basement is almost complete.  We will be holding a ribbon cutting and blessing following worship on February 23.  This is part of a larger effort to repair, restore, and improve our church facility.  Projects beginning soon include the roof repairs around the Sanctuary, the relocation of the church offices, and the paving of the parking area.  All of this is possible, together with our ministries, due to the generous and faithful stewardship of our church family.

Hoping to see you again soon!

Rev. John P. Feagins

Sep 09

Counting the Cost

Counting the Cost

Rev. John P. Feagins

8 September 2013

Luke 14:25-33
25Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, 26“Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. 27Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? 29Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, 30saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace.33So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.

When I go to the grocery store, I often go early in the morning to avoid the crowds.  Yesterday, I noticed that they had two large displays of pumpkins at a very good price, so I selected a smaller one.  When I was checking out, the attendant noticed my pumpkin and commented, “That’s the first pumpkin I’ve sold this year.  Don’t you think it is a little early?”

“I’m actually going to cook it and eat it,” I replied.

Perplexed by my response, she asked, “You can do that?  Those are edible?”

In Spanish the word for pumpkin is the same as the word for squash: calabasa.  There is no distinction.  In North America, however, pumpkins are associated with Halloween Jack-O-Lanterns.

Pumpkins are a fruit.  God created pumpkins with two purposes: 1) to nourish and 2) to multiply.

Somehow we’ve turned them into a vanity.  The seeds are thrown away.  The pumpkin is turned into an ugly face and left outside to rot.  What God intended for food, we’ve turned into wasteful entertainment.

For the attendant, edible pumpkin is something found in a can.  When found in its natural state, its “for decoration.”

So it has become for the Christian life.

Like the pumpkin, God has created the Church to nourish the human soul with hope, justice, peace, wisdom, faith, hope and love and to multiply itself through the sharing of the good news.    We’ve turned it into something in a can.  Pumpkin without seeds, without multiplication, something to be consumed or used for entertainment purposes.

One doesn’t need to look far to find examples of Canned Christianity.

Canned Christianity is self-centered.  Its focus is on the consumer, the client, the church shopper and church hopper who is seeking the best value for the least cost.   It is packaged in single servings, complete with all the artificial preservatives and additives to give it the best shelf life in case you don’t want to use it right away.  The label doesn’t show the contents, but what some expert chef made from them, the promise of prosperity, health, success.

Canned Christianity is self-determined.   It doesn’t seek to do the will of God, but rather a way to get God to bless what we want to do with our lives, our desires, our ambitions.  The seeds are scooped out and thrown away.  It is a ministry without a mission.

Canned Christianity is self-righteous.  It approaches God from a sense of pride, of entitlement.  It is concerned with its consumer rights.  It will not tell you to change, to sacrifice, to repent, to reflect on your life.  The customer is always right.  And if you don’t like this brand, there are many competitors.

Canned Christianity is self-indulgent.  It seeks not to sacrifice, but to indulge its senses with the best music, the most luxurious spaces, the easiest access, and the most eloquent, young, and attractive speakers.  It offers us  a Christian theme park, a place to escape reality.

Our spiritual ancestors walked away from the excesses of gilded altars in elaborate stone temples filled with the finest art, music, and treasure, but we have returned to those vanities.  We receive catalogs offering us the latest in church tech.  Bar-code readers that “swipe in” churchgoers’ digitally produced name-tags, tens of thousands of dollars in video and sound equipment, computers that track members every association, gift, and decision.  With each innovation, our expectations, the bar of success, is raised higher and higher, and with it the cost of our vanity.

Canned Christianity shuns the Cross of Christ.  In fact, in some of the largest Canned Christianity churches, the cross itself has been removed from the place of worship as a negative sectarian symbol of religious division or as a sign of scandalous failure and suffering.

Today’s text teaches us that we cannot have Jesus without the cross.  We cannot have Jesus without joining the mission of Jesus, complete with its call to self-denial.

When we read the Lord’s words here, we are challenged to take them at face value.  There is little room for metaphorical demythologizing or revisionist re-imagining.   “If you want to be my disciple, you must risk your life, your relationships, your possessions.”

Is this expectation unreasonable?  Is it too radical?  Is Jesus asking too much?  Who is this Jesus to expect us to leave everything and follow him even unto death?

To understand his call, we must understand his mission.  He came to seek and save the lost, to heal a broken world, to redeem the created order.

If you haven’t noticed, we live in a very broken world.

Signs of this brokenness are everywhere.   We don’t have to look very far from this church (La Trinidad) to see this brokenness, the homeless, the addicted, the incarcerated, the abused, the poor, the young people struggling to get an education in a society that undermines their every hope.   We see it in the decline and decay of our urban churches, schools, and communities.  We see it in the world.  Neighborhoods in the Middle East poisoned by their own government, children exposed to toxic nerve agents and left to suffocate and die in the streets.  Fanatical mobs burning places of worship and governments who cannot find a way to peace without coercion, violence, and destruction.  The signs of hatred, depravity, destruction and death are everywhere.

Canned Christianity isolates us from that world.  It causes us to deny rather than discern, to escape rather than engage, to retreat rather than to restore, redeem, reconcile.

The call of Christ may sound radical to us, unreasonable, extreme, but if it does, it is because we have lost our sense of urgency, of compassion, and of love.

Jesus calls us to take up our cross.

The cross is a sign of conviction: Not conviction in the sense of holding a strong belief, but conviction of sin.  We cannot share what we do not receive.  We cannot be agents of God’s grace without first receiving that grace.   It is not the cross of Christ he calls us to carry, but our own.  We must own that we are part of the problem.  We are part of the brokenness.  We share in the responsibility for the way things are.

The Cross is a sign of surrender.  Jesus said, “not my will, but Thy will be done” before the Cross.  When we take up our cross, we surrender our destiny, our life’s purpose to God.

The Cross is a sign of sacrifice.  Justice, righteousness, atonement, redemption, salvation are not possible without sacrifice.   We cannot be disciples of the One who gave his life for all and shun sacrifice.  Carrying the cross places us in solidarity with those we are called to serve.

The Cross is a sign of faith.  We are called to carry our cross, and we do so without fear of death, of rejection, of scarcity, because we follow a Lord who has already carried the cross to victory.

The cross has two beams, one pointing up to God, and another pointing to our neighbors.  Once we have made this personal commitment to carry the Cross, we can respond to the missionary call to follow Christ.

Jesus came not only to heal the broken human soul, but also to restore that soul to community.   We relate to various communities, our families, our church, our city and nation, and ultimately to the world itself.  The brokenness of our condition has torn down and corrupted these communities.  We cannot rebuild them without sacrifice.   Jesus calls us to join him in this work of redemption, and that work carries a cost.

Our spiritual forefathers foremothers knew the urgency of their mission.  Many came to San Antonio as refugees of a civil war in Mexico.  They lived through times of great suffering, of poverty, of civil unrest.   They felt first hand the urgency of sharing the gospel and strengthening the church, not as a Christian theme park, but as an agent of redemption and peace in a broken and violent world.

Let us remember the pumpkin – the calabasa.   The pumpkin was created to nourish and to multiply.  God has placed us here for a purpose.  We are here to nourish, to heal, to love, and we are also here to share the seed of faith and multiply disciples.  The enemy would like to take our pumpkin, to take our church, throw away the seeds, carve his scowling face on it, and leave it out to rot and decay.

When we respond to Christ, we say no to that waste, that vanity, no to canned Christianity and Jack-o-Lantern churches.   We say yes to God’s purpose, to God’s mission – not only for us, but also for our neighbor and for our world. Yes, it is radical.  Yes, there is a cost.  But it is a price that Jesus already paid and place that Jesus .

He paid it because it is worth it.  Is it worth it to us?