Holy Communion Sunday Prayer

What is on your heart? What wakes you up in the middle of the night?

We come to Christ’s table with thanksgiving and joy for what God has done for us and for his continual invitation to God’s grace, love, peace, joy, healing, and hope. We are united when we come to the table; one with God and one with each other. Unity is good and pleasing in the sight of God. As we take the bread and the cup, we can experience God’s presence in Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit.

Experiencing God’s presence can seem a unrealistic dream for those of us currently experiencing suffering. But take heart! Through the research of experts and the words of the scripture, we are reminded that praying with one another leads to answered prayers and healing. In Testing Prayer, Dr. Candi Brown, a scholar who researched and studied answered prayer, mentions that people who have experienced answered prayers more than doubled when they shared their prayers and asked others to pray for them as opposed to “keeping it to themselves.” The words of the Bible remind us that, “If any among us are suffering, they should pray….pray for one another so you may be healed” (James 5:13, 16).

Weary and carrying heavy burdens, we come to Jesus, seeking God in prayer, knowing He will give us rest (Matthew 11:28). On this Holy Communion Sunday, Stephen Ministers and members of our Prayer Team are ready to share God’s love and grace with you in prayer. If you have any prayer concerns or would like to receive a prayer for your loved ones, we are here to pray for you and with you. It is beautiful and powerful when God’s children come together in unity and share our burdens with each other. I believe that’s a sign of healthy church.

Our prayer team is privileged to pray with you today. It is our desire to be faithful, living out in action the words from James and Matthew, we are not merely trying to be or appear more spiritual. Faithfulness is about action – on the part of those seeking the Lord, and on those willing to join alongside those needing healing in prayer. All prayers are confidential. May the Holy Spirit stir our hearts and minds with courage as we come to receive God’s grace through the ministry team. Amen.

Rev. SueLee Jin

Your Voice Matters!

When Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church made the decision to move to a new structure, we also made the decision to evaluate our facilities through a Master Plan. We engaged MSA Architects to lead us in our Master Plan. The goal is to arrive at a roadmap for the maintenance and development of our facilities that support our church’s mission as well as our congregation’s needs.

This past fall the Servant Leadership Board began the Master Plan process. MSA led the Servant Leadership Board in evaluating the uses and needs of our facilities, as well as hopes and dreams. In addition, MSA met with, and led the staff in a similar process.

The next step in the Master Plan process is to lead the congregation in the process of evaluating uses, needs, and aspirations as they relate to our facilities; to this end the Servant Leadership Board set three congregational input sessions: January 18, at Hyde Park Community, and another at Nast Community (our second location in Over-The-Rhine); and a third session February 2, 6:30 pm at Hyde Park Community.

On Sunday, January 18, over 45 people gathered in the Little Theater to provide input. Over 33 people met at Nast Community to do the same.

A successful Master Plan involves listening to as many voices as possible, identifies common themes, and brings clarity to the way forward. It is successful when it is open and transparent, and engages the congregation as a whole. Your voice matters! Our input-gathering sessions include interactive discussions to elicit feedback on the uses, needs, and aspirations of the congregation. We will use the information and ideas gathered to explore master planning principals and goals.

Join us Monday, February 2 at 6:30 pm, in the Little Theater for the third and final congregational input session. We want to hear from you, as together we position Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church for the future.

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

Walk To Emmaus

As you begin the New Year, prayerfully consider attending an Emmaus Walk in 2015!

The Emmaus story is found in the Gospel of Luke (24: 13-35). It’s an awesome story of two disciples or friends walking along the road sharing their hearts’ deepest concerns about the death of Christ. An unknown stranger comes along who explains the scriptures as they walked. At the end of a long day the stranger took bread, blessed, broke and shared it with the two disciples. Their eyes were then opened and they recognized the risen Christ and then rushed back to Jerusalem to share the good news with others.

Through the years several hundred Hyde Park church members have experienced the Walk to Emmaus. When you attend you’ll come to a fuller understanding of God’s grace and will experience it in Christian community. Emmaus is a discipleship model that transforms lives for God’s kingdom work in the world.

Who should go? Members of a local church who desire to strengthen their spiritual lives or experience renewal. Someone searching for unanswered questions about their faith. A person who is willing to dedicate their everyday life to God and understands that being a Christian involves responsibility.

What happens on Emmaus? It is a three-day short course on Christianity where you will enjoy singing, learning, laughing, worshipping, reflecting, praying, participate in small table groups, and daily celebrate Holy Communion. The discussions are around a number of talks by laity and clergy on the theme of God’s grace and experienced in Christian love through the Emmaus community.

What happens after Emmaus? Everyone is encouraged to become more engaged in ministry in their local church and become more active as a disciple of Christ in their everyday life. To nurture this process of discipleship persons can become involved in a small group for accountability.

Each person considering to attend the Walk to Emmaus needs to have a sponsor. These are persons who have already attended a walk and are willing to support you as a friend on your walk with Christ. The next Men’s Walk is February 19-22 and the next Women’s Walk is March 19-22.

For more information about Emmaus or seeking to find an Emmaus sponsor, please contact Sharon Michaelson at 761-5571 or at moegge@fuse.net.

It is my hope you will prayerfully consider attending the Walk to Emmaus in the New Year. It might be a natural next step on your spiritual journey. Just maybe you will recognize the risen Christ anew in 2015!

In Christ’s Love,
Dave Weaver

Lions, and Tigers, and Bears, Oh my!

All of us remember with fondness Dorothy’s walk through the forest on the yellow brick road. Accompanied by her two new friends, the Tin Man and the Scarecrow, and her faithful dog, Toto, the group encounters a lion. They are all terrified of course! Lions are known as the king of the beasts for a reason.

This lion, is not your ordinary lion, but a cowardly one. The Cowardly Lion has circles under his eyes because he has trouble falling asleep. One of Dorothy’s companions suggests that he try counting sheep. The lion explains that he cannot count sheep because he is afraid of them too!

Toto steps up to face the lion and begins to bark. When the lion chases after the dog, Dorothy scolds the lion. The Cowardly Lion begins to cry.

In our scripture for this Sunday, Daniel faces lions. He is thrown into a den of lions because he holds on to his integrity. Daniel refused to stop praying to God, continuing to pray three times a day in front of an open window. Daniel refused the king’s rich food and observed the dietary laws of his faith. Daniel trusts God and keeps his faith. God protects and shields Daniel from harm, shutting the mouths of the lions.

If you are experiencing a time of stress and challenge today, I offer this prayer to remind you of our God, the God of Daniel, who stands with us always, even when we face lions:

Eternal God, You call us to trust You. Many people clamor around us, trying to tell us what to do. Tune our ears to hear only Your voice over the din of noise. As we face challenges in our lives, remind us that You still stand with Your people among dens of lions, protecting us and shielding us from harm. Help us to place our hand in Yours, keep our faith and our integrity, and always trust that You are a God who keeps Your promises. We pray in the name of Jesus, who is our strength and our song, Amen.

May God fill you with the courage of Daniel, today and always!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Come to the Table

Over the past six months (or more) we’ve heard a lot about dis-unity, and division, in the church and our culture; racial, and ethnic tensions are on the rise; theological and political differences polarize. We have lost the ability to talk to one another in a way that sees the “other” as a blessed child of God. We find it is preferred to be right than to be kind. It is to this reality that Bishop Palmer invites the churches and communities of our annual Conference to create Circles of Grace.

Our District Superintendent, Rev. Brian Brown, answering Bishop Palmer’s call to create Circles of Grace, encouraged the churches of the Ohio River Valley District to begin the process of dialogue and reconciliation on Human Relations Sunday (January 18). Rev. Brown writes, “The table of Christ is one table filled with unique voices from every perspective. With so many conflicting perceptions of power and race in the United States, we must recognize there is a problem and we must create space at the table for all to participate in the conversation. Come to the Table is the name of a district-wide effort that includes a process, an event, and a dialogue – all to move forward to the place Christ’s love calls us to.”

This Sunday we participate with the churches of the Ohio River Valley District in an effort to Come to the Table as the Body of Christ. The Rev. Vance Ross, former Deputy General Secretary of the General Board of Discipleship, will remind us that as children of God we are reconciled to God through Christ and given a ministry of reconciliation.

Come to the Table is the invitation of Jesus! At Jesus’ table there is no Jew or Gentile, male or female, white or black; we are one in Christ Jesus. As we begin this process of creating Circle’s of Grace in our churches and our communities let us remember the words of our founding father John Wesley, “It is an unavoidable consequence of the present weakness and shortness of human understanding that several men will be of several minds in religion as well as in common life. . . .Although every man necessarily believes that every particular opinion which he holds is true . . . yet can no man be assured that all his own opinions, taken together, are true.” (John Wesley, Sermon On Catholic Spirit)

I look forward to seeing you this Sunday. Invite a friend, relative, acquaintance, or neighbor to join you in worship.

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

Job Search Focus Group: Hope, Help & Healing for the Unemployed

Unemployment is tough…it’s an emotional roller coaster …it harms self-esteem…it’s confusing and frustrating. It’s also a time for self-discovery – for resurrecting dreams – for finding Purposeful Employment.

Advice – Accountability – Achievement
As the largest, longest running job search support group in America, JSFG provides weekly advice, resources, connections to employers, and a positive environment for job seekers to find their way.
JSFG Graduate Testimonies
“I can honestly say I used a piece of everything at some point. From the Strength Finder workshops, through the resume writing workshops, to networking, and ending using what I learned in the negotiation workshops.”

“JSFG is a great group of folks who provide encouragement and tools to help in a process that can be daunting and discouraging.”

“This is truly a special group and a blessing to have in Cincinnati. God Bless You!”

“What impressed me was the emphasis on helping others: people from the Job Search Focus Group reached out time and again to help me, encourage me, or give me a lead on a company or a job posting. You can pay someone to help you polish a resume but you can’t pay someone to give a dang about you.”

Join us Mondays @ Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church.
8:00 am Welcome Orientation for 1st timers.
9:00 am Advice, Networking, Speakers, Seminars.
11:30 am Workshops: Strengths, Resume, Networking, Interviewing, Negotiating, Financial and more.

For additional information go to the JSFG website,
www.JobSearchFocusGroup.com.

Bob Pautke

The Parlor Group

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

Most 12-Step meetings start or end with the Serenity Prayer. Learning to ACCEPT myself for whom I was/am and to ACCEPT “people, places and things exactly as they are” was key to finding the necessary strength and courage to face my own alcoholism. I had to become comfortable with “I am Mary and I am an alcoholic.” It was a very difficult concept to embrace, but essential to sustaining sobriety.

When I moved here in 2008, I was dialoguing with one of my AA peers about our mutual spiritual stagnation. She elected to go back to meetings; I decided to return to Church. I also became a part of the Parlor Group.

Anyone’s journey to sobriety and serenity is not easy; it takes willingness and courage – and requires work. It is, however, a true example of “when the pupil is ready, the teacher will appear.” I am very grateful for the people who have been part of my recovery. Although I have been sober for more than 25 years, much of it has been involved, as stated in Alcoholics Anonymous’ BIG BOOK, participating in a spiritual fellowship, that together, “trudges” the happy road to destiny. Sobriety, like spirituality, requires ongoing effort. AA’s eleventh step states “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”

The Parlor Group initially explored the relationship between 12-step programs and the Bible. A 12-step Bible Study Guide was developed; the curriculum is inclusive for any faith and/or any 12-step program. The Parlor Group also evolved into a core group duplicating the anonymity and confidentiality practiced in any of the 12-step programs. The format of listening and “thank you for sharing” provides a safe environment to provide and/or receive spiritual strength and support.

In January 2015, the Parlor Group will continue to meet every Friday Night. However, the 2nd and 4th Fridays of the month will be focused on “Grief,” utilizing Julie Yarbrough’s book entitled Beyond the Broken Heart.
It is very apropos that the Parlor Group aligns itself with “grief.” When one elects to become sober from any substance or practice, it is “losing” a very important part of their existence. Although the loss of a loved one is physically different, the use of a spiritual foundation and “accepting the loss” is something that can be shared.

Currently, I am the only group member that has an issue with alcohol. The 12-steps and acceptance are a spiritual framework that can enhance anyone’s daily life. These meetings have been and are always open to anyone.
For more information contact Lisa Rabinowitz at 979-8192 or Mary Meish at 375-2327 or mmeisch12@msn.com.

Mary Meisch

Favorite Questions from Toddlers

If you have ever had a conversation of more than three minutes with a four-year old you have probably heard some interesting questions:

Why do we have snow?
Do cats and dogs go to heaven?
How big is the ocean?
Where does God live?

Toddlers, of course, are not the only ones asking questions! The toughest set of questions seems to be the ones that start with “Why?”

Why did Grandma get sick?
Why did we have to move?
Why did my friend die?
How can bad things happen to good people?

This month we are taking a look at suffering in a new sermon series: “Walking through the Darkness.” During these wintry months of extended darkness we will explore what the Bible teaches about walking through times of trial.

Join us this Sunday as we explore the question: “Why Does God allow suffering?” Invite a friend who is going through a tough time to join you. It will be a morning filled with encouragement and the deep, abiding joy that is ours as children of God!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Stephen Ministry

Very soon after my husband Neil and I became members of this church, I learned about a ministry in which lay people could be trained to provide a warm space for listening to and caring for another person during a time of personal crisis or upheaval.

That program, called Stephen Ministry, appealed to me for several reasons. I was a counselor and a mediator, but this volunteer opportunity was different. The requirements were a commitment to training and supervision, an ability to listen without judgment, and regular visits with a care receiver until he/she felt ready to move ahead independently. Confidentiality is valued above all.

An oft-heard phrase to describe the program is that God is the Cure Giver, Stephen Ministers are the Care Givers who assist pastors in congregational care.

Over the years I have experienced stressful periods and indecision about how to respond in ways that would help healing, for myself and the others involved. Even as I prayed for answers I also received encouragement in sharing my situation with another whose faith and Christian practices I respected. Together we experienced God’s love.

Stephen Ministers do not provide answers. They are trained over several months on how to provide a safe place in which two people listen together to God’s direction. In that setting the care receiver no longer needs to feel isolated or fearful. I have been blessed as a Stephen Minister to know young mothers, midlife career changers, and women facing health issues that constrain their daily lives. Each pairing has been a privilege beyond measure. God has been at the center of every meeting.

Stephen Ministers have experienced many of the daily challenges that can seem overwhelming. We are privileged to be called to walk with another through a difficult time, providing comfort and consistent care.
If you would like to know more about this ministry, please contact Bonnie Stowell at twinklingb@yahoo.com or Rev. Dave Weaver at dweaver@hpcumc.org.

Sarah Thorburn

A Little History of Epiphany

Epiphany (Greek) means “manifestation” or “striking appearance.” Theophany (Ancient Greek) means a “vision of God.” Epiphany is a Christian feast day that celebrates the revelation of God the Son as a human being in Jesus Christ.

In Western Christianity, the feast commemorates principally (but not solely) the visit of the Magi to the Christ child, and thus Jesus’ physical manifestation to the Gentiles. Eastern Christians commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, seen as His manifestation to the world as the Son of God. The miracle at the Wedding at Cana is also celebrated during Epiphany as a first manifestation of Christ’s public life.

In these traditions, the essence of the feast is the same: the manifestation of Christ to the world (whether as an infant or in the Jordan) and the Mystery of the Incarnation.

In some Western Christian denominations, especially in the past and in the present-day Church of England, the feast of the Epiphany also initiates a liturgical season of Epiphanytide. The traditional date for the feast is January 6. However, since 1970, the celebration is held in some countries on the first Sunday after January 1.

Our scripture lesson this week is focused on the Magi seeking diligently the star in the sky. They have an Epiphany experience when they meet the Christ-child in the manger scene. Face to face they meet God incarnate. Their lives are forever changed.

We all experienced a little of this light at the Christmas Eve candlelight service. The journey for us is to continue to seek and search for more intimacy with Christ. We are to be vessels of light in our dark world. In our seeking Christ our lives are illuminated, and all of a sudden, like the Magi, we have an Epiphany experience. Christ is revealed or manifested in a new light in our lives. Our lives are forever changed.

It is my prayer that you will start the New Year off by “seeking the light.” It is my hope that Hyde Park Community UMC will be a beacon of light in our community, our city and the world. May we become an incarnational church filled with the “light and love” of Jesus Christ, so others seeking Christ may have an Epiphany transformational experience too.

Happy seeking in 2015! In the name of the One we follow, Jesus, the Christ!

Blessings,
Dave