God is Love!

“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love, does not know God, for God is love.”

(1 John4: 7-8) God’s “Being” is love, “agape love”; a love that is self-giving, selfless, unconditional and forever present!

Who is God?  God is Love!  Jesus Christ left you and me a “new commandment”, “love God as you have been loved by God” (John 13:34).  To love as God loves means we must understand love as the Apostle Paul taught and modeled: Love is patient and kind; it is not envious, boastful arrogant or rude.  Love is not irritable or resentful, and does not keep score (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).  In Jesus Christ we are lifted above the dualistic thinking of the Enlightenment and Post Modernity, empowered to embrace, as Paul puts it, a “more excellent way”!

“Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”  We love as we have been loved by God when we understand “love never ends”; and we cease to judge who is and isn’t worthy.   Father Richard Rohr writes, “The only way I know how to love God and to teach you how to love God is to love what God loves.  To love God means to love everything . . . no exceptions.  Of course, that can only be done with divine love flowing through us.” (“Seeing with God’s Eyes”, August 17, 2016)

When we allow God’s “divine love” to flow through us,we are transformed and become transformative; we are empowered and are empowering; we claim our identity as a beloved child of God, and see others the same.  I look forward to seeing you in Church; invite a friend, relative, acquaintance or neighbor to join you!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

Where in the World is God?

Did you ever ask, “Where are you God?” Some ancient people would answer: “In the sun.” Others believed that the “gods” lived on Mount Olympus. Some believed that God was in the trees.

This week’s message, “The Heart of God: God the Revealer,” based on Psalm 139, explores where we can discover God.  Lawrence Kushner explains:  “In Judasim the world is viewed as one world which is material and spiritual at the same time.  The material world is always potentially spiritual.  For Judaism all things – including, and especially such apparently non-spiritual and grossly material things such as garbage, sweat, dirt, and bushes – are not the pediments to but dimensions of spirituality.  Jewish spirituality is about the immediacy of God’s presence everywhere.  It is about patience, and paying attention, about seeing, feeling, and learning things that only a moment ago were inaccessible.” (From “God was in this place and I, I did not know.’)

In Psalm 139 we discover a God whose love is inescapable.  It reaches beyond the highest heaven to the lowest places of the earth.

Let us celebrate this weekend our God whose love cannot be contained by time or space… a God who is with us, always!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Understanding Mercy

God is known to be a God of mercy and grace. Understanding mercy is often difficult for people as we tend to be a generation of “I’ll get him for that” and “I hope they get what they deserve.” Many have developed a nature of harsh criticism and want others to get what they have coming to them and then some.

God, however, is merciful to even the worst offenders, sinners, and law-breakers. This means that even though He knows of our guilt, God doesn’t issue the punishment deserved. To elaborate, the verse in Romans 3:23-24 says “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” God’s mercy is restorative, not punitive.

Simply, we all miss the mark and will never meet the full standards of righteousness that God intends us to have. But, through God’s mercy and grace God releases us from any form of judgment. God’s covenant of love and mercy with Israel in the Old Testament was steadfast regardless of how wayward the people were. God’s mercy in the New Testament is made known to us through Jesus who reconciled all people once and for all.  We live under a new covenant of love, mercy and grace.

We continue the sermon series this week titled: “The Heart of God.” Our subtitle is “God the Merciful.” God’s mercy is there for us every moment of our lives. Join me in worship this Sunday. Maybe you will go away understanding the depth of God’s mercy. Maybe you will recognize the need for God’s mercy. Maybe you will realize you need to show mercy. Or maybe you will experience God’s mercy as we sing the famous hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and the words, “Morning by morning new mercies I see; all I have needed Thy hand hath provided; great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!”

In Christ,

Pastor Dave

Master Plan Opportunities

In 2013 Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church received, and approved, a recommendation from The Armstrong Group to:  “create a long term Master Plan with associated costing to lay a roadmap for future capital projects to meet evolving ministry and missional needs.”  Shortly after the decision was made, The MSA Architectural firm was engaged to lead HPCUMC in the creation of a Master Plan.

Late fall 2015 MSA Architects presented their report to the Servant Leadership Board.  Subsequently a group from The Servant Leadership Board, and Facilities Team, led by Pastor Cathy, developed a plan for communicating the report of MSA to the congregation.

Over the next couple of months a team of people will visit with various groups (Program/Fellowship/Administrative groups) of HPCUMC and share the Master plan.  In addition, there will be two to three “All Church” gatherings.  Following the sharing sessions a recommendation will go to the Annual Charge Conference (Late October or Mid November) to create a Team that will “Phase” the Master Plan, and create a plan for implementing the first phase; which includes, but is not limited to, a timeline, architectural plans and funding plans.

We look forward to sharing this forward thinking plan with you.  If you are a part of a group at HPCUMC and would like to have a team come to present the Master Plan, please contact Lindsay Garrison (lgaarrison@hpcumc.org) with your preferred date. In addition, be on the look out for the all-church opportunities to hear the Master Plan report.  I look forward to sharing in ministry with you in the months and years to come as we put in place the infrastructure to fulfill God’s calling with excellence! See you in Church.

In Christ,

Pastor Doug