Mission Team- Samara UMC in Russia

Hyde Park Community UMC will be sending a mission team to Samara United Methodist Church, Samara, Russia, January 1-8, 2018.  The mission team will be lead by Kevin Betts and Pastors Cathy and Doug.

We will join our brothers and sisters in Samara in celebrating the Orthodox Christmas, in addition to offering workshops on leadership development, and working with their Helping Hand ministry.  Through our partnership, we provide the spiritual, financial, and psychological help that sends the message: “you are not alone”.  We will worship together, study together, as we grow deeper in our relationship with God, and one another.

I look forward to seeing you in Church where together we are reminded we are beloved and blessed!

Blessed!

In the 12th chapter of Genesis we read about the blessing of Abram (name soon to be changed to Abraham).However, we not only read of Abram’s blessing, but his purpose: “I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” (Gen. 12:3). As God’s beloved not only are we chosen, we are blessed; not merely blessed, but blessed for a purpose!

Henri Nouwen in his book, Life of the Beloved, writes:

“The blessings that we give to each other are expressions of the blessing that rests on us from all eternity. It is the deepest affirmation of our true self.  It is not enough to be chosen. We also need an ongoing blessing that allows us to hear in an ever-new way that we belong to a loving God who will never leave us alone, but will remind us always that we are guided by love on every step of our lives…When we are thrown up and down by the little waves on the surface of our existence, we become easy victims of our manipulative world, but when we continue to hear the deep gentle voice that blesses us, we can walk through life with a stable sense of well-being and true belonging.” (p.72-73)

When we remember whose we are and who we are: Chosen by God – blessed and beloved by God, we are moved to love as we have been loved. Consequently, we participate in Christ’s resurrection, and become a “new creation”, participating with God in God’s “new creation”.

Richard Rohr writes, “The brilliant Anglican theologian, N.T. Wright, concludes that we have largely missed Paul’s major theme. . . . .  Wright believes the great and supreme idea of Paul is that the new temple of God is the human person.” (Daily Devotion, The Apostle Paul: The Evolution of the Temple, May 14, 2017).  Chosen and beloved, redeemed and baptized we are the temple of God, in whom the glory and power of God resides, and flows into the world (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).  Empowered, we become the Body of Christ to the world, partners with God, a conduit for God’s blessings, transforming the world around us. I look forward to seeing you in Church where together we are reminded we are beloved and blessed!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

Breaking Bread Together

Consider the joy of breaking bread together….

It is a wonderful thing to sit at the table with family or friends and share a meal together.  Good food, with great conversation, is a wonderful combination!

This weekend we begin a new sermon series based on Henri Nouwen’s book, Life of the Beloved. In the next few weeks we will be studying what it means to live as a disciple of Jesus  as part of an authentic  Christian community.  The four verbs that are included in the liturgy for the Eucharist (the Sacrament of Holy Communion) will be explored:  Taken, Blessed, Broken, and Given.

Jesus did some of his best work at the table, breaking bread with others:

He ate dinner with Zacchaeus, a known tax collector, who was delighted to host Jesus in his home

He enjoyed food, friendship, and fellowship in Bethany with his friends, Lazarus, Martha, and Mary

The night before He was crucified, Jesus took ancient symbols of bread and wine, used in the Passover feast, and invited His followers to be a part of a new covenant, communing together in remembrance of Him. 

As the Risen Christ, He revealed His identity to His companions in Emmaus as He broke bread with them.                                                                                                                                       

In our world today which seems bent on division and discord, not unity and harmony, this sermon series will challenge us to embrace our neighbors in love as we step up to be the body of Christ.

We look forward to sharing the Lord’s Day with you this weekend.

Joy in our Risen Lord,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Our Purpose

Rick Warren, the non-denominational pastor of Saddleback Church in California, wrote a book in early 2000.  The book was titled: “The Purpose-Driven Life.”  In his book he poses several questions. Why am I here?  Does my life matter?  What is my purpose?  Warren later wrote another book titled: “The Purpose-Driven Church.” Both were best sellers.

The scriptures help us to know that God’s purposes are at work or being fulfilled. Here are some scriptures that support my thinking on this.

“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2). 

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21).

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12-13).

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace” (2 Timothy 1:9).

More questions for us all to ponder:  Are we living out our purpose for God’s Kingdom here on earth?   Is our purpose Christ-centered or self-centered?  Is the Holy Spirit actively at work in us to fulfill a greater purpose?

We are still focusing on Christ’s resurrection this week in worship.  The sermon series is titled: “He Lives.”  We are resurrected people.  As followers of the risen Christ, I do believe he gives us a purpose.  It’s my hope all go away from worship this Sunday empowered to live out this purpose.

In Christ,

Dave Weaver