Madame Blueberry’s Quest

Madame Blueberry, of Veggie Tales fame, lives in a very nice tree house.  She has friends and is very comfortable; however, she has a yearning to always have more stuff.

One day she receives visitors.  She is informed that a new mega store is opening soon.  They will have all kinds of incredible products available to her.  She can replace all of her old stuff with brand new stuff.

Madame Blueberry can hardly wait for opening day….

She goes to the mega store and buys everything that she possibly can.  She discovers, however, that she is still sad.  Her possessions, although shiny and new, do not bring her happiness.

This week we will be talking about the “Illusion of Money.”  Money is not good or bad.  Acquiring wealth is not an evil thing.  When we allow money to become the focus of our lives and the love of money begins to consume us, we discover its limitations.

Francis Bacon wrote, “Money is a great servant, but a bad master.”  John Wooden shares: “Don’t let making a living prevent you from making a life.”

This Sunday we will explore what the Bible has to say about something we manage daily:  money.   Please read Ecclesiastes 5:10-20 to prepare your heart for worship.

May God richly bless you today with deep, abiding joy!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

The Power of Community

There are a number of clichés that describe the value of “community”, one of which is “united we stand, divided we fall.”  Although true, it is so overused that the power of the statement has been lost, or at best the meaning of its message has been fractured into multiple pieces.

Nonetheless, a life lived in a thriving, healthy, community is an empowered life!  Divided, alone, and isolated we actually do fall.  Throughout the Gospels, the foundation of Jesus’ teaching is “community”.  This was so significant to the followers of “The Way”  (later known as Christians) they developed a complex system of communal living (see Acts 4:32 ff.).  Although the communal lifestyle did not last (for reasons unknown to us), the need for community remains foundational.

Living in community means there is a time when I realize “the world doesn’t revolve around me”.   Richard Rohr in his book, “A Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations” writes,

“Our life is not our own, yet, at some level, enlightened people know that their life has been given to them as a sacred trust.  They live in gratitude and confidence, and they try to let the flow continue through them.  They know that ‘love is repaid by love alone,’ as both St. Francis of Assisi and St Therese of Lisieux have said.” (p.134)

Thus, the “flow continues”, it begins as individuals – always flowing into “community”.  “Love is repaid by love!”  Therein lies the power of community, whether it is the local church, the neighborhood in which we live, the school we attend, or the world we are a part of; with gratitude and confidence we love as we have been loved!  I look forward to seeing you in Church as we are empowered and empower others through our community known as Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

The Power of the Magnifying Glass

Any good scout can teach you how to start a fire.  If you are lucky you have dry matches and dry wood, of course; but you can start a fire using one of these methods:

Flint and Steel: By striking these two objects together over some dry kindling you can create a spark which will start a fire.  This takes patience, but it does work.

Magnifying Glass and Bird’s Nest:  Placing a dry bird’s nest on some kindling and then holding a magnifying glass toward the sun is an effective way to start a fire.  The trick is to hold steady, focusing the sun through the magnifying glass into a small shaft of light.  This takes patience too, but usually works.

This week we are continuing to study Solomon’s words in the book of Ecclesiastes.  He was known for his wisdom.  This week’s scripture, Ecclesiastes 3:9-15, reminds us of the power of focus.  It is easy to become distracted with many things stimulating us and vying for our attention.

Consider the focus of your life this weekend.  Bruce Lee said, “”The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.”

May God help us all to focus on God who continues to bless us beyond measure, caring for us and all of creation.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

A Life Well Lived!

A Life Well Lived!

Ecclesiastes is one of the books of the Bible many conveniently overlook.  Except for the opening of the third chapter (v.1-8) not many of us know anything about Ecclesiastes.  This Sunday we will help shed some light on the Wisdom of Solomon contained in Ecclesiastes, as we kick-off a 5-week sermon series on Ecclesiastes.  This week: what does it mean to live a “fulfilled” life?

I believe a number of us have heard jokes about arriving at the “pearly gates” of heaven only to be asked a question or two before gaining admission into heaven.  Recently I received an email that wasn’t a joke about gaining access to heaven, but a reflection of what a conversation with God might look like once we arrive at our eternal home.  It is a thought-provoking piece that can help us re-frame what a fulfilling life, here and now, looks like.

  • God won’t ask the square footage of your house; God will ask how many people you welcomed into your home.
  • God won’t ask about the clothes you had in your closet; God will ask how many you helped to clothe.
  • God won’t ask what your highest salary was; God will ask if you compromised your character to obtain it.
  • God won’t ask what your job title was; God will ask if you performed your job to the best of your ability.
  • God won’t ask how many friends you had; God will ask how many people to whom you were a friend.
  • God won’t ask in what neighborhood you lived; God will ask how you treated your neighbor.
  • God won’t ask about the color of your skin; God will ask about the content of your character.

Too often in life we put a wrong emphasis on the wrong things, believing “this” is what matters to God.  Micah summarizes what God requires/desires: “To do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)  Jesus summarizes the entirety of the law:  “‘you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. And a second is like it: ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-40)  Contained in these verses is the pathway to a fulfilling life.  I look forward to seeing you in Church where together we pursue a life well lived!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

Lessons from Dogs

Lessons from Dogs

Dogs help us understand God.  They help us see how God operates.  Here are a few examples:

  • They are always happy to welcome you home.   No matter how far away you strayed from the path, like a prodigal daughter or son, they rejoice when you come home.
  • They just want to hang out with you.  Your presence is what they love, longing for time to simply be together.
  • They are happy to rescue you from harm.  Dogs are trained to go over mountains and over rivers to pull people out of danger to safety.
  • Dogs are faithful.  A good dog will never leave you or forsake you.
  • Dogs, like God, are all about giving.  Their sole purpose is to love you.

This Sunday, I invite you to consider what it really means to follow Jesus, who is the Christ.

Who knows?!  The dogs may be pointing us in the right direction!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns