Your Presence through your Presents!

As we begin the season of Advent, preparing our hearts, and homes for Christmas, I uplift to you three very specific ways you can be present through your Christmas presents.

Alternative Christmas Giving

A gift for the one who has it all!  Hyde Park Community U.M.C. has offered “Alternative Christmas Giving” for a number of years.  This year Alternative Christmas Gifts have a duel focus: “Starter Essentials” for Respite Care; and Sunday School supplies for the Children’s ministry of Samara UMC, Russia.  With each $10 gift you will receive an ornament with a card stating: “A gift of Sunday school supplies for our partners in Samara, Russia, and “Starter Essentials” for Respite Care were given in your honor.”  Your presence through your present.

Christmas at Rothenberg

Every year we provide Christmas gifts for our children at Rothenberg.  This year we committed to purchase gifts for the third grade and special needs classes.  This past week we received a call for help with the preschool class (38 preschoolers). Please see the bulletin board across from the Welcome Center, choose an ornament or two, purchase the gift on the ornament, wrap it with a tag identifying the child, and return the gift to the office by December 13. Your presence through your present.

Global Mission Partner Christmas Offering

Annually we have an opportunity to make a financial contribution to the needs of our Global Mission Partners (Samara UMC, Russia; Cluj UMC, Romania; Faith Academy Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti; and The Red Bird Mission, Kentucky).  Your “Presence through your present” is an investment in God’s acts of “new creation” in places, and for people, we will never know; but know through our investment. Communities are transformed through the love of Jesus Christ!  Please use the offering envelope in the hymnal rack to make your gift.

May God bless you this Advent season as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.  See you in Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

A Song of Peace Rising From the Ashes: I Heard Bells on Christmas Day

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow lived during a turbulent time in our nation’s history.  In 1861 the first shots of the Civil War were fired.  His household experienced a tragic fire which claimed the life of his beloved wife, Frances.  Additionally, their son, Lieutenant Charles Longfellow was severely wounded in the war.

Longfellow, stricken with grief, could hardly bear the thought of Christmas.  After three years of grieving the heavy sorrow of the death of his wife, Frances, he wrote these words of hope, into his journal on December 25, 1864:

“And in despair I bowed my head; there is no peace on earth,” I said.

“For hate is strong, and mocks the song of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

“Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

“The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace of earth, good-will to men.”

Peace in the world requires something from us.  Jesus, the Prince of Peace, is here to invite us to be peacemakers as we bring God’s kingdom from heaven to earth.

May God bless you and your loved ones with hope, love, joy, and peace during this holy season.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Blessed and Blessing!

This Sunday, November 19, we will gather, blessed and beloved children of God, and we will work as the body of Christ to package and deliver Thanksgiving meals, blessing God’s beloved.  Join us in this act of Thanks-Giving, your participation in this act of love is an offering of love grounded in gratitude.

As we gather around our Thanksgiving tables this week I share with you the following Thanksgiving message from our Bishop, Gregory Palmer:

Greetings, beloved in Christ Jesus,

As people in Christ, “every day is a day of Thanksgiving.” So for me, Thanksgiving Day serves as a reminder of the call and privilege of living a life of gratitude all the time. The Psalms of the Hebrew Bible and the letters of the New Testament are replete with the call and affirmation to express gratitude in every way we can. The writer to the Colossians puts it this way: “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Col. 3:17)

Anne Lamott is one of my favorite authors, and she offers this word on the power of thanks: “Gratitude begins in our hearts and then dovetails into behavior. It almost always makes you willing to be of service, which is where the joy resides. It means that you are willing to stop being such a jerk. When you are aware of all that has been given to you, in your lifetime and the past few days, it is hard not to be humbled, and pleased to give back. “

Joining you in giving and living thanks every day, I am, your servant in Christ Jesus,

Bishop Gregory V. Palmer

May your Thanksgiving celebration be a time of renewal as you claim your blessings and become a blessing!  See you in Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

Zeal in the Church

As the temperature drops outside and the days get shorter and shorter it’s easy to want to hunker down at home with some hot cider and a good book, and wait for spring. And while we certainly need to take advantage of precious moments of rest in this chaotic world, Paul also encourages us in Romans 12 to not be lacking in zeal when it comes to the work of the church.

Downtown at Over-the-Rhine Community Church, we’ve been eager to follow Paul’s words. In October, a group of 12 headed up to Detroit for a conference hosted by Christian Community Development Association (CCDA), where we had a chance to interact with other churches/organizations doing similar work in similar urban environments. Our time in Detroit was enlightening, encouraging and motivating.

Just at the end of October we also finished our second round of church catechism, which has been the process we use to introduce the history and vision of OTRCC to people interested in deeper participation within the congregation.

Ultimately we have been reminded that zeal is simply the positive energy an individual or group of people feel toward accomplishing a goal. And it’s by this zeal that our role in the church becomes something that gives us joy and fulfillment. I’m excited to be back at Hyde Park on Sunday and talking more about the zeal of the Church!

Pastor Ian

The Higher Road

There is an expression we have heard and no doubt used when either explaining how we’ve handled, or are giving advice on how to handle, conflict: “Take the high road”.  Don’t stoop to the lowest common denominator; rise above the meanness, the nastiness, the viciousness.  The Apostle Paul puts it this way; let me show you a “more excellent way”.

“Take the high road”, what does the high road look like?  In the twelfth chapter of Romans, Paul provides an answer: Love, Zeal, Blessing, and Peace.  As we begin this sermon series on the twelfth chapter of Romans, Paul says “Let love be genuine”.  Contemporary Theologian and Roman Catholic priest, Richard Rohr writes, “St. Francis moved beyond the world that most of us inhabit.  He rebuilt the spiritual life on “love alone” and let go of the lower-level needs of social esteem, security, self-image, and manufacturing of persona. . . .  Love is both who you are and who you are still becoming.” (A Spring Within Us, page 364-365)  St. Francis models and encourages “The higher road”.

“Take the high road”, it begins with love; as God’s beloved we are empowered to love one another as we have been loved.  Romans 12: 9-12 provides the framework for higher road living; I look forward to our common journey, traveling on the “high road” to which we are called.  See you in Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug