My Gift: What Difference Does it Make?

It may be tempting to think that investing in God’s kingdom does not make an impact.  Here are a few thoughts I wrote this week, simply giving thanks for the faithful people of Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church whose generous gifts share God’s love and transform countless lives:

Because you give children learn of Jesus’ love,

Because you give there is music to praise God above.

Because you give there are warm places to meet

For those who need work or support for their week.

Because you give we provide welcome lunches

Extending hospitality with food and flowers in bunches.

Because you give our doors embrace all

With love and laughter filling each hall. 

Because you give broken hearts can be mended,

And healing and care is lovingly extended.

Because you give angels rejoice and sing

For your gifts honor God who created all things!

With a grateful heart,

Pastor Cathy Johns

October 28, 2018

Investing in the Kingdom of God

Jesus says, “Seek first the kingdom of God, and God’s righteousness, and all these other things will be given you as well.” (Matthew 6:33, NJB)

The words of Jesus connect our yearning, as expressed in the Lords prayer: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”, with God’s promise of blessing; Prayer and Partnership!  But what is this “kingdom of God” we pray for? It is a kingdom of abundance not scarcity, it is an investment in ensuring all God’s children have enough, it is investing in doing what is right, not settling for what is fair.

Henri Nouwen writes:

“Even a seemingly small act of generosity can grow into something far beyond what we could ever ask or imagine (see Ephesians 3:20): the creation of a community of love in this world and beyond this world; because wherever love grows, it is stronger than death (1 Corinthians 13:8).  So when we give ourselves to planting and nurturing love here on earth, our efforts will reach out beyond our own chronological existence.  Indeed, when we [financially investments in] the creation of a community of love, we are helping God build the kingdom. . . .  Paul is clear: Make love your aim” (1 Corinthians 14:1 NJB).”   

This is the nature of our partnership with God, expressed through the Lord’s prayer, and supported by our financial commitments: by helping God create communities of love, we are helping God build God’s kingdom.”  Our investments are a witness to our love of God, and those God Loves.  I invite you to watch the video on our website, hydeparkchurch.org, and hear the stories of how God’s Abundant Living has allowed HPCUMC to offer abundant living.   I look forward to seeing you in church as together we partner with God to bring God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven!

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

Choosing Extravagance

Several years ago we were having an anniversary dinner in Las Vegas.  After looking at the menu we decided that we would enjoy salad and water; the prices were extravagant!  I knew that I would not be able to enjoy my dinner knowing the outrageous check that would land on our table.

We did ask to see a wine list.  While it certainly qualified as a diverse wine list with several countries represented, I found myself gasping out loud as I came across one particular bottle of wine.  It was $5,000.

Later in the evening I mentioned this to an accountant, a woman who worked in the casino.  I made the remark, “I wonder how many people actually purchase that wine for $5,000!”  Her response was stunning:  “You’d be surprised.”  She mentioned that clientele from other countries would order it, without giving it a second thought.

I thought:  “You could built a new well in sub-Sahara Africa that would bring water to an entire village” with $5,000!

The good news is this:  God’s extravagant love for you goes beyond your imagination!  God’s outrageous, inexpressible gift of Jesus to the world shows us the depth of God’s extravagant love for all of us.

God invites us to give generously, investing our gifts to build the kingdom of God, here and now.  Your gifts matter:  They provide shelter for the homeless; they bring healing to those who are ill; they deliver hope to the discouraged.  Your gifts offer guidance to the lost; your generosity blesses those who need a hand up, not a handout; your gifts nourish weary souls with God’s love!

Commitment Sunday is next Sunday.  You remain in my prayers as we as a congregation consider how each one of us will respond to God’s generosity in our lives with grateful, generous hearts.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Abundant Living!

Jesus proclaims in the tenth chapter of John, “I came that [you] may have life, and have it abundantly.” In Acts 1 we are told to go and bear witness to this abundant life. I celebrate the multiple ways Hyde Park Community has borne witness to, and offered abundant life:

• Over 90 youth and adult servants offered the light of Christ to the most vulnerable in Cincinnati through Summer Impact.

• For the third year we sponsored a Summer Reading Camp for at risk elementary students grade 1-3.

• Our Preschool maintains the highest ranking in the State of Ohio (5 star), with 200 children enrolled.

• First Friday Nighters and Thursday Edition continue to be a foundational piece of our Senior Adult Ministry.  New programs include: “A Few Good Men and a Meal”, a time for men to gather for lunch and fellowship; “Friendly Visitors”, a ministry where members of the church give their time and presence to fellow members of HPC who are home bound.

• The Organ Concert Series begins its fifteenth season hosting internationally acclaimed concert artists.

• 136 of the 228 participants in the “Shipwrecked” Vacation Bible School were from the surrounding neighborhood.

• Partnership with Rothenberg Preparatory Academy, offering a beacon of love, support, and compassion through 3 different programs for volunteers to engage.

• Our Youth made an impact locally and globally during the “Made to Make a Difference Retreat; and traveling to the impoverished Sea Islands of South Carolina offered a hand up to those in need.

• The Young Adult Ministry has launched a number of opportunities for fellowship and study, and is flourishing.

• Over 1,000 HPC members/attendees are engaged in a study or connect group.

• Inspiring worship is offered weekly through music and the spoken word.

• The Hospitality Team welcomes our guests with a welcome lunch quarterly.

Thank you for witnessing to the abundant life in Christ through your financial generosity and gifts of time! It is a privilege to serve in ministry with you!

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

It’s a Small World After All!

This week our faith community will experience the global nature of the Church and the unity of the Body of Christ in two significant ways.

On Wednesday, October 3, Bishop Cardona and Pastor Luis from Columbia came to speak to our staff.  They shared the significant impact of the Methodist Church in being peacemakers in a nation torn by violence.  Their strategy for planting new faith communities involves going into areas, sometimes new communities that form as people flee from violence, and listening to the needs of the people.  Ministries across the country vary depending on the response of the community.

Today, we will share Holy Communion with our sisters and brothers in Samara Russia.  The Samara United Methodist Church, one of our global mission partners, will gather at 5:30 p.m. in Samara Russia while we gather at 9:30 a.m. here in Hyde Park.  A translator, Max, from Samara, will help us bridge the language barrier as we gather at the Lord’s Table together. Although I understand how it works, it is still an amazing experience to worship with people, in real time, that live halfway around the world!  The Disney song is true:  “It’s a small world, after all!”

Come and join us at the Table this weekend, invited by Jesus, the Christ, who invites and welcomes all, embracing each one of us as beloved sons and daughters of God.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns