Wrestling with God

Let’s talk about wrestling! Have you ever watched wrestling on television? Is it fake or real? Do people really do this for a living and do they really get excited about watching it? Wrestling is a contact sport involving techniques such as clinch fighting, throws and takedowns, joint locks, pins and other grappling holds. The sport can either be theatrical for entertainment or genuinely competitive. A wrestling bout is a physical competition, between two (occasionally more) competitors or sparring partners, who attempt to gain and maintain a superior position. Why in the world would someone write a cover article in the church bulletin on wrestling?

Why? Because life can be like a wrestling match. We wrestle with our mental decisions. We wrestle with our feelings or emotions. We wrestle with physical challenges or limitations. We wrestle with our success or failure in life. We wrestle in family and work relationships. We wrestle with our spiritual lives. I think you get the point I’m trying to make. Wrestling is part of life!

This week we will hear the familiar Biblical story about a wrestling match found in the book of Genesis. Jacob is thought to have been in an all-night wrestling match with God or an angel. Have you ever felt like you were in a wrestling match? What did you do? What was the outcome?

We are in the middle of a sermon series titled: “Walking with God.” There have been times in my personal and professional life I wrestled with life and with God. At these times it has been an opportunity for me to put even more faith and trust in God. Jacob wrestled big time through the night and somehow God’s hand protected and shielded him from harm, and actually blessed him. Are you wrestling with God, yourself, with someone else, or some situation?

I invite you to delve more deeply into this story with me in worship this Sunday. Maybe you will come to realize when in the midst of the wrestling, “Walking with God” helps! See you soon!

Pastor Dave Weaver

A Prayer for General Conference

The national headlines that will appear soon about the United Methodist Church may be disturbing or misleading.  Hamilton got it right: “History is watching.”

This week (Feb. 23-26) nearly 1,000 United Methodist delegates from around the world will arrive in St. Louis.  These elected delegates,  50% laity and 50% clergy, have been elected by their regional bodies.  General Conference is the only group in the United Methodist Church that can change our book of governance, The United Methodist Book of Discipline.

Today it is not permissible for same sex unions to be performed by United Methodist clergy nor are openly gay individuals allowed to go through the ordination process.

The purpose of this global United Methodist gathering is to discern our path forward regarding our understanding of human sexuality.  Several plans will be presented that invite change – some more inclusive and others more restrictive.  It is likely that a decision may be reached; however, no decision is one possible outcome.     

At Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church we stand on the shoulders of forefathers and foremothers who welcomed all and served their neighbors.  We will continue to embrace everyone who comes through our doors with the love of Christ, a place that welcomes all.  After St. Louis, we will work together to determine next steps as we seek to be faithful to God’s call to be The Church. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, please join me in prayer:

God of all Creation, Your divine image rests in each one of your daughters and sons.  As difficult conversations on human sexuality unfold, give us courage to lean in and listen, to one another and to You.  Remind us that in Christ we are one.  Fill us with courage to fulfill our mission:  To love You and all of our neighbors. May Your wisdom, peace, but especially Your love guide our steps as United Methodists. I pray in the name of Jesus, the Christ, whose love lifts all, Amen.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Trusting in the Waiting

Henri Nouwen writes:  “Waiting is not a very popular attitude. Waiting is not something that people think about with great sympathy.  In fact, most people consider waiting a waste of time.  Perhaps this is because the culture in which we live is basically saying, ‘Get going!  Do something!  Show you are able to make a difference!  Don’t just sit there and wait!’  For many people, waiting is an awful desert between where they are and where they want to go. And people do not like such a place. “ (Watch For The Light, p. 27)

We’re not good at “waiting”, and we are even more anxious when asked to “trust God” in the waiting.  We’re not alone.  Noah, trapped in the arch as the floodwaters covered the earth, was asked to trust God in those days of waiting (150 days, Gen. 8:3).  In the waiting, trusting God, God delivers, and establishes God’s covenant with Noah and all of creation; a covenant grounded in love!

As we reflect on Noah’s walk with God, we are encouraged to model our walk with God.  In our waiting can we forsake the “instant gratification” obsession of our culture, and embrace a deep and abiding trust in God’s presence, and God’s provision, grounded in a loving covenant, sealed in Jesus the Christ?  “Simone Weil, a Jewish writer, said, Waiting patiently in expectation is the foundation of the spiritual life.”  (Watch For The Light, p. 37)

“Walking With God”, let us learn from our patriarch Noah how to trust God in our waiting.  I look forward to seeing you in Church!

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

Does God Have Friends?

“God Friended Me,” a new television series, has just been renewed for a second season with CBS.   Brandon Micheal Hall stars in the show.  He is a young man who talks to God via social media.  It has moments of inspiration, humor, and drama.  The series has enjoyed great success with 10 million viewers each week.

Some of us may imagine a God who sits on a throne in heaven, thunderbolts in hand, far removed from humanity.  The Bible shares a different message about our Creator, the One who gave us life and longs for a relationship with each one of us.

Our new sermon series, “Walking with God,” focuses on God’s first friends, biblical characters in the Old Testament.  Each one of them faced struggles as we do, yet found God’s constant love to be a source of comfort and peace in their daily lives.  This week we will take a look at Adam and Eve, the very first people whom God created and called friends.

At Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church we are committed to being a place where deep, meaningful friendships can begin and grow.  We strive to be a place where strangers become friends, friends become disciples of Jesus, and disciples of Jesus become the Body of Christ, transforming the world with God’s love, hope, and peace.

I look forward to celebrating the Lord’s Day with you this Sunday!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns