No Distancing Allowed!

This Sunday Christians around the world will celebrate Pentecost, the birthday of the Church.  It is, however, an ancient festival among people of faith.  First century Jews came to Jerusalem for the Feast of the First Fruits, the celebration of the spring harvest.    The Feast of Pentecost is also the culmination of what began on Passover, a time to remember the deliverance of the people from slavery in Egypt.

On Pentecost, nearly two thousand years ago, Peter was preaching in Jerusalem.  In the midst of a very diverse crowd, the Holy Spirit descended on the people gathered.  A mighty wind moved among them and tongues of fire came to rest over the head of each person.

It was a diverse crowd – people from many races and nations had gathering for the celebration – yet everyone heard the message in their own language.  Peter preached with holy boldness; more than 3,000 people were added to the Church on Pentecost.

In these days of separating ourselves, for health reasons, we see many divisions today.  COVID-19 has exposed vulnerable, at-risk populations that some may have preferred to not see.   Although the coronavirus is an equal opportunity infector, the death rates reveal substantially higher risk to African-Americans, the elderly, and people caught in poverty.   The news continues to expose the racism in our nation.  Our hearts broke this week as we saw four officers in Minnesota hold down an African American male so brutally that it resulted in his death.

This weekend we will explore an important account in the book of Acts:  The baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch.  I look forward to “wading in the water” with you, exploring the power of the Holy Spirit to unite and heal all of humanity.

May God richly bless you today; I look forward to connecting with you in worship online on Sunday through www.hydeparkchurch.org via live stream or through our Facebook page.  Thank you for continuing to support the church’s ministry through your prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness during this season of challenges.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Lessons We Can Learn

In these days of continued uncertainty and unknowing, anxiety grows and frustrations fester.  Underlying the anxiety and frustration are questions of “why” and “when.”  I submit we will never know meaningful answers to the “why?”; and any meaningful answer to the “when?” will not be soon enough.  Therefore, I encourage us to reframe our current circumstances and ask a different question: What can I learn in these days of COVID-19?  In answering this question, I offer the following, written by Bill Gates.

What is the Corona/ Covid-19 Virus Really Teaching us?

1) It is reminding us that we are all equal, regardless of our culture, religion, occupation, financial situation or how famous we are. This disease treats us all equally. If you don’t believe me, just ask Tom Hanks.

2) It is reminding us that we are all connected and something that affects one person has an effect on another. It is reminding us that the false borders that we have put up have little value as this virus does not need a passport. It is reminding us, by oppressing us for a short time, of those in this world whose whole life is spent in oppression.

3) It is reminding us of the shortness of life and of what is most important for us to do, which is to help each other, especially those who are old or sick. Our purpose is not to buy toilet rolls.

4) It is reminding us of how materialistic our society has become and how, when in times of difficulty, we remember that it’s the essentials that we need (food, water, medicine)as opposed to the luxuries that we sometimes unnecessarily give value to.

5) It is reminding us of how important our family and home life is and how much we have neglected this. It is forcing us back into our houses so we can rebuild them into our home and to strengthen our family unit.

6) It is reminding us that our true work is not our job, that is what we do, not what we were created to do.  Our true work is to look after each other, to protect each other and to be of benefit to one another.

7) It is reminding us that the power of freewill is in our hands. We can choose to cooperate and help each other, to share, to give, to help and to support each other or we can choose to be selfish, to hoard, to look after only our self. Indeed, it is difficulties that bring out our true colors.

8) Whereas many see the Corona/ Covid-19 virus as a great disaster, I prefer to see it as a “great corrector.”

How would you add to the list?  I too believe this is an opportunity for us to reset, renew, and restore.  This is a time for us to take seriously God’s call to partner with God in God’s acts of new creation.

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

Doing Our Own Work in Learning and Sharing

We are starting a new sermon series on race, because we believe it is important for white Christians to learn and talk about race/racism. As we do this work, I encourage you to educate yourself by seeking out resources (books, podcasts, articles) by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color). The resources below are a starting point. Moving forward, share what you’ve learned with other white people, push through the discomfort to engage in courageous conversations in your circles.

Books:

·  I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown

·  How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

·  When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors

·  Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad

·  Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric      Dyson

·  So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

·  Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools by Monique W. Morris

Podcasts:

·  All My Relations hosted by two Native women, Matika Wilbur and Adrienne Keene

·  Latinos Who Lunch discuss issues related to the intersectionality between queer, Latinx, and Spanglish voices hosted by FavyFav and Bavelito

·  Self Evident: Asian America’s Stories hosted by Cathy Erway tackles today’s tough questions about identity, cultural change, and nationhood.

·  The Stoop highlights Blackness by digging deeper into stories we don’t hear enough about by Leila Day and Hana Baba

Webinar:

·  COVID-19: Pre-existing Disparities Exposed presented by Church & Society of the UMC

·  A free 5 week series on Thursdays from May 21 to June 18 from 2:00-3:15pm

·  To learn more and sign up please click here.

What are You Spreading?

When life gets turned upside down, choices are made.  Some withdraw in fear and hide.  Others step forward in courage to lift up those around them.

A calling ministry, with over 55 servant volunteers, stepped forward to connect with our church family.  One of them expressed:  “I was blessed to be part of the call team. Even though it was at times uncomfortable calling people I did not know, I am a caregiver by nature and I was glad to be able to do something to feel like I was helping while maintaining physical distance.”

Another caller wrote this, entitled “A Greater Purpose”:

God so loves us through it all, regardless of the day.

From soaring highs to troubled times, He always shows the way.

God has taught us what to do, to be His hands and feet.

Especially in uncertain times to everyone we meet.

And now today, in scary times, when viruses abound,

A call, a card to those in need, we’re friends that others found.

Groceries, games, and household goods appear as simple gifts.

But when another has the need it’s just the perfect lift!

Time that’s spent in listening too, can calm a troubled heart.

Imagine what can happen when we each will do our part!

By spreading love to others, we can follow as we’re led

And learn from God’s own teaching from the thousands that He fed.

We must remember why we’re here, and focus on the goal:

To carry out God’s mission that will imprint on our soul.

I, for one, stand amazed at how Hyde Park Community UMC has stepped forward to respond to needs in our community.  You have shared God’s love in significant ways!  This weekend we will gather online for a Celebration of God’s Love.  We hope to connect with you at 9:30 or 11:00 a.m. on Sunday (www.hydeparkchurch.org or our Facebook page.)

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns