A Message from Pastor Dave

As a congregation over the last two months we have had to practice social distancing for our own health and safety, and for others. This has meant we have not been able to gather in fellowship or sit side by side as a community of faith. I praise God for the way you have embraced online worship and the ongoing support of the mission and ministry of HPCUMC.   We are the Body of Christ!

There are two sacraments we practice in the United Methodist Church. They are Baptism and Holy Communion (Lord’s Supper, Eucharist). As a community of faith, through these sacraments, we experience the mystery of God’s grace in its fullest form. We are connected through the power of the Holy Spirit in these sacred moments in worship.  We are the Body of Christ!

Because of the COVID-19 virus we have not had the opportunity to gather in worship to celebrate holy communion as a congregation. Bishop Palmer knows the importance of the rich ritual tradition of the church in sharing this communal meal. Therefore, under this extreme situation, he is giving pastors the authority to consecrate the elements, thus extending the table from the sanctuary worship space into our homes.

The Lord’s Supper reminds us that Jesus Christ is the host and that we participate in Christ’s invitation. We are invited to the table as participates in remembering Jesus ate with his disciples the night before his crucifixion. He broke bread and shared the cup at the table. The bread reminds of us his broken body and the juice reminds us of his shed blood.

In communion God’s mercy, love, and grace is being poured out. We experience his holy presence and the assurance of pardon and forgiveness. When we gather at this table we are “remembering” him, and all those who have gone before us. At the same time, through the Holy Spirit, we are also “re-membered,” or being made whole again individually and communally.   We are the Body of Christ!

This Sunday I also look forward to bringing the final message of our “It Is Well” sermon series. The focus will be on “Wisdom.”

See you soon, live and online!

Blessings,

Pastor Dave

Partiality thoughts…

We have experienced a mild winter this year and spring is right around the corner. Praise be to God!  Spring is my favorite season of the year. Being cooped up inside during the cold gray days of winter makes me long for milder springtime temperatures. It’s great to be able to open windows in our home and get outside to take some nice long neighborhood walks. Seeing new buds and blooms reminds me that new life is breaking out all around. I even start thinking a bit about Easter. You might prefer a beautiful snowfall or July 4th fireworks or colorful fall leaves, but I am partial to spring.

Isn’t it interesting that our preferences, our partialities, are such a big part of our identities? We have favorite foods, colors, friends, co-workers—even that favorite aunt or uncle. We prefer a particular place to shop, cheer for our favorite sports teams, and favor certain types of music.  And we most assuredly express preferences in politics and religion. The list goes on and on. Our human nature seems to be “partial.” We simply prefer one, whatever it is, over another. No big deal, or is it?

But what happens when partiality is applied to individuals or groups of people?  Simple preferences can grow into hurtful biases much too easily. I’m not confident that we have good self-awareness or really recognize how partial we are, or can be, at times. Even without realizing it, we may label, make false assumptions about, avoid making contact, or exclude those who look, speak, act or believe differently from us.  It’s something worth our self-examination and prayer.

We are starting a new sermon series this Sunday titled, “Reconciling All Things.” It has the subtitle of, “No Partiality.” Reconciliation is about trying to make right relationships where there are deep divides and differences. I’m wondering how much of our partiality has gotten in the way of an opportunity for any form of reconciliation in our relationships. Reconciliation is about restoration. It may lead us into a better season of “new life” together! Praise be to God!

Romans 2:11…For there is no partiality with God.

Acts 10:34…Opening his mouth, Peter said: “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality.

Pastor Dave

Summer Is Finally Here!

Summer is Finally Here!

School is not in session. Preschoolers through seniors in high school have graduated. What an exciting time of celebration in their accomplishments. And “thank you teachers” too.

It also means summer vacations and family reunions. Travel safely. Take time to enjoy swimming pools, amusement parks, community festivals, and backyard cookouts. Summer is a great time to relax and be renewed.

Our Sunday morning and mid-week classes take a little break in the summer. However, every summer for many years here at Hyde Park Community UMC, Vacation Bible School (VBS) happens. It is a big part of reaching out into our community and opening wide the doors of the church. Dana Calhoun and Pam Pilger and a working team of parents, children and youth have been hard at work for months preparing for this amazing outreach church event.

The next two weeks the Refectory, Sanctuary, Little Theater, Welcome Center and Hallways will be decorated with an African theme. This includes a host of massive animal-like figures, a waterfall, a desert area, wall paintings, jungle music and scenes. The theme is titled “Roar: Life Is Wild, God Is Good!” We will have 150-175 children and volunteers in Vacation Bible School. So, “summer school” will be in session here at Hyde Park Community UMC.

We continue our sermon series theme this week on “Waking to God’s Wonders.” This Sunday we will focus primarily on the “Wonder of Prayer.” During the summer and all seasons of the year we might think of Hyde Park Community UMC being a school or a “House of Prayer.”

If you get a chance after worship this Sunday, I encourage everyone to walk the church and pray. Pray for all the children, parents and volunteers who will be here the next two weeks. Pray VBS will be filled with God’s Spirit and all will experience God’s goodness and grace.

Blessings,

Pastor Dave Weaver

Thoughts on Hope…

There are times in life we need to have hope. And in most cases when we do, we are wishing for a preferred future outcome. So where are you in need of hope? Is it in the area of your health, finances, or in a relationship? Do you need hope in your suffering?

Professor of Psychology Barbara Fredrickson argues that one way hope comes into its own is when crisis looms, opening us to new creative possibilities. Frederickson argues that with great need comes an unusually wide range of ideas, as well as such positive emotions as happiness and joy, courage, and empowerment, drawn from four different areas of one’s self: from a cognitive, psychological, social, or physical perspective. She said hopeful people are “like the little engine that could,” because they keep telling themselves “I think I can, I think I can.” Such positive thinking bears fruit when based on a realistic sense of optimism, or “real hope,” rather than a naive “false hope”.

Much of our hope is based on our own willpower or our self-motivation. We have aspirations to attain something and we set goals to get us there. For instance, “I hope to become a major league baseball or football player. Or I hope to become an accomplished singer or dancer.” We are driven by our own desires.

What about placing our hope in God? The Bible is full of stories of hope. God’s followers are hoping for God’s will to be done on earth as in heaven. Or, said another way, the Christian is hoping for the fruition of what has already begun, the full arrival of God’s Kingdom and we pin our hopes on the God of that Kingdom. Our hope in God is both a present and future reality.

The apostle Paul wrote in several places about what hope leads to or makes: patience, courage, and joy.  It is one of the three things which lasts: faith, hope, and love. We will begin a new sermon series titled the “Power of Hope” found in Paul’s writings this week in Romans 5: 1-5. Please join us in worship the next several weeks on a variety of topics that will focus on hope.

Hope to see you Sunday!

Pastor Dave Weaver

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

An Angel’s Announcement

I’m not sure what you think of angels. Are they real? Do they have a halo and wings?

I remember in the mid-1990’s there was CBS supernatural drama television series called, “Touched by An Angel.” The episodes generally revolved around the “cases” of Monica (played by Roma Downey), a young angel recently promoted from the “search and rescue” division, who works under the guidance of Tess (played by Della Reese). Tess is more of a surrogate mother than a mentor. Monica, in one episode, outlines that she started in the choir then annunciations, followed by search and rescue and then case work. Most cases involve a single person or a group of people who are at a crossroads in their life, facing a large problem or tough decision. Monica and Tess bring messages of hope from God and help give them guidance toward making their decision.

Our scripture lesson this Sunday has the angel Gabriel making an appearance to a young teenage girl by the name of Mary. He makes a “divine announcement” that she is pregnant. You talk about a “supernatural birth drama” about to unfold. The scriptures say she was perplexed. Anyone would be if you heard an angel from on high speak these words. She asked the angel Gabriel “how can this be?”

We are in the second week of Advent and into our preaching series titled “Unwrapping Christmas.” We will dig deeper into this story of Mary and the angel found in Luke 1: 26-38. Come and hear how Mary handles this dramatic event in her young life. She does something quite remarkable with this angel announcement. What might we learn from this story?

I look forward to seeing you in worship on Sunday!

Blessings,

Pastor Dave

Bible “truisms”…

The Bible is one of the most popular and beloved books in the whole world. At least I hope you agree! It is also one of the most complicated to understand. There are stories with plot twists we could never conceive of, teachings that are hard to accept, and characters who have become heroes as well as cautionary tales.

Scriptures must be interpreted. Sometimes their meanings seem to conflict, or a particular message given in one context appears to be contradicted in another context. We must ask ourselves “what is the broader message or theme of the whole of scripture?” It is not enough to find a passage or two or three which supports our particular view. This is known as proof texting your point.

Here is what I think works best–We interpret all of scripture in the light of Jesus’ life and his teachings, as well as with the help of tradition, reason and our life experiences.

Our sermon series “Four Things Jesus Never Said” continues this week. Adam Hamilton’s book, Half-Truths, helps us examine a few sayings that may or may not appear in the Bible. Jesus certainly never said any of these sayings. A number of these sayings are misused and can actually hurt people.

Have you ever heard or said the phrase “God Helps Those Who Help Themselves?”

When saying this-What do we mean? Does it help others? Is it biblical? Is it not?

You are invited to be in worship as I attempt to make some sense of this most popular saying. See you on Sunday morning!

Blessings,

Pastor Dave

A Disciple-Making Church

The mission of the United Methodist Church is “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” Every local church in their own context is to be making, maturing and multiplying disciples. A church is always advancing the mission of Jesus Christ in transforming lives and communities.

So what is a disciple? A very simple dictionary definition describes a disciple as “a pupil or follower of a teacher.”  A Christian disciple is a follower of Jesus. We are not only to learn His teachings, but we are to live His teachings. Christian disciples are in the process of becoming more Christ-like. And Christ commissioned us “to make other disciples.”

When you joined Hyde Park Community UMC you took membership vows to give of your prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness. Did you ever think of these as your “vows of discipleship?” Being a church member and part of this faith community is wonderful! Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is even better!

As the Pastor of Discipleship here at Hyde Park Community I challenge you to renew these “vows of discipleship.” As we continue to mature as disciples, we multiply and grow the church. This is our mission. Maybe Christ is calling you into the deeper waters of your baptismal vows of being a disciple.

Jesus said, “Follow me, I will make you fishers of people.” How will you respond to His calling?

As the church, let us continue on our journey of discipleship!

Blessings in Christ,

Pastor Dave

The Psalms: How to Handle my Anger

Anger is a normal feeling. We all get angry at times. And everyone deals with anger a little differently. A simple definition is, “the strong human emotion that you feel when you think that someone (a person, a group, an organization or institution) has behaved in an unfair, cruel, or unacceptable way towards you or others. In many cases we feel we have been hurt by others words, actions or both. Anger is our response to this hurt. There is emotional, spiritual and physical consequences to our anger, if not handled properly.

Anger has been around from the beginning of time. However, it seems to me there is so much more anger today! Family anger! Workplace anger! Road rage anger! Social media anger! Racial anger! Political anger! Sad to say at times, there is even anger in the institutional church!

How can we get a handle on it?

I honestly confess, there are times I have been angry at someone or something that deeply concerns me. I usually do fairly well with channeling my anger. Other times it is “not pretty at all” and I need to seek forgiveness. We’ve all been there at one time or another. You may even be there right now.

I wonder what God thinks about all this uncontrolled anger and angst in our world today? Are we part of the problem or part of the solution to this problem? There is plenty of scripture that encourages us to deal with our anger. And as Christians, just maybe, we can find healthier ways to process our anger.

“Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath. Do not fret, it leads only to evil.” Psalm 37: 8

Please join me in worship this week as I will be speaking to and preaching on this topic. It’s my hope you will take with you a better understanding of anger and “how better to handle it.”

Blessings,

Pastor Dave Weaver

A Good Samaritan Story

Free-lance writer, Shane Claiborne, who spent a summer in the poorest section of Calcutta, India with Mother Teresa wrote about his once-in-a- lifetime experience with the saint.

“People would often ask me what Mother Teresa was like.  Did she glow in the dark or have a halo?  I would tell them that she was short, wrinkled and precious, maybe a little ornery like a beautiful wise old granny.

But there is one thing I will never forget and that was her feet. They were deformed.  Each morning during Mass, I would stare at those feet.  I wondered if Mother Teresa had leprosy.  Of course, I wasn’t going to ask.

One day a sister asked a group of us, ‘Have you noticed Mother’s feet?’ We nodded.  She said, “Her feet are deformed because we get just enough donated shoes for everyone and Mother does not want anyone to get stuck with the worst pairs, so she digs through and finds those.  Years of wearing bad shoes have deformed her feet.’   That was typical Mother Teresa and that was what made her great.  She placed the needs of others above her own.”

This week the sermon will be on the text in Luke 10:25-37. It is one of the most familiar of Jesus’ parables. It is known as “the Good Samaritan Story.” Mother Teresa, in my mind, was a Good Samaritan. All were her neighbors, especially those who were sick and dying with leprosy, and seen as unclean outcasts in the community. She was willing to do what it took to show care and compassion to make a Kingdom of God difference in their lives.

It is my hope you will join us in worship on Sunday to hear this parable in a way that challenges us to think more broadly upon the story. There are several approaches we can take in speaking to this text. I even encourage you to read through the parable before you arrive on Sunday. Where are you in the story? How would you respond to “who is my neighbor?” How have you been a “good Samaritan?” I look forward to sharing more with you on Sunday!

Blessings,

Pastor Dave