Easter As New Creation

Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!  This simple, but yet profound proclamation is both personal and communal, and claims our place in creation and God’s acts of new creation!  It is a proclamation of victory, and at the same time a statement of faith.

As we proclaim: “Christ is risen, He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!” we affirm our participation in Christ’s resurrection.  As participants we are a new creation; as a new creation we participate in God’s acts of new creation.

Easter is about victory and collaboration.  It’s about restoration and reconciliation, new life and new beginnings. Bishop N.T. Wright in his book, co-written with Marcus Borg, The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions, reflects on the meaning of the resurrection of Jesus:

“The deepest meanings of the resurrection have to do with new creation. . .   It was the first day of God’s new week, the moment of sunrise after the long night, the time of new meetings, new meals, of reconciliation and new commissioning.  It was the beginning of the new creation. . .  What is done to the glory of God in the present is genuinely building for God’s future.  Acts of justice and mercy, the creation of beauty and the celebration of truth, deeds of love and the creation of communities of kindness and forgiveness – these all matter, and they matter forever.” (p.126)

The resurrection brings personal transformation, absolutely.  However, it is not exclusively personal.  To say “Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!” is to say God is making all things new, and I am God’s partner in God’s acts of new creation. Alleluia!  I look forward to seeing you in church!

Through the Risen Christ,

Pastor Doug

So that God’s works might be revealed

In John 9:1-2 the disciples ask Jesus a question that has its roots in a theology that was prevalent in the early first century and is present in the early 21st century: our disabilities, illnesses and disasters are God’s punishment for our sin. Jesus taught his disciples and teaches you and me: God does not use our disabilities and illnesses as punishment for our sins, but God will redeem (claim as God’s own) our disabilities, and God’s works will be revealed through them.

In the man born blind encounter with Jesus we find Jesus takes us back to creation, all of who we are and are called to be is sacred, and unalterably connected to our Creator who says creation is “Very Good”; God’s works are revealed in God’s Beloved. John Philip Newell, 20th/21st century theologian helps us see this reality through the words of my favorite early church father, Irenaeus (130-202).

“Irenaeus taught that the whole of creation flows from the very ‘substance’ of God. . . . Irenaeus passionately taught that the substance of the earth and its creatures carries within itself the life of the Holy One. God, he said, is both ‘above us all and in us all.’ . . . The work of Jesus, he taught, was not to save us from our nature but to restore us to our nature and to bring us back into relationship with the deepest sound within creation. . . . Irenaeus sees Jesus not as speaking a new word but as uttering again the first word, this sound at the beginning and the heart of life.” (Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation, Tuesday , March 13, 2018)

Irenaeus captures the core essence of who Jesus is and what Jesus teaches specifically in this account of the “man born blind”. Sinfulness does not cause our disabilities (and we all have them), but God redeems and uses our disabilities in such a way that God’s works are revealed, we find healing and possess abundant life, restored to our “nature.”   Like the “man born blind” we are awakened to this reality as we encounter Jesus, the Christ. I look forward to seeing you in church!

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

Faith and Science

It seems for centuries we’ve insisted on perpetuating a war between faith and science.  Implicitly or explicitly we’ve been told we have to pick a side.  However, recently the conversation has shifted and we are beginning to see a number of Theologians and Scientists come together and provide an alternative of both/and.

Bishop N.T. Wright in his book, Surprised by Scripture, writes about the debate that in many ways is unique to Americans:

“I want to point out that the way the science and religion debate is conducted and perceived in North America is significantly different from the ways analogous debates are conducted and perceived elsewhere . . .  I want to suggest that this is at least partly because of the essentially and explicitly Epicurean (Google if you don’t know anything about Epicureanism) underpinnings of the social self-understanding of the United States since the late eighteenth century – and that the standoff between science and religion in America is therefore analogous to, and indeed bound up at quite a deep level with, the standoff between church and state, or religion and politics, or however you like to put it, so that you can’t address one of these topics without implicitly addressing all of them. . .   I want to propose that we therefore need a much more radical rethink of the underlying worldviews we are dealing with than we have normally contemplated in our science and religion discussions.”  (P.2)

This “radical rethink”, unifying science and religion, is underway and we are better off because of it.  Thus, we welcome Science Mike this weekend as he helps move forward the conversation.

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

Ask Science Mike!

On Saturday, February 10th, you will have an opportunity to participate in a seminar with Mike McHargue, internationally known as “Science Mike,” at Hyde Park Community.  On Sunday, February 11th, Science Mike will preach at all three services.  Dr. Evan Yeung, Chair of this Faith and Science event, sponsored by the Bishop Emerson and Jane Colaw Lecture/Leadership Endowment writes:

“Science Mike is a former fundamentalist Baptist deacon and Sunday school teacher who became an atheist for 2 years after a crisis of faith.  A profound experience brought him back to God, but in a very different way than before.   Science Mike cohosts The Liturgists Podcast, which is reshaping how the spiritually homeless and frustrated relate to God.  His bestselling debut book, Finding God in the Waves, has helped thousands understand the interplay between science and faith in the 21st century.

Thanks to the Bishop Emerson and Jane Colaw Lecture/Leadership Endowment Fund, HPCUMC is able to offer this event free to all attendees as a gift to the community.

Science Mike Live in Cincinnati will take place on Saturday, February 10, at 7:00 pm here in our sanctuary. Before the event there will be a free spaghetti dinner hosted by the UMW beginning at 5:30 pm, where donations will be taken for their missions in our community.”

Join us on Saturday, February 10th, and Sunday morning for worship, and invite a friend, relative, acquaintance or neighbor to join you!

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

Dancing with God, You are Invited!

The Trinity is a doctrine that has been an integral part of Christianity for over 19 centuries.  Throughout the ages people, groups, councils have tried to help us understand the “Blessed Trinity”.  But yet in so many ways we have fallen short, and the doctrine of the trinity has been something we’ve been told is foundational to the Christian faith; “but don’t try to understand it, just believe it.”

Our lives are created and sustained in the mystery of the Trinity.  There is value in moving beyond just believing.  There is value in embracing and experiencing the awe-filled mystery that is the Blessed Trinity!  Through the Trinitarian nature of God, God speaks, “You are my beloved!”

In the forward to Father Richard Rohr’s book, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation, William Paul Young writes:

“There is a rising rumble, like a midnight train approaching through the wastelands.  Not only do we hear it from the distance, but also we can feel it if we put our hands on the ground or in the water or in the torn bread and poured-out wine.  The rumor in the deep places of our souls is that there is a party going on, and we can scarce trust our invitation.  Could there ever be a toast raised to us?  Might a hand reach out and lead us into the divine dance, whispering in our ears that we were always made for this?  And so we wait for the kiss, the breath in and out that awakens our sleeping heart to life.  We were made for this, utterly found within Relentless Affection!” (Page 21)

Encounter and experience the beautiful reality of the Trinity, we were made for this!  Invited to the party we are fully immersed in the mystery of God, three in one; flowing through the God-head discovering what it truly means to be God’s beloved.  I look forward to immersing ourselves in this mystery as we discover what it means to be a part of “the flow”, as we lean into the dance, participants in God’s acts of new creation!  See you in Church.

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

Romania- Way of Faith UMC

Rev. Rares Calugar, Pastor of Way of Faith UMC, and the equivalent to our District Superintendent for the three United Methodist Churches in Romania, is visiting the United States January 12th-22nd, preaching at Hyde Park Community UMC, at all three services on January 14.  Pastor Rares has a passion for connecting with people labeled “less than” and “unworthy”.

Hyde Park Community UMC’s newest partnership is with Pastor Rares and the church he’s appointed to, The Way of Faith UMC church in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.  Way of Faith UMC is new to the UMC worldwide, and our partnership with them allows for their vision to become reality.

In 2017 we helped provide The Way of Faith UMC the opportunity for sustainability and growth within their programming. Alfa Grup is one of the main outreach missions for the church and its members. Working with the orphans in the city of Cluj and its surrounding villages (spanning about 90 km in any direction) is only possible if the group’s leadership has provision as well. Through our partnership, the program directors are able to continue to focus on building into the lives of orphans ranging from infancy through teenage years without worrying about whether they will have to find another job.

In 2017, HPCUMC committed $3,500, from the Christmas and Easter Global Ministry offering in support of the ministry of the Way of Faith UMC in Romania.  Your extravagant generosity to the Christmas and Easter offerings is an investment in the transformation of the lives of orphans in Cluj-Napoca, as well as encouragement and support of those who are on the front lines of working with them.  In addition, the Servant Leadership Board approved a grant from the Carl and Alice Bimel Endowment for support of the Alfa Grup.  Thank you for your support!

We welcome our Brother in Christ, Pastor Rares, and celebrate the many ways The Way of Life UMC is partnering with God to bring God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.  I look forward to seeing you in Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

Home and Not Alone!

As we live into these final days of Advent we pray with the Psalmist, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10).  Our prayer is a prayer of anticipation and expectation as we welcome Christ Jesus in the home of our hearts, where God makes all things new and reminds us we are not alone.

As we travel these final days of Advent, we journey with Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem.  With expectancy we anticipate the birth of Christ Jesus in, through, and around us.  The following poem captures this expectant waiting:

Lo, in the silent night

A child to God is born

And all is brought again

That ere was lost or lorn.

Could but thy soul, O human,

Become a silent night!

God would be born in thee

And set all things aright. (15th Century)

As Father Richard Rohr says, “God cannot not love God’s universally-begotten child in you.”  I pray that in all our preparations we are able to prepare for God’s birthing and live in experiential knowledge of God’s love.  Knowing in heart and mind that we are not alone, indeed never alone, for Emanuel (God with us) has come!  I look forward to seeing you in Church!

Advent Blessings,

Pastor Doug

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

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

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