Amazing Grace!

“Long my imprisoned spirit lay, fast bound in sin and nature’s night; thine eye diffused a quick-ening ray; I woke, the dungeon flamed with light; my chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed thee.” The fourth verse of Charles Wesley’s hymn “And Can It Be that I should Gain” reflects one of the pillars of Methodist theology: a life bathed in God’s grace!

John Wesley (1703-1791), the founding father of Methodism, and brother of Charles Wesley, says, “It was free grace that formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into him a living soul and stamped on that soul the image of God . . . The same free grace continues to us . . . for there is nothing we are, or have, or do which can deserve the least thing at God’s hand.”(John Wesley’s Little Instruction Book, page 34-35) God’s “means of grace” leads to a transformational experience of God’s grace. Transformed through the grace of God, we are compelled to partner with God in working to bring the kingdom of God on earth, as it is in heaven!

For the Wesley’s (John and Charles), and United Methodism today, Ephesians 2:8-10 defines our relationship with God, and our relationship with others:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” It’s God’s amazing grace that redeems, restores, and makes us whole. It’s God’s amazing grace that clothes us in love, to be ambassadors of love!

This week, “The Methodist Way: Understanding God’s Grace,” focuses on the stages of God’s grace as we live in relationship with God. Next week, “Living God’s Grace”, will focus on the fruits of God’s grace as we live in relationship with one another. Invite a friend, relative, acquaintance or neighbor to join you for worship!

In Christ,
Doug

Cultivating Friends

Created in God’s image we are “social beings”, meant to live in relationship with others. As a community of faith we are called to embrace the stranger in our midst, so that strangers become friends, friends become disciples of Jesus Christ, and disciples become agents of transformation. As Pastor Ian leads the faith community downtown, cultivating friends, building relationships, I share with you the following update and opportunity:

New Name . . . The New Church Start Launch Team, lead by Pastor Ian, is in the process of re-visioning, refocusing (re-branding), and strategically planning a way forward that embraces God’s preferred future.

Consequently, it has been decided to change the name of Nast Community to something that reflects the vision and mission of the Church in Over the Rhine. Pastor Ian writes:
“In all we do, we seek to be a church for our community. While our current name, ‘Nast Community Church’ has a rich and important history, it has unfortunately served as a road block to our ability to connect with many OTR residents. . . . Though we have no intention of losing our heritage as the birth of German Methodism, the reverence of history can become harmful when valued more than our current call to be a community church in Over the Rhine. Therefore, after weeks of collaboration among the Launch Team, we have decided to change our church name to ‘Over the Rhine Community Church. This name allows us to communicate who we are clearly and quickly to our neighborhood and larger community. While not exclusive to OTR, this name shows where our primary investment lies.”
Please pray for our brothers and sisters as they embrace new beginnings, and seek to embrace new friends in the Washington Park area of Over the Rhine.

Second Sunday on Main . . . Second Sunday on Main is a “Block Party” on Main St., between Liberty and 12th, September 13, Noon – 5:00 pm. Over The Rhine Community Church (Formally Nast Community) will host a “KidSquare” activity tent. If you are interested in volunteering,
contact Pastor Ian (istrickland@hpcumc.org), or Rev. Nancy Turner at Phrases@fuse.net.

I look forward to seeing you in Church. Invite a friend, relative, acquaintance, or a neighbor to join you.

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

Ancient Wisdom for Today

Proverbs reminds us, “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever else you get, get insight. In the 21st century we’ve got it backwards: Get insight (knowledge) and whatever else you get, get wisdom. There’s a prevalent thought in society that wisdom comes with old age. Arguably, that is true; however, it is also true that one need not wait for old age before one gains wisdom. Wisdom that comes from God can be received at anytime, at any age.

It’s been said: “Knowledge is power”, and that may very well be true. But it is also true that Wisdom is power-full; annointed with God’s wisdom we are “power-filled”, empowered for life. Chuck Swindoll, in his book Wisdom for the Way writes:
“When we operate in the sphere of the wisdom of God,when it is at work in our minds and in our lives, we look at life through lenses of perception, and we respond to it in calm confidence. There’s a remarkable absence of fear. We are not seized with panic. . . . Why? Because we see it with God-given objectivity. And we handle it in God’s wisdom. . . . The wisdom of God gives us balance, strength, and insight. None of these is a natural trait, each is a by-product of wisdom.” (p.14-15)

There’s a difference between knowledge and wisdom. We can “know” a lot and yet remain captive to worry, uncertainty, and fear. Possessing God’s wisdom, we possess a certainty that overcomes our perceptions, and adds value to life.

Join us for our new sermon series: Lifelines: Ancient Wisdom for Today. See you in Church!

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

Friends for the Journey

When it comes to the Apostle Paul, opinions of the man, and the theologian, span the spectrum. Author of thirteen of the twenty-seven New Testament books, we have a love/hate relationship with Paul. None the less, everyone needs a Paul in their life.

For Paul it was all about the proper attitude. Paul, despite his faults and failures, was a man who possessed an attitude grounded in God’s faithfulness, and an abiding trust in God to be faithful. The proper attitude is the difference between success and failure.

John Maxwell in his book, “Leadership Promises for Everyday” writes:
Author Denis Waitley says, ‘The winner’s edge is not in a gifted birth, in a high IQ, or in talent. The winner’s edge is in the attitude, not aptitude.’ . . . Plenty of talented teams never amount to anything because of the attitudes of their players.
Abilities + Attitudes = Result
Great Talent + Rotten Attitudes = Bad Team
Great Talent + Bad Attitudes = Average Team
Great Talent + Average Attitudes = Good Team
Great Talent + Good Attitudes = Great Team
If you want great results, you need good people with great talent and awesome attitudes.” (p.29)

Everyone needs that person in their life who refuses to allow the world/culture to rob them of a positive attitude; one who unashamedly trusts in God’s faithfulness and stands on God’s promises, and helps us do the same. See you in Church!

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

Friends for the Journey

Before Israel had kings, they had judges, people who were anointed to lead the Jewish people and serve as the hand of God, according to God’s word and will. Deborah was a judge of Israel, a trusted and wise person who led the Israelites politically and spiritually. Deborah loved God and sought to protect those God loves. Deborah had your back! Every one needs a Deborah in their life.

Who’s your Deborah, the one you can count on to “have your back”? Who can you be a Deborah to? This Sunday we will have the opportunity to browse displays of our ministry partners who focus on children and youth. You’ll have an opportunity to talk with persons involved in these ministries, as well as sign up to be a part of what God is doing in our Urban Core as it effects the lives of children and youth.

This Sunday we uplift our “Champions For Urban Youth”! Hyde Park Community member, Bob Buechner writes:

Champions for Urban Youth Sunday celebrate the significant cooperation and volunteerism of Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church with our urban youth. The desire of many of our parishioners is to be transformative in the lives of our inner city youth who are coming from very challenging backgrounds. There are a significant number of volunteer organizations that impact the lives of our urban youth – there are in school reading programs, after school programs, such as sport activities, and evening and Saturday volunteer activities. We celebrate the efforts of all individuals who have followed their passions to reach out to our urban youth. We encourage an open discussion of what types of activities exist so that we can all be informed of what opportunities are available, and we want to encourage others to be part of our efforts to make our community a better place in which to live.”

Deborah, wise, strong, and compassionate, we all need a Deborah in our lives; and God is calling you and me to be a Deborah to someone else. I look forward to seeing you this Sunday!

Love in Christ,
Pastor Doug

Shalom XX Coalition Habitat House Update

Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church has been involved with the Shalom Coalition Habitat for Humanity since its inception over 19 years ago. This year the Shalom Coalition plans to build the 20th home. In celebration of Shalom XX, Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church has committed $25,000.

The Community Ministry and Global Outreach team budgeted $5,000, and the challenge to the congregation was to raise an additional $20,000 from May 24 to June 14. The total cost to build Shalom XX is $90,000.

To date, we have raised $14,300! Thank you for your generosity as we partner with other churches and individuals to make Shalom XX a reality! You have responded in a powerful way to God’s call to be a transforming presence in our community.

If your intention was to give to Shalom XX, but have not yet done so, it is not too late. Please write your check to HPCUMC, and write in the memo line (and/or on the envelope) Habitat Shalom XX.

Together we make a difference. May God’s blessings abound as we partner with God to bring God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven! See you in Church!

Love in Christ,
Pastor Doug

Celebration of Ministry- SueLee Jin

Today, Hyde Park Community UMC will celebrate the ministry of SueLee Jin. SueLee has been an integral part of the life and mission of the church for over five years, most recently serving as the Pastor for Congregational Care and Hospitality. On Sunday mornings, SueLee was always looking for a first time visitor to welcome with warm smile. She has been instrumental in starting our expanding prayer and healing services and activities for first time visitors.

Today is SueLee’s last Sunday at HPCUMC. We will recognize her ministry during worship and celebrate in the Welcome Center between services. There are baskets for you to leave her cards or special love offerings. There is also a large poster for you to add your good wishes and prayers.

We are grateful for all the contributions SueLee has made in our life together in Christ and for all the wonderful relationships she has nurtured in our church community. Our prayers go with her as she listens for God’s call on her ministry.

In Christ,
Rev. Cathy Johns and Rev. Doug Johns

Anointed Beloved Chosen!

God is never satisfied with the status quo. God is always moving forward, creating and re-creating, anointing and empowering God’s beloved. We are God’s beloved, chosen and blessed! However, too often we are pre-occupied with clinging to the old, and unable to embrace the “Newness” God has to offer. Richard Rohr in his book, Eager to Love, quotes Neale Donald Walsch:

“Yearning for a new way will not produce it. Only ending the old way can do that. You cannot hold onto the old, all the while declaring that you want something new. The old will defy the new; the old will deny the new; the old will decry the new. There is only one way to bring in the new. You must make room for it. (page Xiii)

As we strive to make our way in life, God’s grace is abundant, God’s mercy is wide and God’s love is unconditional. As we make the journey with Jesus Christ at the center of life, we make room for the new; remembering the words of Paul: we are a new creation! This is something that God alone does; it’s all about God!

When we allow God to do a new thing in us, we experience the majesty of God. Experiencing the majesty of God, life is transformed, and our joy is made complete. This Sunday we start a new sermon series: “It’s All About God”. Let us move beyond “yearning for a new way”, and make room for a new way through a fresh anointing of God’s spirit, experiencing the fullness of God’s majesty.

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

With Glad and Generous Hearts

We read in the second chapter of Acts that the followers of “The Way” (followers of Jesus) met daily in the temple, broke bread together, praised God together, and reached out in concern and service to all people with “glad and generous hearts”! As followers of Jesus Christ in the 21st century, are we able to say the same?

This morning Dr. Brian McClaren, prominent Christian theologian, author, speaker and pastor, will preach at the 9:30 and 11:00 am worship services (Sponsored by The Emerson and Jane Colaw Lectureship Endowment Fund). Dr. McClaren will preach on Acts 2:40-47, sermon titled: “We Make the Road by Walking”.

Because Jesus lives, we live with “glad and generous hearts,” and the alleluias of Easter transform life. As the hymn proclaims; ” Because Jesus lives I can face tomorrow; because he lives all fear is gone! ” Join us this Sunday as we continue to celebrate the resurrection of Christ Jesus. Invite a friend, relative, acquaintance or neighbor to join you!

Sharing a Joy . . . I take this opportunity to share with you a joy, in the form of an update. Last year early June, our chiller went down. Over the past ten months the Property Team has performed the due diligence necessary to install a new chiller.

With joy I can report that the work began April 6. The Property Team reports: “Work is progressing well on the Chiller and Electrical Upgrade infrastructure project. The electrical service/infrastructure upgrades are underway . . . Rooftop work for the new air conditioning condenser units is progressing. Components for the new expandable chiller system and piping upgrades are on-site and are being installed by the contractor.” The work should be completed by the fourth week of May. Although the completion date has the potential to take us into the early days of high temperatures and high humidity, I encourage you to join me in praying for patience as the project is completed!

Thank you for your “glad and generous hearts” that have supported this project with your patience, prayers, and your financial gifts. Thank you to the Property Team and their tireless efforts in moving the project forward to completion.

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

Identity Theft

Identity theft is a real problem; hacked servers of medical providers, insurance companies, and major retail stores have put thousands at risk.  Social Security numbers in the wrong hands will negatively affect our identity, as well as potentially destroy life as we know it.  However, identity theft is not limited to the physical world but extends to our spiritual identities as well.

We are created in God’s image, male and female God created us, and God said we are “very good”.  We are children of God; God is our God and we are God’s people.  However, possessing free will we often find ourselves chasing life’s diversions, consequently experiencing “spiritual” identity theft.

The good news is that God, through Jesus Christ, provides a way back, offers restoration, and restores my true identity, not because of what I have done, but what God does for/in me!  Chuck Swindoll in his book, Wisdom for the Way writes:

God has entrusted to us a great deal. . . .  God is trusting in us to trust in God.  Yet God knows our fears as well, otherwise God wouldn’t assure us so often of God’s purposes and God’s presence.

We feel hurt and alone – God assures us God cares.  We feel angry and resentful – God provides wisdom and strength.  We feel ashamed – God promises to supply all our needs.  Our God is uniquely and ultimately trustworthy! (page 256)

Through the resurrection, Jesus’ victory is our victory.  Because He lives, my identity is redeemed!  Trusting in the “Spirit of our living God” we find God trustworthy.   Today we continue to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and our identity in Him, because He lives. Invite a friend, relative, acquaintance or neighbor to join you!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug