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During the time when our nation was suffering through polio, many people had to live in iron lungs.  Powered by electricity, these iron lungs helped people keep breathing.  Hospitals installed battery powered units to protect against power outages.  Family members who cared for a loved one at home would use hand pumps to keep the patient breathing in case the electricity failed.

During this season of stress and tension, it is tempting to believe that we are weak and that our power is limited.  As God’s children we are promised that we have power accessible to us at all times; The Holy Spirit is standing by, ready to come to our aid.  It is power that not only lifts us up and encourages us, but gives us strength to transform the world with the love of God.

In the book of Acts we read these words of Jesus to His disciples: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  (Acts 1:8)

This weekend we will continue our series called “Working our Core.”  As we continue our study on core beliefs, we will explore the most misunderstood part of the Trinity:  The Holy Spirit.

The gospel lesson for this weekend is John 14:15-27, part of Jesus’ farewell discourse to his disciples prior to His crucifixion.

Please join us online at 9:30 am  or 11:00 am through our website(hydeparkchurch.org) or our Facebook page.

I look forward to worshipping with you on Sunday morning!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Working our Core

The Mayo Clinic has the following statement on their website:

“Core exercises improve your balance and stability.”

People in the health care industry and physical trainers are all in agreement: Working our core is critical to our physical health. Millions of dollars has been made selling programs such as “Abs of Steel.”  Strengthening exercises for our core are abundant and easily accessible.

What would happen if we apply the statement above to our minds and spirits, examining our faith and values?   

What would happen if we were willing to step back and examine what we believe so that we solidify our core – our core beliefs?

This weekend I invite you to join us as we begin a sermon series designed to strengthen our core.  We live our lives, day to day, based on what we believe.  We respond to what is happening in the world because of the values that we hold dear.  Jesus, the Christ, taught us to love God and neighbor, set the oppressed free, and work for healing, hope, and peace for all.

Each week we will take a deep dive into central beliefs of the Christian faith.  This week we explore the meaning of “The Glory of God,” studying both the biblical understanding as well as how it applies to our daily lives.

The times we live in can threaten to shake us, to throw off our balance.  I pray that during this challenging season you will join us for this sermon series that takes us back to the basics:  the core beliefs of the follower of Christ. 

May God richly bless you this week and always!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

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

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

Living the Serenity Prayer

Reinhold Niebuhr first shared the serenity prayer in a sermon in 1943. Today, it is a beloved prayer around the world and has been embraced by many groups, including Alcoholic Anonymous. His first version placed courage first, but this is the version that most of us know:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

This Sunday we begin a new sermon series on the Serenity Prayer.  In these tough days of navigating COVID-19, it helps to sort out what we cannot change and what we can.  We cannot go back in time and halt this outbreak.  We can, however, make choices on how to respond:  selfishness or generosity, courage or fear, hate or love.

I celebrate the ways that Hyde Park Community has chosen to adapt to new ways of loving and blessing others during this difficult season:

How we worship: Gathering online for worship, with amazing musicians, has blessed many people in many states.

Online Communion, May 3. Bishops have given permission for churches to extend the table, receiving the Sacrament of Holy Communion in their homes.  During worship on May 3, Rev. Dave Weaver will consecrate the bread and cup (those in your homes and those in the sanctuary).  If you would like to participate, please have your bread and juice ready before connecting to live stream worship on Sunday, May 3 at either 9:30am or 11:00am.

How we Connect:  Classes and small groups are connecting through Zoom meetings. Phone calls from 70 servant volunteers to our church family lifted many hearts.

How we Give: People have faithfully given their offerings online or sent them in the mail to the church.   

How we Serve: More than 80 servant volunteers have distributed over 3,000 meals to children and families in the communities of Hyde Park and State Avenue UMC.

May God fill you with serenity, courage, and wisdom, today and always!

Joy in our Risen Lord,

Pastor Cathy

Canoeing the Mountains: Holy Week 2020

In “Canoeing the Mountains,” by Tod Bolsinger,  we read about adaptive leadership.  Explorers Lewis and Clark were seeking a waterway from the east to the Pacific Ocean, journeying by canoe.  What they discovered instead was The Rocky Mountains.  They needed to leave their canoes behind to find new navigational tools for the days ahead.

The Coronavirus has forced all of us to adapt.  It has been a beautiful thing to watch our church family continue to care for one another and our community during this season of social distancing.  Rev. Kate Smith and over 80 servant volunteers from both the church and community have given away 1300 bagged lunches to children and families in need.  Family Ministries and our preschool staff are posting creative online resources. Diane Weaver and servant volunteers are organizing a phone caring ministry. Please contact Diane if you would like to serve. Small groups of musicians have stepped forward to lead worship. Sunday School members are connecting through Zoom meetings.  People are remembering the church with their offerings and attendance, worshipping online and giving their offerings electronically.  Thank you for your faithful prayers, online worship attendance, and financial support; they are life-giving.

You are invited to join us for Holy Week 2020:

Palm Sunday, April 5, online worship at 9:30 and 11:00 a.m.

(Maundy Thursday Worship with Communion will not be observed this year)

Good Friday, April 10, online worship at 7:30 p.m.

Easter Sunday, April 12, online worship at 9:30 and 11:00 a.m.

Thank you in advance, for continuing to support the work of the Church.  Now more than ever, keeping our membership vows makes a huge difference!  Let us continue to lift up Christ through our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness.

Remember friends:  God does make all things new!   This storm will pass.  This Holy Week we will remember The Passion and Death of Christ and celebrate His Resurrection.  May God bless you this Holy Week; you remain in our prayers.

Joy in our Risen Lord,

Pastor Cathy

My Favorite Letters from Children to God / Coronavirus Update

One of my favorite books, Children’s Letters to God, compiled by Stuart Hample and Eric Marshall continues to make me smile.  Here’s a few (just as they wrote them):

Dear God, My grandpa says you were around when he was a little boy.  How far back do you go?  Love, Dennis

Dear God, I bet it is very hard for you to love all of everybody in the whole world  There are only 4 people in our family and I can never do it.  Nan

We read Thomas Edison made light.  But in Sunday School they said You did it.  So I bet he stoled your idea.  Sincerely, Donna

Dear God, thank you for the baby brother but what I prayed for was a puppy.  Joyce

Dear God, I didn’t think orange went with purple until I saw the sunset you made on Tues.  That was COOL.  Eugene

These are certainly days for intentionality and nimbleness as we battle the dangerous COVID-19 virus as a community. During this season of required social distancing, please know that your church family is standing with you.  At this moment, Wednesday afternoon, March 18, we will hold live stream worship on Sunday, March 22. We will continue to offer live stream worship at 9:30 and 11:00 a.m. until further notice. We are counting on you to support your church during these challenging days with your prayers, presence (worshipping online), gifts, (giving online or sending your offering in the mail), and witness.  We celebrate that last Sunday morning nearly 290 different computers logged in for online worship. The choir and persons leading worship felt God’s Spirit and felt your presence! Join us this Sunday at 9:30 am or 11:00 am.  Online worship can be accessed easily on our website or through our Facebook page.  We will post all updates on our website and notify you through the electronic newsletter.  People in our congregation are mobilized to help you with food deliveries or a supportive phone call; please let us know how we can help.   

Please know that our prayers are with you during this challenging season.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

The Sisters Who Sang for Me

Several years ago I attended a national United Methodist Clergywomen’s Conference in San Diego.   Since we are a global church, there were women in attendance from around the world.  There were several women bishops present and powerful, creative worship.

One particular evening there was a Taize worship service.  I attended but I came with a handicap. Because of laryngitis, I was unable to sing or speak.

The Taize community, located in Burgundy, France was founded in 1940.  Brother Roger yearned for living a life in alignment with scripture.  In the wake of the defeat of the French in 1940, he sought to form a community that would assist people who were discouraged or out of work, creating a space for people to participate in work and the spiritual discipline of silence.

Taize music has a unique quality.  It stems from the idea that when one sings, one prays twice.  A simple phrase is sung prayerfully, often a simple scripture such as “The Lord is my light, my light and my salvation…whom shall I fear?”  As the song continues, harmonies and sometimes descants are added.  The music eventually “soars” and then usually returns to the original, simple line.

That night in San Diego, surrounded by hundreds of singing sisters in Christ, I worshipped God with my whole heart.   I chose to sit in the middle of the room.  My voice did not sing one note.  My sisters in Christ sang for me; I was richly blessed.

Thank you for being a part of this community of faith; we are blessed because you are here.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Jimi Hendrix:  Theologian?

Most people when they hear the name “Jimi Hendrix” think of one of the greatest guitar players of all time.  Not only a phenomenal guitarist, Hendrix was also a showman.  At a Pop Festival in 1967 he lit his Fender Stratocaster up in flames at the end on the concert.  He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in both the U.S. and the U.K. after his death.

You probably would not have guessed that the pop icon Jimi Hendrix had an amazing vision for a world of peace.  Jimi Hendrix once said:

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.”

It is tempting to put people in boxes, like the one that happens when we hear a name like Jimi Hendrix, remembering him only as one of the best guitarist of all time.  Although most of us resent labels we find ourselves applying them to others.  We want to separate people into categories by age, sex, race, economic status, political party, biblical stance, or theological understanding.

There seem to be no end to our hunger to divide and separate.  Like the students at Hogwarts in Harry Potter novels, we find ourselves always longing for “the sorting hat,” a way to separate one group from another.

This Sunday we continue a series called “Reconciling All Things.”  We will examine what the Bible has to say about division and fear and our call to be ambassadors for Christ who work for unity and peace.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

My Favorite Bike Ride

It was a perfect day.  The sun was shining; there was not a cloud in the sky.  We got on the ferry and enjoyed the breeze from the upper deck.  We got off the ferry and headed for the bike rental shop.

Our family hopped on our bikes to explore the island, a unique place where cars are banned.  Travel is permitted by horse carriages, walking, or biking.

That day on Mackinaw Island remains one of my favorite days.  We pedaled around the island, savoring  the joy of traveling together.

This Sunday we will explore what it means to keep in step with the Spirit.  God wants to walk alongside us as a cherished, loving companion as we journey through life.  The gifts that we receive from choosing to walk with the Spirit are priceless.  They are available to each person who chooses to travel with God.

God longs to be an intimate part of our lives, walking with you and me. Join us this Sunday and discover the joy of walking with God.

    

Peace,

    

Pastor Cathy Johns