My Gift: What Difference Does it Make?

It may be tempting to think that investing in God’s kingdom does not make an impact.  Here are a few thoughts I wrote this week, simply giving thanks for the faithful people of Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church whose generous gifts share God’s love and transform countless lives:

Because you give children learn of Jesus’ love,

Because you give there is music to praise God above.

Because you give there are warm places to meet

For those who need work or support for their week.

Because you give we provide welcome lunches

Extending hospitality with food and flowers in bunches.

Because you give our doors embrace all

With love and laughter filling each hall. 

Because you give broken hearts can be mended,

And healing and care is lovingly extended.

Because you give angels rejoice and sing

For your gifts honor God who created all things!

With a grateful heart,

Pastor Cathy Johns

October 28, 2018

Choosing Extravagance

Several years ago we were having an anniversary dinner in Las Vegas.  After looking at the menu we decided that we would enjoy salad and water; the prices were extravagant!  I knew that I would not be able to enjoy my dinner knowing the outrageous check that would land on our table.

We did ask to see a wine list.  While it certainly qualified as a diverse wine list with several countries represented, I found myself gasping out loud as I came across one particular bottle of wine.  It was $5,000.

Later in the evening I mentioned this to an accountant, a woman who worked in the casino.  I made the remark, “I wonder how many people actually purchase that wine for $5,000!”  Her response was stunning:  “You’d be surprised.”  She mentioned that clientele from other countries would order it, without giving it a second thought.

I thought:  “You could built a new well in sub-Sahara Africa that would bring water to an entire village” with $5,000!

The good news is this:  God’s extravagant love for you goes beyond your imagination!  God’s outrageous, inexpressible gift of Jesus to the world shows us the depth of God’s extravagant love for all of us.

God invites us to give generously, investing our gifts to build the kingdom of God, here and now.  Your gifts matter:  They provide shelter for the homeless; they bring healing to those who are ill; they deliver hope to the discouraged.  Your gifts offer guidance to the lost; your generosity blesses those who need a hand up, not a handout; your gifts nourish weary souls with God’s love!

Commitment Sunday is next Sunday.  You remain in my prayers as we as a congregation consider how each one of us will respond to God’s generosity in our lives with grateful, generous hearts.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

It’s a Small World After All!

This week our faith community will experience the global nature of the Church and the unity of the Body of Christ in two significant ways.

On Wednesday, October 3, Bishop Cardona and Pastor Luis from Columbia came to speak to our staff.  They shared the significant impact of the Methodist Church in being peacemakers in a nation torn by violence.  Their strategy for planting new faith communities involves going into areas, sometimes new communities that form as people flee from violence, and listening to the needs of the people.  Ministries across the country vary depending on the response of the community.

Today, we will share Holy Communion with our sisters and brothers in Samara Russia.  The Samara United Methodist Church, one of our global mission partners, will gather at 5:30 p.m. in Samara Russia while we gather at 9:30 a.m. here in Hyde Park.  A translator, Max, from Samara, will help us bridge the language barrier as we gather at the Lord’s Table together. Although I understand how it works, it is still an amazing experience to worship with people, in real time, that live halfway around the world!  The Disney song is true:  “It’s a small world, after all!”

Come and join us at the Table this weekend, invited by Jesus, the Christ, who invites and welcomes all, embracing each one of us as beloved sons and daughters of God.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

CEO of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen: Driven to Serve

Cheryl A. Bachelder, CEO of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, posts a Bible verse on her calendar each day:

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.”

Bachelder has turned her company around with a focus on serving others.  Reflecting on the words on servanthood that Paul wrote to the people of Philippi, she writes:   

“I really like the choice of words around counting others more significant than ourselves.  I believe we’re all born with an inner 2-year old.  And we’d really still like to be laying on the floor, kicking and screaming because we didn’t get the candy bar we wanted.

I always say servant leadership is an aspiration, because you can really never claim you’ve arrived. Because as soon as you do, someone will find you—and in a trap of self-interest. It’s something you’re always working toward.”

Jesus invites all of us to reach beyond ourselves and step out of our cozy world of self-interest to serve others.  There are two great opportunities for you to answer the call of Christ here in our congregation:

Ministry Fair, September 30th: Stop by the Welcome Center to see all the ways that you can serve Christ.  On Sunday, October 7, our service commitments will be gathered together and dedicated to God in worship

Servant Leadership Board Applications. Committed members of Hyde Park Community United Methodist are invited to apply to serve on the Servant Leadership Board.  Applications are available at the Welcome Center; the application deadline is October 15.  The term of service is January 2019 – December 2021.

Serving others not only makes God smile, but lights up God’s world!   Thank you for all the ways you share the light of Christ in our church, community, and around the world.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Jesus and Napoleon

They are certainly both two famous men. Their impact on humanity was significant. That is where their similarities stop.

Napoleon once wrote:

“I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man.  Between Him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison.  Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creation of our genius?  Upon force.  Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him” 

As we begin to study Jesus in depth during the month of September I invite you to consider the question that Jesus once asked Peter, “But who do you say that I am?”  There are many names of Jesus in the Bible. Take a moment in the next few weeks and jot down the names of Jesus, the Christ that are the most meaningful for you. Here are some of my favorites:  Resurrection and the Life, Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor, Keeper of my Soul, Emmanuel, Great Shepherd of the Sheep, and the True Vine.

May God bless you this September with the joy of Jesus, the one who came that we might life and life abundant!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Mark Your Calendars: Church Conference( September 16th 4:30 PM)

The Servant Leadership Board, with the permission of the District Board of Church Location and Building, has set a Church Conference for September 16, 4:30p.m.  The agenda for the Church Conference will be to:

Vote to support the recommendation of the Building Committee and the Servant Leadership Board and move forward with a capital campaign to raise funds to support implementing Phase One of the Master Plan.

Authorize the formation of a Capital Campaign Committee that will organize and conduct a capital campaign to raise the funds necessary to complete Phase One of the Master Plan.

At a Church Conference every member of Hyde Park Community United Methodist church has voice and vote. 

Important Dates to Note:

August 26, 12:15 p.m. Final Town Hall Meeting. Come and hear the presentation of Phase 1 of the Master Plan, including conceptual drawings and a model from architects,  so that you can be an educated voter.

September 16, 4:30 p.m. Church Conference at Hyde Park Community United Methodist.

Spring 2019 (If approved in September 2018):  Vote at a second Church Conference on the decision to build, following the completion of the capital campaign.

Please pray for God to guide our path as we seek to be faithful witnesses for Christ.

Pastors Cathy and Doug Johns

What Would Your Totem Pole Say?

The first week of August, Pastor Doug and I enjoyed a continuing education class at the University of British Columbia.  While we were on the campus we visited the Museum of Anthropology.  Beautiful totem poles were part of the museum that is devoted to honoring the first nations of the Pacific Northwest.

Totem poles are normally made of red cedar which are abundant in supply in the Pacific Northwest.  They would be placed visibly within a community.  Totem poles do not necessarily “speak,” telling a story, but they do serve to document the history and stories that are familiar to people from the family or members of the clan.

Symbolic forms, human, animal, or supernatural, adorn the totem poles. They show kinship, functioning as a type of family crest.

The thunderbird for example, would be a part of the Kwakwakawakw families of northern Vancouver, members of the Thunderbird Clan.  Killer whales, frogs, eagles, and beavers are common. Totem poles also honor specific events or significant individuals.

Sometimes we forget that our lives “tell a story.”  A totem pole communicates to others what is important.  As Christians who follow Jesus the Christ, we have the opportunity to be bearers of the gospel story. May our words and actions reflect the heart of Christ, the Lord of love who came to transform the world with life-giving love.

Please welcome Rev. Don Dixon, former pastor at Hyde Park Community United Methodist, as he preaches the message of God’s love and grace.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Update on Town Hall Meetings/ Master Plan

Nearly 150 people have attended Town Hall meetings in June and July to hear about the exciting report of the Building Committee. The group, chaired by Paul Lisi, has worked for nearly two years to formulate Phase 1 of the Master Plan. We are thankful for their creative vision which respects the integrity of our historical building while opening fresh spaces to welcome all in Christ’s name. The Master Plan is the long-range view that aligns our physical space so that we can fulfill our mission:  to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

The Ohio River Valley District has enthusiastically endorsed this plan and given Hyde Park Community United Methodist permission to hold a Church Conference in September.  Each member has voice and vote.   

Next steps for moving forward:

Continue to pray for God to guide us as we seek to be faithful servants of Christ

August 26, 12:15 p.m. Final Town Hall Meeting prior to Church Conference.  All are welcome to come to the Little Theater to hear this exciting presentation.

September 16 Church Conference to vote on moving forward with a capital campaign for Phase 1 of the Master Plan.

First Quarter 2019  Capital Campaign begins (pending affirmation on September 16, 2018)

May God continue to fill us with vision, courage, and great joy as we seek to continue to faithfully serve our community with excellence, welcoming all in Christ’s name.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Do You Have Joy Like A Fountain?

One of my favorite songs when I was a child was “Peace like a River.”  It was fun to sing the verses with the motions…”.I’ve got’:

Peace like a river (waves)

Joy like a Fountain (hands up like a fountain)

Love like an Ocean (arms make a big circle)

I once heard a speaker describe the first three fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, and peace – as the “big three.”  If you possess them, the speaker shared you can make it through anything.

When you meet someone who possesses true joy, you discover a powerful truth:  Joy allows us to rise above our circumstances.

There is a simple reason for this:  Joy that comes from God is constant and does not depend on what happens in our daily lives.  Someone put it well who said:

Joy is not the absence of suffering but the presence of God.

May God richly bless you today as you hold the hand of God, a God whose love for you will never end!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

The “Don’t Pee on my Church” Sign

Rev. Lou Seipel, once served Board Street United Methodist, an inner-city church in Columbus, Ohio.  They serve 25,000 meals to people without housing, offer a Freedom School to at-risk children, and provide legal assistance and ministry to single women struggling with mental health and recovery issues.

Pastor Lou shared that in a shielded corner of the parking lot, people would sometimes relieve themselves, using the church parking lot as a bathroom.  On a hot day in August she stepped across “the stream” and came inside to a Trustees meeting.  She told the Trustees, “I wish I had a sign that said, “Don’t Pee on my Church!”

One of the Trustees took her seriously and posted a sign on the building:

“Don’t Pee on my Church” including her name, “Pastor Lou.”

She was mortified.  She saw her own sin before her in print, realizing that her mouth had the power to make a sacred space unwelcoming through her words.  She realized that if the poor had a bathroom, they would have used it.  She told the Trustees to take down the sign immediately.

Hospitality to all of God’s children is what makes my heart sing!  It means taking inventory of how we “do Church,” always looking for more ways to eliminate barriers and embrace all as sisters and brothers in Christian love.

May God’s Spirit move among us as we strive to welcome all in the name of Christ.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy