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

Innies or Outies?

Your body has one: an “inny” or an “outty.”   It is easy to tell.  When you look at your waistline your belly button either goes in or it pops out.

Churches are the same way:  they either face in or they face out.  Remember the rhyme and what you did with your hands: “Here is the church and here is the steeple…open the doors and see all the people?”

This week the program staff of our congregation studied a church that boldly states:  We strive to be a relentlessly outwardly focused church to reach people for Jesus Christ. Through wonderful ministries of hospitality, discipleship, and mission, Church of the Resurrection, a new United Methodist Church plant in 1990, has grown to 20,000 people.

What’s the secret sauce?  They align their resources:  people, their building, programs, ministries, and finances to accomplish their mission: to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

This week you are invited to the first of two Town Hall Meetings offered in the next several weeks.  You will hear about the exciting plan for our building, the result of several years of work from many church leaders at Hyde Park Community United Methodist.  You will hear how our building can be restored, renovated, and also open up new, fresh space to welcome new people into our faith community.

You are invited on Wednesday evening, May 23, at 7:00 pm or Thursday, May 24 at 10:30 am for an exciting presentation. These town hall meetings will be offered through June. In late summer or early fall, church members will have the opportunity to officially vote to move forward with a capital campaign.

This is a congregation that is grounded in faith and growing to serve; I am excited to be a part of it!  I hope you will come to a Town Hall Meeting soon to hear about where God may be leading us!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

You are Invited: An Update On Phase 1 of the Master Plan

In 2013, the Armstrong Group recommended multiple initiatives for our congregation to fulfill our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.  To move forward with excellence we need to:

  • Maximize our Facilities for Ministry
  • Develop Multi-Site Ministries
  • Equip Leaders for ministries in fulfilling our mission
  • Connect people to care, grow and serve

In 2015, Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church contracted with MSA Architects to develop a Master Plan, a long-range (15-20 year) projection of our needs for our facility.  The congregation expressed its priorities for security for children, flexible space, and additional space for ministries to children and families.  In 2016, after approving this report, the Servant Leadership Board commissioned a Building Committee to phase the plan, considering the order of priorities carefully.   In March 2018, the Servant Leadership Board received the report of the Building Committee and their recommendation to proceed with Phase 1 of the Master Plan.

Communicating this exciting vision will take place soon at Town Hall Meetings.  Members of our congregation and church family are invited to come to see and hear about this proposal.   The purpose of the Town Hall meetings is to educate our congregation prior to voting at a Church Conference in late August or early September.  Members will be voting on authorizing the church to hold a Capital Campaign, embracing the vision of Phase 1 of the Master Plan.

Mark your calendars and plan to join us:

May 23, 7:00 p.m.

June 3, 7:00 p.m.

June 13, 7 p.m.

June 17, 12:15 p.m.

June 27, 12:15 p.m.

Joy in our Risen Lord,

Pastor Cathy

Why Holy Week Takes my Breath Away

Holy Week begins with a parade, filled with excitement and joy…lots of energy…children laughing and playing in the streets as people shout “Hosanna” (“Pray, save us) to Jesus as he humbly rides a donkey.

You can feel tension mounting as conflict arises among the Pharisees and scribes about what to do about Jesus, the One whom the crowd adores. Jesus’s disciples begin to fall away although some remain close.

By Thursday, Jesus, the humble servant, washes their feet and takes symbols from the Passover and explains the new covenant, his body and blood, and invites them to take, eat, and remember.

Thursday evening, Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane, another moment of awe. He asks for the cup of suffering to be removed, but surrenders completely, the King who chooses to give up his life for his people. His arrest and imprisonment lead us to the horror of Friday.

After 39 brutal lashes, Jesus carries his cross through the streets of Jerusalem.  As his hands and feet are nailed to the Cross, I lose my breath again, hearing his words of love:  “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

With his death, we believe that the story is over;  the stone is rolled to seal the tomb.  My breath will be taken away again with the dawn of Easter morning when we hear the words again: “Christ is risen!  He is risen, indeed!”

This Holy Week in worship we will walk all the way to Gethsemane, the Cross, and to the Empty Tomb.  Open yourself to the power of Christ this week; God wants to move you deeply and take your breath away!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Resurrection: Fiction or Fact?

Let’s face it:  Someone rising from the dead is not something that happens every day.  Like us, the people in first century Israel would have had a hard time wrapping their minds around The Resurrection.

The Pharisees, whose responsibility was to help the people keep the laws of Moses, did believe in The Resurrection. Brad H. Young, in Paul, The Jewish Theologian writes: “The Jewish people believed that God created the world. Our physical world is God’s creation, and it is good. The Pharisees, in contrast to the Greco-Roman religious beliefs, vigorously affirmed the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. The Pharisees stressed a literal resurrection of the physical body, which would be reunited with the spirit of an individual. Their worldview embraced a future restoration of God’s original design for his world. The Pharisees envisioned a time of redemption in which God would realign the physical creation with the ethereal (unearthly) realm.”  The Sadducees did not embrace resurrection, immortality of the soul, or spirits and angels.  Additionally leaders of the Sadducees functioned as priests while leaders of the Pharisees were called rabbis.

This Sunday, Pastor Cathy Johns will offer a unique perspective on what happened in Bethany when Lazarus walked out of the tomb as recorded in John 11.  Invite a friend to join you this Sunday; may God richly bless you this week!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Re-Birth

When Nicodemus converses with Jesus he is introduced to a new understanding of living in relationship with God and those God loves.  Drawing upon a birthing metaphor, Jesus impresses upon Nicodemus the need for humanity to leave behind the dualistic thinking of the day (which still controls much of our lives today) and be “born again”.  This rebirth means leaving the dualism of the world behind and living into God’s acts of new creation! This rebirth means discarding the “fire insurance” teaching that most of Christianity has reduced our relationship with God to be; as the saying goes, “We are so heavenly focused they are no earthly good”.

Jesus is not saying we must be “born again” so when we die we can escape the fires of hell (fire insurance) and make our way to heaven.  We must be “born again” if we are to leave behind the dualism of our culture and reflect the image and likeness of God in the world we live. Born again we actively become participants in God’s acts of new creation.  Bishop N.T. Wright puts it this way in his book, Surprised by Scripture:

“The question of how you think about the ultimate future has an obvious direct impact on how you think about the task of the church in the present time.  To put it crudely and at the risk of caricaturing: if you suppose that the present world of space, time, and matter is a thoroughly bad thing, then the task is to escape from this world and enable as many others to do so as possible.  If you go that route, you will most likely end up in some form of Gnosticism, and the gnostic has no interest in improving the lot of human beings, or the state of the physical universe, in the present time.  Why wall paper the house if it’s going to be knocked down tomorrow?” (P.84-85)

God is a God of new creation, here, now.  The words of Jesus have been hijacked, it’s time for the church to reclaim the power of Jesus’ words for transformational living: You must be “born again”. Rebirth aligns us with God’s vision for creation here, now, today.  To be “born again” puts us at the center of God’s work in the world. Therefore, this world is not something that is to be endured and ultimately escape, but it is a place that mirrors the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. I look forward to seeing you in Church!

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

Some Things Never Change

A lot has changed since the days of Jesus, but some things are still the same.  People have never been fond of taxes or the people who collect them.   Here’s a fun riddle:   

Q:  How much did the IRS take from the moon?

A:  Four quarters

(Trust me!  This is one of the more “mild” jokes I could locate.)

This Sunday we continue our sermon series called “Awakened!”  Each week we take a look at a person whose path crossed the path of Jesus of Nazareth; they were never the same following their encounter with Jesus, who is the Christ.   

This week we will study Matthew, the tax collector, who was invited by Jesus to be a part of changing the world.  Jesus simply said to him, “Follow me.”  What followed was an immediate response, without excuses.  The writer of Matthew’s gospel records after Jesus’ invitation:   “he got up and followed him.”  Matthew is so excited about closing up shop and following Jesus that he invites Jesus to join his friends at a dinner party in his home…that’s where all the real drama happens!

Join us this Sunday for a “deep dive” into this important conversation with Matthew, the dinner party, and Jesus’ response to the critical onlookers.

May God richly bless you as you seek ways to model Christ who chose mercy and grace over marginalization and judgment.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Why A Welcome Lunch?

Sunday, January 21, 12:15 p.m.

Every effective leader should be able to tell you in one sentence why their organization does something. For example, a school principal should be able to “make a case” for keeping children inside for recess on a cold day. The answer should align with the values of the school:  perhaps safety and health.

The “why” is something that drives home the values and vision of the organization. The Church, charged with making disciples of Jesus for the transformation of the world, has the same requirement of aligning “what” we do with “why” we do it.

What, then, is the “why” of inviting newcomers to a Welcome Lunch?  We host Welcome lunches  so that people who are new to our faith community will experience God’s love through a warm welcome that helps them feel “at home” in God’s house. Making disciples of Jesus Christ happens when strangers become friends, friends become disciples, and disciples change the world.

This Sunday, if you are a new person to our faith community, you are invited to join us for lunch in the Welcome Center at 12:15 p.m.  Reservations are not needed.  The hospitality team will provide delicious homemade soups and salads. We hope you can join us and experience the love of God through our community of faith.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

The First Manger Scene

In Nan Bauroth in Christmas: An Annual Treasury (Vol. 66, Augsburg). Christian Reader, Vol. 34, we discover the very first manger scene:

“In 1224, inspired by the sight of shepherds tending their flocks in the moonlight, St. Francis of Assisi asked a wealthy friend from Greccio, Italy, to help him construct a live manger scene (the first ever). The idea caught on. By the 15th century, nativity scenes proliferated in monasteries and churches throughout southern Europe. Today, perhaps the finest collection of miniature nativity scenes in the world is found in Munich’s National Museum of Bavaria where more than 200 are displayed.”

Today, on this fourth Sunday of Advent, we find ourselves anxious to come to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  Today, our congregation will open wide her doors to welcome people to God’s house for several unique worship experiences:

December 24th at Hyde Park Community UMC

9:00 a.m. Communion in the Chapel

9:30 a.m. Traditional Worship, 4th Sunday of Advent in the sanctuary

11:00 a.m. Worship @ 11, Contemporary Worship in the sanctuary

4:00 p.m. Family Service with Childrens Choirs, Candlelighting,                     and Carols

6:00 p.m.  Communion Service with acoustic praise band, Candlelighting and Carols

8:30 p.m.  Worship with Brass, Choir, Candlelighting, and Carols

11:00 p.m. Worship with Brass, Choir, Candlelighting, and Carols

December 24th  at  Over-The-Rhine Community UMC

10:30 a.m.     Worship,  preceded by Community Breakfast

5:30 p.m.   Worship with Candlelighting and Carols

I invite you to pray about who God is nudging you to invite to join you in worship, walking with you to the manger to celebrate Christ’s birth?  People without a church home are very receptive to accept invitations to worship in December.

May God fill your heart with the greatest gifts that cannot be found underneath your tree this Christmas:  hope, joy, love, and peace.

Christmas Blessings,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Rockefeller Christmas Trees Keep On Giving!

Michael Hill, of Associated Press, posted this on December 5, 2017:

“Old Rockefeller Center Trees never really die, they just get built into the wall frames and floor supports of affordable homes.  For the past decade, the ornament–laden trees that have been lit up with glitz, songs, and dancing Rockettes have gone to be milled into lumber and used in dozens of Habitat for Humanity homes from Philadelphia to Pascagoula, Mississippi.  Each tree yields a truckload of 100 or more boards, all stamped with an image of the tree and the year it was on display.”

One recipient, homeowner Keith Smith, shared that he cannot see the unique wood in his home from the 2015 tree, but adds “he feels it.”  He appreciated his family’s connection to the annual lighting extravaganza in Manhattan.

John D. Rockefeller, a very generous man to both the Church and our nation, would be proud.  I believe that God is also smiling as the trees continue to give shelter, joy, and hope to others.

This Christmas season, a season of giving, I invite you to count your blessings and give thanks for God’s gift to you:  Jesus, the Christ, our Savior, the hope of the world.

May you discover new ways to share with others all that God has given you!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy