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.


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.




Pastor Cathy Johns

Symbols of Freedom

When you think about symbols of freedom, what do you see in your mind?

  • An eagle in flight
  • In West Africa: Fawohodie
  • The American Flag
  • The Buddha in a lotus position with his hand touching the ground
  • The Statue of Liberty
  • A photo of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

In Japan: wooden sword that was symbolic of a gladiator’s freedom

Symbols that we embrace reflect our values and help shape our thoughts and our hearts.  This Sunday begins a new sermon series on Galatians called Set Free. Christians possess powerful symbols that point us to the power and freedom found in the gospel of Jesus Christ:

The descending dove:  The Holy Spirit, which falls upon Christ’s followers, past, and present

The Bread and Cup:  the sacrament that reminds us of the love and sacrifice of Jesus

The Cross: celebrating the depth of God’s love for us as Christ gave His life to redeem us all

The Empty Tomb: celebrating Christ’s Resurrection and new life found in our Risen Lord

As we begin this journey through Galatians, I invite you to embrace the freedom that is ours through Christ:

“For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

May God richly bless you with love, hope, joy, freedom, and peace in 2020!

Pastor Cathy

The Light of Christmas

One evening this week we came around the bend on our street and I was dazzled by the lights that were decking the homes and trees of our neighbors.  It was beautiful!

During this season of the year when the days are short and night is long, I find myself longing for light.  When the sun shines, even on cold days, it makes me smile.

As we navigate this season of Advent, I invite you to think about how light helps us.  Lights make walkways safer.  Light can warm us around a fire.  Light helps us find our way home.  Lights help ships navigate into safe harbors.

In the gospel of John, we discover the power of the light of Christ:  “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.   The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.” (John 1:5,9)

You are invited this Sunday:

8:00 am  and 11:00 am:  A Charlie Brown Christmas continues as Snoopy helps us grasp the importance of joy in our lives.  Wesley Choir will sing at 8:00;  Worship@11 will be led by the Praise Band.

9:30 am “The Light of Christmas,” a unique worship experience with The Canterbury Brass, Cathedral Choir hand bells, and fresh theological reflections will help us rejoice in God’s precious gift:  Jesus, the Light of the World.

Rejoicing in the Christ-Child,

Pastor Cathy

Born Again Irish Beach Brings Hope

An Irish beach disappeared in 1984.  At Dooagh Beach, the sand on Achill Island was washed away by storms, leaving only rocks and rock pools. Right around Easter in 2017 a strange tide came and deposited hundreds of the tons of sand where the former beach stretched about 300 meters.

The locals describe the event as “miraculous.”  The renewal of the beach is inspiring.  The local tourism board explained why people are flocking to the resurrected beach:

“We live in a dark world these days so I think that is why there has been so much interest in Dooagh beach since the story broke. For something like our beach to come back gives people hope. It’s a good news story and one where nature has done something benign for a change.  The title of J.J. McNamara’s article says it all:   “‘It gives people hope’: born-again Irish beach captures world’s attention.”

This Advent we will study the ancient themes of a season that early Christians considered a “mini-Lent.”   This Sunday we begin our sermon series, A Charlie Brown Christmas, with the message “Longing for Hope.”  Invite a friend to join you this month for a fun, meaningful walk through Advent, celebrating Jesus, the Christ, in whom we find our hope.   

Looking forward to seeing you on Sunday,

Pastor Cathy Johns

The Funny Thing about Love

Kim Caasali, a New Zealand native, was a cartoonist who wrote love notes to her future husband in the late sixties.  Her cartoons shed light on what love is all about.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Love is…having your picnic indoors on a rainy day

Love is…accepting that no one is perfect

Love is…someone to get goofy with

Love is…putting some money in his pocket when he’s tapped out

Love is…what overcomes everything

This Sunday, Pastor Sherman Bradley, of our second campus, The Warehouse, will bring a powerful message about what it means to Love God and neighbor.  Sherman is the founder of Consider the Poor, has rich experience in working with people in Over-The-Rhine, including leadership roles with City Gospel Mission.

Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church has partnered with Sherman and Sadell Bradley, our new pastors in Over-The-Rhine, to launch a new multi-ethnic, multi-socio-economic, diverse faith community to reach new people for Christ.  Renovations are currently underway and they hope to have a “soft launch” for worship at “The Warehouse” in late November.  The official public launch is scheduled for Easter 2020.

Your prayers and support of the birthing of this new faith community are appreciated.  We are delighted to see how God will move to transform lives through the Bradleys and this fresh expression of faith through The Warehouse.  Please extend a warm welcome to Sherman as he brings God’s Word to us this weekend.   


Pastor Cathy

All Saints Day

This Sunday, November 3, we will observe All Saints Day by remembering those of our Hyde Park Church family who have entered eternal life during the past year. The reading of the roll of the departed will be included in the Sacrament of Holy Communion in all three worship services:

At 8:00 am and 11:00 am:  New sermon series: “ Let’s Do It” begins.

This new sermon series examines the Great Commandment found in Mark 12:28-30 that invites us to Love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength.

9:30:  Fauré Requiem with Cathedral Choir and  13-piece orchestra.

The 9:30 am worship liturgy is interlaced with the presentation of the contemplative Requiem by Gabriel Fauré, sung by the Cathedral Choir and soloists, with chamber orchestra and organ. Among the most revered works in choral literature, the Fauré Requiem in its final form was first performed in Paris in 1893. The sheer  beauty of the music ignores any passage of time and, combined with our worship, will lift our hearts as we celebrate the lives of the faithful departed.

I am looking forward to sharing The Lord’s Day with you,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Turtles on the Beach

This week I participated in a spiritual retreat in North Carolina.  The daily rhythm of worship, teaching, silent reflection, and sharing in community are life-giving to my body, mind, and spirit. Nearly each day I was able to walk the beach, sometimes alone and sometimes with a trusted soul-friend.

Earlier this week Jan pointed out something that I had missed. There was a protective fence, stakes and red tape, set up right in the sand, around a deep hole.   It was to protect turtle eggs buried on the beach.

Healthy churches practice the building of hedges or fences around the vulnerable, creating a safe space where those at risk can thrive.  I am thankful today for every Interfaith Hospitality Servant, Stephen minister, children, youth, or adult leader who creates a safe place where members of the community can feel safe. Thank you, Hyde Park Community United Methodist, for your commitment to be a place that protects the vulnerable so life can thrive.

In Christ’s Joy,

Pastor Cathy

Lessons about Leadership from Walking Dogs

This summer I became reacquainted with one of my favorite tasks:  training a puppy.  Caspian, our yellow lab rescue puppy joined our family on April 1.  He was named after C.S. Lewis’ fictional prince in the Chronicles of Narnia.  Every prince needs a princess so when our Golden Retriever female puppy joined our family in late August, we named her Zara.  It means “princess” in Hebrew.

Training puppies is a lot of work, but it is a lot of fun!  It is a joy to see them learn new things each day.  They can both sit, stay, shake my hand, come, lay down, and know what to do when I say “treats for good dogs.”  They run as quickly as they can toward me, anxious to receive a small piece of a dog biscuit, a reward for their good behavior.

One thing that is a little tricky is encouraging a new puppy to walk on a leash.  If the puppy does not want to move forward, it simply sits down and looks at you.  What follows is the awkward moment of a stare down.  The puppy looks at you as if to say, “Not happening.  I am not moving.”  At this point you have a few choices:  go and pick up the dog, pull the dog, or encourage the dog to walk where you would like them to go.

The third option is best for dogs and amazingly enough for people.  Most people generally do not like to be picked up or pulled! Henry and Richard Blackaby offer this great definition of spiritual leadership:  “moving people on to God’s agenda.”  They add that the spiritual leaders task is to “move people from where they are to where God wants them to be.”

God may be calling you to a role of servant leadership.  Our Servant Leadership Board has three openings for persons who are highly committed to Hyde Park Community UMC and feel called to the role of servant leader.  It is a three-year commitment.  Applications and criteria for the Servant Leadership Board are available at the Welcome Center and in the church office.  Please submit your application by October 15.

May God richly bless you as you lead those around you, moving people to God’s agenda as you shine brightly for Christ.


Pastor Cathy Johns

Trapeze Artists: How to Trust our Future

Henri Nouwen was once deeply moved by a performance of the Rodleighs, a troupe of flying trapeze artists.  One of the artists explained to Nouwen that the flyer can do nothing but trust that the catcher will catch him.  The timing is crucial.  If the flyer tries to catch the catcher they could both be seriously hurt.   But if the flyer waits, extends their arms and waits to be caught, his partner can deliver him back to the safety of the platform.

That period of waiting to be caught and land safely is hard.  It’s all about trust.  Nathan Kirkpatrick writes that we trust people who are competent, have our best interest at heart, people of integrity (open and transparent), and reliable in their performance and predictable in their behavior.

This year is a year of high anxiety for many.  It feels like an “in between time,” a season of not quite yet.  Some long for new people to be elected to public office while others yearn for a resolution to the present theological impasse in the United Methodist Church.   Regardless of how much we want it be sooner, General Conference will be held  May 5-15, 2020 and the next general election will be on November 3, 2020.  When you find yourself in that place of anxiety or worry, remember the words of Psalm 46:  “Be still, and know that I am God.”

At Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church, the Way Forward Task Force has been listening to both the pain and the hopes for this community of faith.  We hope you will attend one of the three remaining listening sessions:  Sunday, August 25, 12:15, Wednesday, August 28, 6:30 p.m., or Sunday, September 8, 12:15 p.m.

This fall the task force will make a recommendation to the Servant Leadership Board about how we will move forward as a congregation, ready to respond swiftly to the options available to us after General Conference meets in May 2020.

We serve a God who invites us to let go and trust God.  We are invited to take God’s hand and step into the future with confidence and deep, abiding joy.   Let us continue to serve Christ, love one another, and open ourselves to be vessels of grace and love for all of God’s people.


Rev. Dr. Cathy Johns