Following in Bishop Colaw’s Footsteps

Bishop Emerson Colaw touched countless lives, including mine, and will be deeply missed.  At his memorial service last week, hundreds gathered to thank God for this man’s incredible life.  Bishop Colaw was:

  • a  modern day “Barnabas,” an encourager of laity and clergy
  • a beloved father, spouse, grandfather, brother, and cherished friend to many
  • a “dapper” man who always wore a blazer
  • a person who invested his life in building  community
  • a man whose quick wit and twinkle in his eye always lifted our spirits
  • an innovative leader who embraced the future
  • a person who loved sacrificially, following Christ’s example to serve others
  • a generous man who invested his time and resources in Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church, a place where people find hope and healing in Jesus’ name.

How can I say thanks to God for Emerson?  By seeking to love, humbly and without condition, and by reflecting the love of Christ through my investment of time and money in what God is doing through Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church.

This Sunday is Commitment Sunday.  May our investments in building God’s kingdom in 2017 reflect both the love we have for Jesus, who is the Christ, and our desire to follow in the footsteps of the faithful who have gone before us.

May we, as Emerson did, embrace the future with hope as we seek to build God’s kingdom here on earth.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Hope for The Blue Planet

During my doctoral studies at Chicago Theological Seminary I took a World Prayer class.  My colleagues in the course represented more than seven countries.  One of our assignments was to go and watch the IMAX film “The Blue Planet.”

It is an amazing film!  We were able to see what lightning strikes look like from space.  You could see the outline of the Great Wall of China.  We also, as the title suggests, saw a lot of blue, as nearly 71% of the earth’s surface is water!

When you consider God’s plan to send Jesus to this blue planet that we call home, did you ever wonder what would be on Jesus’ job description?   The answer is in the scripture for this Sunday.  Jesus stands up in Nazareth, reads from a scroll of the prophet Isaiah, and shares with everyone why He is here and what He came to do.

As 21st Century Christians who follow Jesus, claiming to be His disciples, we are called to continue the work He began.  Jesus of Nazareth, who is the Christ, started a revolution that changed the world.

This Sunday our faith community will bring a special offering to God:  our service commitments.  A simple list will be provided on an insert listing opportunities for you to serve Christ in the coming year.  God has blessed you with unique gifts, skills, and talents.  We are invited to change the world, in Jesus’ name, one life at a time.  Please join us this Sunday as we boldly claim allegiance to Jesus and join in His revolution to change the world.

I look forward to seeing you this Sunday!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Announcing: Ministry Fair 2016

You are a unique creation!  There will never be another you!  Each person in our community is also uniquely gifted.  What would happen if we all stepped forward, using our gifts, as the hands and feet of Christ?

In the next few weeks, you will be invited to consider how you would like to serve Christ in the coming year.

On September 25th we will host a Ministry Fair that:

Celebrates the work of various ministry teams in the Welcome Center

Provides a booklet and service inventory list describing ways to serve

Invites you to pray about how you would like to step forward to serve in 2017

On October 2nd we will:

Identify places where we feel called to serve Christ on service inventories list

Present our service inventories list to God in worship

After October 2:

Staff and team leaders will connect with persons expressing desire to serve

Additionally Servant Leadership Board criteria and applications are available in the church office and at the Welcome Center.  Please contact Greg Rogers, Chair of Servant Leadership Board, or Pastor Cathy Johns for additional information.

It is a joy to serve Christ with each one of you!  I am already praying for God to help you discover how to use your gifts in joyful service to Christ.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Worn Out Bibles, Worn out People, and You

It has been said, “People who own worn out Bibles are not!”  It is almost Fall and many are headed back to school.  As adults, it is tempting to see education as something children do.  All of us, young and old alike, can grow in our faith through Bible study.

For me, Bible study enriches my life in many ways, but especially as a guide for my life.  Benefits include:

New Friendships

Offering and receiving support for current challenges in my life

Growth in my understanding of God’s Word

Trying to navigate life as a Christian without studying God’s Word is like walking through an uncharted forest without a map!   Many Bible studies and small groups begin soon. Please check out the Discipleship booklet and classes posted online and register for class.  Members, guests, and friends are all welcome!

This weekend we begin a new sermon series, “Playing in God’s Symphony.”  Each week we will be studying various ways that Jesus strengthened his spirit and discover ways we can strengthen ours today.   This Sunday’s message, “Observing the Rests,” is based on Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.

I look forward to seeing you this weekend!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Where in the World is God?

Did you ever ask, “Where are you God?” Some ancient people would answer: “In the sun.” Others believed that the “gods” lived on Mount Olympus. Some believed that God was in the trees.

This week’s message, “The Heart of God: God the Revealer,” based on Psalm 139, explores where we can discover God.  Lawrence Kushner explains:  “In Judasim the world is viewed as one world which is material and spiritual at the same time.  The material world is always potentially spiritual.  For Judaism all things – including, and especially such apparently non-spiritual and grossly material things such as garbage, sweat, dirt, and bushes – are not the pediments to but dimensions of spirituality.  Jewish spirituality is about the immediacy of God’s presence everywhere.  It is about patience, and paying attention, about seeing, feeling, and learning things that only a moment ago were inaccessible.” (From “God was in this place and I, I did not know.’)

In Psalm 139 we discover a God whose love is inescapable.  It reaches beyond the highest heaven to the lowest places of the earth.

Let us celebrate this weekend our God whose love cannot be contained by time or space… a God who is with us, always!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Candy For Our Neighbors in the Congo

In August, I will be serving on a mission team in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We have been asked to teach discipleship and leadership to residents of the Kamina Children’s Home in the North Katanga Conference. One of my duties is to bring thank you gifts for our hosts. I will be bringing hard candy and creating simple “hobo” bags with the word “peace” in three languages painted on them with fabric paint.

If you would like to participate in this mission project, I welcome your support! Here are four ways you can support this mission to Kamina Children’s Home:

1) Pray that God works in a mighty way through this mission team from West Ohio Conference.

2) Contribute Candy. Please bring individually wrapped candies by Monday, July 25 to the church office; please place your donations in the bin marked “Candy for the Congo”. List of candy to donate:  Jolly Rancher hard candy,  Life Savers (individually wrapped), peppermint hard candy (individually wrapped), Salt Water taffy, Werther’s butterscotch (individually wrapped), Tootsie Rolls midges.

3) If you would like to help me sew and paint the cloth bags, please contact me at cjohns@hpcumc.org or 979-8182.  We will be gathering in the Welcome Center on July 26 from 2:00 – 6:30 pm.

4)   Donate brightly colored shoestrings (15 pairs are needed.)   We will use these as drawstrings for the bags.

This week’s scripture is the parable of the Good Samaritan.  Jesus told this parable, in response to a question asked by a rich young man:  “Who is my neighbor?”

At times the needs of our world are overwhelming!  I invite you to come and explore this familiar parable for it is timely; we seem more eager to hate than to love our neighbor, more eager to fight than work for peace.

I look forward to seeing you in church this Sunday!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

“Nothing is Wasted with God”

During college many of us had to take “core” classes. In liberal arts college, like I attended, the idea was simple:  We are committed to producing graduates who have a well-rounded education.  I remember taking Southeast Asian history, thinking during the entire semester,

“I will never use this in my lifetime!”   Oddly enough, Doug’s sister, Dianne, who is an executive with General Motors, took an assignment in Singapore.  She flew our family out to visit and treated us to a trip to Thailand.  With God, nothing is ever wasted!

In high school I took three years of French and two years of French in college. Our son, Blake, was able to study in Paris during one of his college semesters. I was amazed at how quickly he picked up the language and knew how to navigate Paris like a native!   Although I enjoy French, it has been a long time since I have used it.  Chalk it up to Exhibit A of a  “well rounded education.”

This summer I will be joining a mission team from West Ohio Conference to offer discipleship training for youth in the North Katanga Conference of the United Methodist Church, located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  During our first meeting, they explained that we would need to factor in the time for translation.    French is their primary language.  As we have been working on preparing the curriculum, I realized that I will at least be able to read the Bible to the youth in French!   With God, nothing is ever wasted!

As a pastor, I often hear people put themselves down by saying, ” I can’t do this”  or “I can’t do that.”  As we study the Parable of the Talents this weekend, I invite you to to celebrate who and whose you are:  You are a unique child of God who has been created to bless the world.   Let us focus on what we can do and give God all the glory!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Diving for Earrings

Doug and I have travelled to Israel several times.  We enjoy visiting a jeweler in the Christian Quarter of the old city of Jerusalem.  They do beautiful work.  We have purchased many Jerusalem cross necklaces and earrings from these dear men.

I am one of those odd women who believe you are never fully dressed without your earrings!  One of my favorite pair of earrings are gold Jerusalem crosses with my birthstone in the center.  I forgot to remove them once while swimming in a large indoor pool.

I gently pulled on my earlobes and noticed that one of them was missing.  Trained as a lifeguard, I began the search and rescue mission.  I walked around the edge of the pool and then spotted it – a small shiny, gold object – about two feet from the drain.  Next steps involved a little bit of strategic thinking.  I needed to gently approach the earring without creating too many waves.  I gently entered the water on the far end of the pool and swam underwater very gently toward the drain.  I reached down and was able to grab it with my fingers.   When I came up, I was overjoyed!  My earring was no longer lost, but found!

This weekend we will be enjoying one of Jesus’ parables, “The Woman with the Lost Coin.”  Like all good jokes, parables do have a point, or a punchline.  You either “get it” or you don’t.  As a preacher, I pray that you will “get it” and fully understand the joy of being found by a God who deeply loves you, even when you are circling the drain!  We have a God who does jump in to rescue us, pull us to safety, and rejoices with us.

May God richly bless you this weekend.  I look forward to seeing you, your friends, and your family!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

The Future of the United Methodist Church

The Future of The United Methodist Church

General Conference, which meets every four years to renew our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ and set our polity and doctrine, met this May in Portland, Oregon.  Delegates from all around the world came together to worship, pray, and make decisions.

Over 900 petitions regarding our theological understanding of human sexuality were discussed.  A variety of perspectives were shared; painful discussions took place.  Tears were shed.  There were some who believed that it was time for the United Methodist Church to move forward as separate groups while others fought for unity in the Body of Christ called United Methodism.

The Council of Bishops are appointing a diverse group to study all references to human sexuality in the United Methodist Book of Discipline and then come back with a recommendation (in 2018 or 2020) for a way forward.  This motion was approved by 32 votes.

These are difficult times for our denomination.  At Hyde Park Community United Methodist we are committed to seeking God’s wisdom through vigilant prayer.  We are a blessed, diverse community.  Bishop N.T. Wright offers a way forward as we seek God’s guidance in community:

“True wisdom is both bold and humble.  It is never afraid to say what it thinks it has seen, but will always cover other angles of vision.”

This week we conclude our sermon series “Tapping into the Power of the Hoy Spirit.”  Ephesians 6:10-20 helps us understand how to tap into the Spirit’s power for strength.  As United Methodists we need to put on the full armor of God and be ready to face the future without fear.  The full armor of God, according to Paul, includes these wonderful gifts from our God who loves us and equips us to be strong in the Lord:

  • the belt of truth
  • shoes of the gospel of peace
  • the breastplate of righteousness
  • the shield of faith
  • the helmet of salvation
  • the sword of the Spirit (the Word of God)
  • prayer

We, God’s people, will find strength in the Lord!  I look forward to celebrating the Lord’s Day with you.

Pastor Cathy Johns

The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead

Zombies, or the walking dead, are part of a long-running television series.  I am not really a Zombie fan, but the special effects and costumes are fun to watch.  I am sure that the hair and make-up crew for Zombies enjoy letting their creative juices flow.

As we conclude the season of Eastertide, an important question arises:  “Are you alive or dead?”  It may seem to be a ridiculous question at first.   Jesus Christ, our Risen Lord, tells his disciples “Because I live, you also will live.”   Are you just going through the motions of life, staggering around like a Zombie, or have you embraced your identity as one who is fully alive in Christ?

This weekend’s message concludes our sermon series “Who am I?”  The scripture from Ephesians 2 celebrates our identity in Christ: “Alive, not Dead.”

We are a  people who are alive and well, serving as the hands and feet of Christ to bless the world.

May God richly bless you this weekend!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy