Are you a Victim of Identity Theft?

Protecting our identity is something all of us value. When someone accesses our records, we are at risk. Our personal information, no longer personal, is in the hands of someone who can threaten our security.

As children of God, we sometimes forget who and whose we are. Our identity as daughters and sons of God is clear:

“But you are a chosen race, the King’s priests, the holy nation, God’s own people, chosen to proclaim the wonderful acts of God, who called you out of darkness into his own marvelous light. At one time you were not God’s people, but now you are God’s people; at one time you did not know God’s mercy, but now you have received God’s mercy.”
(1 Peter 2:9-10)

Sin, or the ways that we turn against God’s will for us, can hold us captive, robbing us of our identity as forgiven children of God. This Sunday we will study the relationship between sin, our freedom from sin in Christ, and our identity as God’s children.

The new sermon series, “Who am I?” begins with the message, “I am God’s Child,” based on Colossians 1:9-14.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Jesus: A Jewish Rabbi with a Twist

He did things rabbis did. Teaching in the synagogue on the Sabbath, Jesus embraced tradition. He also practiced what Luke Powery, of Duke University, calls “traditioned innovation.” Powery describes it:

Jesus embodies a both-and, not an either-or posture.

Jesus works within a tradition but is not enslaved by it. He is free from it, though he respects it.

Historian Jaroslav Pelikan, a former professor at Yale, explains the difference between tradition and traditionalism:

“Tradition is the living faith of the dead; traditionalism is the dead faith of the living.”

It was Jesus’ innovation, the fresh understand of God’s Law, that got him in trouble with the religious authorities. Jesus stepped into our lives to bring life-giving character to tradition, freeing us from rules that bind us with God’s grace that sets us free.

As we enter Holy Week, I invite you to come and walk with Jesus. On Maundy Thursday, a new, creative service with four dramatic readings from gifted laity, will bless us. Friday we will gather around the cross to remember the precious sacrifice of our Savior. Sunday morning we will celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus.

As we enter Holy Week, I look forward to walking with you and our Savior, Jesus, whose love liberates us from death itself and leads us to life.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

It’s Mine!

If you observe a two-year old with their favorite toy, you will notice that they are not eager to share. At some level they are fearful that someone will come and take away their toy. At that young age, they cannot understand how sharing works. The toy can be enjoyed by another without it’s being taken away, removed forever.

This weekend we will receive an offering for “One Great Hour of Sharing.” Its purpose is to empower, provide water, supply food, and give relief from disasters.

Here are a few ways that this offering makes an impact:

In southeastern Michigan, three months after massive flooding, 900 homes needed mucking out. One Great Hour of Sharing provided training and support to help these communities with long-term recovery needs.

In eastern Kenya, people in Mbangulo went hungry without enough water to cook food. The task of fetching water took most of the day; women were at risk for sexual assault on their long journey to obtain water. One Great Hour of Sharing supported the building of a dam to provide living-giving water to their community.

Ersi Biliu and her husband in Timor, Indonesia could only afford to buy one packet of vegetable seeds at a time. After harvesting their meager crop of vegetables, to feed their six children, they simply went without. One Great Hour of Sharing provided them with several seek packets and nutrition education.

This Sunday you can make a difference! Your Gift to One Great Hour of Sharing will bring water, food, and hope to many in need.

I am looking forward to celebrating the Lord’s Day with you this Sunday.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Worship @11 Begins this Weekend!

Excitement is building…we hope you can join us in worship this Sunday!
Because people connect with God in different ways, we are excited to announce our worship offerings this weekend: 8:00 and 9:30 am with our 88-rank pipe organ and adult choirs, and Worship @ 11 with our new praise and worship team.

Here are a few thoughts from our members about this new worship experience, Worship @ 11:

“The commitment HPCUMC is demonstrating by broadening worship offerings in order to reach more people of all ages for Christ is inspiring! I can’t wait to see how current, past, and future members of this congregation may be moved with the implementation of cutting edge technologies that give glory to God and touch ALL of our senses!” Amanda Baker

“By offering this new style of worship in the sanctuary, we are making a long awaited commitment to provide a worship experience for those who seek a more non-traditional service.” Steve Kramer

“I am looking forward to the many new possibilities and experiences that we will have together in this old and new space. I can’t wait.”
David Colaw

I am excited about the Worship @ 11 service. It will be exciting to see how God uses this different service for those outside of the church, and for those inside as well – to communicate in many different ways Jesus’ love for us. Sara O’Connor

“I am excited for the new service to begin because it is going to open the door for new people to be able to use their gifts.” Patrick Portman

“I am thankful to be part of a church family that listens; hopefully, to the Holy Spirit, and, consequently, to people! We have choices, and we can well afford to “move over a bit” in our tastes/views, etc. A loving family always looks out for each other.” Marietta Garber

I am looking forward to joining you in worship this weekend, celebrating God’s wonderful love for all of us this Sunday!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

How a Charlie Brown Christmas almost wasn’t

A Charlie Brown Christmas, by Charles Schultz celebrated its 50th anniversary on December 1, 2015. If the television producers, however, would have prevailed in the drama behind the scenes, it may not have aired at all. Lee Mendelson, the executive producer of CBS network remembers the response when network executives first viewed the rough cut in November of 1965. They hated the show for two reasons: “It was slow” and “You can’t read the Bible on network television.”

Thankfully, Schultz won the battle. The simple cartoon, which intentionally embraced the true meaning of Christmas and invites viewers to turn away from materialism, had an astounding audience of 50 percent in the first year. It went on to win both an Emmy and a Peabody award. Pop Culture experts today confirm that it is now an icon and that its strength is its back to the basics approach. (cited from Bill Nichols, USA Today, “The Christmas Classic that almost wasn’t”)

This Christmas, I invite you to come back to the basics. Take time to read the second chapter of Luke this month and savor the timeless words of promise:

“For to you is born this day in the City of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord.”

Friends, Jesus is not a dusty, dead character from history. He is a living Savior who has been born for you: One who wants to save you from your grief, your broken relationships, your worry and anxiety and fill you with peace, the peace the angels announced that first Christmas over the town of Bethlehem:

“Glory to God in the highest heaven…..and peace on earth.”

Come back to the basics this Christmas; come and worship our newborn King.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Symbols of Advent

Advent comes from the Latin word “adventus” which means coming. During Advent we celebrate the two comings of Christ: Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem and His promised return in final victory.

In our sanctuary you will see several symbols:

  • Advent Wreath: evergreen branches in a circle, a sign of life of eternal life.
  • Four royal blue candles and banners: Royal blue or purple signifies the royalty of Christ. In the ancient world these colors were the finest and most expensive; these colors invite us to offer Christ our very best.
  • The Christ Candle: The central candle is white, signifying the purity of Christ who is the Light of the World.
  • The Moravian Star: This star, a gift from Gisela Gildemeister, originally from Plauen, Germany, reminds us of Jesus as the Light of the World and the Star of Bethlehem.

Join us as we celebrate Advent, the coming of Christ:

Free Advent Devotionals available. Four people from our community have contributed to this book that aligns with the Advent sermon series.

Friday, December 4, 6:30 pm “The Four Leads,” an award-winning barbershop quartet will sing at the First Friday Niters fellowship group at 8 pm in the sanctuary. Join us for dinner (see News and Happenings to make your reservation) or come for the music!

Friday, December 4, 7:00 pm Saengerfest at Over-the-Rhine Community Church. Our choir sings at 7 pm.

Worship: Sunday mornings: 8:00, 9:00(Chapel Communion service), 9:30, and 11:00 am. Taize worship on Tuesday, December 8, 7:00 pm.

May God bless you richly during your Advent journey!

Peace,
Pastor Cathy

Children’s Letters to God

Stuart Hample and Eric Marshall share some interesting questions asked by children in their delightful compilation, “Children’s Letters to God”:

“In Sunday School they told us what you do. Who does it when you are on vacation?” – Jane

“Dear God, my Grandpa says you were around when he was a little boy. How far back do you go?” – Love, Dennis

“Dear God, do animals use you or is there somebody else for them?” – Nancy

“Dear God, did you mean for the giraffe to look like that or was it an accident?” – Norma

“Dear God, is it true my father won’t get in heaven if he uses his bowling words in the house?” – Anita
There are a lot of opinions out there about who God is and what God does. This week we continue the series “Mythbusters” with the message “The Truth about God.” May God richly bless you this week!

Peace,
Pastor Cathy Johns

Reluctant Thanks

Two grandparents took their three year old to Chuck E. Cheese for pizza, flashing lights, and games. As the grandmother buckled her grandson into the car seat she said, “Now, be sure to say thank you to your Papa.”

Silence. No reaction from the child.

She said, “Did you hear me? Be sure to say thank you.”

Again silence.

She added, “Papa loves doing nice things for his grandchildren, especially when they say thank you.”

Still no response.

Now irritated, she raised her voice saying: “Are you ignoring me?”

The child responded, looked at his grandfather and said: “I’m thankful, Papa. I just don’t want to say it.”

This Sunday, Commitment Sunday, I invite you to say “thank you.” Thank God for your blessings, large and small, by investing in building God’s kingdom in our midst. Because you give, children will learn about Jesus. Because you give, youth will feel encouraged and loved, both inside and outside our walls. Because you give, souls will be nurtured through worship and praise. Because you give, countless lives, near and far, will be touched by the generosity of the people who call Hyde Park Community home.

It has been said that you cannot out give God. Let us respond with grateful, generous, glad hearts to a God who has abundantly blessed us!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

He Chose Gratitude

Harry Genet in his book The Unlikely Thanker, writes:

“German pastor Martin Rinkart served in the walled town of Eilenburg during the horrors of the Thirty Years War of 1618-1648. Eilenburg became an overcrowded refuge for the surrounding area. The fugitives suffered from epidemic and famine. At the beginning of 1637, the year of the Great Pestilence, there were four ministers in Eilenburg.

But one abandoned his post for healthier areas and could not be persuaded to return. Pastor Rinkhart officiated at the funerals of the other two. As the only pastor left, he often conducted services for as many as 40 to 50 persons a day—some 4,480 in all. In May of that year, his own wife died. By the end of the year, the refugees had to be buried in trenches without services.

Yet living in a world dominated by death, Pastor Rinkart wrote the following prayer for his children to offer to the Lord:

Now thank we all our God
With hearts and hands and voices;
Who wondrous things hath done,
In whom this world rejoices.
Who, from our mother’s arms,
Hath led us on our way,
With countless gifts of love,
And still is ours today.”

This Sunday we continue to study the blessings of a grateful heart. Join us as we explore “Managing Your Finances without losing your Soul,” based on I Timothy 6:6-10, 17-18.

May your week be filled with the outflowing of a grateful heart, following Paul’s instructs to the people of Thessaloniki: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (2 Thessalonians 5:15-17)

I am looking forward to celebrating the Lord’s Day with you this Sunday with joyful, grateful hearts!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

What is Worship?

“Worship is delighting in the love of God.” (Jerry Haas)

“Worship is an encounter with the living God through the risen Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, who moves them to worship in diverse ways according to their needs.” (United Methodist Book of Worship)

“Worship is the gathering of God’s people around Word and Sacrament. Here the community affirms its calling, receives gifts of grace, is nourished and strengthened, and sent back into the world to love as God loves.” (Michael W. Foss, ELCA pastor)

Each worship service contains these basic elements: Entrance (coming together in God’s name for prayer, praise, music, and song), Proclamation and Response (scripture, preaching, music, offerings of gifts, prayer, and service for the world and for one another), Thanksgiving and Communion (in services in which Holy Communion is not observed, thanks for God’s mighty acts in Christ are shared), and Sending Forth (God’s people are sent into ministry with the blessing of the Lord).

As we enter the fall, I celebrate the following:

  • Our music staff of Neal Hamlin, Director of Music, Brenda Portman, organist and Chris Schaljo, our new worship leader for Worship @ 11. Neal and Brenda continue to bless us with their strong musical ability and their commitment to serve Christ with excellence. Chris comes to us with a Masters of Music from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music with strength in a variety of music styles including jazz, blues, and gospel. The first gathering for “The Gift,” the musicians who will serve at Worship @ 11, will be held on October 3.
  • Our faithful ushers, greeters, hospitality servants, Viox staff, sanctuary care volunteers, and many who step forward to welcome people into God’s house each week.
  • Our congregation who longs to be a community church who reaches more people for Christ and is committed to expanding worship offerings to connect with more people from our neighborhood through worship. By Christmas we will offer three styles of worship: 8:00 and 9:30 am: Liturgical and Traditional; Worship @ 11, a new worship expression with various styles of music, and Over-the-Rhine Community Church, the new church start where contemporary and gospel music blesses worshipers.
  • Upcoming Vision gatherings, held on Sunday, October 4 and Wednesday, October 7, where Doug and I will share a vision for where God is leading us in 2016.

This Sunday, we will look at what it means to live God’s grace as United Methodists. Come and join us as we celebrate our heritage and what it means to follow Jesus daily.
May God richly bless you this week!
Peace,
Pastor Cathy Johns