Even Presidents Have to Listen to their Mothers

When Laura Bush was First Lady she recalled one overnight visit with her husband in the home of his parents, the former President and Mrs. Bush.

“George woke up at 6:00 am as usual and went downstairs to get a cup of coffee,” Laura shared. “And he sat down on the sofa with his parents and put his feet up. And all of a sudden, Barbara Bush yelled, ‘Put your feet down!’
“George’s dad replied, ‘For goodness’ sake, Barbara, he’s the President of the United States.’
“And Barbara said, ‘I don’t care. I don’t want his feet on my table.'”
The president promptly did as he was told, for as Mrs. Bush observed, “Even Presidents have to listen to their mothers.”
(from John McCaslin, The Washington Times “Inside the Beltway” (11-12-03)

This Sunday Rev. Don Dixon, who served here at Hyde Park Community United Methodist for fifteen years, will preach a sermon based on Matthew 25. His message, “God still speaking,” will invite us to open our minds and hearts to what God is doing in and around us today. God is ever-present in our world and invites us to step into what God is already doing. Invite a friend to join you; and mothers, enjoy your special day!

Pastor Cathy

Bridge over Troubled Water

Visitors to the Grand Canyon all find themselves saying the same thing: “This is really big!” The towering walls of the canyon separated by several miles take our breath away. One of the seven wonders of the world, the canyon is about 227 miles long, 18 miles wide, and is 5,000 miles deep.

Have there been times when you felt separated from God, as if God were standing on one side of the Grand Canyon and miles and miles divided you?

This Sunday’s scripture from Romans 8:31-39 proclaims “nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” How is that possible? Human beings are capable of doing awful things to one another! Paul explains that nothing in all creation, not life, not death, not things from the past, not things in the present, not principalities (territories) or powers, nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God through our Risen Christ.

Jesus, who is the Christ, God’s Son, came to us to teach us to love God and one another and to set us free from sin and death. He laid down His very body, to reveal the depth of God’s love for us. Jesus’ body closed the gap that we created between us and God and makes a bridge that unites us with our loving God, who longs to be in an intimate relationship with us.

Simon and Garfunkel released a song in January 1970 that is a timeless classic. The refrain gives us a wonderful picture of theology, a glimpse of God’s relationship with humanity:

“Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down.”

“Because He Lives,” our new sermon series continues this weekend. Celebrate the joy that we experience because of the relationship we have with God through our Risen Christ. No matter how sad or broken you feel, know that God loves you and will never let you go. Come and walk across the bridge to God. God is waiting and eager to welcome you home.
Joy in our Risen Lord,

Pastor Cathy

Easter: The Rest of the Story

Paul Harvey became famous for his column, “The Rest of the Story.” Harvey became well-loved for his clever stories which helped us get a new perspective on the news and life. For over 50 years he shared amazing stories with people across our nation.

For some Easter is simply a day when we gather to hunt for chocolate eggs to fill our Easter baskets. For some Easter is a day to go to the mandatory “Easter Family Brunch.” For others it is a day to celebrate a day that changed everything.

Easter is the foundation of Christianity. Dr. Leander Keck puts it well:

“Without Easter, there is no Christian faith.”

Easter is the day when we celebrate a God who defeated sin and death and offers us new life through Jesus Christ. New chapters of life open up to us because of Easter!

“The rest of the story” is about a journey of healing and wholeness, celebrating our victory over sin and death because Christ rose from the dead. We join the chorus through the centuries celebrating the great news: Christ is Risen! Alleluia!

At Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church we invite you to be a part of our faith community, a group of people that are committed to walking together, praying for one another, and supporting each other in Christian love. Here are a few ways that you can deepen your walk with God and get acquainted here:

  • Sign up for a new “Because He Lives” Connect Group. These small groups gather in homes and will use a brand new resource written by some of our Hyde Park Community clergy. Please contact Dave Weaver: dweaver@hpcumc.org or 979-8184.
  • Attend the First Friday Nighters Event: Friday, April 10. You are invited to come for a catered meal ($10) ; Brian Geist will share his journey on the Appalachian Trail.
  • Visit our website to see all that we offer for children, youth, adult, mission, and music ministries: www.hpcumc.org.

You are invited to be a part of the rest of the story of Easter: We would love to have you join us in the adventure!

Joy in our Risen Lord,

Pastor Cathy

“Stressed Out? Worried?”

You might be surprised by the results of a recent survey which tracked the top temptations faced by Americans. The people surveyed said they struggled with the following temptations either “often” or “sometimes”:

• Worrying or being anxious—60 percent
• Procrastinating or putting things off—60 percent
• Eating too much—55 percent
• Spending too much time on media—44 percent
• Being lazy—41 percent
• Spending more money than they could afford—35 percent
• Gossiping about others—26 percent
• Being jealous or envious of others—24 percent
• Viewing pornography or sexually explicit material—18 percent
• Abusing alcohol or drugs—11 percent

When asked if they tried to do anything specific to avoid giving in to a temptation, 41 percent said yes and 59 percent said no.
When people were asked why they give in to temptations, the top four reasons were:

• I am not really sure—50 percent
• To escape or get away from “real life”—20 percent
• To feel less pain or loneliness—8 percent
• To satisfy other people’s expectations of me—7 percent

Reported in Todd Hunter, Our Favorite Sins (Thomas Nelson, 2012), pp. 237-245.

Join us Sunday morning as we continue the sermon series: “The Radical Way of Jesus.” This Sunday’s topic is “Peace.” Jesus had a lot to teach us about how to handle worry and manage stress in the Sermon on the Mount.

Please invite a friend to join you or someone that might need some tools to help them achieve lasting peace in their lives.

Peace,
Pastor Cathy Johns

Anger Management

True story from the L.A. Times:

Judge tells Public Defender: ‘If you want to fight let’s go out back.’

Last June a brawl broke out in a Florida courtroom. The parties involved were Judge John Murphy and public defender Andrew Weinstock. The argument began as Judge Murphy tried to convince the defense lawyer to waive his client’s rights to a speedy trail, but the defense lawyer was not interested. Things heated up to the point that Judge Murphy said, “You know, if I had a rock, I would throw it at you right now. Just sit down.” Weinstock responded, “You know I’m the public defender. I have a right to be here and I have a right to stand and represent my client.” The video reveals that the judge asks the defense lawyer to step into the back hallway, saying, “If you want to fight, let’s go out back.” Outside of the view of the cameras the fight broke out.

No video recording is available of the fight, but the sounds of loud thuds and scuffling were obvious. The fight ended when two deputies separated the two men. A reassignment was given to the attorney so that he and the judge would not have future interaction. Judge Murphy voluntarily chose a leave of absence, stating he would seek anger management counseling.

This week we continue our Lenten sermon series: “The Radical Way of Jesus: Anger Management.” This message reveals Jesus’ teachings about responding to difficult people and situations in positive ways. We look forward to seeing you this Sunday; invite a friend to join you!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Update From Pastor Cathy and the Worship Task Force

During the Vision Weekend last October several task initiatives were launched to help our congregation maximize our effectiveness in making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. One of those initiatives was the formation of the Worship Task Force. It has representation from all of our current worship offerings. This group was charged with evaluating our current worship and recommending worship options that will both reflect our diversity and connect new people to our faith community through worship. We have been evaluating our current worship experiences asking both “Who is here?” and “Who is not here?” as we seek to be faithful to our call to reach people with the love of Christ.

In early summer a proposal will be brought to the Servant Leadership Board from the Worship Task Force. Since December the group has been praying for God’s leading, evaluating all of our current worship services in both of our locations in Hyde Park and Nast Community, making field trips to other churches, and gathering data about our neighbors who live in our community.

The Worship Planning Team, our pastors and staff with worship responsibilities and the Worship Task Force are in full agreement. In order to allow time for God to reveal to us a worship strategy for the next chapter of our life together as a worshipping congregation, we recommend the following:

+Blended Family Worship will be put on hold after March 1. Feedback is being requested of families so that future plans can address their needs.

+Tuesday Evening Prayer Worship will also be put on hold after March 24, with the exception of Taize which will continue on the second Tuesday of the month.

The ultimate goal: To provide worship experiences that draw people to Christ, by reaching new people and meeting the needs of our current individuals and families.

Your prayers for wisdom and strength are appreciated and cherished. Thank you for your support during this exciting time of discovering God’s plans for our future together as a worshipping community of faith.

Pastor Cathy

Jesus: A Wild and Craaaazzy Guy!

The celebration of Saturday Night Live’s 40th Anniversary brought back memories and smiles. Characters like Rosanne Rosannadanna, played by the late Gilda Radnor, and the Blues Brothers, played by Dan Akyroyd and the late John Belushi, brought laughter into our homes for four decades.

Steve Martin, who holds the record for hosting the most Saturday Night Live shows with 13, brought back fond memories of a “wild and craaazzzy guy!”

Our Lenten journey begins this week with a new sermon series “The Radical Way of Jesus.” The definition of “radical” is intriguing:

+ very new and different from what is traditional or ordinary
+ very basic and important
+ having extreme political or social views that are not shared by most people.

In the Sermon on the Mount, the cornerstone of Jesus’ teaching ministry, we discover radical teachings from Jesus, the Christ, who came to teach us how to live. Join us for this powerful Lenten preaching series on Sunday mornings as we explore what Jesus has to say about managing anger, loving our enemies, and replacing worry with peace.

Jesus, a wild and crazy guy, calls us to live a life that go against the grain of our culture. Invite a friend to join you in exploring what it means to follow the radical way of Jesus.

Peace,
Pastor Cathy Johns

Lions, and Tigers, and Bears, Oh my!

All of us remember with fondness Dorothy’s walk through the forest on the yellow brick road. Accompanied by her two new friends, the Tin Man and the Scarecrow, and her faithful dog, Toto, the group encounters a lion. They are all terrified of course! Lions are known as the king of the beasts for a reason.

This lion, is not your ordinary lion, but a cowardly one. The Cowardly Lion has circles under his eyes because he has trouble falling asleep. One of Dorothy’s companions suggests that he try counting sheep. The lion explains that he cannot count sheep because he is afraid of them too!

Toto steps up to face the lion and begins to bark. When the lion chases after the dog, Dorothy scolds the lion. The Cowardly Lion begins to cry.

In our scripture for this Sunday, Daniel faces lions. He is thrown into a den of lions because he holds on to his integrity. Daniel refused to stop praying to God, continuing to pray three times a day in front of an open window. Daniel refused the king’s rich food and observed the dietary laws of his faith. Daniel trusts God and keeps his faith. God protects and shields Daniel from harm, shutting the mouths of the lions.

If you are experiencing a time of stress and challenge today, I offer this prayer to remind you of our God, the God of Daniel, who stands with us always, even when we face lions:

Eternal God, You call us to trust You. Many people clamor around us, trying to tell us what to do. Tune our ears to hear only Your voice over the din of noise. As we face challenges in our lives, remind us that You still stand with Your people among dens of lions, protecting us and shielding us from harm. Help us to place our hand in Yours, keep our faith and our integrity, and always trust that You are a God who keeps Your promises. We pray in the name of Jesus, who is our strength and our song, Amen.

May God fill you with the courage of Daniel, today and always!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Favorite Questions from Toddlers

If you have ever had a conversation of more than three minutes with a four-year old you have probably heard some interesting questions:

Why do we have snow?
Do cats and dogs go to heaven?
How big is the ocean?
Where does God live?

Toddlers, of course, are not the only ones asking questions! The toughest set of questions seems to be the ones that start with “Why?”

Why did Grandma get sick?
Why did we have to move?
Why did my friend die?
How can bad things happen to good people?

This month we are taking a look at suffering in a new sermon series: “Walking through the Darkness.” During these wintry months of extended darkness we will explore what the Bible teaches about walking through times of trial.

Join us this Sunday as we explore the question: “Why Does God allow suffering?” Invite a friend who is going through a tough time to join you. It will be a morning filled with encouragement and the deep, abiding joy that is ours as children of God!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Joseph and God’s Master Plan

Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, played a significant role in the first Christmas. The gospel writers do not share many details about the life of Joseph, but we do know that he was faithful to God’s call upon his life. As a carpenter, he would have taught Jesus how to make a living, working with wood. As a father, along with Mary, he would have helped build a loving family.

This Sunday’s text, Matthew 1:18-24, reminds us of the importance of being open to the movement of the Holy Spirit among us. Like Joseph, we may have all of our plans laid out, perfectly organized to move forward. God many times has a “Plan B” for us, a plan that aligns with God’s ultimate Will for our lives. Joseph found himself at a crossroads. Trusting God and believing Mary as she came to tell him of her visit from the angel would have required deep faith. Joseph’s visit from the angel of the Lord helped Joseph decide how to move forward: “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-21)

As a congregation we are beginning to execute a Master Plan for our building. Architects from MSA have started to have conversations with staff and some of our lay people in leadership roles. We are seeking input on the needs – both current and future – for our congregation. Gathering this data from the congregation will be critical as a Master Plan develops for our facilities. A study of the use of our current buildings and hopes and dreams for the future for the resources of our physical space will help us to maximize our effectiveness as we seek to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Your input is requested. Please mark your calendars and join in the conversation!

Dates for Congregational Gatherings for Master Plan:

January 18, Sunday, 10:30 am : at Nast Community UMC
January 18, Sunday, 12:30 pm: at Hyde Park Community UMC
January 24, Saturday, 10:00 am: at Hyde Park Community UMC
February 2, Monday, 6:30 pm: at Hyde Park Community UMC

Moving forward to address current and future needs for effective ministry through our facilities may seem like a daunting, scary task. But the good news is: God is with us! May we all learn from Joseph and Mary that the words the angel spoke that first Christmas season are true: “With God, all things are possible!”

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns