“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

A Future With Hope

Church Conference Report:

The prophet Jeremiah spoke God’s reassuring words to the people during a season of rebuilding:

“For surely I know the plans I have for you, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

On Sunday, November 16, Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church voted to accept the invitation of the Ohio River Valley district for Nast Trinity to become a new church start in partnership with Hyde Park Community UMC. The vote, 73 in favor, 0 against with 0 abstentions, will allow a full-time pastor to begin on March 1, serving the community in Over-the-Rhine.

The Nast Trinity Task Force, chaired by Pastor Doug Johns, will be happy to respond to your questions.

Black: The Color of Strength

In the Navajo culture the color black is a symbol of physical strength. As the Body of Christ we can finish 2014 with strength, “in the black!”

As of this writing we are $183,565 in the red.

Thank you to all who have given generously all year. Thank you, too, for those who can help our church finish 2014 with strength through your faithful end-of-the-year giving.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

A Future with Hope

Church Conference Report:

The prophet Jeremiah spoke God’s reassuring words to the people during a season of rebuilding:

“For surely I know the plans I have for you, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

On Sunday, November 16, Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church voted to accept the invitation of the Ohio River Valley district for Nast Trinity to become a new church start in partnership with Hyde Park Community UMC. The vote, 73 in favor, 0 against with 0 abstentions, will allow a full-time pastor to begin on March 1, serving the community in Over-the-Rhine.

The Nast Trinity Task Force, chaired by Pastor Doug Johns, will be happy to respond to your questions.

Black: The Color of Strength

In the Navajo culture the color black is a symbol of physical strength. As the Body of Christ we can finish 2014 with strength, “in the black!”

As of this writing we are $183,565 in the red.

Thank you to all who have given generously all year. Thank you, too, for those who can help our church finish 2014 with strength through your faithful end-of-the-year giving.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

The Truth About The Pilgrims

The winters in New England can be brutal.

The truth about the experience of the first Pilgrims is captured by H.W. Westermeyer below:

The pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts…nevertheless, [they] set aside a day of thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is more than one day!  Giving thanks to God brought joy to those first pilgrims and it can bring deep, abiding joy to us.  We experience Thanksgiving when we….

  • Pray daily to God, thanking God for all our blessings.
  • Commit a financial tithe to the Church, acknowledging that everything we have is from our generous God.
  • Attend worship weekly to draw closer to God.

Stewardship Campaign Update:

As the pilgrims brought their food to the table with thankful hearts, people in our faithful community are bringing in their pledges for the healing, transforming work of God through Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church for 2015.

Here is the latest update:
Pledges Received through 11/12: 247
Income Pledged for 2105 through 11/12:  $1,157,462

To those of you who have stepped forward with your commitments to God’s work among us, thank you!

May God continue to move among us, stirring us to give thanks as the pilgrims did – with glad and generous hearts.

Peace,
Pastor Cathy Johns

Salty Saints

This Sunday is All Saints Sunday. The United Methodist Book of Worship explains:

“All Saints (November 1 or the first Sunday of November) is a day of remembrance for all the saints, with the New Testament meaning of all Christian people of every time and place. We celebrate the communion of saints as we remember the faithful departed, both of the Church universal and of our local congregations.”

Jesus teaches us to be the “light of the world” and the “salt of the earth.” Salt adds flavor and also preserves. Here are a few “salty saints” who have blessed my life, sometimes adding flavor, and sometimes preserving me through times of trial:

Don, my father, who taught me the importance of trusting God, always, and responding to God’s goodness with a glad and generous heart.

Sue, a cancer patient, who continued to come to church and set the table for Holy Communion until the last month of her life.

Steve, who served as a Stephen Minister and never wavered in his devotion to always serve Christ with passion and joy.

Deb, whose life was a song of joy, who sang on a praise team and encouraged many, including me, to keep the faith during tough seasons of life.

Today I invite you to come up with your own list of “salty saints,” people who have blessed your life. Stop and give thanks to God for each life that has flavored and preserved you. Finally, pray for God to help you step up as you strive to give your life away for others so that some day you will be remembered as a “salty saint!”

Cathy Johns