BlogDecember 5, 2013Celebrating Christmas Merry Christmas! As we come to the end of this year and step into 2014, let me encourage you to:
SHARE WORDS OF CARE AND KINDNESS
Between now and the first of the year make time to share words and actions of care and kindness. Consider the following:
Think of one person you know who needs a kind, supportive, caring, encouraging word. Think of one person who needs to be embraced by God's love.
Pray for that person every day between today and New Year's Day. Pray for their health and well-being and for God's goodness to be revealed in his/her life.
Become God's instrument of love and peace in that person's life so that God can reach out and touch him or her through you. Write a note, send an email or a text, make a phone call, or make a short surprise visit.
At an appropriate time invite that person to be your guest in worship either at our Hyde Park Campus or our Downtown Campus.
PARTICIPATE IN WORSHIP
Celebrate in worship with family and friends this Christmas season in the following worship services:
December 15, We will celebrate with our four regular Sunday worship services. The three traditional worship services in the Hyde Park Sanctuary at 8:00, 9:30, and 11:00 am, and worship at our Downtown Campus at 9:30 am.
December 15, The Cathedral Choir and Orchestra will present Handel’s “Messiah” at 4:00 pm in the Hyde Park Sanctuary.
December 22, The Sunday before Christmas. We will celebrate with our four regular Sunday worship services. The three traditional worship services in the Hyde Park Sanctuary at 8:00, 9:30, and 11:00 am, and worship at our Downtown Campus at 9:30 am.
December 24, Christmas Eve Worship – (Six worship services) On Tuesday evening we will celebrate in worship with candle lighting at 4:00, 6:00, 8:30, and 11:00 pm in the Sanctuary at our Hyde Park Campus. We will celebrate in worship with candle lighting at 3:30 and 5:30 pm at our Downtown Campus.
December 29, Sunday Worship – We will continue our celebration of Christmas in three Sunday morning worship services at 8:00, 9:30, and 11:00 am with Dave Weaver preaching at our Hyde Park Campus and worship at 9:30 am with Jim Milner preaching at our Downtown Campus.
PARTICIPATE BY OFFERING YOURSELF AND YOUR SUPPORT IN MISSION
What better way to prepare to receive God’s great gift to us than by offering our gifts to others through our Christmas Offering which supports our Global Outreach ministries?
DON’T FORGET TO CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS
Take time to read the Christmas story and to sing the Christmas carols with family and friends. Make time to share with one another how God has blessed your life and how your life has changed because of Christ.
May the joy of Jesus be yours this Christmas and every day throughout the coming year !
November 27, 2013Connect Groups: Growing Together in Christian FellowshipRichard Halverson, former Chaplain to the United States Senate, wrote:
"In the beginning, the church was a fellowship of men and women who centered their lives on the living Christ. They had a personal relationship with the Lord. It transformed them and the world around them. Then the church moved to Greece, where it became a philosophy. Later it moved to Rome, where it became an institution. Next it moved to Europe, where it became a culture. Finally it moved to the United States, where it became an enterprise. We have far too many churches and too few fellowships."
How do we best grow a Christian fellowship that moves away from being an enterprise to a fellowship of women and men whose lives are transformed in and through Christian community? How do we best develop a community of faith where people experience the living God and are actively involved in ministries that work for the transformation of our community and the world?
When we look at our biblical and historical roots we find the Wesley class meeting (small groups) is the best model. The class meeting is in our genes. It is who we are as United Methodist Christians. It is who we are as descendants of John Wesley.
Wesley taught that one of the five works of piety, an instituted means of grace, was Christian fellowship or what he called the Christian conference. It was through the “class meeting” that true Christian fellowship (koinonia) took place.
The importance Wesley placed in this means of grace can be seen in two remarks he made. On occasion, he stated that “preaching like an apostle without joining together those that are awakened and training them up in the way of God, is only begetting children for the murderer.”
(John Wesley’s Message for Today, page 84).
This was his opinion after a visit of Penbrokeshire where there were no regular societies, class meetings, or small groups. His evaluation was that “the consequence is that nine of the ten once awakened are now faster asleep than ever.” He was fully convinced that wherever this dimension of discipleship was lost, Methodism would cease to be a vital movement. (John Wesley’s Message for Today, page 84).
The purpose of any small group ministry is to assist persons to grow spiritually and to be actively involved in making a significant difference in the lives of the people they meet each day. The purpose is to provide the fellowship of one loving heart setting another on fire. Biblically we can say that the purpose of small groups is to:
Care for one another…I Corinthians 12:25
Encourage…and build up one another...I Thessalonians 5:11
Accept one another…Romans 15:7
Stimulate one another to love and good deeds…Hebrews 10:24
Don't give up meeting with one another…Hebrews 10:25
Grow deeper in our faith…Matthew 6:33
At HPCUMC, one of the instruments or ministries through which we grow in Christian faith, experience Christian community, and experience God’s love in transforming ways is small groups (Connect Groups).
Make plans today to participate in the Advent study Christmas Is Not Your Birthday. Let the Connect Group experience be your pathway to Christmas.
Whenever the church has been its strongest, small groups, cell groups, accountability groups, and class meetings have been at the heart of the movement. Maybe Richard Halverson was correct when he wrote, “We have far too many churches and too few fellowships."
November 22, 2013Returning to Grace: Out of Control and Into Life “But because of his great love for us God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
“When I came to Hyde Park Community UMC, as a husband and a young father I was in a mode of ‘I’m in control. That’s what fathers do.’” Paul Lisi, his wife Gretchen and their two children, Philip and Pamela, began attending Hyde Park Community UMC 21 years ago. Today, Paul shares his experiences of God’s grace inside and outside the walls of the church.
“Our first Sunday we were blown away when Pamela, who was then just three, brought home and discussed something she had learned in Sunday School. We thought, ‘Wow, this is cool, the Word was shared with the kids at a level they understood.’” Paul and Gretchen found HPCUMC to be a welcoming, family-friendly community and soon the whole Lisi family was involved.
Over time, Paul has come to learn that he is not in control at all, but he is invited to become “alive with Christ”…and in his faith life, he has been guided to some unexpected places!
Once, when driving to work, Paul saw a man on the side of the road next to a broken down car. Something told Paul to stop, and so despite being late for work, he stopped and offered help. Another time, after church, the Lisi family gave a ride to a stranger who needed to get to the hospital. A few days later, the stranger called back, and asked Paul to take him for a bite to eat. “I thought, ‘God, what are you doing to me?’” Paul explains, but they went for dinner, and they talked together, and they listened to each other. It was a simple conversation that brought new life to the faith stories of both men.
“There was a time in worship,” Paul explains, “when I felt the person who was speaking was hurting. It had to be the Holy Spirit working. I didn’t know why it was happening, but after worship, I went up to the speaker and told him I loved him, and I meant it. It was a special connection, and I was so moved, I was saying it through tears.”
By God’s grace, we are led to come alive with the love we have been so freely given. In that moment of mysterious prompting, we can trust in God’s invitation, let go of control, and live into God’s guidance.
“The amazing thing is, when I was a young father, I was all about me, and about doing what was right for my family.” Paul reflects, “Our walk of faith is personal, it’s about family, and it’s also about other people. We all have a role in that walk, and we are all a part of someone else’s walk. We are in collaboration with God and with others. The Lord has taken me to a better place…and Hyde Park Community UMC has had a significant role in that. In the end, it’s all about the grace and peace the Lord has given us so that we can say…yes.”
This year’s stewardship emphasis is Returning to Grace. This emphasis reminds us that we are not only moving from our Erie building back to our Grace building, we are responding to God’s grace through our commitment to the mission and ministry of Hyde Park Community UMC. As we respond with our commitment cards, let us be a community that is indeed “alive with Christ.”
Find out more about Returning to Grace at hydeparkchurch.org/about-us/stewardship.