So that God’s works might be revealed

In John 9:1-2 the disciples ask Jesus a question that has its roots in a theology that was prevalent in the early first century and is present in the early 21st century: our disabilities, illnesses and disasters are God’s punishment for our sin. Jesus taught his disciples and teaches you and me: God does not use our disabilities and illnesses as punishment for our sins, but God will redeem (claim as God’s own) our disabilities, and God’s works will be revealed through them.

In the man born blind encounter with Jesus we find Jesus takes us back to creation, all of who we are and are called to be is sacred, and unalterably connected to our Creator who says creation is “Very Good”; God’s works are revealed in God’s Beloved. John Philip Newell, 20th/21st century theologian helps us see this reality through the words of my favorite early church father, Irenaeus (130-202).

“Irenaeus taught that the whole of creation flows from the very ‘substance’ of God. . . . Irenaeus passionately taught that the substance of the earth and its creatures carries within itself the life of the Holy One. God, he said, is both ‘above us all and in us all.’ . . . The work of Jesus, he taught, was not to save us from our nature but to restore us to our nature and to bring us back into relationship with the deepest sound within creation. . . . Irenaeus sees Jesus not as speaking a new word but as uttering again the first word, this sound at the beginning and the heart of life.” (Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation, Tuesday , March 13, 2018)

Irenaeus captures the core essence of who Jesus is and what Jesus teaches specifically in this account of the “man born blind”. Sinfulness does not cause our disabilities (and we all have them), but God redeems and uses our disabilities in such a way that God’s works are revealed, we find healing and possess abundant life, restored to our “nature.”   Like the “man born blind” we are awakened to this reality as we encounter Jesus, the Christ. I look forward to seeing you in church!

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

Resurrection: Fiction or Fact?

Let’s face it:  Someone rising from the dead is not something that happens every day.  Like us, the people in first century Israel would have had a hard time wrapping their minds around The Resurrection.

The Pharisees, whose responsibility was to help the people keep the laws of Moses, did believe in The Resurrection. Brad H. Young, in Paul, The Jewish Theologian writes: “The Jewish people believed that God created the world. Our physical world is God’s creation, and it is good. The Pharisees, in contrast to the Greco-Roman religious beliefs, vigorously affirmed the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. The Pharisees stressed a literal resurrection of the physical body, which would be reunited with the spirit of an individual. Their worldview embraced a future restoration of God’s original design for his world. The Pharisees envisioned a time of redemption in which God would realign the physical creation with the ethereal (unearthly) realm.”  The Sadducees did not embrace resurrection, immortality of the soul, or spirits and angels.  Additionally leaders of the Sadducees functioned as priests while leaders of the Pharisees were called rabbis.

This Sunday, Pastor Cathy Johns will offer a unique perspective on what happened in Bethany when Lazarus walked out of the tomb as recorded in John 11.  Invite a friend to join you this Sunday; may God richly bless you this week!


Pastor Cathy Johns


When Nicodemus converses with Jesus he is introduced to a new understanding of living in relationship with God and those God loves.  Drawing upon a birthing metaphor, Jesus impresses upon Nicodemus the need for humanity to leave behind the dualistic thinking of the day (which still controls much of our lives today) and be “born again”.  This rebirth means leaving the dualism of the world behind and living into God’s acts of new creation! This rebirth means discarding the “fire insurance” teaching that most of Christianity has reduced our relationship with God to be; as the saying goes, “We are so heavenly focused they are no earthly good”.

Jesus is not saying we must be “born again” so when we die we can escape the fires of hell (fire insurance) and make our way to heaven.  We must be “born again” if we are to leave behind the dualism of our culture and reflect the image and likeness of God in the world we live. Born again we actively become participants in God’s acts of new creation.  Bishop N.T. Wright puts it this way in his book, Surprised by Scripture:

“The question of how you think about the ultimate future has an obvious direct impact on how you think about the task of the church in the present time.  To put it crudely and at the risk of caricaturing: if you suppose that the present world of space, time, and matter is a thoroughly bad thing, then the task is to escape from this world and enable as many others to do so as possible.  If you go that route, you will most likely end up in some form of Gnosticism, and the gnostic has no interest in improving the lot of human beings, or the state of the physical universe, in the present time.  Why wall paper the house if it’s going to be knocked down tomorrow?” (P.84-85)

God is a God of new creation, here, now.  The words of Jesus have been hijacked, it’s time for the church to reclaim the power of Jesus’ words for transformational living: You must be “born again”. Rebirth aligns us with God’s vision for creation here, now, today.  To be “born again” puts us at the center of God’s work in the world. Therefore, this world is not something that is to be endured and ultimately escape, but it is a place that mirrors the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. I look forward to seeing you in Church!

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

Some Things Never Change

A lot has changed since the days of Jesus, but some things are still the same.  People have never been fond of taxes or the people who collect them.   Here’s a fun riddle:   

Q:  How much did the IRS take from the moon?

A:  Four quarters

(Trust me!  This is one of the more “mild” jokes I could locate.)

This Sunday we continue our sermon series called “Awakened!”  Each week we take a look at a person whose path crossed the path of Jesus of Nazareth; they were never the same following their encounter with Jesus, who is the Christ.   

This week we will study Matthew, the tax collector, who was invited by Jesus to be a part of changing the world.  Jesus simply said to him, “Follow me.”  What followed was an immediate response, without excuses.  The writer of Matthew’s gospel records after Jesus’ invitation:   “he got up and followed him.”  Matthew is so excited about closing up shop and following Jesus that he invites Jesus to join his friends at a dinner party in his home…that’s where all the real drama happens!

Join us this Sunday for a “deep dive” into this important conversation with Matthew, the dinner party, and Jesus’ response to the critical onlookers.

May God richly bless you as you seek ways to model Christ who chose mercy and grace over marginalization and judgment.


Pastor Cathy Johns

Hibernation or Participation?

We are currently in the heart of February! The days are still cold and short. The weather often cannot decide between snow and freezing rain. And overall we feel the pull toward hibernation with the rest of creation. There is a general sleepiness that comes with February, where the luster of early winter has dulled but Spring is still a ways off.

For me personally, February is always a month that tempts me to be complacent. To just wait for Spring to come before I’m active again. It’s easy to want to just hunker down, stay home as much as possible and shut out the rest of the world. And while many of us need to do a better job of getting rest, Jesus never calls us into complacency. Our God is a God of action, of calling the Church into participation with the work of the Holy Spirit throughout our communities.

As we step into the first days of Lent and begin preparing our hearts for the coming celebration of Easter, may we remember that it’s even in these days of preparation that Jesus invites us into walking with him, just as he did with seemingly every person he encountered in his ministry while on this earth. Whether a random encounter with a woman at a well or a tax collector hiding in a tree, Jesus has always called us to WAKE UP to the work he is doing and joining in.

Pastor Ian

Faith and Science

It seems for centuries we’ve insisted on perpetuating a war between faith and science.  Implicitly or explicitly we’ve been told we have to pick a side.  However, recently the conversation has shifted and we are beginning to see a number of Theologians and Scientists come together and provide an alternative of both/and.

Bishop N.T. Wright in his book, Surprised by Scripture, writes about the debate that in many ways is unique to Americans:

“I want to point out that the way the science and religion debate is conducted and perceived in North America is significantly different from the ways analogous debates are conducted and perceived elsewhere . . .  I want to suggest that this is at least partly because of the essentially and explicitly Epicurean (Google if you don’t know anything about Epicureanism) underpinnings of the social self-understanding of the United States since the late eighteenth century – and that the standoff between science and religion in America is therefore analogous to, and indeed bound up at quite a deep level with, the standoff between church and state, or religion and politics, or however you like to put it, so that you can’t address one of these topics without implicitly addressing all of them. . .   I want to propose that we therefore need a much more radical rethink of the underlying worldviews we are dealing with than we have normally contemplated in our science and religion discussions.”  (P.2)

This “radical rethink”, unifying science and religion, is underway and we are better off because of it.  Thus, we welcome Science Mike this weekend as he helps move forward the conversation.

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

Ask Science Mike!

On Saturday, February 10th, you will have an opportunity to participate in a seminar with Mike McHargue, internationally known as “Science Mike,” at Hyde Park Community.  On Sunday, February 11th, Science Mike will preach at all three services.  Dr. Evan Yeung, Chair of this Faith and Science event, sponsored by the Bishop Emerson and Jane Colaw Lecture/Leadership Endowment writes:

“Science Mike is a former fundamentalist Baptist deacon and Sunday school teacher who became an atheist for 2 years after a crisis of faith.  A profound experience brought him back to God, but in a very different way than before.   Science Mike cohosts The Liturgists Podcast, which is reshaping how the spiritually homeless and frustrated relate to God.  His bestselling debut book, Finding God in the Waves, has helped thousands understand the interplay between science and faith in the 21st century.

Thanks to the Bishop Emerson and Jane Colaw Lecture/Leadership Endowment Fund, HPCUMC is able to offer this event free to all attendees as a gift to the community.

Science Mike Live in Cincinnati will take place on Saturday, February 10, at 7:00 pm here in our sanctuary. Before the event there will be a free spaghetti dinner hosted by the UMW beginning at 5:30 pm, where donations will be taken for their missions in our community.”

Join us on Saturday, February 10th, and Sunday morning for worship, and invite a friend, relative, acquaintance or neighbor to join you!

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

Dancing with God, You are Invited!

The Trinity is a doctrine that has been an integral part of Christianity for over 19 centuries.  Throughout the ages people, groups, councils have tried to help us understand the “Blessed Trinity”.  But yet in so many ways we have fallen short, and the doctrine of the trinity has been something we’ve been told is foundational to the Christian faith; “but don’t try to understand it, just believe it.”

Our lives are created and sustained in the mystery of the Trinity.  There is value in moving beyond just believing.  There is value in embracing and experiencing the awe-filled mystery that is the Blessed Trinity!  Through the Trinitarian nature of God, God speaks, “You are my beloved!”

In the forward to Father Richard Rohr’s book, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation, William Paul Young writes:

“There is a rising rumble, like a midnight train approaching through the wastelands.  Not only do we hear it from the distance, but also we can feel it if we put our hands on the ground or in the water or in the torn bread and poured-out wine.  The rumor in the deep places of our souls is that there is a party going on, and we can scarce trust our invitation.  Could there ever be a toast raised to us?  Might a hand reach out and lead us into the divine dance, whispering in our ears that we were always made for this?  And so we wait for the kiss, the breath in and out that awakens our sleeping heart to life.  We were made for this, utterly found within Relentless Affection!” (Page 21)

Encounter and experience the beautiful reality of the Trinity, we were made for this!  Invited to the party we are fully immersed in the mystery of God, three in one; flowing through the God-head discovering what it truly means to be God’s beloved.  I look forward to immersing ourselves in this mystery as we discover what it means to be a part of “the flow”, as we lean into the dance, participants in God’s acts of new creation!  See you in Church.

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

Why A Welcome Lunch?

Sunday, January 21, 12:15 p.m.

Every effective leader should be able to tell you in one sentence why their organization does something. For example, a school principal should be able to “make a case” for keeping children inside for recess on a cold day. The answer should align with the values of the school:  perhaps safety and health.

The “why” is something that drives home the values and vision of the organization. The Church, charged with making disciples of Jesus for the transformation of the world, has the same requirement of aligning “what” we do with “why” we do it.

What, then, is the “why” of inviting newcomers to a Welcome Lunch?  We host Welcome lunches  so that people who are new to our faith community will experience God’s love through a warm welcome that helps them feel “at home” in God’s house. Making disciples of Jesus Christ happens when strangers become friends, friends become disciples, and disciples change the world.

This Sunday, if you are a new person to our faith community, you are invited to join us for lunch in the Welcome Center at 12:15 p.m.  Reservations are not needed.  The hospitality team will provide delicious homemade soups and salads. We hope you can join us and experience the love of God through our community of faith.


Pastor Cathy Johns

Romania- Way of Faith UMC

Rev. Rares Calugar, Pastor of Way of Faith UMC, and the equivalent to our District Superintendent for the three United Methodist Churches in Romania, is visiting the United States January 12th-22nd, preaching at Hyde Park Community UMC, at all three services on January 14.  Pastor Rares has a passion for connecting with people labeled “less than” and “unworthy”.

Hyde Park Community UMC’s newest partnership is with Pastor Rares and the church he’s appointed to, The Way of Faith UMC church in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.  Way of Faith UMC is new to the UMC worldwide, and our partnership with them allows for their vision to become reality.

In 2017 we helped provide The Way of Faith UMC the opportunity for sustainability and growth within their programming. Alfa Grup is one of the main outreach missions for the church and its members. Working with the orphans in the city of Cluj and its surrounding villages (spanning about 90 km in any direction) is only possible if the group’s leadership has provision as well. Through our partnership, the program directors are able to continue to focus on building into the lives of orphans ranging from infancy through teenage years without worrying about whether they will have to find another job.

In 2017, HPCUMC committed $3,500, from the Christmas and Easter Global Ministry offering in support of the ministry of the Way of Faith UMC in Romania.  Your extravagant generosity to the Christmas and Easter offerings is an investment in the transformation of the lives of orphans in Cluj-Napoca, as well as encouragement and support of those who are on the front lines of working with them.  In addition, the Servant Leadership Board approved a grant from the Carl and Alice Bimel Endowment for support of the Alfa Grup.  Thank you for your support!

We welcome our Brother in Christ, Pastor Rares, and celebrate the many ways The Way of Life UMC is partnering with God to bring God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.  I look forward to seeing you in Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug