Happy New Year 2018

I’m not sure what your hopes, dreams and aspirations are for the New Year. Better health? Better job? Better relationships? Better home? Better…whatever?  Each year most people at least ponder on what kind of a New Year’s resolution they will start off with to better their life in some way.  What about you?

I have a suggestion: What about your prayer life in 2018? I would venture to say most would agree that the spiritual discipline or practice of prayer is vitally important. What steps are you willing to take to have a better prayer life?

We are starting a new sermon series this Sunday titled: Breakthrough Prayer. It’s our hope this will help us to better understand prayer and create a deeper desire to become more intentional in the practice of prayer. Prayer is about our union with God.

Here are a several quotes that might spur you on in considering a better prayer life:

“The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.” Soren Kierkegard

“Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.” Mother Teresa

“To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” Martin Luther

“The neglect of prayer is a grand hindrance to holiness. In souls filled with love, the desire to please God is continual prayer.” John Wesley

I certainly have not fully arrived in my prayer life. But what I do know when I’m in prayer is the sense of the presence and power of God. And many times when, or after praying, I’ve experienced some form of “breakthrough transformation.” To list a few…A forgiving spirit. Being less judgmental. Peace of mind and heart. More kind and loving. Better discernment in decisions.

It’s my hope you will experience new transformation in 2018 through prayer! Happy New Year!

Pastor Dave

The Power of Connection, Sharing, and Mutuality

When you were younger, who were influential people in your faith journey?

“The number one predictive factor as to whether or not a young Christian will retain his or her faith is whether that person has a meaningful relationship with an older Christian.” -D. Dyck

There is a temptation in the life of the Church to segregate the generations. However the Body of Christ is meant to be multi-generational as we work together to continue the work of Jesus in transforming the world. When generations collide – look out – great things will happen!

In today’s passage, Saint Paul shares how we are ALL adopted children of God. In God’s family, we are all equal and needed. What keeps us connected to the life of the Church is connection to the intergenerational family.

The people who have made the biggest impact on my life aren’t from my generation. C.S. Lewis said that friendship begins when one person says to another, “What! You too?” These highly valued relationships consist of mutual faith sharing, wisdom, wonder, and storytelling.

In a world where it seems that we are more divided than ever, what would it look like to reach out to someone in another generation in 2018? What would it look like to be willing to push through the discomfort, to be quick to listen and slow to speak, to seek common ground and appreciate differences? I’m confident that it would transform lives and bring the Kingdom of God closer to earth.


Pastor Kate

The First Manger Scene

In Nan Bauroth in Christmas: An Annual Treasury (Vol. 66, Augsburg). Christian Reader, Vol. 34, we discover the very first manger scene:

“In 1224, inspired by the sight of shepherds tending their flocks in the moonlight, St. Francis of Assisi asked a wealthy friend from Greccio, Italy, to help him construct a live manger scene (the first ever). The idea caught on. By the 15th century, nativity scenes proliferated in monasteries and churches throughout southern Europe. Today, perhaps the finest collection of miniature nativity scenes in the world is found in Munich’s National Museum of Bavaria where more than 200 are displayed.”

Today, on this fourth Sunday of Advent, we find ourselves anxious to come to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  Today, our congregation will open wide her doors to welcome people to God’s house for several unique worship experiences:

December 24th at Hyde Park Community UMC

9:00 a.m. Communion in the Chapel

9:30 a.m. Traditional Worship, 4th Sunday of Advent in the sanctuary

11:00 a.m. Worship @ 11, Contemporary Worship in the sanctuary

4:00 p.m. Family Service with Childrens Choirs, Candlelighting,                     and Carols

6:00 p.m.  Communion Service with acoustic praise band, Candlelighting and Carols

8:30 p.m.  Worship with Brass, Choir, Candlelighting, and Carols

11:00 p.m. Worship with Brass, Choir, Candlelighting, and Carols

December 24th  at  Over-The-Rhine Community UMC

10:30 a.m.     Worship,  preceded by Community Breakfast

5:30 p.m.   Worship with Candlelighting and Carols

I invite you to pray about who God is nudging you to invite to join you in worship, walking with you to the manger to celebrate Christ’s birth?  People without a church home are very receptive to accept invitations to worship in December.

May God fill your heart with the greatest gifts that cannot be found underneath your tree this Christmas:  hope, joy, love, and peace.

Christmas Blessings,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Home and Not Alone!

As we live into these final days of Advent we pray with the Psalmist, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10).  Our prayer is a prayer of anticipation and expectation as we welcome Christ Jesus in the home of our hearts, where God makes all things new and reminds us we are not alone.

As we travel these final days of Advent, we journey with Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem.  With expectancy we anticipate the birth of Christ Jesus in, through, and around us.  The following poem captures this expectant waiting:

Lo, in the silent night

A child to God is born

And all is brought again

That ere was lost or lorn.

Could but thy soul, O human,

Become a silent night!

God would be born in thee

And set all things aright. (15th Century)

As Father Richard Rohr says, “God cannot not love God’s universally-begotten child in you.”  I pray that in all our preparations we are able to prepare for God’s birthing and live in experiential knowledge of God’s love.  Knowing in heart and mind that we are not alone, indeed never alone, for Emanuel (God with us) has come!  I look forward to seeing you in Church!

Advent Blessings,

Pastor Doug

Rockefeller Christmas Trees Keep On Giving!

Michael Hill, of Associated Press, posted this on December 5, 2017:

“Old Rockefeller Center Trees never really die, they just get built into the wall frames and floor supports of affordable homes.  For the past decade, the ornament–laden trees that have been lit up with glitz, songs, and dancing Rockettes have gone to be milled into lumber and used in dozens of Habitat for Humanity homes from Philadelphia to Pascagoula, Mississippi.  Each tree yields a truckload of 100 or more boards, all stamped with an image of the tree and the year it was on display.”

One recipient, homeowner Keith Smith, shared that he cannot see the unique wood in his home from the 2015 tree, but adds “he feels it.”  He appreciated his family’s connection to the annual lighting extravaganza in Manhattan.

John D. Rockefeller, a very generous man to both the Church and our nation, would be proud.  I believe that God is also smiling as the trees continue to give shelter, joy, and hope to others.

This Christmas season, a season of giving, I invite you to count your blessings and give thanks for God’s gift to you:  Jesus, the Christ, our Savior, the hope of the world.

May you discover new ways to share with others all that God has given you!


Pastor Cathy

Your Presence through your Presents!

As we begin the season of Advent, preparing our hearts, and homes for Christmas, I uplift to you three very specific ways you can be present through your Christmas presents.

Alternative Christmas Giving

A gift for the one who has it all!  Hyde Park Community U.M.C. has offered “Alternative Christmas Giving” for a number of years.  This year Alternative Christmas Gifts have a duel focus: “Starter Essentials” for Respite Care; and Sunday School supplies for the Children’s ministry of Samara UMC, Russia.  With each $10 gift you will receive an ornament with a card stating: “A gift of Sunday school supplies for our partners in Samara, Russia, and “Starter Essentials” for Respite Care were given in your honor.”  Your presence through your present.

Christmas at Rothenberg

Every year we provide Christmas gifts for our children at Rothenberg.  This year we committed to purchase gifts for the third grade and special needs classes.  This past week we received a call for help with the preschool class (38 preschoolers). Please see the bulletin board across from the Welcome Center, choose an ornament or two, purchase the gift on the ornament, wrap it with a tag identifying the child, and return the gift to the office by December 13. Your presence through your present.

Global Mission Partner Christmas Offering

Annually we have an opportunity to make a financial contribution to the needs of our Global Mission Partners (Samara UMC, Russia; Cluj UMC, Romania; Faith Academy Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti; and The Red Bird Mission, Kentucky).  Your “Presence through your present” is an investment in God’s acts of “new creation” in places, and for people, we will never know; but know through our investment. Communities are transformed through the love of Jesus Christ!  Please use the offering envelope in the hymnal rack to make your gift.

May God bless you this Advent season as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.  See you in Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

A Song of Peace Rising From the Ashes: I Heard Bells on Christmas Day

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow lived during a turbulent time in our nation’s history.  In 1861 the first shots of the Civil War were fired.  His household experienced a tragic fire which claimed the life of his beloved wife, Frances.  Additionally, their son, Lieutenant Charles Longfellow was severely wounded in the war.

Longfellow, stricken with grief, could hardly bear the thought of Christmas.  After three years of grieving the heavy sorrow of the death of his wife, Frances, he wrote these words of hope, into his journal on December 25, 1864:

“And in despair I bowed my head; there is no peace on earth,” I said.

“For hate is strong, and mocks the song of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

“Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

“The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace of earth, good-will to men.”

Peace in the world requires something from us.  Jesus, the Prince of Peace, is here to invite us to be peacemakers as we bring God’s kingdom from heaven to earth.

May God bless you and your loved ones with hope, love, joy, and peace during this holy season.


Pastor Cathy

Blessed and Blessing!

This Sunday, November 19, we will gather, blessed and beloved children of God, and we will work as the body of Christ to package and deliver Thanksgiving meals, blessing God’s beloved.  Join us in this act of Thanks-Giving, your participation in this act of love is an offering of love grounded in gratitude.

As we gather around our Thanksgiving tables this week I share with you the following Thanksgiving message from our Bishop, Gregory Palmer:

Greetings, beloved in Christ Jesus,

As people in Christ, “every day is a day of Thanksgiving.” So for me, Thanksgiving Day serves as a reminder of the call and privilege of living a life of gratitude all the time. The Psalms of the Hebrew Bible and the letters of the New Testament are replete with the call and affirmation to express gratitude in every way we can. The writer to the Colossians puts it this way: “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Col. 3:17)

Anne Lamott is one of my favorite authors, and she offers this word on the power of thanks: “Gratitude begins in our hearts and then dovetails into behavior. It almost always makes you willing to be of service, which is where the joy resides. It means that you are willing to stop being such a jerk. When you are aware of all that has been given to you, in your lifetime and the past few days, it is hard not to be humbled, and pleased to give back. “

Joining you in giving and living thanks every day, I am, your servant in Christ Jesus,

Bishop Gregory V. Palmer

May your Thanksgiving celebration be a time of renewal as you claim your blessings and become a blessing!  See you in Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

Zeal in the Church

As the temperature drops outside and the days get shorter and shorter it’s easy to want to hunker down at home with some hot cider and a good book, and wait for spring. And while we certainly need to take advantage of precious moments of rest in this chaotic world, Paul also encourages us in Romans 12 to not be lacking in zeal when it comes to the work of the church.

Downtown at Over-the-Rhine Community Church, we’ve been eager to follow Paul’s words. In October, a group of 12 headed up to Detroit for a conference hosted by Christian Community Development Association (CCDA), where we had a chance to interact with other churches/organizations doing similar work in similar urban environments. Our time in Detroit was enlightening, encouraging and motivating.

Just at the end of October we also finished our second round of church catechism, which has been the process we use to introduce the history and vision of OTRCC to people interested in deeper participation within the congregation.

Ultimately we have been reminded that zeal is simply the positive energy an individual or group of people feel toward accomplishing a goal. And it’s by this zeal that our role in the church becomes something that gives us joy and fulfillment. I’m excited to be back at Hyde Park on Sunday and talking more about the zeal of the Church!

Pastor Ian

The Higher Road

There is an expression we have heard and no doubt used when either explaining how we’ve handled, or are giving advice on how to handle, conflict: “Take the high road”.  Don’t stoop to the lowest common denominator; rise above the meanness, the nastiness, the viciousness.  The Apostle Paul puts it this way; let me show you a “more excellent way”.

“Take the high road”, what does the high road look like?  In the twelfth chapter of Romans, Paul provides an answer: Love, Zeal, Blessing, and Peace.  As we begin this sermon series on the twelfth chapter of Romans, Paul says “Let love be genuine”.  Contemporary Theologian and Roman Catholic priest, Richard Rohr writes, “St. Francis moved beyond the world that most of us inhabit.  He rebuilt the spiritual life on “love alone” and let go of the lower-level needs of social esteem, security, self-image, and manufacturing of persona. . . .  Love is both who you are and who you are still becoming.” (A Spring Within Us, page 364-365)  St. Francis models and encourages “The higher road”.

“Take the high road”, it begins with love; as God’s beloved we are empowered to love one another as we have been loved.  Romans 12: 9-12 provides the framework for higher road living; I look forward to our common journey, traveling on the “high road” to which we are called.  See you in Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug