Stallone: The Church is the Gym of the Soul

Sylvester Stallone was raised in a Christian home, attended Catholic schools and was “taught the faith.”  In a 2006 interview he shares that as he went out into the “real world,” temptation came and he lost his way, making a lot of bad choices, including putting his career ahead of his faith and family.

There was a point when he reached back to his Christian heritage.  Stallone shares:  “The more I go to church and the more I turn myself over to the process of believing in Jesus and listening to his Word and having him guide my hand, I feel as though the pressure is off me now.”

Stuart Shepard, the interviewer, shares another one of Stallone’s lessons on self-reliance: “You need to have the expertise and the guidance of someone else,” he said. “You cannot train yourself. I feel the same way about Christianity and about what the church is: The church is the gym of the soul.”

Being a part of a Christian community means partnering with God to bring heaven to earth, transforming all of creation, one life at a time. One way to do this is through the Ministry Fair, September 24.  Please stop by the Welcome Center on September 24 to learn about ways to serve Christ through Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church.

On Sunday, October 1, we will be offering our service commitments to God on World-Wide Communion Sunday.

It is a joy to be a part of this community of faith where I can come and deepen my walk with God in our “gym of the soul!”

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

God is Calling

Hyde Park Community UMC is a faith community that believes in “gift based ministry”. God gifted you and me and calls each of us to specific tasks, ministries, and missions that utilize our giftedness in powerful and profound ways.  Hence, the weekly News and Happenings features “One and Done” Service Opportunities to help you connect our gifts in service (please see the need and respond accordingly).

God is calling! Specifically, is God calling you to use your gifts on the Servant Leadership Board?  The Servant Leadership Board is charged with guarding and championing the vision and mission of the congregation, strategically aligning our resources to share the love of Jesus to transform lives in our community, Cincinnati, and the world; engaging more people in ministry and mission, not meetings.

The Servant Leadership Board meets once a month (currently the second Monday of the month), additional responsibilities vary according to church programming.  Spiritual leadership is developed through a balance of loving (God and one another), learning (leadership development), and leading (making decisions that keep HPC aligned with the vision and mission).  The qualifications for serving on the Servant Leadership Board:

1) Be a member of Hyde Park Community UMC  for a minimum of one year; 2) Fulfill the membership vows of the United Methodist Church, supporting Hyde Park Community through prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness; 3) Possess a desire to serve Jesus Christ with excellence and demonstrate a history of this through prior service and current priorities; 4) Shall be of adult age (18 or older).

Is God calling you to use your gifts on the Servant Leadership Board?  Applications to serve on the Servant Leadership Board are available in the Welcome Center, and the church office.  Applications will be received through October 15.  If you have questions, please contact Pastor Cathy: cjohns@hpcumc.org or 513-979-8182.

God calls us to use our gifts in mission and ministry.  In whatever way you choose to serve, it is a joy and privilege to serve in ministry with you.  I look forward to seeing you in Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

Job Description of A Lighthouse Keeper

The National Park Service has a 124- page manual to describe the duties of lighthouse keeper.

Here are a few of the tasks:

  • Light the beacon well before dusk.
  • Inspect the Fresnel lens, with its many prisms, which was cleaned that morning.
  • Check the lamp that produces the light and refill with fuel.
  • Trim the wick and light it
  • Unlock the gears that cause the lens to revolve
  • Check the weather with a telescope frequently
  • Attend to shipwrecked persons or notify others to bring aid to those in peril on the sea

Although the pay was minimal, lighthouse keepers were well-respected individuals in the community.

This week’s new sermon series, “Finding God,” reminds us that God is there always – like a faithful lighthouse shining in the night – to guide and direct us.  Like ships that drift off course, sometimes we can lose our way and get dangerously close to the rocks.  God, however, is never lost, but stands firmly on the shore, shining brightly, wanting nothing more than to welcome us home.

May God richly bless you this weekend as you seek the peace found in God,  our refuge and strength.     

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Commissioned!

We who claim to follow Jesus have been commissioned; over time it has become known as “The Great Commission” (Matthew 28: 16-20).  Webster’s New World Dictionary defines commission, “ An authorization to perform certain duties or tasks, or to take on certain powers; authority to act in behalf of another”.  Our commission from Jesus is an appointing, authorizing, and empowering to “teach all that I have commanded you” and baptize!

To this end Jesus left us with two commandments: “The Great Commandment”, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and first commandment” (Matthew 22:37-39).  The second commandment is the  “New Commandment”, “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:10-12).  Father Richard Rohr writes, “Love is what you were made for and love is who you are.” (Center for Action and Contemplation “A Flash of Love”, Wednesday, August 9, 2017).

We have been “commissioned”, and where did Jesus “appoint” us? The world. To whom did Jesus “authorize” us to speak? All people.  Given “authority” to do what? Teach what Jesus has commanded: Love God and love others as we have been loved.  “Love is what you were made for and love is who you are.”

In the wake of Charlottesville, VA.  The West Ohio Conference Bishop, Bishop Palmer, quoting Luke 19:41-42 writes, “these two verses, for reasons that I cannot concretely say, have come to me again and again.  I suspect it has everything to do with my confidence in a God and a Savior who is not far off but as near as our breath.  It is likely also because the God made known in Jesus Christ our Lord both weeps for us, and with us, especially when we have gone astray from God’s dream for us.  Finally, I suspect the text above is naming our apparent congenital blindness about the ways of peace.  May God help us.”  (A message from Bishop Palmer, Tuesday, August 15, 2017.  For the full text visit the West Ohio Conference website: www.westohioumc.org)

We are commissioned – authorized – empowered – anointed with authority – and appointed to go into the world and teach the way of love!  When we love as we have been loved, Dr. Seuss is right: “Oh the places you will go”!  See you in Church.

Love in Christ,

Pastor Doug

Fun in the Sun at OTRCC

Building a church community of genuine and authentic relationships is hard work. The social constructs of race, class, age, etc. all contribute. It takes intentionality, humility, and a willingness to challenge our fellow sisters and brothers as well as to be challenged by them. God has done some tremendous things within OTR Community Church: building up our breakfast ministry that seeks to dismantle the walls between who serves and who receives, planting a community garden in which our neighbors can enjoy the beauty of creation. It’s been a beautiful yet challenging last couple of years.

This is why we as a community need to know how to play. This summer we’ve held one event each month. The people of OTR Community Church, with other friends and family, have come together simply for the purpose of having fun and enjoying each other’s company. In June, we headed down to Fountain Square for Reggae Night and folks relaxed and danced. July was our kayak/canoe trip on the Little Miami, and we enjoyed the slow current, hot sun and awesome friendships. Later on this month we’ll all be gathering for a good ol’ fashioned baseball game at the All American Ballpark.

These moments carve out spaces in our busy lives in which we can begin to learn how to appreciate the moments with the people who mean the most to us. We’ve seen friendships deepen over the summer and new faces joining in. The challenges of our church community do not end, but they become a blessed struggle as our church identity looks more and more like a family of sisters and brothers. We are, after all, called to be the Body of Christ, made up by many members. This summer has been a wonderful opportunity to step into that calling in a very tangible way.

Pastor Ian

Top Ten Reasons Why I Love Bible Study

10.  The first disciples gathered together to study scriptures and pray. (Acts 2)   

9.  It is like mining for diamonds; new treasures appear each week!

8.  Learning and sharing with others with different viewpoints is refreshing.

7.  My prayer life deepens as I pray for others and they pray for me.

6.  Being a part of a small group gives me a safe place to share my thoughts and needs and be a part of a wonderful community.

5. Reading the Bible helps direct my decisions: “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”  (Psalm 119:105)

4.  I meet new people, form amazing friendships, and enjoy amazing snacks. (not kidding!)

3.  It is good exercise, for my mind and my soul, opening me to new ideas.

2.  Hopefully, I become a little more like Jesus; Jesus studied the scriptures too!

1.  It is a lot of fun! (stress-free learning environment guaranteed!)

You are invited to join me this fall and winter for Disciple Fast Track.   This is a 12-week study of the Old Testament for very new beginners to Bible Study and those who simply want to learn more.  It begins in September 2017 and ends in March 2018… sounds slow, right?!

It is intentionally designed and paced for people with busy lives!  We will meet twice a month on Tuesday evenings, beginning on September 12.  We will also be sharing appetizers each week and then study the Bible together.  If you would like to hear more about this incredible experience of eating and studying together on Tuesday evenings from 6:30 – 8:00 pm, please contact me at: cjohns@hpcumc.org or call me at the office:  513-871-1345.  I would love for you to join in the adventure!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

YOU CAN HELP

New Life Furniture provides household items to families in need in the Greater Cincinnati area.  The following is New Life Furniture’s mission statement:

  • We believe in the healing power of giving and receiving to empower communities to come together and support our most vulnerable populations.
  • We restore dignity and bring pride of ownership and confidence to those in need so they can be self-sufficient.
  • We make giving easy and fulfilling by picking up, transporting and cleaning your gently used furniture and delivering it to those in need.
  • We are the only nationally registered furniture bank in Southwest Ohio, striving to end the cycle of homelessness.

As one of our mission/outreach opportunities (primarily through Summer Impact, although we have various groups looking into connecting with N.L.F.), we offer this opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those most vulnerable in our community.

New Life Furniture is in need of essential items including: Mattresses, box springs, dressers, tables, sofas, chairs and other housewares.  For more information, vis their website, www.nlfurniture.org, or schedule a pickup at 513-313-0530.

We grow deeper as Disciples of Jesus Christ when we participate in outreach efforts that transform lives. Involved with New Life Furniture and our mission partners (2020, Center for Respite Care, Habitat for Humanity, IHN, MEAC, Rothenberg, Thanksgiving Baskets, Wesley Chapel Mission Center, Wesley Education Center and Wesley Community Services) we become God’s transformative presence.

I look forward to seeing you in Church as we seek to grow in the disciple making process for the transformation of the world.

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

All Creatures Great and Small: Quiz

1. What is the smallest flower?

2. What is the largest flower?

3. What is the largest animal in the ocean?

4. What is the smallest animal in the ocean?

5. What is the largest bird?

6. What is the smallest bird?

This Sunday we will be exploring the difference between how God and humanity look at creation and all that is in it.  For several decades there has been a quest to possess the world’s tallest building.  Once it was the Empire State Building; currently the Burj Khalifa in Dubai has the honor, standing at 2,716.5 feet.

We are tempted to believe that bigger is better.  God’s viewpoint is refreshing:  all of creation is valued and loved.  In Matthew’s gospel we are reminded of a God who numbers the hairs on our heads and values the sparrows.  Jesus reminds us of God’s ongoing care and protection, urging His disciples not to be afraid.

May God richly bless you as you remember God’s love for you this weekend!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

        Answers:

1. Watermeal., or duckweed, is a flowering aquatic plant about the size of a grain of rice.

2. Rafflesia arnoldil, found in the Indonesian rainforest, can grow up to 3 feet across and weigh up to 15 pounds.

3. The Blue whale boasts 100 feet in length and weighs between 100-150 tons.

4. Zooplankton, which drift on ocean currents, are the tiniest animals in the sea.

5. Ostriches are the largest birds; their height can be 6 ft. and their weight 150 kilograms.

6. The bee hummingbird, only 2 to 2.4 inches, weighs between 0.056 – 0.071 ounces, less than the weight of a penny.

IMAGINATION?

Our mind functions through imagination. The reality is we can’t do anything without imagination. One of the meanings of the word “imagination” in the Old Testament is “conception.” Our imagination is the mental function in which we can see things. In my opinion, without an imagination we would be totally noncreative and unproductive.

When you think about it, there are only two ways for a human to “see” something: physical vision through their eyes or imagination. Without imagination: we would be completely limited — virtually robots. All human progress has been born out of imagination — the ability to “see” things differently than they were.

The only way a human can see the past or the future unaided, is through his/her imagination. Memory uses the imagination. Much of our thinking, whether planning or “jumping to conclusions,” involves our imagination. Fear and faith even operate in the realm of imagination.

Many top athletes successfully use their imagination in training. Vividly imagining a successful action seems to be more effective in training than doing it physically. When we experience an event vividly in our imagination it is imprinted as an experience, even though we did not physically do it. Children seem to naturally have active imaginations. At least my granddaughter does.

What about in the life of the church? What about HPCUMC? Is our faith an “act of imagination?”

2 Corinthians 4:18 (NRSV) “Because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.”

We are starting a new sermon series titled: “The Gospel According to Dr. Seuss” and the subtitle this week is, “Imaginations Gone Wild.” Hope the fun-title piques your interest.

See you this Sunday in worship,

Pastor Dave

Celebrating Summer Impact

Summer Impact is Hyde Park Community’s residential mission program in Cincinnati’s urban core.  Annually we invite youth groups to make Summer Impact their summer mission trip. This summer Hyde Park Community will provide 102 participants lodging, meals, evening worship lead by the Summer Impact Interns, and mission opportunities with the following mission partners: Wesley Chapel Mission Center, New Life Furniture, The Jubilee Project, Center for Respite Care, Stepping Stones, The Wesley Foundation in Cincinnati, with the hope to send groups to work with MEAC’s literacy program and Wesley Community Services.

Each year Hyde Park Community hires 3-5 Interns to assist Sarah Putman, Summer Impact Director, in leading our groups on the journey. Please make sure to read the Interns personal reflections of how God has been at work through Summer Impact.

Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church is living into our mission statement, “To share the Love of Jesus to transform Lives, Cincinnati, and the World” through our Summer Impact program.  I invite you to join me in praying for Summer Impact, the participants, the Interns and Director, and those we serve.  I look forward to seeing you in Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug