DO JUSTICE, LOVE KINDNESS, and WALK HUMBLY WITH GOD

When the Prophet Micah proclaims “Do Justice”, Micah is not talking about “retributive” justice; but the “justice” of God: “Distributive Justice, and Restorative Righteousness.”  Recently HPCUMC launched a Justice Ministry.  I offer the following from the Leadership Team, and invite you to participate.

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

What Can I DO?

Justice Ministry Update

HPCUMC’s Justice Ministry is working hard with the AMOS Project to gather signatures for the Safe and Healthy Ohio Ballot Initiative.  This amendment will reduce mass incarceration and overburdened jails by reducing penalties for non-violent drug offenses and redirect resources toward mental health, drug treatment, rehabilitation and victims’ rights programs.  HPCUMC has committed to supply 750 signatures to get the initiative on the November ballot.  Here is how YOU can help:

Make sure you have signed the petition.  You will find an opportunity in the Welcome Center if you haven’t already!

Help us collect signatures.  To get an official petition book and instructions see Jill Colaw between services in the Welcome Center or contact her: jillcolaw@yahoo.com, or 513-265-1110.

Volunteer to take a shift at the Board of Elections May 8th.  The following is a link that will make it easy to sign up and let them know you can take a two hour shift: www.surveymonkey.com/r/5ZP8663

What Else Can I Do?

Vote on May 8!

If you’d like to be added to the Justice Ministry distribution list contact Janice Kummer: janicekumer@gmail.com or 513-439-2253.  We periodically send emails with opportunities to serve.

Make Knowledge and awareness a priority!  Social justice was Jesus’ mission and we are called as the body of Christ to work toward that end.  The Justice ministry has several exciting programs we will offer in the coming months.

We invite you to join us and “Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.”

HPCUMC Justice Ministry Leadership Team

Jill/David Colaw, Janice/Stan Kummer, Joyce Miyasato, Jan Seymour, Cathie Shick

You are Invited: An Update On Phase 1 of the Master Plan

In 2013, the Armstrong Group recommended multiple initiatives for our congregation to fulfill our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.  To move forward with excellence we need to:

  • Maximize our Facilities for Ministry
  • Develop Multi-Site Ministries
  • Equip Leaders for ministries in fulfilling our mission
  • Connect people to care, grow and serve

In 2015, Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church contracted with MSA Architects to develop a Master Plan, a long-range (15-20 year) projection of our needs for our facility.  The congregation expressed its priorities for security for children, flexible space, and additional space for ministries to children and families.  In 2016, after approving this report, the Servant Leadership Board commissioned a Building Committee to phase the plan, considering the order of priorities carefully.   In March 2018, the Servant Leadership Board received the report of the Building Committee and their recommendation to proceed with Phase 1 of the Master Plan.

Communicating this exciting vision will take place soon at Town Hall Meetings.  Members of our congregation and church family are invited to come to see and hear about this proposal.   The purpose of the Town Hall meetings is to educate our congregation prior to voting at a Church Conference in late August or early September.  Members will be voting on authorizing the church to hold a Capital Campaign, embracing the vision of Phase 1 of the Master Plan.

Mark your calendars and plan to join us:

May 23, 7:00 p.m.

June 3, 7:00 p.m.

June 13, 7 p.m.

June 17, 12:15 p.m.

June 27, 12:15 p.m.

Joy in our Risen Lord,

Pastor Cathy

A Good Samaritan Story

Free-lance writer, Shane Claiborne, who spent a summer in the poorest section of Calcutta, India with Mother Teresa wrote about his once-in-a- lifetime experience with the saint.

“People would often ask me what Mother Teresa was like.  Did she glow in the dark or have a halo?  I would tell them that she was short, wrinkled and precious, maybe a little ornery like a beautiful wise old granny.

But there is one thing I will never forget and that was her feet. They were deformed.  Each morning during Mass, I would stare at those feet.  I wondered if Mother Teresa had leprosy.  Of course, I wasn’t going to ask.

One day a sister asked a group of us, ‘Have you noticed Mother’s feet?’ We nodded.  She said, “Her feet are deformed because we get just enough donated shoes for everyone and Mother does not want anyone to get stuck with the worst pairs, so she digs through and finds those.  Years of wearing bad shoes have deformed her feet.’   That was typical Mother Teresa and that was what made her great.  She placed the needs of others above her own.”

This week the sermon will be on the text in Luke 10:25-37. It is one of the most familiar of Jesus’ parables. It is known as “the Good Samaritan Story.” Mother Teresa, in my mind, was a Good Samaritan. All were her neighbors, especially those who were sick and dying with leprosy, and seen as unclean outcasts in the community. She was willing to do what it took to show care and compassion to make a Kingdom of God difference in their lives.

It is my hope you will join us in worship on Sunday to hear this parable in a way that challenges us to think more broadly upon the story. There are several approaches we can take in speaking to this text. I even encourage you to read through the parable before you arrive on Sunday. Where are you in the story? How would you respond to “who is my neighbor?” How have you been a “good Samaritan?” I look forward to sharing more with you on Sunday!

Blessings,

Pastor Dave

Leave A Legacy

Endowment programs have a positive impact on the life of a congregation.  Endowment programs offer families and individuals the opportunity to leave a legacy to their beloved church, a legacy that bears abundant fruit!

HPCUMC has been a transformative presence through the life-stages of many: birth, baptism, confirmation, graduation, marriage and death.  As a result, a deep and abiding love for our faith community has become the motivation for making a gift to the HPCUMC endowment, ensuring and enhancing the ministries of HPCUMC for future generations.

Hyde Park Community has been blessed by the foresight of those who have gone before us to leave such a legacy gift.  From the first gift, under the leadership of Bishop Emerson Colaw, to the 28 million dollar endowment it is today, the endowment has enhanced the vision and mission of HPCUMC.  From support of the facilities, to the support of our outreach/mission programs, and missionaries, the HPCUMC endowment has been a part of partnering with God to bring God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. From scholarships awarded to our young adults in college to scholarships awarded to those interested in short term mission opportunities, the income from the HPCUMC endowment has been actively involved in making disciples and facilitating intellectual, and spiritual growth.

The beauty of the Endowment program is that no gift is too small. Whether $5 or one million dollars, the endowment program provides the opportunity for individuals and families to leave a legacy to the church they love.  We invite you to make a gift to the endowment, and/or including HPCUMC in your estate plans.  I would love to talk to you about your legacy gift.

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

Embracing the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr

The life of Martin Luther King Jr. means many things to many people.  However, far too many forget that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a follower of Jesus Christ.  As an ordained pastor in the Baptist church, he stood firmly on the ground of the non-violent revolution Jesus began in the early years of the first century A.D.

The Rev. Peter Mathews, Pastor and Director of the Center for Global Renewal and Missions writes, “50 years later, 50 years after the tragic demise of Martin Luther King Jr. . .  50 years later are we any closer to living into King’s beloved community? . .  His faith was not only the source of his strength but also the fuel for his vision of a more humane planet.”

On Sunday, April 8, we partner with United Theological Seminary and the Center for Global Renewal and Missions as part of the Bishop Emerson Colaw Lecture series.  We welcome Ro Nita Hawes-Saunders, the Chief Executive Officer of the internationally acclaimed Dayton Contemporary Dance Company as we remember and honor the life and death of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 50 years ago.

Under the leadership of Ms. Hawes-Saunders, the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company adopted an innovative and revenue-producing business model by partnering with colleges and universities.  She also instituted “Women in Motion: Empowered by Dance”, a program that uses creative dance movement and informative lectures to address cardiovascular disease among African-American and Hispanic women.

Ms. Hawes-Saunders will remind us through word and dance of Jesus’ call to collaborate with God in God’s acts of new creation, and partner with God to bring God’s kingdom on earth as in heaven.  I look forward to seeing you in Church!

Through the Risen Christ,

Pastor Doug

Easter As New Creation

Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!  This simple, but yet profound proclamation is both personal and communal, and claims our place in creation and God’s acts of new creation!  It is a proclamation of victory, and at the same time a statement of faith.

As we proclaim: “Christ is risen, He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!” we affirm our participation in Christ’s resurrection.  As participants we are a new creation; as a new creation we participate in God’s acts of new creation.

Easter is about victory and collaboration.  It’s about restoration and reconciliation, new life and new beginnings. Bishop N.T. Wright in his book, co-written with Marcus Borg, The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions, reflects on the meaning of the resurrection of Jesus:

“The deepest meanings of the resurrection have to do with new creation. . .   It was the first day of God’s new week, the moment of sunrise after the long night, the time of new meetings, new meals, of reconciliation and new commissioning.  It was the beginning of the new creation. . .  What is done to the glory of God in the present is genuinely building for God’s future.  Acts of justice and mercy, the creation of beauty and the celebration of truth, deeds of love and the creation of communities of kindness and forgiveness – these all matter, and they matter forever.” (p.126)

The resurrection brings personal transformation, absolutely.  However, it is not exclusively personal.  To say “Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!” is to say God is making all things new, and I am God’s partner in God’s acts of new creation. Alleluia!  I look forward to seeing you in church!

Through the Risen Christ,

Pastor Doug

Why Holy Week Takes my Breath Away

Holy Week begins with a parade, filled with excitement and joy…lots of energy…children laughing and playing in the streets as people shout “Hosanna” (“Pray, save us) to Jesus as he humbly rides a donkey.

You can feel tension mounting as conflict arises among the Pharisees and scribes about what to do about Jesus, the One whom the crowd adores. Jesus’s disciples begin to fall away although some remain close.

By Thursday, Jesus, the humble servant, washes their feet and takes symbols from the Passover and explains the new covenant, his body and blood, and invites them to take, eat, and remember.

Thursday evening, Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane, another moment of awe. He asks for the cup of suffering to be removed, but surrenders completely, the King who chooses to give up his life for his people. His arrest and imprisonment lead us to the horror of Friday.

After 39 brutal lashes, Jesus carries his cross through the streets of Jerusalem.  As his hands and feet are nailed to the Cross, I lose my breath again, hearing his words of love:  “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

With his death, we believe that the story is over;  the stone is rolled to seal the tomb.  My breath will be taken away again with the dawn of Easter morning when we hear the words again: “Christ is risen!  He is risen, indeed!”

This Holy Week in worship we will walk all the way to Gethsemane, the Cross, and to the Empty Tomb.  Open yourself to the power of Christ this week; God wants to move you deeply and take your breath away!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

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!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Re-Birth

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