Children’s Letters to God

Stuart Hample and Eric Marshall share some interesting questions asked by children in their delightful compilation, “Children’s Letters to God”:

“In Sunday School they told us what you do. Who does it when you are on vacation?” – Jane

“Dear God, my Grandpa says you were around when he was a little boy. How far back do you go?” – Love, Dennis

“Dear God, do animals use you or is there somebody else for them?” – Nancy

“Dear God, did you mean for the giraffe to look like that or was it an accident?” – Norma

“Dear God, is it true my father won’t get in heaven if he uses his bowling words in the house?” – Anita
There are a lot of opinions out there about who God is and what God does. This week we continue the series “Mythbusters” with the message “The Truth about God.” May God richly bless you this week!

Peace,
Pastor Cathy Johns

Mythbusters

Change! Change! Change! I’ve experienced it! You’ve experienced it!
Life is filled with change. Some change just happens and it knocks us down. Other change is necessary, and we initiate it through our choices. Change is essential for our growth and development as a person, as a people.

Without change, as the old Texas adage goes, “If all you ever do is all you’ve ever done, then all you’ll ever get is all you ever got.”

If there is something that you don’t like about yourself or you find something that is interfering with the pursuit of your goals, well, just change it. Seems simple, doesn’t it? But, as anyone who has ever tried to change knows, it is far from simple or easy. Change can be slow, frustrating, and painful; it can also be engrossing and inspiring. So why is change so difficult? It’s because we usually resist or try to avoid it. It can be risky.

Our personal and professional lives can change. Our religious and spiritual lives can change. Change can happen outwardly or inwardly. God is in the transformation business of changing lives through Jesus Christ. That’s the mission of the church.

Today is our 2nd week of a sermon series titled, “Myth-busters.” Come learn about these myths on change. The reality is that we can trust that God is with us in the midst of whatever life changes we are going through. And that’s Good News!

Blessings,

Pastor Dave

Join Us…

Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church will be sending a mission team to Samara United Methodist Church in Samara, Russia, June 22 – June 30, 2016. The mission team will be lead by Kevin Betts and myself.

Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church, and Samara United Methodist Church have been ministry partners since 1996. This trip will mark the 20th anniversary of our first trip to Samara, Russia. We will work alongside our Russian brothers and sisters in Samara UMC’s Helping Hand ministry, and be involved in other areas of outreach as directed by the Pastor of Samara UMC. In addition we will be involved in some light renovation projects that will include painting. We will worship together, study together, and grow deeper in our relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, together.

Samara is the sixth largest city in Russia, with a population of 1.2 million people. Government support for those in need is very limited, and Samara UMC has stepped in to fill the gap. Through our partnership, we provide the spiritual, financial, and psychological help that sends the message: “you are not alone”.

Kevin Betts will hold Informational Meetings on Sunday November 8 at 11:00 am and 12:00 pm in the Welcome Center. If you are interested in finding out more about the trip please join us for a time of information sharing and dialogue on November 8.

This is a great opportunity to serve, as the body of Christ, in another culture. Join us, June 22 – June 30, 2016! Let me know if you have any questions. May God’s blessings abound, as we love others, as Christ Jesus loves us. See you in Church!

In Christ,
Doug Johns

Reluctant Thanks

Two grandparents took their three year old to Chuck E. Cheese for pizza, flashing lights, and games. As the grandmother buckled her grandson into the car seat she said, “Now, be sure to say thank you to your Papa.”

Silence. No reaction from the child.

She said, “Did you hear me? Be sure to say thank you.”

Again silence.

She added, “Papa loves doing nice things for his grandchildren, especially when they say thank you.”

Still no response.

Now irritated, she raised her voice saying: “Are you ignoring me?”

The child responded, looked at his grandfather and said: “I’m thankful, Papa. I just don’t want to say it.”

This Sunday, Commitment Sunday, I invite you to say “thank you.” Thank God for your blessings, large and small, by investing in building God’s kingdom in our midst. Because you give, children will learn about Jesus. Because you give, youth will feel encouraged and loved, both inside and outside our walls. Because you give, souls will be nurtured through worship and praise. Because you give, countless lives, near and far, will be touched by the generosity of the people who call Hyde Park Community home.

It has been said that you cannot out give God. Let us respond with grateful, generous, glad hearts to a God who has abundantly blessed us!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Members and Friends of Hyde Park Community

With a grateful heart Cathy and I praise God, and give thanks for our shared ministry, and your commitment to this ministry. Reflecting upon the many ways God is at work at Hyde Park Community/Over-the-Rhine Community United Methodist Church, it is with a grateful heart we pray with King David:

“Yours, O Lord, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is yours; . . .all things come from you, and of your own have we given you . . . I know, my God, that you search the heart, and take pleasure in uprightness; in the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you.” (from 1 Chronicles 29:11-17)

From Abraham to Moses to David and Jesus, God’s people embraced the fact that all we have comes from God, and belongs to God. Therefore, it was with a grateful heart that they “freely and joyously” offered God their tithes.

You will receive in the mail a brochure that outlines a wide range of ministries we celebrate at Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church; all made possible through your generosity in 2015. In addition one of the brochure panels is a 2016 commitment card.

We invite you to prayerfully consider how you will financially support the mission and ministry of Hyde Park Community/Over-The-Rhine Community United Methodist Church. With a grateful heart we invite you to join us in, “freely and joyously” committing the “tithe” (10% of your income), in 2016. If you are unable to commit to the tithe, we encourage you to take a percentage step towards tithing (see the chart in the brochure). Pray for God to guide your decision to invest sacrificially in the ministry of Jesus Christ; our prayers are with you!

Commitment Sunday is October 25. Please bring your commitment card to church with you, and together we will make our commitments to God in worship. If you are unable to be in Church October 25 please either mail, or bring your commitment to the church office. We count it a privilege to serve in ministry with you. See you in church, invite a friend, relative, acquaintance or neighbor to join you for worship!

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

He Chose Gratitude

Harry Genet in his book The Unlikely Thanker, writes:

“German pastor Martin Rinkart served in the walled town of Eilenburg during the horrors of the Thirty Years War of 1618-1648. Eilenburg became an overcrowded refuge for the surrounding area. The fugitives suffered from epidemic and famine. At the beginning of 1637, the year of the Great Pestilence, there were four ministers in Eilenburg.

But one abandoned his post for healthier areas and could not be persuaded to return. Pastor Rinkhart officiated at the funerals of the other two. As the only pastor left, he often conducted services for as many as 40 to 50 persons a day—some 4,480 in all. In May of that year, his own wife died. By the end of the year, the refugees had to be buried in trenches without services.

Yet living in a world dominated by death, Pastor Rinkart wrote the following prayer for his children to offer to the Lord:

Now thank we all our God
With hearts and hands and voices;
Who wondrous things hath done,
In whom this world rejoices.
Who, from our mother’s arms,
Hath led us on our way,
With countless gifts of love,
And still is ours today.”

This Sunday we continue to study the blessings of a grateful heart. Join us as we explore “Managing Your Finances without losing your Soul,” based on I Timothy 6:6-10, 17-18.

May your week be filled with the outflowing of a grateful heart, following Paul’s instructs to the people of Thessaloniki: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (2 Thessalonians 5:15-17)

I am looking forward to celebrating the Lord’s Day with you this Sunday with joyful, grateful hearts!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Attitude of Gratitude!

It’s been said, “The heart of the matter, is a matter of the heart!” In life there is much we have no control of; for many anxiety abounds because life is “out of control”. The one thing we have 100% control over is our attitude. Our attitude affects our spiritual, physical, and mental health. Attitude is a powerful force in relationships. Attitude affects the heart, and touches the soul. When it comes to “attitude”, the heart of the matter is a matter of the heart!

The attitude that will transform life more than any other is the attitude of gratitude. An attitude of gratitude will give us new eyes to see the world around us; a new strength to embrace the hardships before us; and a new joy that cannot be shaken or destroyed. Henri Nouwen writes,
Gratitude flows from the recognition that who we are and what we have are gifts to be received and shared. Gratitude releases us from the bonds of obligation and prepares us to offer ourselves freely and fully for the work of the kingdom. . . . The more we touch the intimate love of God which creates, sustains, and guides us, the more we recognize the multitude of fruits that come forth from that love. (A Spirituality of Fundraising, p. 57)

An attitude of gratitude frees us to experience a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit, and encounter anew the power of God’s love; so that, “coming and going, we can remain secure in God’s love with our hearts set joyfully on the kingdom.” (A Spirituality of Fundraising, p. 58) Possessing an attitude of gratitude we live into the reality of what it means to be created in the “image and likeness of God”!

“The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart”, with grateful hearts we are transformational agents in our culture, partners with God to bring God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven!

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

What is Worship?

“Worship is delighting in the love of God.” (Jerry Haas)

“Worship is an encounter with the living God through the risen Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, who moves them to worship in diverse ways according to their needs.” (United Methodist Book of Worship)

“Worship is the gathering of God’s people around Word and Sacrament. Here the community affirms its calling, receives gifts of grace, is nourished and strengthened, and sent back into the world to love as God loves.” (Michael W. Foss, ELCA pastor)

Each worship service contains these basic elements: Entrance (coming together in God’s name for prayer, praise, music, and song), Proclamation and Response (scripture, preaching, music, offerings of gifts, prayer, and service for the world and for one another), Thanksgiving and Communion (in services in which Holy Communion is not observed, thanks for God’s mighty acts in Christ are shared), and Sending Forth (God’s people are sent into ministry with the blessing of the Lord).

As we enter the fall, I celebrate the following:

  • Our music staff of Neal Hamlin, Director of Music, Brenda Portman, organist and Chris Schaljo, our new worship leader for Worship @ 11. Neal and Brenda continue to bless us with their strong musical ability and their commitment to serve Christ with excellence. Chris comes to us with a Masters of Music from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music with strength in a variety of music styles including jazz, blues, and gospel. The first gathering for “The Gift,” the musicians who will serve at Worship @ 11, will be held on October 3.
  • Our faithful ushers, greeters, hospitality servants, Viox staff, sanctuary care volunteers, and many who step forward to welcome people into God’s house each week.
  • Our congregation who longs to be a community church who reaches more people for Christ and is committed to expanding worship offerings to connect with more people from our neighborhood through worship. By Christmas we will offer three styles of worship: 8:00 and 9:30 am: Liturgical and Traditional; Worship @ 11, a new worship expression with various styles of music, and Over-the-Rhine Community Church, the new church start where contemporary and gospel music blesses worshipers.
  • Upcoming Vision gatherings, held on Sunday, October 4 and Wednesday, October 7, where Doug and I will share a vision for where God is leading us in 2016.

This Sunday, we will look at what it means to live God’s grace as United Methodists. Come and join us as we celebrate our heritage and what it means to follow Jesus daily.
May God richly bless you this week!
Peace,
Pastor Cathy Johns

Amazing Grace!

“Long my imprisoned spirit lay, fast bound in sin and nature’s night; thine eye diffused a quick-ening ray; I woke, the dungeon flamed with light; my chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed thee.” The fourth verse of Charles Wesley’s hymn “And Can It Be that I should Gain” reflects one of the pillars of Methodist theology: a life bathed in God’s grace!

John Wesley (1703-1791), the founding father of Methodism, and brother of Charles Wesley, says, “It was free grace that formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into him a living soul and stamped on that soul the image of God . . . The same free grace continues to us . . . for there is nothing we are, or have, or do which can deserve the least thing at God’s hand.”(John Wesley’s Little Instruction Book, page 34-35) God’s “means of grace” leads to a transformational experience of God’s grace. Transformed through the grace of God, we are compelled to partner with God in working to bring the kingdom of God on earth, as it is in heaven!

For the Wesley’s (John and Charles), and United Methodism today, Ephesians 2:8-10 defines our relationship with God, and our relationship with others:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” It’s God’s amazing grace that redeems, restores, and makes us whole. It’s God’s amazing grace that clothes us in love, to be ambassadors of love!

This week, “The Methodist Way: Understanding God’s Grace,” focuses on the stages of God’s grace as we live in relationship with God. Next week, “Living God’s Grace”, will focus on the fruits of God’s grace as we live in relationship with one another. Invite a friend, relative, acquaintance or neighbor to join you for worship!

In Christ,
Doug

“Workin’ 9 to 5!”

The chorus of this song continues: “It’s enough to drive you crazy if you let it!”

Whether you work at home, at school, or in an office, we all have daily demands. Our “to do” lists seem endless regardless of our season in life.

This Sunday’s message, “Ancient Wisdom for Today: First Things First,”reminds us that all work is holy. Proverbs reminds us: “Commit your work to the Lord and your plans will be established.” (Proverbs 16:3)

Our Servant Leadership Board, pastors, and staff are delighted to welcome new people to the music staff. Christopher Schaljo, who holds a Masters of Music from Oberlin College, joins us as the new Worship Leader/Producer for Worship @ 11. This new worship expression, planned to begin in late fall, will be blessed by his vocal and keyboard skills and experience in leading praise and worship teams. Christopher will also bring leadership to our handbell ringers as our Carillon Choir director. We also welcome Elizabeth Hickerson, a trained music educator, who joins us as the new director of Joy Singers. Additionally, Neal Hamlin welcomes five new choral scholars: Chelsea Duval-Major, mezzo-soprano; Rob Stahley, tenor; Colleen Beucher, soprano; Stephen Variames, bass; and Tina Kerstan, soprano; all offering vocal leadership in the Choir as we enter the fall.

May God fill you with peace as you commit your work to the Lord this week.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns