The Word for This Week

This Sunday’s message, “The Weight of Words,” reminds us that the language we use to express our thoughts is powerful. When we gather to worship we seek to find words to express our thanks to God, articulate our needs to God, and celebrate the joy of Christian fellowship.

Celebrate which means to rejoice, show happiness at something, praise something is an appropriate word for us to consider. We have many things to celebrate here at Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church:

In August our church family hosted a great celebration, a block party for our community, welcoming our neighbors with music, free food, games, and fun. Thanks to all who served!

Our personnel team of the Servant Leadership Board and music staff celebrates the addition of new staff: Elizabeth Hickerson, the new director of Joy Singers and two new choral scholars to the Cathedral Choir. In addition, we welcome Christopher Schaljo, our new Worship Leader /Producer for Worship @ 11. Christopher will also serve as our new hand bell director for the Carillon Choir. He will be introduced on Sunday, September 13. Thanks to all who served on the interview team and participated the nights of the auditions.

We celebrate our mentoring relationship with Rothenburg Preparatory Academy in Over-the-Rhine. Forty mentors from our church family have been tutoring these at-risk children, most of them beginning with second grade students who are now in fifth or sixth grade. Each mentor is paired with one student for 45 – 50 minutes once per week. We are praying for another group of mentors to begin with this year’s second graders. Please contact Sarah Putnam for details: sputman@hpcumc.org.

When we gather for worship we will celebrate both the life-giving power of the Word of God and the strengthening power of the Table of Christ as we celebrate Holy Communion as God’s family.

I look forward to celebrating the Lord’s Day with you this weekend!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Cultivating Friends

Created in God’s image we are “social beings”, meant to live in relationship with others. As a community of faith we are called to embrace the stranger in our midst, so that strangers become friends, friends become disciples of Jesus Christ, and disciples become agents of transformation. As Pastor Ian leads the faith community downtown, cultivating friends, building relationships, I share with you the following update and opportunity:

New Name . . . The New Church Start Launch Team, lead by Pastor Ian, is in the process of re-visioning, refocusing (re-branding), and strategically planning a way forward that embraces God’s preferred future.

Consequently, it has been decided to change the name of Nast Community to something that reflects the vision and mission of the Church in Over the Rhine. Pastor Ian writes:
“In all we do, we seek to be a church for our community. While our current name, ‘Nast Community Church’ has a rich and important history, it has unfortunately served as a road block to our ability to connect with many OTR residents. . . . Though we have no intention of losing our heritage as the birth of German Methodism, the reverence of history can become harmful when valued more than our current call to be a community church in Over the Rhine. Therefore, after weeks of collaboration among the Launch Team, we have decided to change our church name to ‘Over the Rhine Community Church. This name allows us to communicate who we are clearly and quickly to our neighborhood and larger community. While not exclusive to OTR, this name shows where our primary investment lies.”
Please pray for our brothers and sisters as they embrace new beginnings, and seek to embrace new friends in the Washington Park area of Over the Rhine.

Second Sunday on Main . . . Second Sunday on Main is a “Block Party” on Main St., between Liberty and 12th, September 13, Noon – 5:00 pm. Over The Rhine Community Church (Formally Nast Community) will host a “KidSquare” activity tent. If you are interested in volunteering,
contact Pastor Ian (istrickland@hpcumc.org), or Rev. Nancy Turner at Phrases@fuse.net.

I look forward to seeing you in Church. Invite a friend, relative, acquaintance, or a neighbor to join you.

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

The Dollar in My Wallet

For several years I carried a dollar in my wallet that was a bit unusual. It was a real dollar, but my friend folded it in the shape of a shirt. He shared that he keeps one in his wallet to encourage him to be a generous person. It helped remind him of the teachings of Jesus who taught us to be willing to give the shirt off of our back as well as walk a second mile with someone who required us to walk one.

My father always taught that you can only spend a dollar once. Managing money is something that is easy for some and a challenge for others. The book of Proverbs, which is wisdom literature in the Bible, has wonderful guidance about how to be wise with money. On our dollar bills we read the words: “In God We Trust.”

This Sunday’s message, “Managing Your Money,” continues our series on Proverbs, “Lifelines: Ancient Wisdom for Today.” The scripture, Proverbs 3:9-10, helps us see God’s plan for money management.

For additional help: John Fillion, a dynamic leader here among us at Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church, will be leading a course this fall about money management. “Earn, Save, Give: Wesley’s Simple Rules for Money” will offer tools to help class members manage money in a way that brings joy and blesses others.

God has given us the wonderful resources of time and money. We are in the process of a building a church-wide data base of our congregation’s spiritual gifts. When people serve in their area of giftedness they find energy and joy; likewise, when people try to serve where they are not gifted they often feel discouraged and depleted of joy. As you identify your spiritual gifts, we pray that you will consider how you can step up as the hands and feet of Christ, blessing the world with the abilities and talents God has given you. Please fill out the spiritual gifts sheet in your bulletin or online and attend a spiritual gifts class, listed in your bulletin. We are creating a database of these spiritual gifts so that we can effectively mobilize our congregation to serve in their areas of passion, giftedness, and skill. As we move forward we will be helping to make these wonderful words of scripture come alive in our midst:

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” I Peter 4:10

May God fill you with wisdom, courage, and strength as you manage the gifts of time and money that God has given you.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Ancient Wisdom for Today: Making Decisions

The book of Proverbs is perhaps the best place in the Bible to learn of biblical wisdom. Proverbs 1:7 speaks of both biblical knowledge and wisdom: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, / but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” To fear the Lord is to start on the path to knowledge, and God can then begin to provide us with wisdom through Christ, who the Bible says is wisdom itself: “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). Knowledge is what is gathered over time through the study or searching of the Scriptures. It can be said that wisdom, in turn, acts properly upon that knowledge and the truth is revealed.

A couple of things: I challenge you to read the whole Book of Proverbs. Read a chapter a day and reflect upon the precepts or principles presented. My guess is you will gain wisdom, insight and likely some inspiration. Go for it!

I pose this question: With all the knowledge we have; “How do we make wise decisions? When you have multiple options in front of you, how do you determine which is the best choice? How do you avoid a bad choice?

If you are anything like me, you want to make wise decisions. There are times I have done very well in decision-making and there are times I have blown it big time. So I’ve had to teach myself how to make the best decision I possibly can. There’s a process in wise decision-making which I’ll briefly share with you this Sunday morning in worship. It has helped me in making better choices. It just might help you!

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor Dave

Ancient Wisdom for Today

Proverbs reminds us, “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever else you get, get insight. In the 21st century we’ve got it backwards: Get insight (knowledge) and whatever else you get, get wisdom. There’s a prevalent thought in society that wisdom comes with old age. Arguably, that is true; however, it is also true that one need not wait for old age before one gains wisdom. Wisdom that comes from God can be received at anytime, at any age.

It’s been said: “Knowledge is power”, and that may very well be true. But it is also true that Wisdom is power-full; annointed with God’s wisdom we are “power-filled”, empowered for life. Chuck Swindoll, in his book Wisdom for the Way writes:
“When we operate in the sphere of the wisdom of God,when it is at work in our minds and in our lives, we look at life through lenses of perception, and we respond to it in calm confidence. There’s a remarkable absence of fear. We are not seized with panic. . . . Why? Because we see it with God-given objectivity. And we handle it in God’s wisdom. . . . The wisdom of God gives us balance, strength, and insight. None of these is a natural trait, each is a by-product of wisdom.” (p.14-15)

There’s a difference between knowledge and wisdom. We can “know” a lot and yet remain captive to worry, uncertainty, and fear. Possessing God’s wisdom, we possess a certainty that overcomes our perceptions, and adds value to life.

Join us for our new sermon series: Lifelines: Ancient Wisdom for Today. See you in Church!

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

Denzel Washington’s Barnabas

Denzel Washington, the world-renowned actor, spoke this spring at a college graduation:

“When I was young and started really making it as an actor, I came and talked to my mother and said, ‘Mom, did you think this was going to happen? I’d be so big and I’ll be able to take care of everybody and I can do this and I can do that.'”

Mama Washington reprimanded her son: “Oh, you did it all by yourself? I’ll tell you what you can do by yourself: Go outside and get a mop and bucket and clean these windows—you can do that by yourself, superstar.”

She said, “Boy, stop it right there, stop it right there, stop it right there!” She said, “If you only knew how many people been praying for you.” How many prayer groups she put together, how many prayer talks she gave, how many times she splashed me with holy water to save my sorry behind.” (from Michael W. Chapman, reporter)

Denzel Washington reminds us of this truth: Everyone needs someone to encourage them, pray for them, and cheer them on for this journey called life. Everyone needs a Barnabas.

Today’s message, part of the series “Friends for the Journey, is based on Acts 9:26-27, Acts 11:22-26. Discover the value of giving and receiving encouragement.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Friends for the Journey

When it comes to the Apostle Paul, opinions of the man, and the theologian, span the spectrum. Author of thirteen of the twenty-seven New Testament books, we have a love/hate relationship with Paul. None the less, everyone needs a Paul in their life.

For Paul it was all about the proper attitude. Paul, despite his faults and failures, was a man who possessed an attitude grounded in God’s faithfulness, and an abiding trust in God to be faithful. The proper attitude is the difference between success and failure.

John Maxwell in his book, “Leadership Promises for Everyday” writes:
Author Denis Waitley says, ‘The winner’s edge is not in a gifted birth, in a high IQ, or in talent. The winner’s edge is in the attitude, not aptitude.’ . . . Plenty of talented teams never amount to anything because of the attitudes of their players.
Abilities + Attitudes = Result
Great Talent + Rotten Attitudes = Bad Team
Great Talent + Bad Attitudes = Average Team
Great Talent + Average Attitudes = Good Team
Great Talent + Good Attitudes = Great Team
If you want great results, you need good people with great talent and awesome attitudes.” (p.29)

Everyone needs that person in their life who refuses to allow the world/culture to rob them of a positive attitude; one who unashamedly trusts in God’s faithfulness and stands on God’s promises, and helps us do the same. See you in Church!

In Christ,
Pastor Doug

Michael Jackson’s Best Sermon

He has many names, including “The King of Pop.” Born in Gary Indiana, he became an international music star.

One of his songs reflects the intent of John Wesley, one of the founders of American Methodism. Wesley invited people to examine their consciences daily. Michael Jackson sang these powerful words:

I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change.

Nathan, the prophet in the Old Testament who confronted King David, is the kind of friend that you and I need to have. David, the shepherd boy who became king of Israel, broke God’s heart and God’s Law. Nathan confronted him with the truth and helped bring healing to David.

Later in his troubled life, Michael Jackson needed a Nathan! He needed someone to help him really look at the man in the mirror and make a change!

As we continue to study “Friends for the Journey,” I invite you to prepare your heart for worship this week by reading 2 Samuel 12:1-15.

I am looking forward to celebrating our amazing God with you this Sunday!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Friends for the Journey

Before Israel had kings, they had judges, people who were anointed to lead the Jewish people and serve as the hand of God, according to God’s word and will. Deborah was a judge of Israel, a trusted and wise person who led the Israelites politically and spiritually. Deborah loved God and sought to protect those God loves. Deborah had your back! Every one needs a Deborah in their life.

Who’s your Deborah, the one you can count on to “have your back”? Who can you be a Deborah to? This Sunday we will have the opportunity to browse displays of our ministry partners who focus on children and youth. You’ll have an opportunity to talk with persons involved in these ministries, as well as sign up to be a part of what God is doing in our Urban Core as it effects the lives of children and youth.

This Sunday we uplift our “Champions For Urban Youth”! Hyde Park Community member, Bob Buechner writes:

Champions for Urban Youth Sunday celebrate the significant cooperation and volunteerism of Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church with our urban youth. The desire of many of our parishioners is to be transformative in the lives of our inner city youth who are coming from very challenging backgrounds. There are a significant number of volunteer organizations that impact the lives of our urban youth – there are in school reading programs, after school programs, such as sport activities, and evening and Saturday volunteer activities. We celebrate the efforts of all individuals who have followed their passions to reach out to our urban youth. We encourage an open discussion of what types of activities exist so that we can all be informed of what opportunities are available, and we want to encourage others to be part of our efforts to make our community a better place in which to live.”

Deborah, wise, strong, and compassionate, we all need a Deborah in our lives; and God is calling you and me to be a Deborah to someone else. I look forward to seeing you this Sunday!

Love in Christ,
Pastor Doug

Same-Sex Marriage and the United Methodist Church

Last Saturday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling rippled through our nation, establishing same-sex marriage as a constitutional right. What is important to remember is the difference between the role of the judicial branch and the role of the Church. Supreme Court Justices are charged with determining if a law is constitutional. The Church is charged with proclaiming and interpreting God’s Word, giving us a plumb line for daily living.

The Supreme Court decision speaks directly to the legal issues of marriage. A marriage is a legal contract. The Church, through the centuries, has distinguished between a sacred and secular marriage. Some choose to begin their marriage within the Church while others choose to begin their marriage before a Justice of the Peace. The United Methodist Book of Discipline, which is changed only by the General Conference which meets every four years, is responsible for providing rules for how we live as United Methodists. General Conference, which meets again in May 2016, will be considering many pieces of legislation. Their actions will shape and form the United Methodist Book of Discipline regarding our understanding of Christian marriage.

I have listened to many people speak on this topic, some beginning their statements with, “But the Bible says…” and then continue to frame their argument. While I am certain it is not always the intent of the person speaking to use the Bible as a weapon, it has sometimes felt that way to me. The Rev. Adam Hamilton, of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, states in his blog that he has been studying the Bible for a long time:

“But, 37 years of studying the Bible has also taught me that the Bible is at times complicated. Within its pages we learn of the heart, character, and will of God, but we also find on its pages things that we might question. Things that seem to reflect the culture and the times the biblical authors lived in more than the timeless will of God.”

Clear-cut answers are not easily discovered as we seek the truth. For example, slavery and polygamy are both acceptable practices in the Bible. The Bible is like a multi-faceted diamond that contains many kinds of literature to bless and guide God’s people: Law, History, Prophets, Poetry, Gospels, and Epistles. Each type of literature has a different purpose. We need not be afraid of digging deeper into God’s Word and applying a Wesleyan approach as we seek the truth. Using the four lenses of the Wesleyan quadrilateral: scripture (which is primary), experience, reason, and tradition, in a spirit of seeking and prayer, will help us find our way. Additionally we can choose to follow the call of St. Francis of Assisi seeking to console rather than to be consoled, to understand rather than to be understood, to love rather than to be loved.

The Supreme Court’s ruling will influence the conversation about our denomination’s stance on homosexuality. I invite you to pray for our Bishops across the nation, pray for our clergy, pray for our congregations, and pray for the gay community that we can continue to seek the path God intends for us. Your prayers are cherished.

Your Servant in Christ,

The Rev. Dr. Cathy Johns