Some Things Never Change

A lot has changed since the days of Jesus, but some things are still the same.  People have never been fond of taxes or the people who collect them.   Here’s a fun riddle:   

Q:  How much did the IRS take from the moon?

A:  Four quarters

(Trust me!  This is one of the more “mild” jokes I could locate.)

This Sunday we continue our sermon series called “Awakened!”  Each week we take a look at a person whose path crossed the path of Jesus of Nazareth; they were never the same following their encounter with Jesus, who is the Christ.   

This week we will study Matthew, the tax collector, who was invited by Jesus to be a part of changing the world.  Jesus simply said to him, “Follow me.”  What followed was an immediate response, without excuses.  The writer of Matthew’s gospel records after Jesus’ invitation:   “he got up and followed him.”  Matthew is so excited about closing up shop and following Jesus that he invites Jesus to join his friends at a dinner party in his home…that’s where all the real drama happens!

Join us this Sunday for a “deep dive” into this important conversation with Matthew, the dinner party, and Jesus’ response to the critical onlookers.

May God richly bless you as you seek ways to model Christ who chose mercy and grace over marginalization and judgment.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Hibernation or Participation?

We are currently in the heart of February! The days are still cold and short. The weather often cannot decide between snow and freezing rain. And overall we feel the pull toward hibernation with the rest of creation. There is a general sleepiness that comes with February, where the luster of early winter has dulled but Spring is still a ways off.

For me personally, February is always a month that tempts me to be complacent. To just wait for Spring to come before I’m active again. It’s easy to want to just hunker down, stay home as much as possible and shut out the rest of the world. And while many of us need to do a better job of getting rest, Jesus never calls us into complacency. Our God is a God of action, of calling the Church into participation with the work of the Holy Spirit throughout our communities.

As we step into the first days of Lent and begin preparing our hearts for the coming celebration of Easter, may we remember that it’s even in these days of preparation that Jesus invites us into walking with him, just as he did with seemingly every person he encountered in his ministry while on this earth. Whether a random encounter with a woman at a well or a tax collector hiding in a tree, Jesus has always called us to WAKE UP to the work he is doing and joining in.

Pastor Ian

Faith and Science

It seems for centuries we’ve insisted on perpetuating a war between faith and science.  Implicitly or explicitly we’ve been told we have to pick a side.  However, recently the conversation has shifted and we are beginning to see a number of Theologians and Scientists come together and provide an alternative of both/and.

Bishop N.T. Wright in his book, Surprised by Scripture, writes about the debate that in many ways is unique to Americans:

“I want to point out that the way the science and religion debate is conducted and perceived in North America is significantly different from the ways analogous debates are conducted and perceived elsewhere . . .  I want to suggest that this is at least partly because of the essentially and explicitly Epicurean (Google if you don’t know anything about Epicureanism) underpinnings of the social self-understanding of the United States since the late eighteenth century – and that the standoff between science and religion in America is therefore analogous to, and indeed bound up at quite a deep level with, the standoff between church and state, or religion and politics, or however you like to put it, so that you can’t address one of these topics without implicitly addressing all of them. . .   I want to propose that we therefore need a much more radical rethink of the underlying worldviews we are dealing with than we have normally contemplated in our science and religion discussions.”  (P.2)

This “radical rethink”, unifying science and religion, is underway and we are better off because of it.  Thus, we welcome Science Mike this weekend as he helps move forward the conversation.

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

Ask Science Mike!

On Saturday, February 10th, you will have an opportunity to participate in a seminar with Mike McHargue, internationally known as “Science Mike,” at Hyde Park Community.  On Sunday, February 11th, Science Mike will preach at all three services.  Dr. Evan Yeung, Chair of this Faith and Science event, sponsored by the Bishop Emerson and Jane Colaw Lecture/Leadership Endowment writes:

“Science Mike is a former fundamentalist Baptist deacon and Sunday school teacher who became an atheist for 2 years after a crisis of faith.  A profound experience brought him back to God, but in a very different way than before.   Science Mike cohosts The Liturgists Podcast, which is reshaping how the spiritually homeless and frustrated relate to God.  His bestselling debut book, Finding God in the Waves, has helped thousands understand the interplay between science and faith in the 21st century.

Thanks to the Bishop Emerson and Jane Colaw Lecture/Leadership Endowment Fund, HPCUMC is able to offer this event free to all attendees as a gift to the community.

Science Mike Live in Cincinnati will take place on Saturday, February 10, at 7:00 pm here in our sanctuary. Before the event there will be a free spaghetti dinner hosted by the UMW beginning at 5:30 pm, where donations will be taken for their missions in our community.”

Join us on Saturday, February 10th, and Sunday morning for worship, and invite a friend, relative, acquaintance or neighbor to join you!

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

Dancing with God, You are Invited!

The Trinity is a doctrine that has been an integral part of Christianity for over 19 centuries.  Throughout the ages people, groups, councils have tried to help us understand the “Blessed Trinity”.  But yet in so many ways we have fallen short, and the doctrine of the trinity has been something we’ve been told is foundational to the Christian faith; “but don’t try to understand it, just believe it.”

Our lives are created and sustained in the mystery of the Trinity.  There is value in moving beyond just believing.  There is value in embracing and experiencing the awe-filled mystery that is the Blessed Trinity!  Through the Trinitarian nature of God, God speaks, “You are my beloved!”

In the forward to Father Richard Rohr’s book, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation, William Paul Young writes:

“There is a rising rumble, like a midnight train approaching through the wastelands.  Not only do we hear it from the distance, but also we can feel it if we put our hands on the ground or in the water or in the torn bread and poured-out wine.  The rumor in the deep places of our souls is that there is a party going on, and we can scarce trust our invitation.  Could there ever be a toast raised to us?  Might a hand reach out and lead us into the divine dance, whispering in our ears that we were always made for this?  And so we wait for the kiss, the breath in and out that awakens our sleeping heart to life.  We were made for this, utterly found within Relentless Affection!” (Page 21)

Encounter and experience the beautiful reality of the Trinity, we were made for this!  Invited to the party we are fully immersed in the mystery of God, three in one; flowing through the God-head discovering what it truly means to be God’s beloved.  I look forward to immersing ourselves in this mystery as we discover what it means to be a part of “the flow”, as we lean into the dance, participants in God’s acts of new creation!  See you in Church.

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

Why A Welcome Lunch?

Sunday, January 21, 12:15 p.m.

Every effective leader should be able to tell you in one sentence why their organization does something. For example, a school principal should be able to “make a case” for keeping children inside for recess on a cold day. The answer should align with the values of the school:  perhaps safety and health.

The “why” is something that drives home the values and vision of the organization. The Church, charged with making disciples of Jesus for the transformation of the world, has the same requirement of aligning “what” we do with “why” we do it.

What, then, is the “why” of inviting newcomers to a Welcome Lunch?  We host Welcome lunches  so that people who are new to our faith community will experience God’s love through a warm welcome that helps them feel “at home” in God’s house. Making disciples of Jesus Christ happens when strangers become friends, friends become disciples, and disciples change the world.

This Sunday, if you are a new person to our faith community, you are invited to join us for lunch in the Welcome Center at 12:15 p.m.  Reservations are not needed.  The hospitality team will provide delicious homemade soups and salads. We hope you can join us and experience the love of God through our community of faith.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Romania- Way of Faith UMC

Rev. Rares Calugar, Pastor of Way of Faith UMC, and the equivalent to our District Superintendent for the three United Methodist Churches in Romania, is visiting the United States January 12th-22nd, preaching at Hyde Park Community UMC, at all three services on January 14.  Pastor Rares has a passion for connecting with people labeled “less than” and “unworthy”.

Hyde Park Community UMC’s newest partnership is with Pastor Rares and the church he’s appointed to, The Way of Faith UMC church in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.  Way of Faith UMC is new to the UMC worldwide, and our partnership with them allows for their vision to become reality.

In 2017 we helped provide The Way of Faith UMC the opportunity for sustainability and growth within their programming. Alfa Grup is one of the main outreach missions for the church and its members. Working with the orphans in the city of Cluj and its surrounding villages (spanning about 90 km in any direction) is only possible if the group’s leadership has provision as well. Through our partnership, the program directors are able to continue to focus on building into the lives of orphans ranging from infancy through teenage years without worrying about whether they will have to find another job.

In 2017, HPCUMC committed $3,500, from the Christmas and Easter Global Ministry offering in support of the ministry of the Way of Faith UMC in Romania.  Your extravagant generosity to the Christmas and Easter offerings is an investment in the transformation of the lives of orphans in Cluj-Napoca, as well as encouragement and support of those who are on the front lines of working with them.  In addition, the Servant Leadership Board approved a grant from the Carl and Alice Bimel Endowment for support of the Alfa Grup.  Thank you for your support!

We welcome our Brother in Christ, Pastor Rares, and celebrate the many ways The Way of Life UMC is partnering with God to bring God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.  I look forward to seeing you in Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

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.

Peace,

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