Partiality thoughts…

We have experienced a mild winter this year and spring is right around the corner. Praise be to God!  Spring is my favorite season of the year. Being cooped up inside during the cold gray days of winter makes me long for milder springtime temperatures. It’s great to be able to open windows in our home and get outside to take some nice long neighborhood walks. Seeing new buds and blooms reminds me that new life is breaking out all around. I even start thinking a bit about Easter. You might prefer a beautiful snowfall or July 4th fireworks or colorful fall leaves, but I am partial to spring.

Isn’t it interesting that our preferences, our partialities, are such a big part of our identities? We have favorite foods, colors, friends, co-workers—even that favorite aunt or uncle. We prefer a particular place to shop, cheer for our favorite sports teams, and favor certain types of music.  And we most assuredly express preferences in politics and religion. The list goes on and on. Our human nature seems to be “partial.” We simply prefer one, whatever it is, over another. No big deal, or is it?

But what happens when partiality is applied to individuals or groups of people?  Simple preferences can grow into hurtful biases much too easily. I’m not confident that we have good self-awareness or really recognize how partial we are, or can be, at times. Even without realizing it, we may label, make false assumptions about, avoid making contact, or exclude those who look, speak, act or believe differently from us.  It’s something worth our self-examination and prayer.

We are starting a new sermon series this Sunday titled, “Reconciling All Things.” It has the subtitle of, “No Partiality.” Reconciliation is about trying to make right relationships where there are deep divides and differences. I’m wondering how much of our partiality has gotten in the way of an opportunity for any form of reconciliation in our relationships. Reconciliation is about restoration. It may lead us into a better season of “new life” together! Praise be to God!

Romans 2:11…For there is no partiality with God.

Acts 10:34…Opening his mouth, Peter said: “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality.

Pastor Dave

Fruit That Will Last!

In John’s Gospel he quotes Jesus: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.” (John 15:16) Paul in Galatians 5:22 names the “fruit” we are called to bear, one of which is “Generosity.”  Through your faithful generosity, you are an active part of bearing “fruit that will last.”  Because you gave:

  Our partnership with Rothenberg Preparatory Academy flourishes.

  We provided over 540 families a Thanksgiving meal; and over 200 people helped assemble and deliver the boxes.

  Our Preschool flourishes with a near capacity enrollment, led by caring and compassionate teachers, staff and Director.

  We offer a bi-monthly Chapel to our pre-school children, led by our Director of Family Ministries, offering God’s love through worship designed for preschoolers.

  The Christmas offering surpassed expectations, claiming our place in the Global Village we live, as we partner with our brothers and sisters in Samara, Russia; Cluj, Romania; Tajuana, Mexico and Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti.

  The Young Adult Ministry continues to attract Young Adults from across the city as they deepen relationships with one another and God

  The Third Sunday of Advent the music ministry offered an inspiring  time of  worship: “The Light of Christmas.”

  Christmas Eve worship was an inspiring celebration of the redemption of all creation through the birth of the Christ Child.

  The Worship @ 11 Band continues to lead worship that is inspiring and powerful.

  First Friday Nighters and Thursday Edition offer quality programming and fellowship for our Senior Adults.

  The Christmas Bash welcomed over 300 children and their families.   

  We fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and provided compassionate care to the sick and lonely through our partnerships with Center for Respite Care, MEAC, Wesley Chapel Mission Center, Wesley Education Center, Interfaith Hospitality Network, Habitat for Humanity, and Hyde Park Center for Older Adults; as well as tornado relief to our Sisters and Brothers in Dayton.

Thank you for bearing fruit that will last.  Your generosity is abundant and everlasting; it is a privilege to serve in ministry with you!

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

My Favorite Bike Ride

It was a perfect day.  The sun was shining; there was not a cloud in the sky.  We got on the ferry and enjoyed the breeze from the upper deck.  We got off the ferry and headed for the bike rental shop.

Our family hopped on our bikes to explore the island, a unique place where cars are banned.  Travel is permitted by horse carriages, walking, or biking.

That day on Mackinaw Island remains one of my favorite days.  We pedaled around the island, savoring  the joy of traveling together.

This Sunday we will explore what it means to keep in step with the Spirit.  God wants to walk alongside us as a cherished, loving companion as we journey through life.  The gifts that we receive from choosing to walk with the Spirit are priceless.  They are available to each person who chooses to travel with God.

God longs to be an intimate part of our lives, walking with you and me. Join us this Sunday and discover the joy of walking with God.

    

Peace,

    

Pastor Cathy Johns

Super Serve Saturday – No Super Powers Necessary

There’s something new coming February 1st! We are experimenting with ways families and different generations can come together to serve in meaningful ways so Super Serve Saturday has formed! You are invited to come to the very first one next Saturday, February 1st, focused on helping to alleviate hunger in Cincinnati. The day will start at 9:00 am in the Welcome Center and we will be done before lunch! Coffee, pastries, and fruit will be provided while we explain each of the projects and deploy the different groups.

Can’t make it next Saturday? Super Serve Saturday will be held the first Saturday of each month through May on March 7, April 4, and May 2.

Be sure to check out the Super Serve Saturday article in News and Happenings for all the details regarding the 5 different teams that will be serving in a variety of ways next Saturday. There is something for each age and ability – no super powers necessary – just a willing, humble, and flexible spirit and a heart for all!

There is no need to sign up, just show up and feel free to invite along others! If you have any questions before the event please contact me (ksmith@hpcumc.org).

Here are the 5 different teams you can choose from (more information in the other Super Serve Saturday article):

1.  Wesley Community Services

2.  New Life Furniture Bank

3.  The Center for Respite Care

4.  Shopping for Jesus

5.  Children 5 and under

See you next Saturday!

Pastor Kate

Over-the-Rhine Campus Re-Launch

The Warehouse, our second campus in Over-the-Rhine, under the leadership of Pastor Sherman Bradley and Pastor Sadell Bradley, resumed worship in OTR December 8.  This is a “soft launch” that paves the way to the public launch on Easter Sunday, April 12.

Pastors Sadell and Sherman share that the name The Warehouse was “a Holy Spirit download”.  They state: “A warehouse is a large building where raw materials or manufactured goods may be stored before their export for distribution.  According to Scripture, God is our Manufacturer, the Maker of Heaven and earth. (Psalm 95:6, 121:2)  God has created and formed us in God’s image and after God’s likeness. (Gen. 1:26)  We are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for the good works God has prepared for us. (Ephesians 2:10).  The Warehouse will be a place where we will gather as our raw selves and be shaped by the Word of God, in the presence of God, along with a loving community.  We will be equipped and deployed for the LORD’S Kingdom purposes, with leaders going in and out spreading the Gospel in places where it has not been.  (Romans 15:20) . . .  The Warehouse is a multi-ethnic, inter-generational, multi-class community that will thrive in the heart of OTR, but have impact beyond the walls of 1310 Race Street and even beyond Cincinnati.”

The re-launch of a worshiping congregation in the Washington Park neighborhood of OTR is a God lead, spirit-filled, disciple making partnership with God in God’s acts of new creation; and YOU can be a vital part of the success of God’s transforming presence through The Warehouse!

Here’s how you can help:

1.  Pray – Pray for wisdom, and strength for Pastor’s Sadell and Sherman, the Leadership of The Warehouse, and the Leadership of HPCUMC.

2.  Attend Worship – I invite all of us to worship at The Warehouse at least once between now and April 1.  By doing so we each are able to share, from our experience, the beauty of The Warehouse’s mission and mission.  In addition, we seek folks who are able to committee to worshiping at The Warehouse once a month; weekly for the next 3 months; and weekly for the next 6 months.  The Warehouse worship time is 11:00 and typically is an hour and half worship service.

3.  Serve – Pastor’s Sadell and Sherman will form a “Launch Team” which will identify pre-launch opportunities, Easter Sunday Launch opportunities, and post-launch opportunities to serve.  When the opportunities arise, and the spirit leads, sign up to serve.

This is an exciting time in the life of HPCUMC/The Warehouse as together we strive to be a Multi-Ethnic, Inter-Generational, Multi-Class faith Community.  May what we do honor God!

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

  

Pastor Article- Sadell Bradley

Dutch Clergyman Henri Nouwen stated that, “Spiritual identity means we are not what we do or what people say about us. And we are not what we have. We are the beloved daughters and sons of God.” This is the only sure foundation upon which Christ followers stand, particularly through the vicissitudes of life on earth. Every day we are seeing wars and rumors of war, political upheaval, earthquakes and fires that are destroying countries and lives. People are anxious, depressed and even suicidal at younger and younger ages. King Solomon described the fleeting nature our time here, and the relative worthlessness of most of our pursuits in terms like ‘vanity and vexation of spirit,’ and ‘chasing after the wind.’

Apostles Paul and Peter categorized us as ‘strangers and pilgrims’ on the earth. We are traversing this world for a brief stay without even the wisdom or the power to pinpoint the exact moment of our arrival at birth, or our departure into eternity upon death. James said we are even prideful and presumptuous about the business plans we make for tomorrow and next year, when we don’t even know what will happen each day.

We have only been charged to fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandment: to represent our LORD as a citizen of Heaven while on this temporal terra firma. How would our lives change were we to really embrace this perspective on our identity? Might we be more engaged with laying up intangible treasures that cannot rust, wear out or be stolen? Would we be so consumed with the politics and issues of the world and of the church? Or would we be doing all that we can to offer the awesome privilege of knowing Jesus Christ to those who have not yet experienced the blessing of His love, grace and mercy?

Sadell Bradley

Symbols of Freedom

When you think about symbols of freedom, what do you see in your mind?

  • An eagle in flight
  • In West Africa: Fawohodie
  • The American Flag
  • The Buddha in a lotus position with his hand touching the ground
  • The Statue of Liberty
  • A photo of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

In Japan: wooden sword that was symbolic of a gladiator’s freedom

Symbols that we embrace reflect our values and help shape our thoughts and our hearts.  This Sunday begins a new sermon series on Galatians called Set Free. Christians possess powerful symbols that point us to the power and freedom found in the gospel of Jesus Christ:

The descending dove:  The Holy Spirit, which falls upon Christ’s followers, past, and present

The Bread and Cup:  the sacrament that reminds us of the love and sacrifice of Jesus

The Cross: celebrating the depth of God’s love for us as Christ gave His life to redeem us all

The Empty Tomb: celebrating Christ’s Resurrection and new life found in our Risen Lord

As we begin this journey through Galatians, I invite you to embrace the freedom that is ours through Christ:

“For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

May God richly bless you with love, hope, joy, freedom, and peace in 2020!

Pastor Cathy

New Year, Next Step

In January of this year, I stepped into a new role at HPCUMC as the Pastor of Mission and Outreach. Over the last year, I have been energized at the opportunity to engage with and serve alongside multiple generations at Hyde Park as we put our faith into action locally, nationally, and globally.

As you step into this next year, I invite you to take the next step in faith if you are not already serving. There are many ways and opportunities to serve in meaningful ways that correspond to your gifts, talents, and passions. Whether you find yourself wanting to focus on relationships, on the front lines, or serve behind the scenes – there is a place for YOU! Serving is a great way to make a big church feel smaller by building relationships with people you serve alongside.

While the list of ways to support ministry goes on and on – here are some highlights of areas that need your support:

  Being a friendly visitor to a home bound member and visit 1-2 times a month

  Take communion to a home bound member – offered 3 times/year

  Be on the program committee to plan speakers, entertainment, and local trips for the 2020-2021 Senior Adult Ministry

  Share the Good News with youth at the Hamilton Juvenile Detention Center on Tuesday or Wednesday evenings – it is offered weekly and can serve monthly

  Prepare and serve a meal to our neighbors at Madisonville Education Center on the 4th Monday of every month

  Tutor a 5th grade student at Rothenberg in writing and reading weekly on Tuesday or Thursday (9:20-10:10a or 1:10-2:00p)

  Be part of the 25th house build for the Shalom Coalition starting in the Spring of 2020 – no experience required and building days are during the week and on Saturdays

If any of these opportunities spark your interest, I would love to have a conversation with you to share more details about how to get connected! Please reach out to me at ksmith@hpcumc.org or on Sunday mornings!

As you step into this new year, perhaps God is calling you to something new!

Pastor Kate

Love Came Down At Christmas!

As we make our final preparations to receive The Christ the classic carol comes to mind: “Love came down at Christmas, Love all lovely, Love divine; Love was born at Christmas; star and angels gave the sign.”  Preparing to receive such Love, otherwise known as the “Incarnation”, we in the depths of our being sense a stirring in our soul to become incarnational; bathed in love we become love to the world!

The early church father, St. John Chrysostom (born in Antioch 349A.D.) wrote:

“I behold a new and wondrous mystery.  My ears resound to the shepherds’ song, piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth a heavenly hymn.  The angels sing.  The archangels blend their voice in harmony.  The cherubim hymn their joyful praise.  The seraphim exalt his glory.  All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead here on earth . . .  God who is above, now for our redemption dwells here below; and he that was lowly is by divine mercy raised up.” (Watch For The Light, p. 225-226)

Love came down at Christmas and we “behold a new and wondrous mystery.”  In God’s descending we experience the holy; invited into the flow of creation and God’s acts of new creation!

With anticipation we wait, and with humility we receive, Love came down at Christmas!  I pray that you are able to give yourself over to this holy mystery of incarnation.   Allow yourself to experience God’s love in a new way, become a participant in the flow of God’s love, and in our becoming we become God’s incarnation to the world.

Christmas Blessings,

Pastor Doug

The Light of Christmas

One evening this week we came around the bend on our street and I was dazzled by the lights that were decking the homes and trees of our neighbors.  It was beautiful!

During this season of the year when the days are short and night is long, I find myself longing for light.  When the sun shines, even on cold days, it makes me smile.

As we navigate this season of Advent, I invite you to think about how light helps us.  Lights make walkways safer.  Light can warm us around a fire.  Light helps us find our way home.  Lights help ships navigate into safe harbors.

In the gospel of John, we discover the power of the light of Christ:  “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.   The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.” (John 1:5,9)

You are invited this Sunday:

8:00 am  and 11:00 am:  A Charlie Brown Christmas continues as Snoopy helps us grasp the importance of joy in our lives.  Wesley Choir will sing at 8:00;  Worship@11 will be led by the Praise Band.

9:30 am “The Light of Christmas,” a unique worship experience with The Canterbury Brass, Cathedral Choir hand bells, and fresh theological reflections will help us rejoice in God’s precious gift:  Jesus, the Light of the World.

Rejoicing in the Christ-Child,

Pastor Cathy