Wrestling with God

Let’s talk about wrestling! Have you ever watched wrestling on television? Is it fake or real? Do people really do this for a living and do they really get excited about watching it? Wrestling is a contact sport involving techniques such as clinch fighting, throws and takedowns, joint locks, pins and other grappling holds. The sport can either be theatrical for entertainment or genuinely competitive. A wrestling bout is a physical competition, between two (occasionally more) competitors or sparring partners, who attempt to gain and maintain a superior position. Why in the world would someone write a cover article in the church bulletin on wrestling?

Why? Because life can be like a wrestling match. We wrestle with our mental decisions. We wrestle with our feelings or emotions. We wrestle with physical challenges or limitations. We wrestle with our success or failure in life. We wrestle in family and work relationships. We wrestle with our spiritual lives. I think you get the point I’m trying to make. Wrestling is part of life!

This week we will hear the familiar Biblical story about a wrestling match found in the book of Genesis. Jacob is thought to have been in an all-night wrestling match with God or an angel. Have you ever felt like you were in a wrestling match? What did you do? What was the outcome?

We are in the middle of a sermon series titled: “Walking with God.” There have been times in my personal and professional life I wrestled with life and with God. At these times it has been an opportunity for me to put even more faith and trust in God. Jacob wrestled big time through the night and somehow God’s hand protected and shielded him from harm, and actually blessed him. Are you wrestling with God, yourself, with someone else, or some situation?

I invite you to delve more deeply into this story with me in worship this Sunday. Maybe you will come to realize when in the midst of the wrestling, “Walking with God” helps! See you soon!

Pastor Dave Weaver

A Prayer for General Conference

The national headlines that will appear soon about the United Methodist Church may be disturbing or misleading.  Hamilton got it right: “History is watching.”

This week (Feb. 23-26) nearly 1,000 United Methodist delegates from around the world will arrive in St. Louis.  These elected delegates,  50% laity and 50% clergy, have been elected by their regional bodies.  General Conference is the only group in the United Methodist Church that can change our book of governance, The United Methodist Book of Discipline.

Today it is not permissible for same sex unions to be performed by United Methodist clergy nor are openly gay individuals allowed to go through the ordination process.

The purpose of this global United Methodist gathering is to discern our path forward regarding our understanding of human sexuality.  Several plans will be presented that invite change – some more inclusive and others more restrictive.  It is likely that a decision may be reached; however, no decision is one possible outcome.     

At Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church we stand on the shoulders of forefathers and foremothers who welcomed all and served their neighbors.  We will continue to embrace everyone who comes through our doors with the love of Christ, a place that welcomes all.  After St. Louis, we will work together to determine next steps as we seek to be faithful to God’s call to be The Church. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, please join me in prayer:

God of all Creation, Your divine image rests in each one of your daughters and sons.  As difficult conversations on human sexuality unfold, give us courage to lean in and listen, to one another and to You.  Remind us that in Christ we are one.  Fill us with courage to fulfill our mission:  To love You and all of our neighbors. May Your wisdom, peace, but especially Your love guide our steps as United Methodists. I pray in the name of Jesus, the Christ, whose love lifts all, Amen.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Trusting in the Waiting

Henri Nouwen writes:  “Waiting is not a very popular attitude. Waiting is not something that people think about with great sympathy.  In fact, most people consider waiting a waste of time.  Perhaps this is because the culture in which we live is basically saying, ‘Get going!  Do something!  Show you are able to make a difference!  Don’t just sit there and wait!’  For many people, waiting is an awful desert between where they are and where they want to go. And people do not like such a place. “ (Watch For The Light, p. 27)

We’re not good at “waiting”, and we are even more anxious when asked to “trust God” in the waiting.  We’re not alone.  Noah, trapped in the arch as the floodwaters covered the earth, was asked to trust God in those days of waiting (150 days, Gen. 8:3).  In the waiting, trusting God, God delivers, and establishes God’s covenant with Noah and all of creation; a covenant grounded in love!

As we reflect on Noah’s walk with God, we are encouraged to model our walk with God.  In our waiting can we forsake the “instant gratification” obsession of our culture, and embrace a deep and abiding trust in God’s presence, and God’s provision, grounded in a loving covenant, sealed in Jesus the Christ?  “Simone Weil, a Jewish writer, said, Waiting patiently in expectation is the foundation of the spiritual life.”  (Watch For The Light, p. 37)

“Walking With God”, let us learn from our patriarch Noah how to trust God in our waiting.  I look forward to seeing you in Church!

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

Does God Have Friends?

“God Friended Me,” a new television series, has just been renewed for a second season with CBS.   Brandon Micheal Hall stars in the show.  He is a young man who talks to God via social media.  It has moments of inspiration, humor, and drama.  The series has enjoyed great success with 10 million viewers each week.

Some of us may imagine a God who sits on a throne in heaven, thunderbolts in hand, far removed from humanity.  The Bible shares a different message about our Creator, the One who gave us life and longs for a relationship with each one of us.

Our new sermon series, “Walking with God,” focuses on God’s first friends, biblical characters in the Old Testament.  Each one of them faced struggles as we do, yet found God’s constant love to be a source of comfort and peace in their daily lives.  This week we will take a look at Adam and Eve, the very first people whom God created and called friends.

At Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church we are committed to being a place where deep, meaningful friendships can begin and grow.  We strive to be a place where strangers become friends, friends become disciples of Jesus, and disciples of Jesus become the Body of Christ, transforming the world with God’s love, hope, and peace.

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

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Seeing Ourselves- Seeing Others

“What is an ‘Any-a-gram?’” I asked.

“It’s called the ‘ENNEAGRAM!’”  My friend retorted.

My first introduction to the Enneagram was in January 2017 at a conference. People from the conference encouraged me to start my Enneagram journey on the drive home by listening to The Liturgists (Science Mike who was here last February is one of the hosts) podcast on the topic. I imagine this advice came because it was safer listening to a podcast than reading a book while driving. It’s episode 37 in case you want to check it out for yourself.

The Enneagram is perhaps best defined by Enneagram author and expert Suzanne Stabile as, “nine ways of seeing and nine ways of processing our experiences in the world. Additionally, there are nine ways of answering some of life’s basic questions like, ‘Who am I?’ and ‘Why do I do the things I do?’”

Most of us have no idea that others don’t see as we see, nor do they process their experiences in the same way we do. Keeping this in mind is especially crucial in ALL of our relationships! The Enneagram is a tool that helps us understand people’s fears, motivations, desires, and relationship dynamics. It can be a key that unlocks sometimes mystifying behavior in others – and in ourselves, which can lead to more empathy and understanding.

You might remember an Enneagram workshop happening here a few years ago and perhaps benefitted from it yourself. There has been an influx of interest among young adults around this topic. As way to build relationships and engage with young adults in the area, we are offering an Enneagram Weekend to take place at Over-the-Rhine Community Church on February 22-23. Thanks to the Emerson and Jan Colaw Lecture/Leadership Endowment we are able to offer this as a free event.

I believe the weekend will be transformative for people’s relationship with God and others. I would love your help getting the word out to young adults! Please send them to hydeparkchurch.org/enneagram to learn more information. If you would like to help support the weekend (and get more information about the Enneagram for yourself) please check the One-and-Done section to get involved.

Peace,

Pastor Kate

 

Lives Transformed Through Your Generosity

As we begin a new year, I celebrate with you 2018!  Thank you for your faithfulness to the ministry and mission of HPCUMC/OTRCC through your generosity.  You have offered abundant living to countless individuals, families, and communities through your financial support.  Because you gave:

  • Our partnership with Rothenberg Preparatory Academy flourishes.  At Christmas we provided over 40 preschoolers, and 50 third graders, with gifts, in addition to 100 gifts for the “Falcon Buck Good Behavior Store.”
  • We provided 552 families a Thanksgiving meal; and over 200 people helped assemble the
  • Provided pizza and fellowship with youth at 20/20 ministry.
  • Our Preschool flourishes with a capacity enrollment; and bi-monthly Chapel, lead by our Director of Children and Family Ministries, offering God’s love through worship designed for preschoolers.
  • The Young Adult Ministry continues to grow as we engage Young Adults in the Hyde Park Community and surrounding communities.   
  • The Fourth Sunday of Advent offered a worship experience featuring John Rutter’s “Gloria”, and the Cathedral Choir
  • Over 50 children lead our Family Christmas Eve worship service.
  • 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 (the most recent Community Welcome Event) opened our doors to the community, where over 100 children and their families enjoyed food, crafts, fellowship, and a visit with Santa; of the 54 families that attended 43 families were from the community.
  • For the first time in over a decade we ended the fiscal year in the black, and debt free!

It is a privilege to serve in ministry with you, to God is the glory!

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

Faithfulness in the Body

Our church family has a rich, faithful history.  Some of you may be aware that our current sanctuary was built in 1927, just two years before the Stock Market crash of 1929. The church members had built for the future, confident that God would provide.  In the early thirties, the bank came to the church; foreclosure was a real possibility.  Faithful church members took out second mortgages on their homes, during the Great Depression, to save the church.

Today we will consecrate another group of faithful leaders who have stepped forward to prepare our church family for a new generation.  The Capital Campaign Stewardship Chairs are Steve Kramer, Drea Osterbur, and Maddie Williams.  Over 40 people are already starting to serve, helping us to embrace God’s call to repair and restore our facility as well as create new spaces to welcome new generations.   

The theme of the capital stewardship campaign is Generations of Faithfulness.  Psalm 145 reminds us of the faithfulness of God: Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power…and your wonderful miracles.  For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.  You rule throughout all generations.”  (from Psalm 145)

Please pray for the leadership team and for our congregation that we may follow in the footsteps of the faithful generations who have gone before us.

May God give us strength and courage to today’s faithful Body of Christ at Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Star of Wonder, Star of Light

“The Star” leads the Magi and their caravan to the Christ Child, and in transforming wonder lead them back into the world.  Likewise “The Star” leads and sends you and me, where we live out our calling to be the “Light of the world” (Matthew 5:14).

The Prophet Isaiah describes this “Great Light” that illumines and transforms (Isaiah 9:2-6).  It is a prophecy that holds in tension current reality and future deliverance.  Twentieth Century Theologian Jurgen Moltmann writes:

“Isaiah lets his vision of the birth of the child and the appearance of the pace of God shine like a light into the conflicts and experiences of real life. It is not easy to keep these dimensions together when one is used to splitting up faith and politics, to celebrate Christmas only in the heart and in the bosom of one’s own family.  But the message of the prophet is a realistic vision, and what it talks about is a visionary reality.  It is a message for the people, a message sent into the camps of the exiled, and into the slums of the poor.  It is a word against the captains of the arms industry and the fanatics of power.  If we really understand what it means, it bursts the bonds of Sunday worship.  For if this message really lays hold of us, it leads us to Jesus the liberator, and to the people who live in darkness and who are waiting for him – and for us.” (Watch for the Light, p.309-310)

As we celebrate The Epiphany – the day the Magi saw the light, encountered the Christ Child; and transformed returned to offer transformation to the world, let us make the journey as well.  As we begin a new year, let us be the liberating Body of Christ to the world; and the “Light of the world” to those who walk in darkness!  See you in Church!

Through Christ,

Pastor Doug

Mission and Outreach

Join us in making a difference this Christmas. Historically our congregation has faithfully provided for the various needs of our global partners. Please prayerfully consider giving an extraordinary gift to our Global Outreach Ministry. With your generous support, we will provide leadership training, education for those in poverty, supplies and staffing resources for health needs, as well as training and care for those who need support. Our goal is $60,000 to meet the needs of our partners.

You can make your donation using the envelope provided in your pew and placing it in today’s offering or by mailing it to the church office (1345 Grace Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45208). Checks can be written to Hyde Park Community UMC with a note in the memo; Christmas Global Offering.

Your faithfulness in giving above and beyond this Christmas will enhance the lives of children in Haiti, provide a Christ-centered place of worship in Russia and Romania, or help to maintain the health and wellness of Americans who have followed God into full-time missions in Asia Minor. Keep Christ at the center of your Christmas and into the New Year.

In Christ,

Rev. Doug Johns, Co-Senior Pastor

Sarah Putman, Mission & Outreach Ministry Assistant

Road Trip!

This time of year, travel increases as people head home to be with family and loved ones. When there are snowstorms, television reporters show us people sleeping in the airports.

Road trips can be a challenge but also a lot of fun.  Pack a few snacks, some good Christmas CD’s, a few bottles of bottled water… and let the fun begin!

Road trips were different two thousand years ago. I invite you to consider a few differences about the road trip that Joseph and Mary took from Nazareth to Bethlehem:

  • Hotels.com reservations would not have been possible
  • There was no running water
  • There were no disposable diapers they could pack to take with them
  • There were no automobiles so Mary, in her third trimester, rode on an animal, probably a donkey, about 80 miles – uphill.

As you prepare for your journeys this December, I invite you to pause and give thanks for those who made journeys that first Christmas:  Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, the Wise Men, but especially the journey of God – who chose to journey to earth and come as a child to bless us all with great love.

May God bless all of your road trips this Christmas as you remember those whose  journeys that first Christmas continue to bless you!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns