My Flash Mob Experience: An Advent Memory

We had finished eating our pizza after the basketball game.  Backing away from the table at the local Pizza Hut, we quickly got our pitch, stood up, and then broke out singing:

“Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!   For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth!   King of Kings, forever and ever….And Lord of Lords, Hallelujah, Hallelujah!……And He shall reign for ever and ever……Hallelujah!”

It was a great experience!  People in the Pizza Hut watched in amazement, enjoyed the music, and clapped enthusiastically for us when we were finished.   It was before the term “flash mob” was born, but it certainly was an unexpected surprise for the patrons of Pizza Hut.  It broke through the mundane and flooded the dining room with love, light, and joy.

This Sunday we celebrate the beginning of the Advent season.  A time of longing for Christ to come, remembering his first coming as a babe in Bethlehem and his second coming when he returns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Our sermon series examines, “Questions of Christmas,” that may have been asked by those in the first Christmas story.

The love of God can break through in strange places and at odd times.   This Advent season, I invite you to consider how God can “sing” through your life, using you as a vessel of love, light and joy this season.

Jesus calls his disciples to be “salt” and “light.”  This Christmas season I invite you to choose to be generous and include a gift to missions in honor of Christ’s birth on your shopping list.

‘Tis the season to be salt and light!   

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Dear Friends, ‘Tis the Thanksgiving Season

I do not know about you, but Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year. Yes, I enjoy the food, football, and playing cards. (No gambling, I’m a good United Methodist.) But more importantly, I enjoy the family connections and conversations at the table, in the living room, or the kitchen. It’s a very laid back kind of day.

I’m not sure what your family tradition is around Thanksgiving Day. It may be similar, or much different. You may be married and part of a large family and have to make a couple of stops to visit folks. It could be you are a single person and hanging out with friends. And if you choose to be alone this Thanksgiving Day, that’s okay too.

But whatever you decide to do or who you choose to be with, “be thankful, give thanks to God.” There is always much to be thankful for if we only stop and think about it. Start a new tradition this Thanksgiving. Do it in the form of a praise prayer to God or take a moment and jot down or journal your thankfulness down on paper. Share it silently or shout it out to God.

I’m very thankful to God for each of you. The family of faith here at Hyde Park Community is a gift. I thank God for our times of worship, study, faith-sharing, prayer, celebration, and the ways we are in service in our city and in other parts of the world. I praise God for our theological diversity, servant leadership, caring hearts, and our spiritual connectedness, lived out in Christian community. We are a blessed and beloved people. I am thankful. I’m sure many of you feel the same way I do about our church family. Give thanks to God!

Psalm 100: 4 “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise; give him thanks and praise his name. “

It’s my hope and prayer that you and your families have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Bountiful Blessings,

Pastor Dave Weaver

Investing in Mission and Ministry

The ministry and outreach of Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church is  healthy.  Our mission is to “Share the love of Jesus to transform Lives, Cincinnati, and the World”.  It is bearing fruit in ways seen and unseen, touching people that we know by name and have never met.  Your financial investment in the mission and ministry of Hyde Park Community has ensured this current reality.  We celebrate how God has been at work in our lives this past year, and seek to follow where God is leading us in 2017.

On October 23 we were invited to make our 2017 financial commitments to God in worship.  Our worship was a celebration of God’s blessings and a response to God’s calling to be a blessing.  The commitments received to date bear witness to the generous hearts, and giving spirit of Hyde Park Community!

If you were unable to join us on October 23, or have not been able to make your 2017 financial commitment I invite you to prayerfully consider how you will support the mission and ministry of Hyde Park Community through your financial resources.  If you have already turned in your 2017 commitment, Thank You!  Thank you for your willingness to partner with God in the “marriage of heaven and earth”!

Through your extravagant generosity the broken are healed, the hungry are fe/d; children are encouraged and mentored, and our relationship with God and one another deepen.  Lives are transformed!  I look forward to where God is leading Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church in 2017, and count it a privilege to make the journey with you!  May God’s blessings abound as we commit ourselves to God’s calling.  I look forward to seeing you in Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

Praying for Our Nation

Praying for our Nation

As people who serve Christ, the Lord of all, I invite you to pray with me for our nation, especially this week:

O God, we acknowledge You today as Lord, not only of individuals, but of nations and governments. We thank You for the privilege of voting freely in our nation. Thank You for Your law, which our founders acknowledged and recognized as higher than any human law.  Bless our nation, O God.

We thank You for the opportunity to choose leaders who will work among us for the good of all. Guide our minds and hands to choose leaders who will seek to serve You. Awaken us, O God. Empower us to respond to Your call, not to be a sect running from the world, but a community of faith walking forward to renew the world. 

We rejoice that we are citizens of Your kingdom.  Remind us that we are, above all, Your beloved children. May our identity make us all the more committed to being faithful citizens on earth. We pray in the name of Jesus, who is the Christ, Amen.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Church Conference and the Master Plan

On November 6 at 4:00 pm, Hyde Park Community/Over The Rhine Community United Methodist Church will hold our Annual Church Conference in the sanctuary.  The Annual Church Conference reviews the membership roll, elects the church leadership, sets the salary for the pastoral staff, and other items as needed.  On November 6, in addition to the above, Hyde Park Community will vote on moving forward with the Master Plan.

In 2013 Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church received, and approved, a recommendation from The Armstrong Group to:  “create a long term Master Plan with associated costing to lay a roadmap for future capital projects to meet evolving ministry and missional needs.”  Shortly after the decision was made, The MSA Architectural firm was engaged to lead HPCUMC in the creation of a Master Plan.

Late fall 2015 MSA Architects presented their report to the Servant Leadership Board, and with input from the Facilities Team the Servant Leadership Board approved the Master Plan as our road map into the future, aligning our facilities with our mission and ministry.  On November 6 the Church Conference will be asked to approve the formation of a building committee to phase the Master Plan, and create a plan for implementing the first phase; which includes, but is not limited to, a timeline, architectural and funding plans.

Every member of Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church is a voting member of the Church Conference.  Join us on November 6 at 4:00 pm in the Sanctuary, as we celebrate the ministry and mission of HPCUMC/OTRCC, and take this exciting step forward, living into our Master Plan. I look forward to seeing you at our Church Conference, may God’s blessings abound as we strive to be faithful to God’s calling.

Following in Bishop Colaw’s Footsteps

Bishop Emerson Colaw touched countless lives, including mine, and will be deeply missed.  At his memorial service last week, hundreds gathered to thank God for this man’s incredible life.  Bishop Colaw was:

  • a  modern day “Barnabas,” an encourager of laity and clergy
  • a beloved father, spouse, grandfather, brother, and cherished friend to many
  • a “dapper” man who always wore a blazer
  • a person who invested his life in building  community
  • a man whose quick wit and twinkle in his eye always lifted our spirits
  • an innovative leader who embraced the future
  • a person who loved sacrificially, following Christ’s example to serve others
  • a generous man who invested his time and resources in Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church, a place where people find hope and healing in Jesus’ name.

How can I say thanks to God for Emerson?  By seeking to love, humbly and without condition, and by reflecting the love of Christ through my investment of time and money in what God is doing through Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church.

This Sunday is Commitment Sunday.  May our investments in building God’s kingdom in 2017 reflect both the love we have for Jesus, who is the Christ, and our desire to follow in the footsteps of the faithful who have gone before us.

May we, as Emerson did, embrace the future with hope as we seek to build God’s kingdom here on earth.

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Prayer Labyrinth Re-Installed!

The Prayer Labyrinth, first put in use at the Erie facility, has found a new home at the Grace and Observatory location.  As you turn from Observatory onto Meier you will see the prayer labyrinth in the yard adjacent to the chapel.  When the Erie building was sold, the prayer labyrinth was disassembled and stored in the Peebles house garage.  The property team earlier this year approved the reinstallation of the prayer labyrinth at the current location.

What is a “prayer labyrinth”?  “A prayer labyrinth is a labyrinth used to facilitate prayer, meditation, and spiritual transformation.” The most famous prayer labyrinth is located in the cathedral of Chartres, France.  While prayer labyrinths have been used in Catholic cathedrals for centuries, the past decade has seen a resurgence in their popularity among mainline protestant denominations.

The prayer labyrinth (a gift to Hyde Park Community from one of our members) is an addition to the many ways a person can engage in the life of Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church.  As individuals and groups use the prayer labyrinth in their discipleship journey, they find clarity of the call to love God, love neighbor, and love as Christ Jesus has loved us.  God speaks into our lives to participate in the mission of Hyde Park Community: To share the love of Jesus to transform lives, Cincinnati and the world!

I pray, in the days ahead, you will be able to enjoy the prayer labyrinth as an individual or as part of a group, and that it enriches your relationship with God and others!  See you in Church.

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

The Marriage of Heaven and Earth

Jesus often taught about the kingdom of God.  The kingdom of God was not something afar and otherworldly; the Kingdom of God is here and now.  As beloved Children of God we are called, encouraged, coaxed into a relationship with God that leads to our participation in God’s “new creation.”  Begun at Jesus’ resurrection, God’s new creation continues through you and me; “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

As partners with God in revealing God’s new creation, we are participants in the Marriage of heaven and earth. Thus, the kingdom of God is a reality that we lean into as we love God, and we love those whom God loves. However, too often our human condition gets in the way.  Father Richard Rohr says it best, we live in a “winner-takes-all society” and we’ve embraced the secular teaching, “dignity must always be ‘acquired’ and earned”.

Father Rohr says, “We live in an affluent society that’s always expecting more, wanting more, and believes it even deserves more. But the more we own, ironically enough, the less we enjoy . . ..  If you don’t live from within your own center of connection and communion, you’ll go spinning around things.” (Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation, Tuesday, October 4, 2016)  As we love God with all of who we are: our finances, our time; in our work and relationships we love holding onto hope, a hope that draws us back to the center of who we are, God’s beloved.  It is in this hope, grounded in God’s love, that we begin to experience God’s new creation and become partners in revealing God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven!

All that we have, and all of who we are belongs to God, When we live life from the center of this reality, we possess a peace that the world cannot give, nor take away; we possess a joy that transcends our circumstances; we are a new creation participating in God’s new creation!  See you in church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

Hope for The Blue Planet

During my doctoral studies at Chicago Theological Seminary I took a World Prayer class.  My colleagues in the course represented more than seven countries.  One of our assignments was to go and watch the IMAX film “The Blue Planet.”

It is an amazing film!  We were able to see what lightning strikes look like from space.  You could see the outline of the Great Wall of China.  We also, as the title suggests, saw a lot of blue, as nearly 71% of the earth’s surface is water!

When you consider God’s plan to send Jesus to this blue planet that we call home, did you ever wonder what would be on Jesus’ job description?   The answer is in the scripture for this Sunday.  Jesus stands up in Nazareth, reads from a scroll of the prophet Isaiah, and shares with everyone why He is here and what He came to do.

As 21st Century Christians who follow Jesus, claiming to be His disciples, we are called to continue the work He began.  Jesus of Nazareth, who is the Christ, started a revolution that changed the world.

This Sunday our faith community will bring a special offering to God:  our service commitments.  A simple list will be provided on an insert listing opportunities for you to serve Christ in the coming year.  God has blessed you with unique gifts, skills, and talents.  We are invited to change the world, in Jesus’ name, one life at a time.  Please join us this Sunday as we boldly claim allegiance to Jesus and join in His revolution to change the world.

I look forward to seeing you this Sunday!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy

Deepening Relationships

Sunday, October 2 is World Wide Communion Sunday. World Wide Communion Sunday was set aside as an ecumenical expression of a spiritual reality in Christ Jesus.  Christians across the globe will celebrate communion on this day.  The prayer consecrating the bread and wine invokes God’s presence through the outpouring of God’s spirit; the bread and cup become the “Holy Essence” of Christ’s body and blood, and we who partake become the body of Christ, redeemed by His blood, to the world.

On October 2, at the 8:00 worship service we will celebrate World Wide Communion Sunday, via live stream, with our brothers and sisters at Samara United Methodist Church, Samara Russia.  We will share in the liturgy, and both the Wesley choir, and the Samara choir will offer God’s word through song.  As we worship together we grow together in faith and love.

In addition, as we seek to deepen our relationship with Samara UMC, we will have a Skype Conversation, Saturday, October 8, 9:00 am at the parsonage, 2928 Alpine Terrace.  If you are willing and able to join us on October 9, please rsvp by either calling the Church office: 513-871-1345, or use the comment section of the communication sheet!

Mission Trip to Romania 2017! As the Body of Christ in the Global Community we will send a team to our United Methodist churches in Romania.  Do you have a heart for missions? A call to minister to children? A passion for those who are vulnerable living in our Global Community? A heart for orphans? Are your spiritual gifts in leadership or discerning? Please prayerfully consider joining the mission team heading to Cluj, Romania on March 2 – 9, 2017.

In March we will be taking an exploratory trip to minister alongside our brothers and sisters as they reach out to the orphans in their city, and the Roma in their neighboring towns. We are seeking to explore whether God is calling HPCUMC into partnership with these Romanian churches.

If the Spirit is stirring in your heart, please pray about whether God is calling you to use your gifts to help minister in Romania and discern possible partnership on this upcoming trip. For more information, mark your calendars for October 9, 12:15 pm when there will be an informational meeting, or email Sarah Putman at sputman@hpcumc.org.

In Christ,

Pastor Doug