Eleanor’s Advice: What to Do With Your Candle

Eleanor Roosevelt, the first lady during some of the most tumultuous years of the 20th Century, was a determined, strong woman.  No matter how many struggles she faced, she strove to hold onto a positive attitude and sought to make the world a better place.  She once said:

“It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”

The world, friends, seems to be deepening its bent toward hate, division, and violence.  Millions are struggling in the wake of shootings and natural disasters.  What are we as the Church to do?

Jesus is clear:  “You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hid.  Let your light so shine so that everyone may see your good works and give glory to God in heaven.” (from Matthew 5)

What does shining in the darkness look like?  Here are a couple of ideas:

Bring in a card to Pastor Cathy’s office for United Methodist pastors in Las Vegas who are serving in the wake of the violence. “Thinking of You” and “Praying for You” cards will be sent from our congregation to United Methodist pastors who are serving their city in the aftermath of the shooting earlier this month.  Please bring your cards in to the church office by Monday, October 23.  They will be put in large envelopes and mailed to the Las Vegas pastors with a letter from our congregation.  The church will pay postage.

Make a contribution to UMCOR, the United Methodist Committee on Relief which is responding to needs in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Florida, and Texas.  When national or international disasters come, the United Methodist Church shows up with blankets, water, medicine, and personnel to serve as the hands and feet of Christ.  Please send your check through Hyde Park Community UMC marked for UMCOR Relief in the area of your choice.  Our  finance office will forward your gift to UMCOR.  100% of your gift will aid those in need.

Thanks for being a congregation that is willing to stand up and hold up candles to the darkness!   Shine on!

Peace,

Pastors Cathy and Doug

Sally Snowman: Light Keeper

America’s first lighthouse, Boston Light, celebrated its 300th anniversary in September of 2016.  Sally Snowman (her real name) is the keeper of the lighthouse.  The original tower was built in 1716; it was blown up by the British in 1776.  Sally is the 70th keeper of the lighthouse.   While the roles have changed with automation, Sally takes her role seriously.  She gives tours, maintains the grounds, and manages 90 volunteers.

I invite you to consider your role in the Body of Christ this month.  Are you a keeper of the light of Christ?  Do your thoughts, words, and deeds send out light and encouragement? Are you sharing the light of Christ with others or hiding it under a bushel?

At Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church we are committed to shine the light of Christ – here in our neighborhood, in the city, in our nation, and around the world.  This is more than just a “cute slogan;” it is our mission.  We are not a church that focuses inwardly, simply concerned with ourselves, but outwardly – committed to loving God and neighbor.  We are a community of faith that is committed to bringing heaven to earth and walking outside our walls with candles of hope, to bring healing and hope to as many people as we can.

I am praying for you and your family as you consider how you want to share Christ’s light.   When you support the ministry of the church with your prayers, presence, financial gifts, service, and witness, you are brightening the world with the love of Christ.

Rejoicing in the Light of Christ,

Pastor Cathy

UMCOR: The First to Arrive and The Last to Leave

Beloved children of God in Texas, Florida, the southeast, Puerto Rico, and Mexico City have had their lives turned upside down by recent natural disasters.  UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) is the emergency relief arm of our denomination.  UMCOR is known for being the first to arrive and the last to leave when disaster hits anywhere in the world.  Julie Dwyer writes, “While Irma, Harvey and Maria dominate news headlines, the United Methodist Committee on Relief hasn’t forgotten about Matthew (September, 2016 devastating hurricane).  “We really are there for the long haul,” said the Rev. Russell Pierce, interim executive director of mission engagement and director of ‘The Advance’, the designated giving channel of The United Methodist Church.” (UMNS, 9/26/17)

Our West Ohio Communications team writes, “As disasters continue to make headlines, we invite you to continue remembering our neighbors in your prayers. At least 237 people have died in Mexico City from the 7.1 magnitude earthquake. Widespread destruction is visible across the city. Hurricane Maria has devastated Puerto Rico and other Caribbean Islands with catastrophic flooding. May we be resilient in our generosity of love and financial resources so that those impacted will know that they are indeed beloved children of God.”

As we begin our sermon series: “Light The Way” we have an opportunity to be the light of Christ to those in the shadow of these natural disasters.  Many of us have already offered financial support, however, if you are still looking for a way to help our sisters and brothers faced with disaster I invite you to give through The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR): Domestic Disaster Response Advance #901670 and International Disaster Response Advance #982450.  You can give on-line: www.umcor.com; write a check to the church: HPCUMC memo = Disaster Relief; or mail your check to: Advance GCFA, P.O. Box 9068, New York, N.Y.  10087-9068

It’s a joy to be a United Methodist, and a privilege to serve in ministry with you!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

The Explosion of Choice

A research study recently asked 100 Japanese and American students to write down the decisions that they would like to make for themselves on a sheet of paper.  On the other side they were asked to write down decisions they preferred others choose for them.

When Americans wrote their entries for decisions they preferred to make themselves, the page was filled quickly.  It included items such as where to live and the type of job they would pursue.  The flip side was almost empty; the only decision most Americans wanted to pass along to someone else was the time of their death.

The Japanese had very different results, filling up the side with the things they preferred others would choose for them, including what they wore, what time they would awaken, and their occupation.

The researchers concluded that Americans desired to make their own choices four times more than the Japanese.  David Brooks, a New York Times columnist, notes:  “Americans now have more choices over more things than any other culture in human history.  He adds that it is “becoming incredibly important to learn to decide well.”

Today, I invite you to consider: “How do I want to serve Christ in the coming year?”  Please visit the Ministry Fair in the Welcome Center today.  IThe ministry fair celebrates many of the ministry teams that make a difference in our church family.  On October 1, we will dedicate our service inventories in worship.

I will be praying for God to guide your decision; it is a joy to serve Christ with each one of you!

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Possessing God’s Wisdom!

At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream, God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” (1 Kings 3:5)  Are you familiar with Solomon’s story, what he asks for and what he received?  God gave Solomon a blank check, and what did Solomon ask for?  Wisdom.  Read 1 Kings 3:1-12, a great story of not asking for what I want, but for what I need, and in turn receive blessing upon blessing.

God’s wisdom is available to all who seek God. Ultimately, we find in Solomon’s story God’s desire to anoint God’s beloved with God’s wisdom.  How?  God gives us the answer in the “Shema” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

Thus, when we understand and embrace that God alone is our God, give our “all” loving the Lord our God, the wisdom of God is ours and becomes profoundly real.  Richard Rohr in his book A Spring Within Us writes, “St. Bonaventure called God ‘A Fountain Fullness.’  Once we begin with outpouring love as the foundational pattern of reality and love as the very shape of God, then everything somehow has to fall into the same family resemblance.  If this is the Creator, then somehow this must be the DNA of all of the creatures.” (p.362-363)

Love is “the very shape of God”!  Like Solomon we are blessed with wisdom, and much more, when we with intentionality, love God with our all.  This is God’s gift to all who seek it.  I look forward to seeing you in Church as we seek God’s Wisdom, through what Jesus calls “the greatest commandment”, the “Shema”.

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

Stallone: The Church is the Gym of the Soul

Sylvester Stallone was raised in a Christian home, attended Catholic schools and was “taught the faith.”  In a 2006 interview he shares that as he went out into the “real world,” temptation came and he lost his way, making a lot of bad choices, including putting his career ahead of his faith and family.

There was a point when he reached back to his Christian heritage.  Stallone shares:  “The more I go to church and the more I turn myself over to the process of believing in Jesus and listening to his Word and having him guide my hand, I feel as though the pressure is off me now.”

Stuart Shepard, the interviewer, shares another one of Stallone’s lessons on self-reliance: “You need to have the expertise and the guidance of someone else,” he said. “You cannot train yourself. I feel the same way about Christianity and about what the church is: The church is the gym of the soul.”

Being a part of a Christian community means partnering with God to bring heaven to earth, transforming all of creation, one life at a time. One way to do this is through the Ministry Fair, September 24.  Please stop by the Welcome Center on September 24 to learn about ways to serve Christ through Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church.

On Sunday, October 1, we will be offering our service commitments to God on World-Wide Communion Sunday.

It is a joy to be a part of this community of faith where I can come and deepen my walk with God in our “gym of the soul!”

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

God is Calling

Hyde Park Community UMC is a faith community that believes in “gift based ministry”. God gifted you and me and calls each of us to specific tasks, ministries, and missions that utilize our giftedness in powerful and profound ways.  Hence, the weekly News and Happenings features “One and Done” Service Opportunities to help you connect our gifts in service (please see the need and respond accordingly).

God is calling! Specifically, is God calling you to use your gifts on the Servant Leadership Board?  The Servant Leadership Board is charged with guarding and championing the vision and mission of the congregation, strategically aligning our resources to share the love of Jesus to transform lives in our community, Cincinnati, and the world; engaging more people in ministry and mission, not meetings.

The Servant Leadership Board meets once a month (currently the second Monday of the month), additional responsibilities vary according to church programming.  Spiritual leadership is developed through a balance of loving (God and one another), learning (leadership development), and leading (making decisions that keep HPC aligned with the vision and mission).  The qualifications for serving on the Servant Leadership Board:

1) Be a member of Hyde Park Community UMC  for a minimum of one year; 2) Fulfill the membership vows of the United Methodist Church, supporting Hyde Park Community through prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness; 3) Possess a desire to serve Jesus Christ with excellence and demonstrate a history of this through prior service and current priorities; 4) Shall be of adult age (18 or older).

Is God calling you to use your gifts on the Servant Leadership Board?  Applications to serve on the Servant Leadership Board are available in the Welcome Center, and the church office.  Applications will be received through October 15.  If you have questions, please contact Pastor Cathy: cjohns@hpcumc.org or 513-979-8182.

God calls us to use our gifts in mission and ministry.  In whatever way you choose to serve, it is a joy and privilege to serve in ministry with you.  I look forward to seeing you in Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

Job Description of A Lighthouse Keeper

The National Park Service has a 124- page manual to describe the duties of lighthouse keeper.

Here are a few of the tasks:

  • Light the beacon well before dusk.
  • Inspect the Fresnel lens, with its many prisms, which was cleaned that morning.
  • Check the lamp that produces the light and refill with fuel.
  • Trim the wick and light it
  • Unlock the gears that cause the lens to revolve
  • Check the weather with a telescope frequently
  • Attend to shipwrecked persons or notify others to bring aid to those in peril on the sea

Although the pay was minimal, lighthouse keepers were well-respected individuals in the community.

This week’s new sermon series, “Finding God,” reminds us that God is there always – like a faithful lighthouse shining in the night – to guide and direct us.  Like ships that drift off course, sometimes we can lose our way and get dangerously close to the rocks.  God, however, is never lost, but stands firmly on the shore, shining brightly, wanting nothing more than to welcome us home.

May God richly bless you this weekend as you seek the peace found in God,  our refuge and strength.     

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Commissioned!

We who claim to follow Jesus have been commissioned; over time it has become known as “The Great Commission” (Matthew 28: 16-20).  Webster’s New World Dictionary defines commission, “ An authorization to perform certain duties or tasks, or to take on certain powers; authority to act in behalf of another”.  Our commission from Jesus is an appointing, authorizing, and empowering to “teach all that I have commanded you” and baptize!

To this end Jesus left us with two commandments: “The Great Commandment”, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and first commandment” (Matthew 22:37-39).  The second commandment is the  “New Commandment”, “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:10-12).  Father Richard Rohr writes, “Love is what you were made for and love is who you are.” (Center for Action and Contemplation “A Flash of Love”, Wednesday, August 9, 2017).

We have been “commissioned”, and where did Jesus “appoint” us? The world. To whom did Jesus “authorize” us to speak? All people.  Given “authority” to do what? Teach what Jesus has commanded: Love God and love others as we have been loved.  “Love is what you were made for and love is who you are.”

In the wake of Charlottesville, VA.  The West Ohio Conference Bishop, Bishop Palmer, quoting Luke 19:41-42 writes, “these two verses, for reasons that I cannot concretely say, have come to me again and again.  I suspect it has everything to do with my confidence in a God and a Savior who is not far off but as near as our breath.  It is likely also because the God made known in Jesus Christ our Lord both weeps for us, and with us, especially when we have gone astray from God’s dream for us.  Finally, I suspect the text above is naming our apparent congenital blindness about the ways of peace.  May God help us.”  (A message from Bishop Palmer, Tuesday, August 15, 2017.  For the full text visit the West Ohio Conference website: www.westohioumc.org)

We are commissioned – authorized – empowered – anointed with authority – and appointed to go into the world and teach the way of love!  When we love as we have been loved, Dr. Seuss is right: “Oh the places you will go”!  See you in Church.

Love in Christ,

Pastor Doug

Fun in the Sun at OTRCC

Building a church community of genuine and authentic relationships is hard work. The social constructs of race, class, age, etc. all contribute. It takes intentionality, humility, and a willingness to challenge our fellow sisters and brothers as well as to be challenged by them. God has done some tremendous things within OTR Community Church: building up our breakfast ministry that seeks to dismantle the walls between who serves and who receives, planting a community garden in which our neighbors can enjoy the beauty of creation. It’s been a beautiful yet challenging last couple of years.

This is why we as a community need to know how to play. This summer we’ve held one event each month. The people of OTR Community Church, with other friends and family, have come together simply for the purpose of having fun and enjoying each other’s company. In June, we headed down to Fountain Square for Reggae Night and folks relaxed and danced. July was our kayak/canoe trip on the Little Miami, and we enjoyed the slow current, hot sun and awesome friendships. Later on this month we’ll all be gathering for a good ol’ fashioned baseball game at the All American Ballpark.

These moments carve out spaces in our busy lives in which we can begin to learn how to appreciate the moments with the people who mean the most to us. We’ve seen friendships deepen over the summer and new faces joining in. The challenges of our church community do not end, but they become a blessed struggle as our church identity looks more and more like a family of sisters and brothers. We are, after all, called to be the Body of Christ, made up by many members. This summer has been a wonderful opportunity to step into that calling in a very tangible way.

Pastor Ian