Blessed!

In the 12th chapter of Genesis we read about the blessing of Abram (name soon to be changed to Abraham).However, we not only read of Abram’s blessing, but his purpose: “I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” (Gen. 12:3). As God’s beloved not only are we chosen, we are blessed; not merely blessed, but blessed for a purpose!

Henri Nouwen in his book, Life of the Beloved, writes:

“The blessings that we give to each other are expressions of the blessing that rests on us from all eternity. It is the deepest affirmation of our true self.  It is not enough to be chosen. We also need an ongoing blessing that allows us to hear in an ever-new way that we belong to a loving God who will never leave us alone, but will remind us always that we are guided by love on every step of our lives…When we are thrown up and down by the little waves on the surface of our existence, we become easy victims of our manipulative world, but when we continue to hear the deep gentle voice that blesses us, we can walk through life with a stable sense of well-being and true belonging.” (p.72-73)

When we remember whose we are and who we are: Chosen by God – blessed and beloved by God, we are moved to love as we have been loved. Consequently, we participate in Christ’s resurrection, and become a “new creation”, participating with God in God’s “new creation”.

Richard Rohr writes, “The brilliant Anglican theologian, N.T. Wright, concludes that we have largely missed Paul’s major theme. . . . .  Wright believes the great and supreme idea of Paul is that the new temple of God is the human person.” (Daily Devotion, The Apostle Paul: The Evolution of the Temple, May 14, 2017).  Chosen and beloved, redeemed and baptized we are the temple of God, in whom the glory and power of God resides, and flows into the world (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).  Empowered, we become the Body of Christ to the world, partners with God, a conduit for God’s blessings, transforming the world around us. I look forward to seeing you in Church where together we are reminded we are beloved and blessed!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

Breaking Bread Together

Consider the joy of breaking bread together….

It is a wonderful thing to sit at the table with family or friends and share a meal together.  Good food, with great conversation, is a wonderful combination!

This weekend we begin a new sermon series based on Henri Nouwen’s book, Life of the Beloved. In the next few weeks we will be studying what it means to live as a disciple of Jesus  as part of an authentic  Christian community.  The four verbs that are included in the liturgy for the Eucharist (the Sacrament of Holy Communion) will be explored:  Taken, Blessed, Broken, and Given.

Jesus did some of his best work at the table, breaking bread with others:

He ate dinner with Zacchaeus, a known tax collector, who was delighted to host Jesus in his home

He enjoyed food, friendship, and fellowship in Bethany with his friends, Lazarus, Martha, and Mary

The night before He was crucified, Jesus took ancient symbols of bread and wine, used in the Passover feast, and invited His followers to be a part of a new covenant, communing together in remembrance of Him. 

As the Risen Christ, He revealed His identity to His companions in Emmaus as He broke bread with them.                                                                                                                                       

In our world today which seems bent on division and discord, not unity and harmony, this sermon series will challenge us to embrace our neighbors in love as we step up to be the body of Christ.

We look forward to sharing the Lord’s Day with you this weekend.

Joy in our Risen Lord,

Pastor Cathy Johns

Our Purpose

Rick Warren, the non-denominational pastor of Saddleback Church in California, wrote a book in early 2000.  The book was titled: “The Purpose-Driven Life.”  In his book he poses several questions. Why am I here?  Does my life matter?  What is my purpose?  Warren later wrote another book titled: “The Purpose-Driven Church.” Both were best sellers.

The scriptures help us to know that God’s purposes are at work or being fulfilled. Here are some scriptures that support my thinking on this.

“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2). 

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21).

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12-13).

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace” (2 Timothy 1:9).

More questions for us all to ponder:  Are we living out our purpose for God’s Kingdom here on earth?   Is our purpose Christ-centered or self-centered?  Is the Holy Spirit actively at work in us to fulfill a greater purpose?

We are still focusing on Christ’s resurrection this week in worship.  The sermon series is titled: “He Lives.”  We are resurrected people.  As followers of the risen Christ, I do believe he gives us a purpose.  It’s my hope all go away from worship this Sunday empowered to live out this purpose.

In Christ,

Dave Weaver

Leave a Legacy

Endowment programs have a positive impact on the life of a congregation.  Endowment programs offer families and individuals the opportunity to leave a legacy to their beloved church, a legacy that bears fruit, fruit abundant!  HPCUMC has been a transformative presence through the life-stages of many: birth, baptism, confirmation, graduation, marriage and death.  As a result, a deep and abiding love for our faith community has become the motivation for making a gift to the HPCUMC endowment, ensuring and enhancing the ministries of HPCUMC for future generations.

Hyde Park Community has been blessed by the foresight of those who have gone before us to leave such a legacy gift.  From the first gift, under the leadership of Bishop Emerson Colaw, to the 26 million dollar endowment it is today, the endowment has enhanced the vision and mission of HPCUMC.  From support of the facilities, to the support of our outreach/mission programs and missionaries, the HPCUMC endowment has been a part of partnering with God to bring God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. From scholarships awarded to our young adults in college to scholarships awarded to those interested in short term mission opportunities, the income from the HPCUMC endowment has been actively involved in making disciples and facilitating intellectual, and spiritual growth.

The beauty of the Endowment program is that no gift is too small, whether $25 or two million dollars, the endowment program provides the opportunity for individuals and families to leave a legacy to the church they love.  We invite you to make a gift to the endowment, and/or including HPCUMC in your estate plans.  I would love to talk with you about leaving a Legacy Gift to HPCUMC, and discuss how your legacy gift can make a difference.

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

Peace

Jesus, post resurrection, enters the upper room and proclaims “Peace be with you.”  The word “peace” has different meanings depending upon context and culture.  What is this peace Jesus speaks of?

The “peace” Jesus invokes is more than the absence of anxiety and fear. It’s a peace that is contrary to the ways of the world and offers healing. Anointed in the peace of Jesus we experience healing and participate with God in the healing of others, our community and in the world.

The question becomes how do I move beyond the hearing of Jesus’ words and experience the peace Jesus offers?  Father Richard Rohr writes in his book, A Spring Within Us,

“To finally surrender ourselves to healing, we have to have three spaces opened up within us – and all at the same time: our opinionated head, our closed-down heart, and our defensive and defended body.  That is the summary work of spirituality . . . As you surely have heard before, religion is lived by people who are afraid of hell; spirituality is lived by people who have been through hell and come out enlightened. . . .  Honestly, it takes major surgery and much of one’s life for happiness, and their many forms of resistance to what is right in front of them.  This is the meat and muscle of the whole conversion process.” (p.246)

The peace Jesus offers, and sends His disciples to offer to others, is a peace that is juxtaposed to the peace the world offers.  It’s not the absence of war, violence, or conflict; it is the absence of injustice, hatred, and systemic evil.  To move beyond hearing and experience the peace Jesus offers we need to allow the peace of Jesus to open and transform our “opinionated head, our closed-down heart, and our defensive and defended body.”  Then and only then will we be able to live from the center of Christ’s “peace”.  Then and only then will we be full partners with God in God’s acts of “new creation”!  I look forward to seeing you in church as we seek to live the “peace” Jesus offers.

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

The Doctor is IN!

Easter is many different things to many different people. Easter is my favorite day of the year. The victory over sin and death has been won. We are healed through the power of God who raised Jesus from the dead.  We join the voices of people around the world who claim the victory that is ours:

“Christ is Risen!  Alleluia!”

But what difference does the Resurrection make in my life?

Someone once said, “Jesus walks in when the world has walked out.”

Jesus wants you to experience the deep abiding joy of His presence.  Celebrate with me today the Risen Christ who brings healing to:

our selfish natures and invites us to give ourselves

away in love for others….

Jesus is the Lord of Love

our hearts which can become weary and tired….

Jesus is the Good Shepherd

our broken dreams,  and picks up the pieces of our lives….

Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life

our bodies and minds, plagued by worry and illness….

Jesus is the Great Physician

our fears about life and death….

Jesus is the Keeper of our Souls

Today we celebrate that Jesus Christ, the Great Physician, is present with us:  The Doctor is in!

May your Easter be filled with love, peace, and deep, abiding joy!

Joy in our Risen Lord,

Pastor Cathy

Journey to Easter

This Easter season I invite you to prayerfully consider supporting our Global Ministry Partners. Your financial gift and prayers help sustain the passion and purpose of our partners. Your gift fulfills the Great Commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

If you would like to join in equipping our Global Partners, please make your donation by writing a check to Hyde Park Community UMC, “Easter Offering” on the memo line. Use the envelope in your Sunday bulletin, give online, or mail your check to the church office.

Your generosity changes lives around the world as our partners strive to meet the needs of the communities they serve:

Germany:   Our partners in Chemnitz, Germany continue to run their Checkpoint after school program for children.

Haiti:  Quality educations, as well as access to meals during the school day, are two of the primary goals of Faith Academy. Your financial donations will help to continue to provide both to children who otherwise would have to go without.

The Henrys:   We will continue to provide prayer and financial support for our missionaries in Asia Minor.

Kentucky:   In 2017, HPCUMC is teaming up with the University of Cincinnati’s Audiology Department to provide hearing aids to the people at Red Bird Mission Center.

Romania:  As we discern the details of a partnership, we’re focusing on leadership training, ministry with the Roma as well as Romanians, and work with orphans.

Russia:   With your generosity we are able to translate Christian education materials into Russian, help with the purchase of a church vehicle, and mentor Samara UM Church leaders. There is a Mission Trip planned for January 2018.  If you are interested in being part of the team, contact Kevin Betts or me.

The Easter offering is your opportunity to partner with God to bring God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Thank you for your generosity, I look forward to seeing you in church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

Bishop Emerson Colaw Lecture Series

On April 2 at the 9:30 & 11:00 am worship services,  Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church welcomes The Rev. Lisa Sharon Harper as we launch The Bishop Colaw Lecture series.  The lecture series is part of a new partnership with United Theological Seminary’s Center for Global Renewal and Mission.  The Bishop Emerson and Jane Colaw Lecture/Leadership Endowment fund underwrites the partnership.

Bishop Emerson Colaw served Hyde Park Community UMC as Senior Pastor for 19 years (1961-1980).  Elected a Bishop in 1980, Bishop Colaw served the Minnesota Annual Conference.  Upon his retirement Bishop Colaw became an Adjunct Professor and Interim President of United Theological Seminary.  In the early fall of 2016 Bishop Colaw, United Seminary, and I discussed and established the Bishop Emerson Colaw Lecture Series.

Dr. Kent Millard, President of United Theological Seminary, writes: “The First Bishop Colaw lecturer and speaker for United’s annual Vision to Victory ML King celebration will be Lisa Sharon Harper from New York City.  Rev. Harper received her master’s degree in human rights from Columbia University and ordination in the Evangelical Covenant Church.  Currently she is the chief church engagement officer for Sojourners magazine and speaks around the world on issues of faith, justice and peace.  She is the author of The Very Good Gospel (2016).”  Rev. Harper will speak at United Theological Seminary (4501 Denlinger Rd.  Dayton) Monday, April 3, on her book.  Dr. Millard invites all who are able to “attend and participate in a lively discussion about how we practice our faith in the world today.”

As we partner with God to bring God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, we celebrate this new partnership. See you in Church!

In Christ,

Pastor Doug

Popcorn’s Seductive Power

Have you ever driven to a movie theater and given yourself a huge pep talk about how you are not going to cave in and buy the popcorn?  After all, you really are not hungry, and you know that you do not need the extra calories.

You totally convince yourself that you are strong, fortified like a knight for battle, and then you walk through the door of the theater.

And then it hits you.

The smell of freshly popped popcorn, wafting through the air, finds its way to you.  Your senses are overwhelmed…and before you know it, you are standing in front of the concession counter.  Moments later, you walk away, gently cradling this bag of wondrous delight with your hands.

This week we continue the sermon series, “Love Speaks.”  As we examine Jesus’ words of love spoken from the Cross, we find a glimpse of his longing, of his humanity: “I Thirst.”

This Lenten season I invite you to listen to the longing of your soul that can only be filled through Jesus, the Bread of Life and the Living Water.  He is ready to renew us and He invites us to simply come and be refreshed through His Spirit.

May this prayer offered by Nancy Spielberg, author of “Bibles and Buckets” richly bless you:

“Lord, I crawled across the bareness to you with my empty cup, uncertain in asking any small drop of refreshment. If only I had known you better. I’d have come running with a bucket.”

Peace,

Pastor Cathy Johns

When Love Speaks!

As Jesus hung on the cross Jesus spoke: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Matthew 27:46). Feeling “forsaken” is something most of us have experienced in our lives.

When those days come, I offer this prayer from Dr. Leonard Sweet:

Draw me today into fresh encounters with Jesus, O God.
Make me a servant of love
so that others may know how much You love them
and I may know how much You love me.
Let me not be afraid of new pastures,
whether they be green or brown or parched.
And as I pass through whatever the day’s valleys,
keep my head lifted up to the mountain,
from whence my help comes.
Never let me forget the people Jesus welcomed…
   the greedy and the great,
   the bad and the good,
   the respected and the cheats.
Even as the world becomes more callous and chaotic,
may I never underestimate Your capacity
to fashion the miraculous from the monstrous,
even to make me a choice masterpiece
from the mire and the clay.
(written by Leonard Sweet, posted on Preach the Story. https://preachthestory.com)

Speaking these words from the cross, Jesus is teaching us the truth behind Psalm 22; God is with us, God is for us! I look forward to seeing you in Church.
In Christ,
Pastor Doug