Nov. 16, 2017
The Lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud by day, to lead them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light, so that they might travel by day and by night.
I have been living with that passage lately, along with the wider story of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness under the leadership of Moses. Mostly, I’ve been thinking about it in the context of our visioning process, as we discern how to best follow the Spirit’s guidance, step by step, into the exciting future that God has for us.
I’ve also been thinking about it on a more personal level, praying for any of us who might feel like we are in the middle of a wilderness experience of some kind. If that describes you, then imagine yourself as an ordinary Israelite, long into a journey where all you have known is blistering sand, dry heat, and endless miles. You hold out hope for a day when you will see the Promised Land for yourself, respite and relief flowing like milk and honey into your life. But for now, all you can see is that pillar of fire and that billowy cloud, as you write down your reflections …
Day 6,804: Still wandering through the wilderness. Sand in every direction, as far as my eye can see. Still no Promised Land in sight. The days are long and filled with the tedium of routine. For what seems like the hundredth time, we finished assembling our family tent and helped assemble the tabernacle. The children are out gathering the morning manna, and my aging parents are trying their best to stay cool and hydrated. Every day is the same. I’m tired.
I look up at the sky at least two dozen times a day, often out of both habit and boredom. Sometimes I try to will that pillar of fire forward, and wish that cloud into motion, just to feel like I’m making progress. But most of the time, they just stay still. And so do I. I wish I could jump ahead, ahead of Moses and the elders, ahead of the fire and the cloud, ahead of just standing still in this miserable period of waiting. But that is not the way this journey has been.
I am left with little else to do but watch, wait, and be ready to move when it is time to move. When it is time to take the next step forward, God reveals it to us. When it is time to take the next step after that, God makes that clear, too. I try not to worry about the steps that are to come, for long ago I had to let go of my itchiness to predict the future.
For now, I must remain vigilant, patient, and content. God has given me and my family all we need to make it through today. Food, water, shelter, the companionship of others, and freedom from our past. But most of all, God has given us hope. Hope that there are brighter days ahead, without fear or sadness, worry or want. And with every move of the fire and the cloud, we are one step – one painstakingly slow but steady step – closer to claiming God’s promise.
Hyde Park family, I encourage you today to be in the moment. Rest in the presence of God, and be open to the presence of others around you. Live in the present. May your every breath be evidence of the Spirit of God within you. Wait with vigilance, so that when God makes it clear for you to take the next step, you will be rested and ready to follow that fire and that cloud.
The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist
Thanksgiving arrives next week, followed by the pinnacle of consumer excess, “Black Friday.”
Avoid the mall madness and provide meaningful gifts. We are offering everyone another option for gifts. You can honor your friends and family by making a contribution to one of our mission partners, that range from working to end hunger worldwide to assisting local farm workers to helping families in poverty in our city.
Shopping couldn’t be easier.
Browse The List. Make your selections. Submit your payment.
The word “tradition” is defined as the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation. I love this! Traditions are multi-generational, crossing all lines of age and even ethnicity. When we share with our kids and grandkids their lineage and heritage it broadens their perspective and worldview. God made us one and all, so different and yet so much the same. Some of these traditions have been passed down from several generations and keeping them alive will teach your kids about your family culture and faith.
Family traditions can create not only identity in the lives of our kids but can also be the bond as they share things that are unique and special about their individual family. What are some of the family traditions you remember as a child? I love thinking back and remembering things that I did as a child, after all these years it brings me such joy. Many of my childhood memories are the foundation for the traditions that I carried over to my own kids and it is so much fun to watch them pass these traditions down to their children, the legacies live on! My Grandmother’s cornbread Thanksgiving dressing (as she named it) is one of the things my boys love about the holidays, it was passed down from several generations of great Southern cooks. I love that God gives us so many gifts to share and food is truly one of the biggies in our home. Purely by accident I began a “tradition” with our grandkids of creating a bucket list of things to do when we all come together. We have so much fun bringing out the chalkboard and rainbow of colored chalk to create our “wish list” in pictures and in words. They now want to do one for each new season; it brings such joy and anticipation as they dream about the fun seasonal things we can do together.
As we enter this wonderful fall season filled with pumpkins, football and s’mores may we focus a bit on the faith traditions that are important for us to pass to the next generation. What are some tangible ways to pass down your values and passions? As you ponder and pray don’t forget to have fun doing them! Fun can be found in making Thankful Trees to decorate your home, serving a hot meal at your local shelter or baking cookies for your neighbor next door! Modeling love and generosity will change your family and community!
Thanksgiving is coming up quickly, what will that day look like for your family? Start dreaming and planning now so you can create a memory and hopefully a tradition will be born! As you gather your family and friends around the bounty this year what is it that you want them to remember and never forget? You may be surprised that the “little” things are truly the “big” things that matter the most!
Monthly News and Stats
Accomplished January 1 to October 31, 2017
15.1 Million Pounds Gleaned from the Fields
8.6 Million Pounds Shipped in the Potato & Produce Project
A total of 23.7 Million Pounds Collected and Distributed
71 Million Servings of Fresh Produce Provided
5,184 Events Held and 28,267 Volunteers Engaged
News and Events
Yam Jam in North Carolina Provides One Million Servings of Food!
This group from North Carolina State University is just a few of the 1,478 volunteers in the first 5 weekends of the 6-week Yam Jam. So far, more than 310-thousand pounds of sweet potatoes have been collected and distributed, with one more weekend to go – this will feed hundreds of thousands of people!
The Georgia College GIVE Center Distributes SoSA Food to 50 Organizations
200 students and community volunteers joined together on the Milledgeville, Georgia campus on November 4 – “National Make a Difference Day.” At this annual potato drop, the group distributed bags of potatoes to more than 50 organizations, including Chard Wray Food Pantry, Cafe Central, the Baldwin County Life Enrichment Center, Habitat for Humanity, and numerous churches.
Green Beans Become a Feeding Project for Alcoa UMC in Tennessee
The United Methodist Men in this East Tennessee church coordinated the bagging to 6,000 pounds of green beans. The food went to the Louisville Christian Assistance Center, Sunset Gap Community Center, Norris Area Food Pantry, and Manna House in Knoxville, feeding hungry people across two counties.
Middle School Students Get Hands-on Lesson in Gleaning in North Carolina
About 100 8th-graders picked peppers in Mill River at a farm research center. All the food picked was distributed to local food banks by SoSA.
Students at the University of Southern Mississippi at Hattiesburg Feed the Hungry
The Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) at USM partnered with The Society of St. Andrew on this 20,000 pound Sweet Potato Drop. Students helped to address and raise awareness about food insecurity in the Pine Belt area.
Dear Prayer Partners,
Pat is off to PNG again for a month. This time he will be starting a new translation project. The project will include three language groups: Juwal, Urimo and Bungain. All of the scripture portions that they produce will be in audio format only rather than written. This is a new approach which has the potential for reaching many of the small language groups within PNG.
Pray for Pat as he assesses the quality and accuracy of these oral recorded translations.
Pray for the PNG translators from each language as they seek to learn how to orally translate these scripture passages. And that they will become comfortable using the recording software.
Pray that all of the technical aspects of the process will work well. Many computers and other hardware need to function properly for this to succeed.
Pray for the health of everyone involved.
Pray for Melenda while Pat is away for a whole month.
Above all pray that the scripture recordings will have an eternal impact on those who listen to them back in the villages.
We thank you for standing with us and lifting us up in your prayers.
Pat and Melenda
Many know The Salvation Army best for the bells ringing at the Red Kettle during the holidays, but few realize the money raised during this time funds their programs throughout the year. The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign accounts for 82% of the entire operations budget.
Those programs includes a warm bed, a warm shower, and good nutritious meals along with life enrichment services for our homeless residents, assistance with a rent or mortgage payment to prevent homelessness, assistance with utilities, food, medical prescriptions and other essential daily needs. Without this help, some Tampa residents would have to go without. It is the goal of Salvation Army to be diligent in keeping costs down. One way we do this is by recruiting volunteers to help raise funds by ringing the bell.
We have opportunities available and would be grateful, if you would help. You can sign up as an individual, a club, a church group, or start a new tradition—sign up as a family and ring together.
To volunteer please call: 813.226.0914 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or click here.
Bell Ringer Opportunities:
Saturday, Nov. 11, – Saturday, Dec. 23,
10 a.m. — 8 p.m., excluding Sundays.
Shifts are available throughout Hillsborough County: from North Tampa all the way to South County Ruskin area, and from Oldsmar to Plant City.
Salvation Army partners with some of your favorite stores like Wal-Mart, Publix, Sam’s Club, Bass Pro Shop, Winn-Dixie, Walgreens, and Big Lots. Please consider giving the gift of your time this Season.