Midweek Message: Staring Up at Heaven

Midweek Message: Staring Up at Heaven

Dear Hyde Park Family,

A few weeks ago, my daughters and I spent a few days vacationing at a nearby hotel. Lounging poolside, I noticed a group of older elementary-aged kids, laughing and jabbering as they swam.

Then, we all looked up at the sky, and noticed an airplane skywriter. As the pilot began writing a smiley-face symbol, I couldn’t help but overhear what the kids around me were saying.

🙂 ….

Look! There’s a smiley face in the sky!
Yeah, that’s neat!
Hey! Now it’s drawing a letter!

🙂 … J …

It’s the letter J!

🙂 … J … E …

Cool! It’s spelling my name! Jenna! It’s saying “Smile, Jenna!”
That’s stupid. Why would it be saying “Smile, Jenna?”

🙂 … J … E … S …

(At this point, I was less interested in the fact that the skywriter was clearly spelling Jesus, and much more interested in the slow-boiling skirmish erupting among these kids at the pool.)

🙂 … J … E … S … U … S …

See, Jenna. It says, “Jesus.”
“Happy Jesus?” I don’t get it. That’s dumb.
Hey, look, Jenna! (pointing to a boy nearby) There’s that boy you like!
“Hey!” (calling out to the boy across the pool.) “My friend likes you.”
STOP! Why would you do that! I’m never talking to you again!

🙂 … J … E … S … U … S … L …

Hey, Look! It’s still writing letters! Jesus L? What does that mean?
(Kids stop their bickering for a minute, as they watch the skywriter.)

🙂 … J … E … S … U … S … L … O …

Hey, I get it! It’s going to say Jesus LOL!
Jesus LOL? That’s ridiculous! What does that even mean?
It’s saying Jesus is happy! And that smiley face is him!
That’s stupid.
Oh, yeah? Why don’t you ask your boyfriend over there?
Stop it!

🙂 … J … E … S … U … S … L … O … V …

(At this point, I was fairly sure that the skywriter was going to spell out “Jesus Loves You.” But as I listened to these children snipe and snap at each other, much as kids do, I couldn’t help but chuckle. Here was the message of God’s love, stated as plain as day by a plane in the sky. And it was hardly making a difference, at least to us spectators at that hotel pool.)

🙂 … J … E … S … U … S … L … O … V … E … S … U

By the time the plane finished its last word – the letter “U” instead of spelling out the full word – the original symbol of the smiley face had already started to dissipate into oblivion. And as I continued to listen to these distracted, hormone-induced kids splashing and sparring, a flash of Scripture came to mind. It’s the text for this Sunday, as we join with Christians around the world in observing the Ascension of our Lord:

While Jesus was going away and as they were staring toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood next to them. They said, “Galileans, why are you standing here, looking toward heaven?” (Acts 1:11)

Indeed, what good does it do to keep staring up at heaven, if it’s not going to impact at all the way we live, the way we think, and the way we treat other people? Maybe we’re not too unlike those kids at the pool. There it is, the good news of God’s amazing love, staring us right in the face, like a skywriter out of the blue, but making very little difference in what happens down here on the ground.

Join us this Sunday, as we explore the meaning of Jesus’ ascension for our lives, so that we can take this message of God’s love and make it real …

… before the chance to do so dissipates into thin air.

Grace and Peace,

The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist

Have Lunch with Michelle Shrader June 11

Have Lunch with Michelle Shrader June 11

Enjoy a lunch with Michelle Shrader, our guest preacher in the Sanctuary on Sunday, June 11. The luncheon will be 12:15 p.m. in Knox Hall 150.

Michelle, an ordained minister with the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church, grew up at Hyde Park United Methodist and attended Plant High School. She received her Master of Divinity degree from Duke University. Currently, Michelle is serving as a Pastor with the Central Methodist Mission in Cape Town, South Africa. She is a mission partner of Hyde Park United Methodist and we are supporting her during the 3 years she is serving in South Africa.

Michelle is passionate about Missions and Outreach. Join her for a luncheon and conversation 12:15 p.m. June 11 in Knox Hall 150. RSVP here.

Worship Tips for Families

Worship Tips for Families

Sunday Morning Live is worship just for kids, but what about when you want to worship together as a family?

Helpful Hints for Attending Worship Together

Preparation before Sunday:

  • Read the scripture for Sunday’s sermon together beforehand.
  • Discuss your family’s expectations for worship behavior and participation.
  • Let your child(ren) know you are happy to be worshiping together.

Ways for Children to Participate in Worship:

  • Let the whole family take turns choosing which service you go to.
  • Consider sitting in the Sanctuary balcony if you are concerned about movement or activity.
  • Help them follow the order of worship in the bulletin.
  • Let them fill out a connection card with their prayer requests on the back – either written or as a picture depending on their abilities.
  • Let them put the connection cards and money in the offering plates.
  • Help them find the hymns and scriptures in the hymnal and pew Bible, even though they are projected on the screens.
  • Encourage the use of the children’s worship bulletins which include a Children’s Worship Guide. Kids can receive a special treat by turning in the completed guide.
  • Point out specific things that might interest them; how fast the drummer’s sticks move, the way the choir sings all the words together, what color shirt the preacher is wearing, etc.
  • After service, have your family share one thing they learned in worship that day.

Most of all, relax and know that we are glad you are here. See you in worship!

Questions? Email Kristin Passath, Dir. of Children’s Ministries or call 813.253.5388, ext. 233

Giving Matters April 2017

Giving Matters April 2017

Thank You for Your Faithful Stewardship

Thank you, Hyde Park United Methodist, for your faithful stewardship, which supports ministries like our recent Confirmation class.

We celebrate these kids as they chose the words below to describe what following Jesus means to them:

Celebrating Mission Smiles

Celebrating Mission Smiles

Mission Smiles is a ministry partner of Hyde Park United Methodist that provides free dental services to those in need. The Mission Smiles team visits Hyde Park United Methodist a few times a year to provide free dental services to our Open Arms guests.

On the April 23, 2017 visit of Mission Smiles, 34 guests received $13,116 worth of services from 29 volunteers!

Read a recent “thank-you” message delivered to Hyde Park by Kathy McGartland, Mission Smiles Program Manager:

Generosity, a willingness to give your time to others
Understanding, because their lives might be very different from your own
Empathy, an ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and feel what they must feel
Compassion, to truly care about making someone else’s life better
Patience, because the process doesn’t always go as smoothly as it might
Dedication, to stick with the project and see it through
You’ve shown these qualities and so much more, so thank you for all that you do.

We are thankful to be a partner in ministry with Mission Smiles. It is through the support of the people at Hyde Park United Methodist that Mission Smiles is able to help make God’s love real in this way.

Read Kathy’s update on Mission Smiles from April 23, 2017 here.

MidWeek Message: The Long Shadow of Mental Illness

MidWeek Message: The Long Shadow of Mental Illness

It is an illness that affects about one in five Americans every year: nearly 43 million people. It is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and Canada. The World Health Organization estimates that it poses a greater economic and social burden on global market economies than any other disease.

Chances are, someone you know and care for is affected by some form of mental illness. It shows no preference for any one demographic or life stage, and casts a long shadow in the homes, schools, and workplaces throughout our communities.

In 1949, the agency Mental Health America (formerly called the National Association for Mental Health) designated every May as Mental Health Awareness Month. You may want to visit their website for resources for yourself or someone you love.

I invite you to take a moment to pray for those affected by some form of mental illness. Work to overcome your own prejudice against people who are suffering, and help stem society’s stigma. And take a moment to reach out in love and concern to loved ones you know who deal with this on a daily basis. Offer them a note of understanding, a compassionate ear, or simply a kind word.

And if you are one of the millions dealing with mental illness, know that you need not take this journey alone. Seek out the trusted counsel of a friend or professional, and feel the presence of God’s peace in your life.


I would also like to offer a special word to the youth of this church and their families, in the wake of the news of the third suicide by a youth in South Tampa over the last six weeks. I am aware that many of you are personally connected to one or more of these families, and I share in the grief, confusion, and sense of loss that you and others are feeling.

It is in times like these that I give thanks for the gift of Christian community, such as what we have in Merge here at the church. This is a place where you can be real with God and with people that you can trust, to share the deepest thoughts and feelings that you are struggling with. I’d like to remind you that at any time, Emily and her youth team, as well as I and the whole clergy staff, are available to talk to you about whatever you are facing.

There are also many resources available to those who are dealing with thoughts of suicide. Please make your friends aware of these agencies who are willing to help at any time:

Here is the information for Crisis Counseling, available any time year-round:
Call = 2-1-1

Here is the Free Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which is confidential and always available.
Call = 1.800.273.TALK (8255)

Most of all, I want to remind you of just how loved and supported you are in this church. You need not ever feel like you are alone in your life, and I firmly believe – with all my heart – that God has an amazing plan for your life, to make a huge positive difference in the world.

Hyde Park Family, together we can be a beacon of light for those who walk along dark paths. Together, let us continue to make God’s love real.

Grace and Peace,

The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park Untied Methodist

Pin It on Pinterest