Midweek Message: You Have Everything You Need

Midweek Message: You Have Everything You Need

Dear Hyde Park Family,

Today’s daily reading in our Bible Project 2020 finds the wandering Israelites in the middle of a harsh, vast wilderness, somewhere between the bondage of Egypt behind them and the promise of Canaan ahead. Yet as hard as their plight was, just as it is for any of us who are going through a wilderness experience in our life of faith, there is a word of hope here, a principle that you can claim today:

God has already given you everything you need.

Take a look at Exodus 25:1-7, in which God gave the Israelites specific instructions on how to build the Tabernacle, a portable and elaborate house of worship. The building supply list was more formidable than anything you could find at Lowe’s or Home Depot: gold, silver, bronze, goat hair, red ram skins, acacia wood, olive oil, exotic gems and much more.

 

It would be reasonable to ask, “Where were those poor nomads, wandering in the middle of nowhere, supposed to get that kind of material?”

It’s a common question for anyone who finds themselves in the wilderness. Where are we to find comfort amid the wilderness of grief? Or companionship in a vast desert of loneliness? Or strength to move forward when it feels like sinking sand with every step? From where can we draw the emotional, spiritual, physical and mental resources to take things one day at a time, trusting in a God who promised to lead us like a cloud and a pillar of fire?

The answer is that, somehow, God had already given the Israelites everything they needed. And God has done the same for you.

Back in Exodus 12, on the final night of the ten plagues and in the wake of the passover of the death angel, the grieving Egyptian families sought out the Israelites, pushing them to leave the country quickly, and showering them with precious materials as an incentive to go. Little could those Israelites have known that all of those materials would eventually be used for a most extraordinary purpose: to build a Tabernacle, a tangible, visible reminder of God’s constant presence with them.

I don’t know what your wilderness experience may be at the moment. But God has given you what you need, to take one more step forward, and to have the strength, companionship, patience, courage and trust to follow where God is leading you. Lean into that promise, and watch it be realized in your life.

And join us this Sunday as we conclude our worship series “The Story Begins,” with a deeper dive into the remarkable story of the Exodus.

Grace and Peace,

Magrey

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

BIBLE PROJECT 2020: READINGS FOR THE UPCOMING WEEK

Visit bibleproject2020.com, where you can listen to this week’s excellent podcast on Exodus featuring Dr. Bo Adams of Candler School of Theology. You can also download our daily devotional, learn more about our exclusive Facebook discussion group, join a small group, and more! It’s not too late to join us.

Here are the readings for the week:

  • Jan. 23. Exodus 25:1-27:21 Instructions for the Tabernacle. How has God already provided everything you need for this present moment?
  • Jan. 24. Exodus 28:1-30:38 Instructions for the Priests. How might you incorporate more consistency in your observance of spiritual disciplines? Which ones do you need to improve?
  • Jan. 25. Exodus 31:1-34:35 God’s mind changes. Because God listens and is impacted by your prayers, how does that change the way you pray, and think about prayer?
  • Jan. 26. Exodus 35:1-40:28 The end of Exodus. When God’s people work together, amazing things can happen. What will you build for God today, with the help of others?
  • Jan. 27. Leviticus 1:1-4:35 The sacrificial system. How might you offer God your very best today, and pay attention to the little details of your commitment to God?
  • Jan. 28. Leviticus 5:1-7:38 God’s second chances. What do you need to repent from today, and how might you experience God’s forgiveness today?
  • Jan. 29. Leviticus 8:1-10:20 The death of Aaron’s sons. How might God guide you through feelings of loss and grief that you are experiencing?
Midweek Message: The Three Questions

Midweek Message: The Three Questions

Dear Hyde Park Family,

Today is my 47th birthday, which means among other things, I have a lot of renewing to do. I have to run over to the DMV and renew the registration on my car. While Grace is back for a break from college, we are going to renew our passports, which expire soon. We will also be renewing our participation in the TSA Pre-Check program, to ease getting through airport security.

But the most important thing I’ll be doing is joining you all this Sunday in renewing our commitment to our baptismal vows. My birthday always falls somewhere around the second Sunday of the year, when Christians around the world celebrate Baptism of the Lord Sunday. We will be coming forward, touching the water, and experiencing again the God who “gave us new birth through water and the Spirit.”

THE THREE QUESTIONS

Before we do, we will stand together and say, “I do” to our baptismal vows. These are vows that connect us to centuries of Christians who affirmed these promises before God, rooted in the ancient liturgies of the Roman Catholic Church.

In those ancient rituals, those to be baptized stood before God and the people, facing toward the west, which symbolized the world’s darkness, as they responded to these first two vows:

1.   On behalf of the whole Church, I ask you: Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sin? (I do.)

2.   Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves? (I do.)

Then, the person would turn toward the east, in the direction of the rising sun, a spiritual and physical turn toward the Light of the World in Jesus, as they affirmed their commitment to him:

3.   Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put your whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as your Lord, in union with the Church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations, and races? (I do.)

BAPTISM OF THE LORD SUNDAY

This Sunday, as we continue the start of our journey through the Bible, we make numerous connections between the story of baptism and the stories of our day. We reject the world’s powers that would lure us toward war, in the wake of rising escalations in the Middle East. We accept the freedom to resist the injustices of global climate change, especially as we see the horrors of earthquakes in Puerto Rico and catastrophic fires in Australia. We confess Jesus Christ as our Savior and place our trust in his grace, in a time when agnosticism and cynicism against organized religion is on the rise. And we work to honor and serve a church “which Christ has opened to all people,” in a society where white supremacy, hate crimes, and discrimination against persons for their age, ethnicity, and sexual orientation are on the rise.

The sacrament of baptism is as much a counter-cultural statement as it is a theological one. We are not only turning toward Jesus, we are turning our back on everything in our world that would subvert the way of Jesus, the way of peace, love, justice, and grace for all people.

Join me as we remember our baptism and conclude the book of Genesis as part of The Bible Project 2020. See you Sunday!

Grace and Peace,

Magrey

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

BIBLE PROJECT 2020: READINGS FOR THE UPCOMING WEEK

We are just getting started! Visit bibleproject2020.com to join our journey through the Bible. On that site you can listen to our excellent and insightful weekly podcasts, download our daily devotional, learn more about our exclusive Facebook discussion group, join a small group, and more!

  • Jan. 9: Genesis 24:1-25:18. Isaac and Rebekah. Who will you meet to draw into an experience of God’s love?
  • Jan. 10: Genesis 25:19-28:9. Jacob and Esau. How will we avoid passing bad traits to future generations?
  • Jan. 11: Genesis 28:10-30:43. Jacob’s dream and marriage to Rachel. How will we live lives of truth and integrity, rather than trickery and deceit?
  • Jan. 12: Genesis 31:1-36:43. Jacob wrestles with God. How might it be okay to wrestle with God, in a way that results in blessing?
  • Jan. 13: Genesis 37:1-41:57. Joseph and his brothers. How might God be working in your life over the long haul, to form you more into the image of Christ?
  • Jan. 14: Genesis 42:1-45:28. Joseph forgives his brothers. Whom is God calling you to forgive? From whom do you deed to ask forgiveness?
  • Jan. 15: Genesis 46:1-50:26. Jacob’s last words, and reconciliation in the family. How might you extend hospitality to those that others might exclude?
Midweek Message: Mary’s Spirit Song

Midweek Message: Mary’s Spirit Song

Dear Advent Pilgrims:

In last Sunday’s sermon, I referenced these alternative lyrics to the popular song “Mary, Did You Know?” by a woman named Jennifer Henry. Here is the full text, which I think best captures the fierce tenacity of Mary’s liberating word for the world, and our anticipation for Jesus to be born anew in us.

On behalf of the staff and lay leadership of Hyde Park United Methodist, I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and Joyous New Year!

Mary did you know,
that your ancient words
would still leap off our pages?
Mary did you know,
that your spirit song
would echo through the ages?

Did you know that your holy cry
would be subversive word,
that the tyrants would be trembling
when they know your truth is heard?

Mary did you know,
that your lullaby
would stir your own Child’s passion?
Mary did you know,
that your song inspires
the work of liberation?

Did you know that your Jubilee
is hope within the heart
of all who dream of justice,
who yearn for it to start?

The truth will teach, the drum will sound, healing for the pain
The poor will rise, the rich will fall. Hope will live again

Mary did you know,
that we hear your voice
for the healing of the nations?
Mary did you know,
your unsettling cry
can help renew creation?

Do you know, that we need your faith,
the confidence of you,
May the God that you believe in,
be so true.

Grace and Peace,

Magrey

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

CHRISTMAS AT HYDE PARK
For the full schedule of worship offerings from Dec. 22-24, visit our Christmas at Hyde Park post. The Midweek Message will return after the new year.

JUST AROUND THE CORNER: BIBLE PROJECT 2020!
Our new Daily Devotionals are available in the Aldersgate Coffee Shop for a suggested donation of $3, and for free download at bibleproject2020.org. That website includes all the latest resources and opportunities, including the first episode of our new weekly podcast. Learn more about joining a small group, and consider joining our new Facebook discussion forum.

END OF YEAR GIVING AND FINANCIAL PLEDGES FOR 2019
If you turned in an Estimate of Giving card for 2020, and faithfully gave to this year’s budget, thank you! These estimates enable church leadership to adequately fund and support all that God is calling us to do. Click here to make your pledge for 2020. And we would appreciate your generosity to help us meet expenses for this year. Help us finish the year strong by postmarking your 2019 contributions by Dec. 31, or click here to give an offering for this year.

Midweek Message: Have You Joined the Journey?

Midweek Message: Have You Joined the Journey?

Dear Advent Pilgrims,

As you continue making plans to celebrate Christmas with family and friends two weeks from now, I have a different question for you: What are your plans after Christmas? After the gifts have been exchanged and the decorations put away, what will you do next? How will your life be different because of the presence of Jesus Christ born anew in your life?

One answer I invite you to consider is joining us for The Bible Project 2020, our year-long journey through the Bible, which I wrote about in September. An amazing team of lay and staff have been working hard since January to put together some terrific resources for you.

Before we start on Jan. 1, I want to give you some exciting updates:

  • Join a Small Group: There is still room for you to join a small group. Facilitators have been trained to custom tailor a class experience that suits the dynamics of your group, and it will be the best way to engage these Scriptures throughout the year. Sign up here.
  • Listen to Our New Weekly Podcast: Many episodes have been produced and are ready to be released, and they will be a great companion for your daily reading. These weekly 20-minute episodes, featuring biblical scholars and other professionals commenting on the texts, will be found here. The first episode for the week of Jan. 1 will be uploaded on Dec. 30. In addition, two introductory episodes will be released Dec. 16 and 23, in which Mat Hotho and I offer an introduction to the journey and some general insights in how to read the Bible.
  • Pick up the Daily Devotional: Starting Dec. 22, we will be making available copies of our Daily Devotional, which contains daily insights on the texts from me, weekly reflections from members of our congregation, and space for you to write your own thoughts and conclusions. You will be able to pick up hard copies at the church, and we will make it available online.
  • Join our Private Facebook Group: We have created an online discussion forum for those who are on Facebook. I will be an active participant, and it will be a way for us to engage each other with insights and questions that we have about the daily readings. To join, click here, answer the questions to verify your connection to the church (to help us prevent internet trolls), and await approval by the group moderators.
  • Join us in Worship: Our journey will be broken down into twelve worship series that will cover the major segments of the Bible, beginning with our January series, “The Story Begins.” In those four weeks, we will cover the major stories of Genesis and Exodus. Join us live or online.
  • Pick up the Daily Scripture Schedule. Of course, this is all about developing the practice of spending time with God in the Bible every day. View the reading schedule here and check out the full list of resources at bibleproject2020.org.

Together, let’s make 2020 a year for new spiritual vision, as the power of the Bible comes alive in and through us!

Grace and Peace,

Magrey

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

BLUE CHRISTMAS SERVICE THIS SUNDAY NIGHT
This is supposed to be a joyful time of year, but for some of us, the holidays are hard. You are not alone. Join us this Sunday at 7 p.m. in the Chapel at the Hyde Park campus for a time of reflection and prayer, contemplative music, spoken words and candles of remembrance. Learn more about all our Christmas worship services here.

Midweek Message: Is God on your Christmas List?

Midweek Message: Is God on your Christmas List?

Dear Hyde Park Family,

Is God on your Christmas list?

That’s an appropriate question, given that Christmas is about Jesus’ birthday, after all, not anyone else’s. So if anyone deserves a present from you, it is the one who was given as a gift for the world. And the gift that is most suitable for God to get from you is not one you can pick up on Black Friday or Cyber Monday; it’s one that you can give every day.

It’s the gift of your obedience.

Consider how the Christmas story is filled with one person after another, giving Jesus the gift of their obedience. What would have happened if these people had chosen otherwise?

  • What if Mary had said, “I’m sorry. Too much pressure. Go find another girl.”
  • If Joseph had said, “Nope. No way. Too risky.”
  • If the shepherds had said, “Us? In the presence of a king? You’ve got to be kidding.”
  • If the magi had said, “Herod must hear about this at once.”
  • And what if John the Baptist had said, “You want me to eat what? And wear what?”

In fact, Mark’s version of the Christmas story begins with that same John the Baptist, who is all about calling people to repentance and obedience. John’s message was simple and clear: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”

The word “straight” is Mark’s favorite word. The Greek word occurs seventeen times throughout his gospel, translated in different ways. It most often occurs as immediately, which we tend to associate with being “instantaneous.” But it also has the sense of being “straight up” or “straight forward.” Consider how this nuance changes the way some of these passages in Mark might be read:

  • “Then Jesus perceived with clarity and focus in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves.” (Mark 2:8)
  • “But when the grain is ripe, he goes in with his sickle with discipline and efficiency, because the harvest has come.” (Mark 4:29)
  • “But Jesus spoke to them with straight talk, and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” (Mark 6:50)
  • “Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has made you well.’ Then he was able to see straight and true and followed him on the way.” (Mark 10:52)

From the beginning of his gospel until the very end, Mark’s primary concern is that we understand that following Jesus means living a life of focus, discipline and intentionality. Don’t deviate, stay focused and don’t lose track.

If you are interested in giving God a gift this Christmas, there may be no better one than the gift of your obedience to the way and will of Christ in your life.

At Hyde Park United Methodist, our Discipleship Pathway is our gift-buying guide for giving God our obedience:

There can be no better preparation for Christmas than the one you do in your own soul. Let us all prepare the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight.

Peace, Hope, Love and Joy,

Magrey

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

CHRISTMAS IS COMING

Christmas Eve is three weeks away! Plan to join us for one of eight services Dec. 22-24. View the schedule of services. Invite a friend to experience the fresh arrival of Jesus in our lives. Consider signing up to provide Christmas Hospitality and provide a warm welcome to the thousands of guests joining us.

Midweek Message: A Thanksgiving Proclamation

Midweek Message: A Thanksgiving Proclamation

Dear Thanksgiving Celebrants,

On behalf of the clergy, staff, and lay leadership of Hyde Park United Methodist, I wish you and yours a blessed Thanksgiving Day.

I invite you to spend a brief moment today reflecting on these words from Abraham Lincoln, who officially designated this annual day of giving thanks. May it prompt gratitude in your heart to God for all the blessings in your life, and all those we share together.

– Magrey

“A Proclamation”

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things.

They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

 By the President: Abraham Lincoln

Pin It on Pinterest