Midweek Message: Is God Mad at Me?

Midweek Message: Is God Mad at Me?

masthead

March 24, 2017

Dear Hyde Park Family,

When I was an elementary student at a local Christian school, my classmates and I were all fearful of principal Jack Santhouse. He seemed at least 6-1/2 feet tall, with broad shoulders and sullen eyes, a square jaw, and a sharp nose. But what we were most afraid of was the large wooden paddle he displayed above the desk in his office. Naughty students would come back into class wiping away tears upon returning from his office, and sitting in their seats a little more gingerly than when they left.

But Mr. Santhouse was also the leader of our mandatory Friday morning chapel assembly. All the students would gather at 8:30 in the morning, our little restless bodies stifled motionless lest we get a stern glare from him or our teachers. He would stand up, front and center on the stage, and call us to the pledging of allegiance to both the American flag and the Christian flag. And then he would lead us in singing “New Life,” the school theme song. I can still remember the words and melody of the chorus to this day:

New Life in Christ abundant and free!
What glories shine, what joys are mine,
What wondrous blessings I see!
My past with its sin, the searching and strife,
Forever gone — There’s a bright new dawn!
For in Christ I have found new life.

And when we got to the words “bright new dawn,” Mr. Santhouse would hop up onto the balls of his feet, making his towering frame seem even more imposing.

I will admit that during my whole elementary school career, I never had a cross run-in with Mr. Santhouse. I was spared his use of the big wooden paddle, and, truth be told, I learned to like him very much. And I think he liked me. But in retrospect, I have come to see that he played an even more significant role in my faith formation than I could ever have acknowledged at the time.

For better or worse, Mr. Santhouse modeled for me my first image of God.

It wasn’t until college and seminary that I began to think about images of God beyond gender and ethnicity. I then realized that as a child, when I pictured God, I saw the face of Mr. Santhouse. As the principal of that Christian school, he was the embodiment of its ideals and the chief architect of its instruction. And as the central part of my chapel worship experience, he called us to worship, led us in singing, and gave language to my faith.

But he was also ready to punish me if I stepped out of line. And little did I know that it was that fear that motivated much of my Christian upbringing.

This Sunday, our worship series on the theories of atonement explores one of the most controversial of them all: Appeasement. It suggests that the work of Jesus on the cross quelled God’s wrath upon humanity, and saved us from a punishment that we deserved because of our sin.

It might be tempting to skip this Sunday, particularly if you feel like this kind of God is not only foreign to your theology, but repulsive to you. But I would suggest that all of us, especially in times of suffering or crisis, revert to the kinds of fears that make us question God’s nature and activity in our lives.

Have you ever wondered:

“Why is God causing this suffering to happen in my life?
“Is God mad at me because of what I’ve done?”
“Is God using this crisis to teach me a lesson?”
“What have I done to deserve this from God?”

No, we may not picture God as a stern, elderly white male, with wooden paddle in hand. And the idea of a God who is ready to strike at our disobedience may seem too far-fetched for us to believe. But I encourage you to come to worship this Sunday, to hear the words that all of us need to hear from time to time:

God is not mad at you.

Grace and Peace,

Magrey CC

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

Midweek Message: To Grace, on Her Sixteenth Birthday

Midweek Message: To Grace, on Her Sixteenth Birthday

masthead

March 16, 2017

Dear Hyde Park Family,

Part of the privilege of having a forum like the Midweek Message is that I get to share whatever is on my mind with a wonderful readership like you. Often the content is spiritual, other times social commentary, and other times just random musings.

Today it is personal. Because in two days, my older daughter turns sixteen.

Grace jungle

You can’t tell by reading this, but it took several minutes of staring at that last sentence before I gathered enough steam to keep writing. The best I can do is try to gather my thoughts in the form of a letter, which I have already shared with her, in the hopes that it might be meaningful to you and the people you love.

Dear Grace,

In just a few days, you will be passing what may feel like a major milestone in your life. At the same time, it will seem like just any other day and you may not feel qualitatively different once your birthday passes. Some cultures, after all, prefer to emphasize other birthdays, like the Quinceanera for 15-year old girls in Latin Americas, or the Debut for 18-year old girls in the Philippines. But I get it: sixteen is the year you can get your driver’s permit and learn to drive on your own. That feels like it changes everything!

I prefer to see your sixteenth birthday as one of many critical pivot points you will face throughout your life. This is the central year of your teenage years. You are now just as close to being a legal adult as you are removed from adolescence. You are just a few months from being half-way through high school with graduation and (gulp) college just around the corner.

In other words, your life is at a turning point. As much as you still need the care and concern of your parents, you are starting to exercise your own beautiful sense of independence and critical thinking. As much as you are still responsible to the structures and routines of institutionalized education, you are starting to develop the passions and interests that will dictate your career path and guide you into the future. And as much as you are part of a wide network of family and friends who love and support you, you are also gaining the courage to venture into the world and make a name for yourself all on your own.

This is a pivotal moment. And it won’t be the last one.

You will discover that life is filled with moments like these. Some of the choices that you make along the way will seem small, but will have major consequences down the road. Others might seem major at the time, but the impact will not be as big as you thought. That’s the way life often is. We do the best we can when we are called to make decisions, not knowing what the significance or outcome will be. Just like your sixteenth birthday, sometimes the pivotal moments will feel just like any other, and sometimes they’ll seem much more momentous.

This is what makes life so interesting, and what makes living into a bright unknown future like yours so exciting. But here’s the one thing I can say for sure: you have a past that will ground you well. You are part of a family that loves you. Your mom and dad and your sister are so terribly proud of you. You have grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and a wider family that will be your constant support. And you are part of a Christian faith that links you to a grand tradition of wisdom, joy and hope, even when times get tough.

In fact, it is your connection to Christ and your part of God’s family that will be among your life’s most important resources. A few years ago, on a bright Sunday morning, you stood before a United Methodist church family for your Confirmation. It may have felt in some ways like any other worship service. But it was another one of those pivotal moments, for you said yes to Jesus, and that changed everything. Staying true to that commitment will be the guiding principle that shapes your life forever.

So, happy birthday, sweet sixteen-year old. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you.

Love,

Dad


Grace and Peace,

Magrey CC

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

Midweek Message: Two Prayers

Midweek Message: Two Prayers

masthead

March 9, 2017

Dear Hyde Park Family,

Several years ago, I received a precious gift from my dear friend and lifelong mentor Rev. Dr. Jack Stroman, the senior pastor who nurtured my call into ministry when I was a youth at Pasadena Community Church in St. Petersburg. He gave me a book called A Diary of Private Prayer by the great preacher and author John Baillie, a minister in the Church of Scotland who lived from 1886-1960.

Every once in a while, when I need to sharpen my own liturgical language and pay as much attention to the beauty and shape of my words as I do to their content and meaning, I turn to Baillie’s book. In both my life and my ministry, his prayers have set the gold standard, artistically and accurately capturing both the longing of the human soul and the extravagant grace of God.

Whenever I take the time to write out my pastoral prayers, I try to strike the rare balance of beauty and truth that Baillie seemed to achieve every time. You might agree that many preachers (and public speakers in general, for that matter) have drifted so far into their pursuit of the vernacular in the name of “relevance” that they have sacrificed the power of well-crafted, efficiently constructed words. It’s a caution I often give to myself.

I offer these two of Baillie’s prayers to you now, in the hopes that they speak to you. You might choose to incorporate them into your own life, praying them in the morning and the evening throughout these days of Lent.

Morning Prayer

O God my creator and redeemer, I may not go forth today except You accompany me with your blessing. Let not the vigor and freshness of the morning, or the glow of good health, or the present prosperity of my undertakings, deceive me into a false reliance upon my own strength. All the good gifts have come to me from you. They were yours to give and they are yours also to curtail. They are not mine to keep; I do but hold them in trust; and only in continued dependence upon you, the giver, can they be worthily enjoyed.

Let me then put back into Your hand all that you have given me, rededicating to your service all the powers of my mind and body, all my worldly goods, all my influence with others. All these, O Father, are Yours to use as you will. All these are Yours, O Christ. All these are Yours, O Holy Spirit. Speak in my words today, think in my thoughts today and work in all my deeds. And seeing that it is Your gracious will to make even of such weak human instruments in the fulfillment of Your mighty purpose in the world, let my life today be the channel through which some little portion of your divine love and pity may reach the lives that are nearest to my own.

In Your solemn presence, O God, I remember all my friends and neighbors, my fellow townsfolk and especially the poor within our gates beseeching You that You would give me grace, so far as in me lies, to serve them in Your name. Amen.

Evening Prayer

O Thou who art from everlasting to everlasting, I would turn my thoughts to Thee as the hours of darkness and of sleep begin. O Son of my soul, I rejoice to know that all night I shall be under the unsleeping eye of One who dwells in eternal light.

To thy care, O Father, I would now commend my body and my soul. All day Thou has watched over me and Thy companionship has filled my heart with peace. Let me not go through any part of this night unaccompanied by Thee.

Give me sound and refreshing sleep.
Give me safety from all perils.
Give me in my sleep freedom from restless dreams.
Give me control of my thoughts, if I should lie awake.
Give me wisdom to remember that the night was made for sleeping, and not for the harbouring of anxious or fretful or shameful thoughts.
Give me grace, if as I lie abed I think at all, to think upon Thee.

My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips; when I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.

To Thy care also, O Father, I would commend my friends, beseeching Thee to keep them safe in soul and body, and to be present to their hearts to-night as a spirit of power and of joy and of restfulness. I pray also for the wider circle of all my associates, my fellow workers, my fellow townsmen and all strangers within our gates; and the great world of men without, to me foreign and unknown, but dear to Thee; through Jesus Christ our common Lord. Amen.

Grace and Peace,

Magrey CC

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

Midweek Message: 10 Other Things You Might Give Up for Lent

Midweek Message: 10 Other Things You Might Give Up for Lent

10 Other Things You Might Give Up for Lent

Dear Lenten Pilgrims,

A recent online, non-scientific survey [link provided below] by Christianity Today revealed the most popular things people give up for Lent: 1) social networking, 2) chocolate, 3) Twitter, 4) alcohol, and 5) chips. I for one am giving up the use of electronic devices at the dinner table, much to the delight of my two daughters. Madelyn is giving up playing games on her smartphone, and Grace is giving up afternoon snacks. I had to convince them that giving up homework was not an appropriate Lenten discipline.

As I’ve thought about it, there are some deeper parts of your life that you might consider giving up for Lent, for the sake of your own spiritual maturity and personal development. In no particular order, and by no means exhaustive, here are some things I thought of that you might want to consider as part of your Lenten journey this year:


1. Give up the need to be right all the time.  
 

Business author Patrick Lencioni said, “People don’t need to feel like they are right, as much as they need to feel like they’ve been heard.” Yes, claim your voice, assert your convictions, and engage the issues that matter to you. But once you’ve been heard, consider the possibility that you might have something to learn from someone who disagrees with you. That’s often how we learn our most important lessons in life. (James 1:19)

2. Give up your reluctance to ask for help.

It is true that giving up something for Lent requires discipline, will, and self-mastery. But it also requires the recognition that we cannot always be self-sufficient. You are not superhuman. You do not have inexhaustible reserves. Turn to loved ones for support, seek the wise counsel of others, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. (Psalm 69)

3. Give up your fear of failure.


Mother Theresa said, “God does not call us to be successful; God calls us to be faithful.” You may sometimes gauge your self-worth by what you have achieved and how you have succeeded. You might subconsciously depend on the affirmation of others to feel good about yourself. But your worth does not equal your work, nor are you defined by your failures. Some people live a whole lifetime before they come to realize that. Save yourself the heartache later. Learn it now. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

4. Give up comparing yourself to others.

Forget the Joneses. They are not worth keeping up with. Find contentment in what you have, and who God has created you to be. You do not need the envious admiration of others. You need not be defined by what you do not have. While there is nothing wrong with being self-motivated and goal-oriented, don’t evaluate your life in comparison to others. It’s not worth it.  (James 4:2-3)

5. Give up the need to have things all figured out.

 

Embrace mystery. Dance with your doubts. Acknowledge that you do not and cannot know it all. Resist the temptation to rationalize the irrational parts of your faith, and recognize that some of the greatest things in life are those things that cannot be explained or fully understood. Things like God’s love for you, and how God is with you even when you don’t believe it. (Romans 11:33-36)

6. Give up your fears of the future.

 

I get it. These are frightening times for many people. There is great nervousness about the way things are in the world. And I would guess that you are dealing with fears yourself. I have learned over my twenty years of parish ministry that everyone – without exception – has something that they are dealing with. We all have our fears, but we don’t need to be defined by them. For God is a God of hope. (Matthew 6:33-34)

7. Give up anesthetizing yourself to pain and suffering.

 

The long shadow of suffering is cast in many shades. Like loneliness, grief, abandonment, and betrayal. None of us enjoys going through difficulties, and our instinct is often to numb ourselves from the pain in ways that are actually self-destructive: giving in to addictions, accumulating possessions, pursuing temporal pleasures, and cocooning ourselves from the rest of the world. These might anesthetize us in the short term, but they prevent us from allowing that pain to help us stretch, grow, and trust in God. (Romans 5:3-5)

8. Give up the need to be in control.


This one is at the heart of the season of Lent. It is a reminder that we ultimately are not in control of what happens to us. We cannot control others, and we can hardly claim to have full control of ourselves and our future. Let the Covenant Prayer of Wesley be your guide, to remind you that you are not your own; you belong to God. For we must ultimately surrender our control over to a God who has created us and claimed us from the beginning. (Matthew 16:24-25)

9. Give up the need to make everyone happy.

It’s not like you can, anyway. You may have a knack for understanding what others want from you, but you must also claim your own convictions and understand your limitations. Your job is not to be all things to all people and please everyone you know. God calls you to live a life of integrity, uncompromising in your commitment to Jesus Christ. For God, after all, is the only one you need to please.  (Galatians 1:10)

10. Give up all the non-essential noise in your life.

This may be the toughest thing of all to give up, but it may be the key to a deeply moving Lenten season for you. Your life is inundated by competing voices and blaring noises from the culture around you. Pay attention to your breath. Take walks. Drive without the radio on. Set the cell phone down when you’re at the family table. Watch less television, read more newspapers and books, and look people in the eye when you talk to them. Most of all, pray to God, “Silence all voices but your own.” Turn down the volume of your life, and connect to a God who knows you better than you know yourself. (Psalm 46:10)

Blessings to you on your Lenten journey!

Magrey

“What to give up for Lent” – Christianity Today

The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist
Midweek Message: A Guide to Prayer for a Way Forward

Midweek Message: A Guide to Prayer for a Way Forward

masthead

Feb. 23, 2017

Dear Hyde Park Family,

“Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike?
May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion?
Without all doubt, we may.”

— John Wesley, “On Catholic Spirit”

It is likely no surprise to you that the United Methodist Church has hit an impasse on the question of human sexuality and gender identity. The most recent General Conference last May was as contentious as ever, with the denomination at one point on the precipice of schism.

Saving the church from irreparable division was the proposal for The Commission on a Way Forward, composed of 32 clergy and lay people from around the world and across the theological spectrum. They have been charged with discerning consensus on these important matters, which will ultimately guide the Council of Bishops as they seek to lead the church through this impasse. You can read about the purpose of their work here.

Every Annual Conference has been designated with a week to pray for the Commission as it continues its work over the next several months. We have been asked to pray together as a Florida Conference next week, February 26 to March 4, which times perfectly with the next gathering of the Commission from February 27 to March 2 in Atlanta. It is also quite timely that our week of prayer corresponds with the beginning of Lent next Wednesday.

Regardless of your position on this and any other issue that we face as a church, I invite us all to join in prayer throughout the week. To guide you in that process, I have put together a set of daily exercises, which you might choose to follow.

A GUIDE TO PRAYER FOR THE CHURCH
AND FOR THE COMMISSION ON A WAY FORWARD
FEBRUARY 26 – MARCH 4

Sunday, February 26: Pray for the Church
I have written this prayer which you might pray at some point today and throughout the week, or you can offer your own for the unity of the church and our discernment of God’s Spirit:

O Holy God,
You are the source of all life and giver of all good and perfect gifts. Through your Son Jesus Christ, and with your Holy Spirit, you have drawn us together to be your church, to be a witness to the world of your glory, to reflect your love, and to convey your grace. We thank you especially for the United Methodist Church, and its ongoing commitment to both social holiness and vital piety.
(Pause for silent reflection on the ways in which you are grateful for what the United Methodist Church has meant in your life.)
We remember that your desire is for us to be in relationships with one another that are life giving and soul renewing. Yet, we have allowed our kinship to other believers to be defined more by our differences than by our commonalities. Forgive us for binary thinking, conditioned in us by a culture beset by winners and losers. Show us the way of love, which is the only way that saves and the only basis for relationships in your kingdom. (Pause for silent reflection on your relationships with others in the church with whom you disagree.)
We pray for your church. We pray for those who have been marginalized by Christians on the basis of their sexual orientation. We pray for a return to Biblical literacy as a standard for discipleship. We pray for a renewal of the church’s witness, that it may not be governed by culture, but a transformer of it. We pray for the people called Methodist, that as your Spirit guides each of us toward perfection in love, we might move closer to holiness in heart and life. (Pause for silent prayer for the United Methodist Church, for gay and lesbian persons and for the strengthening of your own discipleship.)
Over this upcoming week, illuminate my heart through prayer, and guide me in praying for The Commission on a Way Forward. And show me how I might make your love real in ways both significant and small, for the sake of your kingdom.
Amen.

Monday, February 27: Scripture Reflection
Read Galatians 1-3. This is the text that the Commission will be studying together at the outset of its gathering next week, and we have all been invited to read and reflect on it as well. As you read it today, consider the connections you might make between this epistle and our world today. What do you think is Paul’s central message to the Galatian church? In what ways does the division within that church echo that in our denomination? What is Paul’s remedy for such division?

In particular, reflect on these words. You might even choose to commit them to memory for this week:

You are all God’s children through faith in Christ Jesus. All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Now if you belong to Christ, then indeed you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:26-29)

Tuesday, February 28: Pray for this Local Church
Read the following Chinese prayer called “For Unity of Christ’s Body,” from No. 564 of our Hymnal:

“Help each of us, gracious God,
to live in such magnanimity and restraint
that the Head of the church may never have cause
to say to any one of us,
‘This is my body, broken by you.’ Amen”

Offer a prayer for this local church, Hyde Park United Methodist. Pray that all people, including LGBTQ persons, might have a warm-hearted, open-minded experience of God’s love in this congregation.

Wednesday, March 1: Ash Wednesday
Attend one of our three Ash Wednesday services: 12:15 p.m. at The Portico campus, 12:15 p.m. in the Chapel of the Hyde Park Campus, or 6:30 p.m. in the Sanctuary. During that time of somber reflection and penitence, take time to confess ways that you have contributed to unhealthy divisions of any kind in your relationships, in the community, and in the country.

Thursday, March 2: Fast
This is one of the most prevalent but underutilized spiritual disciplines in the church. Fasting is the temporary suspension of some regular physical experience, in order to renew one’s spiritual focus. You might choose to fast from eating from dusk to dawn today. Or you may choose to fast from some other activity, like watching television or going on the internet. You might even choose a 24-hour fast, from noon today until noon tomorrow. Whatever format you choose, use the time to intentionally center your focus on God’s voice. Listen for what God reveals to you about the nature and mission of the church, and the role God is calling you to play in it.

Friday, March 3: Pray for the Commission
Spend some time praying for the members of the Commission by name, including our own Bishop Ken Carter, who is one of the moderators. Pray for their wisdom and discernment. Pray for the building of relationships among them which are forged by a mutual love for the church and are nurtured by their trust in each other. Pray that their conduct might model the kind of holy conversation that all local churches might follow in discussing polarizing issues. Pray for an openness to new possibilities, and a hope for the future:

Jorge Acevedo; Brian Adkins; Jacques Umembudi Akasa; Tom Berlin; Matt Berryman; Helen Cunanan; David Field; Peter Torio; Grant Hagiya; Aka Dago-Akribi Hortense; Scott Johnson; Jessica LaGrone; Thomas Lambrecht; MyungRae Kim Lee; Julie Hager Love; Mazvita Machinga; Patricia Miller; Mande Guy Muyombo; Eben Nhiwatiwa; Dave Nuckols; Casey Langley Orr; Gregory Palmer; Donna Pritchard; Tom Salsgiver; Robert Schnase; Jasmine Rose Smothers; Leah Taylor; Debra Wallace-Padgett; Rosemarie Wenner; Alice Williams; John Wesley Yohanna; Alfiado S. Zunguza

Moderators: Bishops Ken Carter, Sandra Steiner Ball, and David Yemba.

Saturday, March 4: Personal Prayer
Take time today to offer a prayer that names your own personal connections to the matters that the Commission will be discussing. Pray for the gay and lesbian persons that you know in your life. Pray for those you know with whom you disagree, either in this matter or any other issue the church is facing. Pray for God to reveal ways that you can be proactive in resolving differences, in advocating for justice, and in bringing healing to others.

Conclude the week with the reading (or even the singing) of this hymn:

“I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord”

I love thy kingdom, Lord,
the house of thine abode,
the church our blest Redeemer saved
with his own precious blood.

I love thy church, O God.
Her walls before thee stand,
dear as the apple of thine eye,
and graven on thy hand.

For her my tears shall fall;
for her my prayers ascend;
to her my cares and toils be given,
till toils and cares shall end.

Beyond my highest joy
I prize her heavenly ways:
her sweet communion, solemn vows,

her hymns of love and praise.
Sure as thy truth shall last,
to Zion shall be given
the brightest glories earth can yield,
and brighter bliss of heaven.

 

Grace and Peace,

Magrey CC

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

Midweek Message: The Faith (and Questions) of a Child

Midweek Message: The Faith (and Questions) of a Child

masthead

Feb. 16, 2017

Dear Hyde Park Family,

Last night was “Ask the Pastor Night,” one of my favorite annual events in the church. It was with Club45, a Wednesday night gathering of our fourth and fifth graders. As was the case last year, I am amazed by the quality of the kids, evidenced by the spiritual maturity they displayed in their questions.

At times, I felt like I was being grilled again by the Board of Ordained Ministry for ordination! And I knew these were not simply questions that their leaders or their parents had them ask me. Their follow up questions to each of my answers were just as deep, and just as sincere.

You can be proud of the work that our children’s ministry staff (Kristin Passath, Melinda Livingston, Melissa Torres, Jennifer Wotsch, Kathy DiRaimo) is doing with your children, along with some incredibly gifted and caring adult volunteers. And I thank you for supporting the church with your prayers and your financial gifts, which makes impactful ministries like this possible.

But I also thought you would benefit from looking at the questions yourself. As you read them, ask yourself: Which of these questions do you wonder about? Are there additional questions related to the Christian faith for which you would like answers?

I would be interested in hearing what you think, and I may devote a future Midweek Message (or a sermon series!) to reflecting on those questions with you. But for now, sit back and be amazed by the questions that these wonderful kids have been wondering:

BIBLE
When and where was the Bible created?
How many people did it take to write the Bible?
Do the Ten Commandments exist and do people follow them?
How did people work together to write the Bible when they were probably far apart?
How would Jesus make animals and people have peace when he returns?
Why didn’t Jesus call for help on the cross?
Why did Jesus not die right away when he got nailed to the cross?
Was there a different money source then (Biblical times) than now?
Would the world have been better off if humans never existed?
What if the Jewish people never existed?
Why is the Bible so long?
How do we know the Bible’s information is correct? What if some of the information in the Bible is not true?
Why did God flood the world except Noah?
Why did people write the Bible?
According to the Bible, when will Revelation happen?
Is it possible to never sin?
In Biblical times, would people get baptized multiple times?
How was the church made?
What were 10 good jobs to have in Biblical times?
Is there any information in the Bible that shouldn’t be there?

GOD
Why did Jesus have to die to forgive our sins? Couldn’t God just forgive us?
Will God destroy the world again?
How old is Hyde Park United Methodist?
Does Jesus/God have only one appearance or many?
Do you ever think about being so small in a universe that is so big?
Is my purpose special to God? How do I know what my purpose is-was I meant to serve?
Did God plan the death of Jesus?
Why were animals created?
Does God really talk with people and answer their prayers?
Can God speak to us out loud so that we can hear it with our ears?

HEAVEN/HELL
How do we get into Heaven when we die?
If there is a person who doesn’t believe in God, but is a good person, do they still go to Heaven?
When a person dies (and goes to Heaven) do they become an angel?
Do bad people go to hell?
Is hell real?
Is there a creature Heaven and Hell (where our pets go)?
Why does God let people die? Why can’t everyone live forever?
Can hell take over heaven? Or can they be in harmony?
Is heaven hot or cold in temperature?
Do Tax collectors go to heaven?
Do people who speed and get a lot of tickets go to hell?

PERSONAL
Can you say the alphabet backwards in under 30 seconds?
Have you ever solved a Rubix cube?
How many times have you hit 10,000 steps?
How many verses have you heard of “Joy to the World”?
What’s your favorite version of “We Three Kings”?
Do you know all the Roman numerals?
Do you read the Bible every night before you go to bed?
Why did you want to be a pastor?
What is your favorite hymn?
What is your favorite color?
I love your rhyming sermons. Can you do them more?
What inspired you to become a pastor?
Is being a pastor hard?
How old were you when you were baptized? Where was it? Were you scared?
What are your hobbies?
Have you ever given up hope?
Do you have to do training to become a pastor?
What is your favorite movie?
How long have you been a pastor?
Do you like the temperature in Tampa?
When and where were you born?
What sports are your favorites?
What is your favorite basketball and football team?
What is your favorite mascot?
What is your favorite music artist?
What is your favorite song?
FSU-Seminoles or UF-Gators? (Seminoles, please!)
Do you like politics?
What is your favorite sport?
What is your favorite food?
Do you wear Kevin Durant’s athletic shoes?

Grace and Peace,

Magrey CC

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

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