Midweek Message: Love Covers All

Midweek Message: Love Covers All

Dear Hyde Park Family,

How about some good news for a change?

For those who experienced worship last Sunday, you heard me conclude my sermon with the powerful story of Ken Parker, a participant in last year’s gathering of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia.

He was a high-ranking official in the KKK, spewing hatred at people of color, Jews and gay people. At the end of the rally, worn out from heat exhaustion and dehydration, he was doubled over in pain when he met a woman named Deeyah Khan. Deeyah is a British documentary filmmaker of Punjabi descent there to chronicle the event. She saw Ken’s physical pain and approached him, asking if he was okay and if there was anything she could do to ease his discomfort.

That little act alone planted a little seed of doubt in Ken’s mind.

In a recent interview with NBC News, in a news segment that aired last week, Ken said, “She was completely respectful to me and my fiancée the whole time. And so that kind of got me thinking: She’s a really nice lady. Just because she’s got darker skin and believes in a different god than the god I believe in, why am I hating these people?”

Last year, on the Sunday of Charlottesville, I preached a sermon based on the encounter between Jesus and Nicodemus. We dared to pray for modern-day Nicodemuses, people among the white supremacists who might come to see the way of love instead of hate, just like Nicodemus did.

Six months after that weekend, Ken Parker, still nurturing the seeds of doubt planted by his interaction with Deeyah Khan, noticed some African-American neighbors having a cookout in his apartment complex in Jacksonville, Florida. He and his fiancée approached them, and they began having a conversation. They were cordial with each other. They asked questions. They listened. They really listened.

He didn’t know it at the time, but the black man was a pastor, Rev. William McKinnon III, of All Saints Holiness Church in Jacksonville. That night would be the first of many conversations they would share with each other.

“God was working on his heart when he came to the table that day. It was divine,” said Pastor McKinnon, in an interview with the local Jacksonville news station.

And then last Easter, just this past April, eight months after Charlottesville, Rev. McKinnon invited Ken and his fiancée to church. In an Easter morning service, in a historically black congregation, the two of them worshipped.

A change was happening in Ken’s life. A month later, Pastor McKinnon asked him to stand up before that congregation and give his testimony.

“I said I was a grand dragon of the KKK, and then the Klan wasn’t hateful enough for me, so I decided to become a Nazi.” He said for a lot of people in the church, their jaws about hit the floor and their eyes got real big. But after the service, not one of them had anything negative to say. He said, “They’re all coming up and hugging me and shaking my hand, you know, building me up instead of tearing me down.”

He had experienced the power of love through a community of people committed to the love of God. People who knew what it meant to be angry at injustice, but who also knew how to be angry without sinning.

Ken Parker looked at his skin and saw the visible signs of his hatred, the tattoos that revealed a Nazi symbol, and the words “white pride.” He has since had them removed through laser surgery. But the biggest change is on the inside.

Last month, nearly a year after Charlottesville, he traded in his old KKK robes for a white robe of baptism. Walking hand in hand into the water with Rev. William McKinnon, he experienced the waters of baptism and the grace of God’s forgiveness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image from FirstCoastNews.com, WTLV-TV

In the NBC news segment, Ken said, “I want to say I’m sorry. I do apologize. I know I’ve spread hate and discontent through this city immensely — probably made little kids scared to sleep in their own beds in their own neighborhoods.” And now he has a message for white supremacists. “You can definitely get out of this movement. I mean, I was into that so much — it was my life, for six years. I never thought I would get out. Get out. You’re throwing your life away.”

Ken Parker is one answer to our prayers, for modern-day Nicodemuses to be redeemed by the light of Jesus. And we are called to work for more transformations like these in a world addicted to hate and dehumanization. We might wonder: what if the documentary filmmaker Deeyah Khan had chosen to respond to the disgusting dehumanization of the KKK by dehumanizing Ken Parker? What if Rev. McKinnon and his congregation had chosen the easy way of hating Ken Parker?

Now, imagine what can happen when you and I choose to live in love, take the time and watch our words. How many more Ken Parkers might God bring into the light?

As Pastor William McKinnon said, “It is clear to me that love covers all.”

Grace and Peace,

Magrey

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

Everyday Faith

Everyday Faith

Faith is not merely a set of rules, but a way of living.

 

Let’s make faith what we do, not just what we believe.

Let it shape what we say, not just what we know.

Let it impact others, not just ourselves.

Let’s live our faith every day, not just an hour on Sunday.

 

Join us as we explore the powerful, practical wisdom in the book of James in our new series, “Everyday Faith” Aug. 26 – Sept. 23.

 

Midweek Message: The MAD That You Feel

Midweek Message: The MAD That You Feel

Dear Hyde Park Family,

Like many of you, I was heavily influenced at a young age by Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, a television show experiencing renewed nostalgia thanks to the recent documentary about Fred Rogers’ life. (My favorite film of 2018 so far.) One of my favorite songs that he wrote and sang was, “Mad That You Feel,” which was about anger:

What do you do with the mad that you feel
When you feel so mad you could bite?
When the whole wide world seems oh, so wrong…
And nothing you do seems very right?

What do you do? Do you punch a bag?
Do you pound some clay or some dough?
Do you round up friends for a game of tag?
Or see how fast you go?

It’s great to be able to stop
When you’ve planned a thing that’s wrong,
And be able to do something else instead
And think this song:

I can stop when I want to
Can stop when I wish.
I can stop, stop, stop any time.
And what a good feeling to feel like this
And know that the feeling is really mine.
Know that there’s something deep inside
That helps us become what we can.
For a girl can be someday a woman
And a boy can be someday a man.

Mr. Rogers reminded us that feeling angry, in and of itself, is not wrong. It’s what we do with that anger that requires our careful discernment. 2,000 years earlier, Paul would say essentially the same thing to the Ephesians: “Be angry, but do not sin.” (Ephesians 4:26) We will explore this text, and the subject of anger, this Sunday as the next part of our worship series on Ephesians.

To prepare for worship, I invite you to read the following words of wisdom from our spiritual ancestors found by Debbie Casanzio, who is preaching in the Chapel. Each of these quotes offers guidance on how to channel our anger in healthy ways. Read through them and see how they resonate with you and your relationship with anger:

When we have to reply to anyone who has insulted us, we should be careful to do it always with gentleness. A soft answer extinguishes the fire of wrath. – St. Alphonsus Liguori
Imagine your anger to be a kind of wild beast, because it has ferocious teeth and claws, and if you don’t tame it, it will devastate all things even corrupting the soul. – St. John Chrysostom
Fight all error, but do it with good humor, patience, kindness, and love. Harshness will damage your own soul and spoil the best cause. – St. John of Kanty
Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset. – St. Frances de Sales
When we have to reply to some one who speaks harshly to us, we must always do it with gentleness. If we are angry, it is better to keep silence. – St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori
It avails nothing to subdue the body, if the mind allows itself to be controlled by anger. – Pope St. Gregory the Great
If you judge people, you have no time to love them. – Mother Teresa

Join us this Sunday as we explore the gifts and risks of our own experiences with anger. We’ll learn practical techniques to identify and resolve the triggers that anger us, and learn to express those feelings in healthy ways.

See You Sunday!

Magrey

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

Hyde Park’s Home Communion Team

Hyde Park’s Home Communion Team

Once a month, 14 volunteers go out in pairs to bring communion elements to people who cannot attend a worship service, and in doing so bring a sense of connection and fellowship where they are. Together in their homes, they experience church. When this team visits people, all of us are part of what they’re doing: Making God’s Love Real.  This and all of our ministries and missions are supported by our weekly offering. If you would like to join this team as they serve communion, please contact the Rev. Sally Campbell-Evans, by email.

The Hyde Park Serves Team Makes God’s Love Real

The Hyde Park Serves Team Makes God’s Love Real

On Saturday, May 5, the Hyde Park Serves Team helped a woman whose apartment was destroyed during hurricane Irma to move into her new apartment. The woman is disabled and could not move herself. The Hyde Park Serves team moved her belongings, including a piano, from a storage unit into the new apartment.

Thanks to the volunteers who helped; volunteers will be needed for other projects related to Irma destruction. If you would like to serve, contact Vicki Walker.

From South Africa to Southern Florida

From South Africa to Southern Florida

To: My Hyde Park United Methodist Family

 

I am writing to thank you for the way you continue to make God’s Love Real in the lives of so many, including me!  The end of my three-year term of service in Cape Town, South Africa serving with the Bishop Michel Hansrod and with Alan Storey at Central Methodist Mission is coming to an end.  Yet, I am so happy to announce that I will be returning to my home state after fourteen years!

 

I joined Hyde Park in 1999.  In 2004, fourteen years ago, I left for seminary at Duke Divinity School.  After graduation, I was offered a one-year fellowship to look at religion and race which led me to Jackson, Mississippi.  So much of my journey every step of the way has felt like monumental amounts of learning and I am so, so grateful for every post I have served from Jackson, to Gulfport, to Charlotte, to Cape Town.

 

I will be flying into Tampa on May 29 to prepare for my next appointment which will be in Miami Florida serving Killian Pines UMC and with District Superintendent, Cynthia Dee Weems in her office.  I am very much looking forward to leading my own congregation and to the gifts and challenges this next chapter will hold.

 

I want to thank you so, so much for the prayers, for allowing me to share stories when I have traveled home, and for the financial support you have provided that afforded me this possibility to serve alongside our brothers and sisters in Cape Town, South Africa.  May your generosity be multiplied a hundred-fold in the world around us in the same way it has been multiplied in my life.  Please know that I am so, so grateful to be…

 

With you on the journey,

The Rev. Michelle Shrader

www.withyouonthejourney.wordpress.com

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