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,
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.
Consider carving out a portion of your Christmas gift budget for Gifts for Good – gifts that impact those in need in honor of those you love.
These unique gifts serve a dual purpose:
- When you choose to donate to missions that our church supports, you are sending love, compassion, hope and practical assistance to those hurting in our community and around the world.
- At the same time, you are choosing a special gift for friends, family members, or colleagues. You will receive Gifts for Good acknowledgement cards to give as presents in honor of people on your list. Each card will describe how lives are changed through the work of the mission you supported.
You can learn more about these missions on our website.
Make your selections in the Hyde Park Courtyard on Dec. 8 or 15, or place your order online.
For the first time ever, Hyde Park United Methodist Church is going to read the Bible as a congregation, from cover to cover. And we are going to watch how the Holy Spirit unleashes a fresh wave of insight, transformation and possibility in us and in this church as we take this journey together.
Starting January 1, we will begin with Genesis 1. And we will follow the same daily reading plan for all 365 days until we get to the end of Revelation at the end of the year.
There is no better way for you to learn to live your story as God intends it than for you to find yourself in the stories in this book. Did you know there’s between 600 to 800 stories in this book? And each one is an invitation for you to learn how to live your own story.
You don’t have to wait until January 1 to start reading the Bible, of course. You can start with the daily Scripture readings that are listed in your sermon insert this morning (and on the website.) And I’ve also put together an insert that you might consider tucking in your Bible and keeping handy for reference. I’ve written a quick guide of Scriptures to read when facing certain challenges and situations. It’s available on our website.
In this week’s Midweek Message, the Rev. Magrey deVega, our Senior Pastor, discussed the catastrophe that Hurricane Michael left in The Bahamas. Here’s an excerpt from his message:
We find ourselves as a human community in the aftermath of yet another catastrophic storm. The images coming out of The Bahamas have been horrifying and heartbreaking, as we think about the unimaginable devastation that many people in the Bahamas are now living in. We also join in prayerful concern for those along our eastern coast who are currently facing the storm.
Our immediate response as a congregation is to be one of generosity, primarily through financial contributions to the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), which is already communicating with Bahamian officials to begin coordinating immediate and long-term relief.
We invite you to make a generous donation to UMCOR by making your check payable to the church and designating it for “UMCOR” or “Dorian Relief.” You can also give online right now on our website. Because all of UMCOR’s administrative and infrastructural overhead is covered by our apportionment giving, 100% of your contribution will go directly to people in need.
Also, Bishop Ken Carter discussed the unfolding tragedy in a video distributed throughout the Florida Conference. You can watch the video here.
Regardless of how else you choose to respond to the needs of those impacted by the storm, we encourage you to pray for the victims and those who are responding to their needs.
Help Reduce Traffic and Increase Safety by entering and exiting the main parking lot from the south (Horatio) or west (Magnolia) entrances.
Remember to use the designated crosswalks.
We are no longer able to close Azeele St. to through traffic.
Our shared values are important – to us as a church and to us individually.
Each week in our current worship series, “THE CORE: The Center of Who We Are”, we are learning about each of our core values: Christ Centered, Biblically Rooted, Warm Hearted, Open Minded, Mission Directed and Connection Committed.
Download the “THE CORE” reference card (pdf)
Magrey deVega describes “the center of who we are” at Hyde Park and what it means for us to live out our core values as a church in this six-minute video.
[youtube width=”500″ height=”250″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yETz_kDFDs[/youtube]
More about Who We Are at Hyde Park United Methodist.