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,
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?
Dear Hyde Park Family,
On Friday, United Methodist news service shared a proposed agreement for the separation of The United Methodist Church over conflicting views related to human sexuality. A diverse group of high-level leaders in our denomination, including Bishop Ken Carter, developed this agreement which allows for restructuring the Church by allowing conferences and local congregations to separate from The United Methodist Church. The Florida Annual Conference has released a statement from Bishop Ken Carter, who was involved in those negotiations. That statement includes links to the press release and all pertinent material.
We remember that nothing is official until the General Conference meets this May in Minneapolis. In the meantime, I believe this to be a helpful and hopeful step forward for our denomination along the path toward full inclusion of LGBTQ persons, while enabling warring parties to turn toward each other, rather than away from each other, as we seek the way of peace.
In the meantime, please continue to pray for the leaders of our denomination, including delegates to the upcoming General Conference. As one of those delegates, I would appreciate your prayers, along with other members of our delegation: the Rev. Clarke Campbell-Evans, the Rev. Justin LaRosa (reserve), the Rev. Vicki Walker (jurisdictional), and Mr. Steve Gardner (jurisdictional).
Grace and Peace,
Our second annual Dunbar Book Drive kicks off in January, with collections running on all four Sundays. Brings books to any worship service. Choose from Hyde Park’s Courtyard or Magnolia Building, or The Portico’s breezeway. Books can also be dropped off at the Ministry Offices of either our Hyde Park or The Portico campus.
Book Drive Wish List
Volunteers are welcome to help out with this campaign. Assist with collection on any Sunday or with delivery and distribution during the last week of January. Questions or to volunteer? Contact please contact Katherine Cosmas, by email or phone at 813.335.7349.
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 Jan. 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 Jan. 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.
For the complete run-down on this great program, visit hydeparkumc.org/Bible.
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.