Dear Hyde Park Family,

My daily devotional time this year has been spent following the same Scripture reading plan that we will be following next year for The Bible Project 2020, which you can learn more about here. I’m excited that in the few weeks since we opened registration, nearly 300 of you have signed up to be in a small group, with close to 50 small group facilitators. And there’s still plenty of room for you!

Last Tuesday, the reading was from Romans 3-5, and I spent most of my time that day reflecting on Romans 5:3-5:

And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

It’s a fifty-word passage that we wish were much shorter. Wouldn’t it be nice if Paul instead had something like, “We know that suffering leads to hope. Period.” No, instead the lengthy chain of phrases in between suffering and hope is Paul’s way of reminding us that often, the journey from darkness to light is a process, and the length of that journey can be a significant part of the transformation.

That idea might seem hard to believe and even tougher to swallow, but it’s a consistent theme throughout the Scriptures:

  • It would have been so much nicer if the Israelites had stepped immediately from Egyptian slavery to freedom in the Promised Land, but instead there were forty years and four hundred miles between the Red Sea and the Jordan River.
  • It would have been so much easier if the Judeans had been quickly freed from Babylon to return from exile, but instead it took seventy years, and help from the Persians, before they could come home.
  • And it would have been so much more comforting to the disciples if Jesus had come back to life minutes after he was crucified. But very often, resurrection takes time, and the time we spend waiting for Easter morning can be a Holy Saturday we didn’t know we needed.

Even the transformations that seem instantaneous in the Bible were not all that sudden after all:

  • Moses’ life was changed forever in a brief encounter with a burning bush, but it was a moment that took wandering as a fugitive in the wilderness to get there.
  • The blind man in John 9 was cured by Jesus with a single touch, but he had been waiting all his life for that miracle.
  • Saul’s conversion to Paul on the Damascus road seemed as instantaneous as that flash of light, but he still had to travel to Jerusalem, blind and aided by his friends, in order for transformation to be completed.

It’s no secret to you and me that life can be challenging, and we share in the pain of many people in our congregation and our community, even over recent days. But I invite you to spend some time reflecting on Paul’s words to the Romans, and even turn it into a prayer. For yourself, for your loved ones, and for anyone you know who is hurting.

God of hope and love,
Make yourself known to me in my suffering, so that I can discover an endurance that will enable me to go one step at a time, one day at a time.
Accompany me in that endurance, so that I can shed the parts of my character that are keeping me from living the life you intend me to live.
As I see evidence of the character-building work of your Spirit, may I be filled with a hope that the good work you have started will be completed in me.
And may that hope remind me of your love, poured into my heart, and always available to me.
Amen.

Grace and Peace,

Magrey

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

(Note: Perhaps a simple way to practice the personal spiritual discipline of “Inviting in a way that is natural and not intimidating,” you might forward this message to someone you know who could use a word of hope and encouragement.)

THIS SUNDAY: GREAT THINGS GOD HAS TAUGHT US!
Don’t miss worship this Sunday as we continue our “Great Things” worship series with a sermon that will remind us of many of the exciting reasons it is great to be a follower of Jesus, and why it is so important to be the church today.

WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE?
Your gifts to Hyde Park provide opportunities for all ages to grow in discipleship. A gift of $100 could fund five third grade Bibles, two scholarships for kids to experience God’s love at Vacation Bible School or a Wednesday night of Nursery care, allowing young parents to grow closer to God in small group community. A gift of $500 could fund Confirmation materials to help a class of youth claim their faith for themselves or provide a scholarship for a life-changing week at Warren Willis Camp. Your generosity ensures we continue teaching each other what it means to love God and love all. To learn more about what a step up in giving could mean to our life together at Hyde Park, go here.

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