Dear Hyde Park Family,

During one of my private devotionals this past week, I came across a story about Thomas Edison, who invented the light bulb after 1,000 unsuccessful attempts. An interviewer asked him, “Mr. Edison, how did you feel after failing 1,000 times?”

I love his response. “I did not fail. I simply saw it as a 1,000-step process.”

It could be that for where you are right now in your life, that story alone may be the encouraging word that you need. But there’s more. As we begin a new worship series this Sunday on the book of James, we find that the opening of his epistle offers this word of encouragement for any of us who feel down and out:

My brothers and sisters, think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy. After all, you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Let this endurance complete its work so that you may be fully mature, complete and lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

Failures, shortcomings and heartbreak are all a part of life, and as much as we would hope for the occasional mulligans, there are some moments we can’t do over. So, James encourages us to look at the long haul, and see each experience as an occasion to move forward toward the fullness of maturity and love.

I think that is what inspired the moral philosopher Friedrich Nietzche to say “The essential thing ‘in heaven and earth’ is … that there should be a long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.” (from Beyond Good and Evil).

Eugene Peterson later took Nietzche’s quote and wrote Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society, one of his greatest books on spiritual growth. The following quote from his book is long, but well worth your reflection as you prepare for this Sunday.

Millions of people in our culture made decisions for Christ, but there is a dreadful attrition rate. Many claim to have been born again, but the evidence for mature Christian discipleship is slim. In our kind of culture anything, even news about God, can be sold if it is packaged freshly; but when it loses its novelty, it goes on the garbage heap. There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for a long apprenticeship in what earlier generations of Christians called holiness.

Peterson’s words capture the heart of our new series called “Everyday Faith.” Our spiritual journey is not relegated to an hour on Sunday, but is a constant, diligent and daily exercise in following Jesus. It is a God-given, Spirit-empowered privilege to gradually, steadily fashion our words, thoughts, and behavior around the person of Jesus Christ. There are no quick fixes, no easy shortcuts, and a mountain of missteps and shortfalls. But, in the words of Thomas Edison, it is a thousand-step journey, one after another.

Join us at the starting line this Sunday.

Grace and peace,

Magrey

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

Midweek Message: The Two 3:16s

Dear Advent Pilgrims, So, how’s the Christmas gift buying going? I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that every year, the December shopping frenzy in this culture feels more frenetic and hectic than the year before. The shopping lists get longer, the mall...

read more

Midweek Message: God’s Vision Includes You

Dear Hyde Park Disciples, Advent is a time of longing, expectation and hope, and is therefore the perfect time to share with you the results of long-term strategic visioning process that our Vision Team has been conducting over the past fourteen months. I invite you...

read more

Midweek Message: A Thanksgiving Poem

Dear Hyde Park Family, When Giving Is All We Have Alberto Ríos, 1952 One river gives Its journey to the next. We give because someone gave to us. We give because nobody gave to us. We give because giving has changed us. We give because giving could have changed us. We...

read more

Midweek Message: How Much Is Your Happiness?

Dear Hyde Park Family, A few years ago, Grace asked me to describe my happiest memories. I responded with some of the more obvious answers: the moments she and her sister were born, the day I married their mother, the night I was ordained as a minister. She agreed...

read more

Midweek Message: What Heartens Me

Dear Hyde Park Family, “Jesus sat across from the collection box for the temple treasury and observed how the crowd gave their money. Many rich people were throwing in lots of money. One poor widow came forward and put in two small copper coins worth a penny.” – Mark...

read more

Midweek Message: Remember Roy G. Biv?

Dear Hyde Park Family, “Roy G. Biv” “Every Good Boy Does Fine.” “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” “I before E, except after C.” You recognize these. They are tools we learned as children to collect and retrieve facts that would be helpful throughout our...

read more

How Eugene Peterson Changed My Life

Dear Hyde Park Family, On Monday, Eugene Peterson died. You may know him as the author of The Message, a popular paraphrase of the Bible. Others may know him for his many books on Christian spirituality and pastoral ministry. I remember him for the week I spent with...

read more

Midweek Message: The Last Place We Want God

Dear Hyde Park Family, Years ago, I read a hilarious book by Esquire columnist A.J. Jacobs called The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible. Jacobs, a self-avowed agnostic, sought to...

read more

Midweek Message: What We Have Learned So Far

Dear Hyde Park Family, First, a quick word of prayerful concern for the people all along the Gulf coast and the southeastern United States who have been affected by the devastation of Hurricane Michael. Our United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) will offer a...

read more

Midweek Message: One Song for the World

Dear Hyde Park Family, A few months ago, my daughters and I made another trip to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, and we rode the iconic It’s a Small World. That ride was a mainstay of my childhood, and I can remember our whole family cheering when we passed by the...

read more

Midweek Message: Living Upside-Down

Dear Hyde Park Family, The Museum of Illusions just opened this month in Dubai, U.A.E., and features a fascinating exhibit called The Upside-Down Room, in which a person can be photographed with the optical illusion that they are dangling from the ceiling. Since its...

read more

Midweek Message: For the Love of Nicaragua

Dear Hyde Park Family, Among the myriad of local and global concerns that may be filling your prayers nowadays, I ask you to include one with whom this church has personal connections. Over the past several months, the nation of Nicaragua has been seized by violence,...

read more

Midweek Message: A Prayer for Those Facing Storms

Dear Hyde Park Family, We all remember what we were feeling a year ago. As Hurricane Irma barreled toward us, we felt the wearying combination of dread, fatigue and agonizing waiting. Those who evacuated wondered what kind of home they would return to. Those who...

read more

Top Ten Traps for Taming the Tongue

Dear Hyde Park Tongue Tamers, This Sunday, our journey through the book of James takes us to the most vivid and practical section in the entire letter: How to tame your tongue (James 3:1-12). It is also a text for which I wrote a sermon that will be broadcast next...

read more

Midweek Message – 4 Tips for a Balanced Life

Dear Hyde Park Family, When I read James 2 in preparation for this Sunday’s sermon, in which James tells us to show no favoritism based on people’s outward appearance, I immediately thought about Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Ugly Duckling.” You know the story. Our...

read more

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...

read more

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...

read more

Midweek Message: The Ten Books I Read This Summer

Dear Hyde Park Family, With the start of school just around the corner, I hope that you and yours have had a full, enriching summer break. Perhaps that has included diving into a good book or two. For today's Midweek Message, I thought I would share the ten books I...

read more

Midweek Message: Adventure Yourself!

Dear Hyde Park Family, Be sure to read the end of today's Midweek Message for an important word about our upcoming congregational survey, and the way you can participate in the next critical phase of our Vision Team's work. SHIPWRECKED! First, I wish I could fully...

read more

Midweek Message: A Prayer for Pastors in the Year Ahead

Dear Hyde Park Family, Last week was the gathering in Lakeland of the Florida Annual Conference, comprised of clergy and laity from around the state. One of the highlights is always the service of licensing, commissioning and ordination, in which we celebrate persons...

read more

Midweek Message: More Than Mumbo Jumbo

Dear Hyde Park Family, On many Sundays, when we gather to worship, we affirm our faith using the words of the Apostles' Creed. It takes less than a minute to recite - forty seconds, by my watch - followed quickly with a time to greet those around us, then sit down to...

read more

Midweek Message: Commence with Empathy

Dear Hyde Park Family, We are in full swing of graduation ceremonies across the country and our community, which carries with it a new slate of commencement addresses that capture our attention. There is typically no set formula for what makes a good commencement...

read more

Midweek Message: “Spirit Shower”

Dear Hyde Park Family, You’ll want to be sure to read the end of today’s Midweek Message for a word of update and gratitude regarding our church’s visioning process. For now here’s a quick word about Pentecost, my favorite high holy day of the entire Christian year.  ...

read more

Midweek Message: Go Clean Your Room!

Dear Hyde Park Family, Let me be the first one - and likely the only one - to wish you and yours a "Happy National Clean Up Your Room Day." That's right. It's a day wholly designated to encourage people to clean up their rooms. I have no idea about the origins or...

read more

Midweek Message: Duck Hunter Shoots Angel

Dear Hyde Park Family, It's hard to explain to you what the play Duck Hunter Shoots Angel is about without giving away all the fun. The title alone should be enough to suggest that if you watch the production at The Portico on April 27-28, you will walk away thinking...

read more

Midweek Message: Hey, What’s So Funny?

Dear Easter People, Think about the last time you laughed heartily at a joke, a story, or something you witnessed. What made it funny? Was it the timing? The surprise? The absurdity? And do you think that what you found funny was equally hysterical to others? Those...

read more

Midweek Message: A Poem for Holy Week

March 29, 2018 Dear Lenten Pilgrims, from The Crucified by Kahlil Gibran Oh, crucified Jesus, who art looking sorrowfully from Mount Calvary at the sad procession of the Ages, and hearing the clamor of the dark nations, and understanding the dreams of Eternity: Thou...

read more

Midweek Message: Start What You Finish

March 22, 2018 Dear Lenten Pilgrims, That's an odd twist on an old cliché, but it's good advice for any of us who are too quick to jump to Easter without moving through the Holy Week. Our stores may be stocked with chocolate bunnies and shrink-wrapped baskets, but...

read more

Midweek Message: Short People

March 15, 2018 Dear Lenten Pilgrims, I was four years old when Randy Newman's song Short People first hit the airwaves in 1977. You may remember it for its catchy hook and prejudicial premise: Short people got no reason Short people got no reason Short people got no...

read more

Midweek Message: The Greatest Uncertainty of All

March 8, 2018 Dear Hyde Park Family, We are now past the midpoint of our Lenten journey, and our series this Sunday explores what is perhaps the most profound and most difficult uncertainty for us to embrace: the uncertainty of our own mortality. It is a theme that...

read more

Midweek Message: Worried? Read This

Dear Lenten Pilgrims, This Sunday's worship theme is the uncertainty of worry and anxiety, a topic that I know is of widespread relevance to so many of us. Every Tuesday, the staff of this church read through each of the prayer concerns you send through your worship...

read more

Midweek Message: When the Youth Shall Lead Us

Dear Lenten Pilgrims, Last fall, Grace joined the leadership team of our Merge youth group, and was asked to serve as its Communications Connector. It meant that she became responsible for writing a brief, weekly column in the youth e-news. She calls it her "Mini...

read more

Midweek Message: Just Me and My Shadow

Feb. 15, 2018 Dear Hyde Park Family, The last thing the girls and I did in Iowa before returning to Florida in 2015 was to perform in the Cherokee Community Theater's production of J.M. Barrie's classic children's tale Peter Pan. Grace was a Native American girl,...

read more

Midweek Message: Ready to Embrace the Uncertain?

Feb. 1, 2018 Dear Hyde Park Family, Imagine this Valentine's Day spending a romantic evening with that special someone. You look into the other person's eyes, with a loving, winsome smile, and whisper tenderly to them: "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you...

read more

Midweek Message: The World is Changing; Our Task Has Not

Jan. 25, 2018 Dear Hyde Park Family, The church leadership book Canoeing the Mountain suggests that the church is well-equipped to minister to a world that no longer exists. The world before us little resembles the world behind us. One can no longer assume that the...

read more

Midweek Message: BREAKING NEWS: Hometown Man Causes Uproar

Jan. 18, 2018 Dear Hyde Park Family, HOMETOWN MAN PREACHES; CAUSES UPROAR Mathias Avram, Nazareth Gazette Special Correspondent Nazareth, Galilee - Tensions flared as hometown product Jesus ben-Joseph made his first preaching appearance at the synagogue, offering a...

read more

Midweek Message: How Can I Remember My Baptism?

Jan. 11, 2018 Dear Hyde Park Family, Last year, a worshipper asked this profoundly intriguing question: "Pastor, what does it mean when you say to us, 'Remember your baptism, and be thankful?' What if I don't remember my baptism? Great question. I don't remember my...

read more

Midweek Message: Cold…but Happy?

The World Database of Happiness ranks countries based on how happy their citizens are. Based on this analysis, Iceland is determined to rank first. Given the climate, this might seem counterintuitive. In colder places, though, cooperation is mandatory. Everyone must work together for the common good and interdependence is the mother of affection. It ought to be the same for the church. We, after all, are the ones who bid each other “The Lord be with you (and also with you.)” In both examples, there’s a word for this–love.

read more

Midweek Message: Christmas Comes

Dec. 21, 2017 Dear Hyde Park Family, "Christmas Comes" By Ann Weems, from Kneeling in Bethlehem Christmas comes every time we see God in other persons. The human and the holy meet in Bethlehem                 or in Times Square,                 for Christmas comes...

read more

Midweek Message: I Hate To Break It To You, Virginia

(Note - Parental Disclaimer: the following Midweek Message contains material that may be troubling to some children, particularly if they still believe in Santa Claus. Or the Tooth Fairy.) Dec. 14, 2017 Dear Hyde Park Family, I can't tell you the exact moment when...

read more

Midweek Message: When Up is Down and Down is Up

Dec. 7, 2017 Dear Advent Pilgrims, The elevator once broke at my previous church in Cherokee, Iowa. Not only were people stuck inside, but whenever they pressed the "up" button, the elevator went down. And when they pressed the "down" button, the elevator went up....

read more

Midweek Message: The Wonder of Christmas

Nov. 30, 2017 Dear Hyde Park Family, "Wonder takes our breath away, and makes room for new breath. That's why they call it breathtaking." - Anne Lamott One of the more provocatively titled books on faith and spirituality over the past several years is Help, Thanks,...

read more

Midweek Message: Blessings at the Table

Nov. 23, 2017 Dear Hyde Park Family, As you make your final preparations to gather with loved ones for Thanksgiving, I want to share with you this poem by the poet Joy Harjo. I appreciate her use of the table as a metaphor for what holds us together, as the place...

read more

Midweek Message: Living in the Moment

Nov. 16, 2017 Dear Hyde Park Family, The Lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud by day, to lead them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light, so that they might travel by day and by night. Exodus 3:21 I have been living with that...

read more

Midweek Message: Chicken Noodle Ice Tea Soup

Nov. 9, 2017 Dear Hyde Park Family, Kermit the Frog: “Hey Fozzie, whatcha got there?” Fozzie Bear: “This? Well, it’s called a Thermos.” Kermit: “Cool. What’s a Thermos?” Fozzie: “Well, a Thermos keeps hot liquids hot and cold liquids cold.” Kermit: “Interesting. So,...

read more

Pin It on Pinterest