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 Philippines section: a lone Filipina child fanning herself in the corner.

You may know the ride well. It is a twelve-minute boat ride through a series of depictions of countries around the world. It features Audio-Animatronic, child-like dolls, dancing, playing and, of course, singing.

That song is one of the most enduring – and annoying – Disney songs ever written. When Walt Disney first developed the ride for the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, he envisioned all the children simultaneously singing their own individual national anthems as the riders went by. As you can imagine, that created a cacophony of unintelligible noise.

So, he asked his chief songwriters Robert and Richard Sherman, who wrote the famous music to Mary Poppins, to come up with a single song that the children could sing in unison. The country had just gone through the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Sherman brothers wanted to write a song about peace, interdependence and our connection to one another.

They then wrote these now legendary words, which all 289 Audio-Animatronic children, in one of five different languages, join together to sing:

It’s a world of laughter, a world of tears
It’s a world of hopes and a world of fears
There’s so much that we share that it’s time we’re aware
It’s a small world after all.

I’ll spare you the chorus. The earworm might stick with you all day.

WORLD COMMUNION SUNDAY

Eighty-five years ago this month, a different kind of demonstration of global harmony was born, in the observance now known as World Communion Sunday. It was first conceived by a Presbyterian minister named Hugh Thomas Kerr, who wanted to “bring churches together in a service of Christian unity—in which everyone might receive both inspiration and information, and above all, to know how important the Church of Jesus Christ is, and how each congregation is interconnected one with another.”

A few years later, the Federal Council of Churches (now “The National Council of Churches”) formally designated the first Sunday of October as a time to celebrate our global connectedness in Jesus Christ, gathering around the communion table as one body around the world.

For one singular moment every year, we lay aside our national and denominational anthems, and we gather to sing the same song in unison:

“Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of Power and Might;
Heaven and earth are full of your glory;
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord,
Hosanna in the highest!”

In a time when we are so prone to polarization and division in our ideologies, politics, and worldviews, we need World Communion Sunday like never before. This Sunday, we gather together in unison with Christians all around the world to pray that the Holy Spirit would once again “make us one with Christ, one with each other and one in ministry throughout the world.”

Or, in the words of the second, lesser-known verse of It’s a Small World:

There is just one moon and one golden sun
And a smile means friendship to everyone
Though the mountains divide
And the oceans are wide
It’s a small world after all

Join us this Sunday for this beautiful, timely, and poignant celebration of a God who breaks down our walls, invites us to the same table, and calls us to sing the same song together.

Grace and Peace,

Magrey

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

PASTORAL WORD TO SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT

If you weren’t in worship last Sunday, I invite you to watch the statement I made prior to my sermon, regarding those who have survived sexual assault in their past. You can watch it here, or the text is as follows:

Before I start the sermon this morning, I would like to take a moment to offer a pastoral word in the wake of the events in Washington, D.C. last week. Many of us are aware of the proceedings surrounding the confirmation of a Supreme Court nominee, and the extraordinary circumstances from the recent hearing. What I want to share is in no way intended to be either a political or partisan statement, but a word of pastoral love and concern.

We are well-aware that many people who are survivors of sexual assault have had the pain of their past triggered by the events on Capitol Hill. And many have reached out for ministerial and psychological support throughout the country. For anyone in this congregation today, female or male, who has been the victim of sexual violence, I would ask that you not let the dysfunction of our political systems, or the brokenness of the world, dissuade you from speaking your truth. Your voice, your heart, your life and your pain all deserve to be heard.

You do not need a male like myself to give you permission. But we do need all people, men and women, to stand in solidarity with you, and for anyone living in the long, haunting shadow of past trauma through no fault of their own. As I have consulted with the five other clergy in this congregation, I can speak on behalf of all of us that we are here to listen. To offer pastoral care, in a safe space, and to direct you to any help you might need.

You are loved, you are not alone and you are a child of God.

And let all who agree, please say Amen.

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