Dear Hyde Park Family,
Bible pop quiz!
- How many cubits high was the Temple? (Don’t know? I didn’t either.)
- How old was Moses when he died? (Hint: He was pretty old.)
- How many talents of gold did the Queen of Sheba give to Solomon? (Not an easy quiz, eh?)
- How many princes did King Darius appoint over Persia? (I know. This is unfair.)
How about if I told you that all the questions above had exactly the same answer? Yep, that’s right. 120 cubits, 120 years, 120 talents, 120 princes. 120, 120, 120.
All right. Three more questions:
- How many people were initially gathered together in Jerusalem at the very moment that the Holy Spirit came to touch the earth and birthed the church on the very first Pentecost day?
- How many people are we praying for to commit to worshiping downtown at The Portico campus when our weekly worship starts there on Sept. 11?
- And starting Saturday, how many days do you think it is before weekly worship begins there?
Yep, you got it.
I am no biblical numerologist, and I’m certainly not suggesting that there is anything magical about the number 120. But it does seem that the Bible often uses the number to describe moments when God shows up in the midst of human waiting, in a powerful, grand way. Take the number 40 (which symbolizes waiting) and multiply it by three (the number for God’s presence), and you get 120, which is the intersection of God’s activity in the midst of human longing. So in the Exodus (Moses), Zion (Solomon and the Temple), and the Exile (Darius), all of which are definitive periods in the history of the Hebrew people, God showed up every time.
That’s what happened on the first Pentecost day, which we will celebrate this Sunday (Remember to wear red, if you can!) That crowd of people were in an in-between time of waiting and watching. Jesus had ascended into heaven, and waiting for what God was going to do next. Then with wind, fire, and a cacophony of languages, God showed up in a mighty way.
We are in a similar season of waiting and preparation with the launch of the new worshiping community on The Portico campus. We are grateful to have over 50 people already committed to attending that service regularly on Sunday evenings and serving in some capacity. And the staff and lay leadership of the church have been very busy building all the necessary systems (hospitality, parking, child care, small groups, outreach, etc.) that will create a fresh experience of God’s love made real for everyone who worships there. For answers to some “frequently asked questions” about The Portico, click here.
And we are praying that starting on Sept. 11, we’ll have at least 120 people gathered together for a Pentecost-style birth of a new worship service.
So here is where you come in.
First, we are designating the period of May 14 to Sept. 11 as a 120-day period of prayer for the start of the worshiping congregation at The Portico campus. Would you consider lifting up The Portico as a regular part of your prayer life over this upcoming period of time? In weeks ahead, we will be updating you with a “countdown” to the launch, including the latest ways that you can pray for both the construction of The Portico campus and the assembly of the worshiping congregation. Your prayers will be critical during this time.
Second, you may also feel led to consider being part of that new congregation. This Sunday, May 15, at 5 p.m., we will be having the first of three monthly “preview” services at The Portico campus, and you can come experience for yourself a taste of the distinct worship style that we are creating there. And you can talk to members of the leadership team to explore how you might be involved.
Finally, while the basic costs of construction are covered by existing funds, you might wish to make a special financial contribution to help us create the best facilities possible right from the start. You can donate online here (choose The Portico from the drop-down box).
The Portico is our frontier outpost to help us reach out to the growing populations of unchurched people in the downtown area with an open-minded, warm-hearted expression of God’s love made real. It will foster the kinds of conversation, connection, and community change that we believe will attract spiritually seeking people. All we need are people like you, willing to support the effort with your prayers and participation..
120 days of prayer, 120 days of preparation, 120 people. And just as always, God is in this.
Grace and Peace,
The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist