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.
The greatest Pentecost hymn you may never have heard of was written by Dr. Henry More, an 18th century British theologian and philosopher that one contemporary called “the most holy man he ever knew.”
Despite his zealous study and prolific writing, one of the few poems to ever gain notoriety is called “On the Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost,” which caught the attention of a young Anglican preacher named John Wesley.
When John and Charles Wesley put together their volume colled A Collection of Hymns for the People Called Methodist, they included four of More’s original fifteen verses. (You may choose to hum these lyrics to the tune of “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” or the “Old 100th” Doxology.) Here are the first two verses:
On all the earth Thy Spirit shower;
The earth in righteousness renew;
Thy kingdom come, and hell’s o’erpower,
And to Thy scepter all subdue.
Like mighty winds, or torrents fierce,
Let it opposers all o’errun;
And every law of sin reverse,
That faith and love may make all one.
The hymn became a standard selection for Methodist Christians throughout the early part of the movement’s history.
We can imagine Christians just like us, gathering together on Pentecost Sundays, singing this hymn and praying for the earth to receive a “Spirit shower” which will renew the earth in righteousness, overpower hell, reverse the law of sin and make all people one.
But there’s more. Wesley, the consummate perfectionist, did more than a bit of tinkering to Henry More’s original poem, adding two verse of his own:
Father! If justly still we claim
To us and ours the promise made,
To us be graciously the same,
And crown with living fire our heard.
Our claim admit, and from above
Of holiness the Spirit shower.
Of wise discernment, humble love,
And zeal and unity and power.
Wesley believed that it is not enough simply to pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit to shower the earth and unleash the Kingdom of God on earth. The Pentecostal work of the Spirit requires nothing less than our full participation.
It was just as critical to Wesley that Christians stake a personal claim on the work of Pentecost, and fulfill the calling each of us receive as followers of Jesus Christ. For Wesley, there was a required five-fold response to Pentecost for every Christian: wise discernment, humble love, zeal, unity and power.
AN UPDATE FROM THE VISION TEAM
It is that desire to live into those same five qualities that brings me to this update on our visioning process.
First, a word of gratitude. Close to 200 people participated in our visioning chats this spring. These important conversations were a part of our sustained effort to discern how the Spirit of Pentecost intends to use Hyde Park United Methodist– it’s people, its service, and its worship – to make God’s love real and make disciples, both today and in the future.
We had chats open to the entire congregation as well as focused meetings with many small groups, our leadership teams, our 20s and 30s ministry, our youth, and music ensembles, just to name a few. And many of you offered insights to the team via email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
You shared personal anecdotes, perspectives, meditations, observations, and revelations, in response to three challenging questions about our high calling as Christ’s church in Tampa:
How can Hyde Park United Methodist deepen its discipleship?
How can Hyde Park United Methodist extend its reach into the community and the world?
How can Hyde Park United Methodist adapt to cultural changes?
As a result, all your responses are shaping and being incorporated into the next step in our listening phase of this initiative: a congregational survey.
This online survey is being developed now and will be rolled out this summer in June and July. We’ll communicate the survey widely and look forward to deepening this conversation with you.
As we began each Vision Chat, we prayed collectively, “Help us to grasp the vision that You have for us, and may we be sensitive to Your leading and guidance.” God is calling Hyde Park UMC to an exciting future: one where we are making God’s love real in all the ways we can, in all the places we can, and to all the people we can. It’s a future we can grasp; it’s a future we can make real.
Thank you, and see you this Sunday as we celebrate Pentecost! (and be sure to wear red, if you have it!)