Dear Hyde Park Family,

Noted spiritual author Richard Foster explains a way of experiencing the Scriptures called “Imaginative Reading,” in which we employ all our senses to engage its words. In reading the Gospels, for example, Foster writes, “Smell the sea. Hear the lap of water against the shore. See the crowd. Feel the sun on your head and the hunger in your stomach. Taste the salt in the air. Touch the hem of his garment.”

Over the next three weeks, we invite you to participate in a kind of imaginative reading that utilizes visual imagery and social media. For each Sunday during our series on Philippians called “Joy: Discovering It Daily,” we are sharing key words lifted directly from the upcoming Scripture passage. Many of you have already been sharing photos every day since we started last Sunday, and shared them via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook with the hashtag #hydeparkumc.

The cumulative result is an impressive virtual gallery through which we are able to interpret each Sunday’s Scripture through the lenses of each other’s imagination. We invite you to spend some time looking at some of the photos that have been shared on our church website. And, a number of your pictures will be useful in the preachers’ work on the Scripture text, and may even be used in the sermons themselves.

Consider the text for next week, on Sunday, June 25, from Philippians 3:7-15:

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith- that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

Starting tomorrow, each of those seven bold-faced words will be the key words we invite you to picture imaginatively, and share any images that come to mind:

Friday, June 16 – Power
Saturday, June 17 – Loss
Sunday, June 18 – Goal
Monday, June 19 – Rubbish
Tuesday, June 20 – Suffering
Wednesday, June 21 – Resurrection
Thursday, June 22 – Prize

By the time the preachers sit down to write down their sermons next Thursday, they will have a full array of pictures you submitted to help them think about this text. And in that way, we will share a connected, communal, virtual, and imaginative experience of the scriptures together.

Along the way, we hope that this daily exercise will also help you raise your spiritual antenna, to see what God wants to show you and have you ponder. Learning to be aware of God’s presence and activity in your life is a key aspect of finding joy daily, and is at the heart of this series on Philippians.

So, happy imagining and happy picture taking, as you discover God’s joy every day!

Grace and Peace,

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

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