Dear Hyde Park Family,

This Sunday we focus on Jesus’ famous image of the vine and the branches in John 15, in which he calls us to abide in him and bear fruit. It is important to remember that the standard by which we measure our faithfulness to God is faithfulness, not success.

It is a distinction stated eloquently by the great spiritual writer Henri Nouwen:

There is a great difference between successfulness and fruitfulness. Success comes from strength, control, and respectability. A successful person has the energy to create something, to keep control over its development, and to make it available in large quantities. Success brings many rewards and often fame. Fruits, however, come from weakness and vulnerability. And fruits are unique. A child is the fruit conceived in vulnerability, community is the fruit born through shared brokenness, and intimacy is the fruit that grows through touching one another’s wounds. Let’s remind one another that what brings us true joy is not successfulness but fruitfulness.

And when I think of people in this church who have born this kind of fruitfulness out of their obedience to Jesus, I think of Margaret Mathews and Doug Roland.

REMEMBERING MARGARET AND DOUG

It has been a tough stretch for funeral and memorial services in this congregation, and we offer our prayer and support for those of you grieving the loss of loved ones in recent days. Over the next 48 hours, we will be celebrating the lives of two members of our church, who have left a significant impact on our congregation and our community.

Tomorrow at 11am, we will be remembering Margaret Mathews, and you can watch the livestream of her service here. Margaret was a faithful member of this church, serving a variety of leadership roles, contributing her keen insights and wisdom to advance the mission of this church. She was a fixture in our small group ministries, longing to grow in her faith in the company of others.

Margaret was one of the most distinguished attorneys in Tampa. She chaired the board of the Hillsborough County Bar Association, was named the 2016 Outstanding Lawyer of the Year, and was recognized with the Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Award. But Margaret was driven less by those accolades for success and more by her inner standards of fruitfulness. She was a trailblazer for females in her profession and made it her life’s work to mentor female attorneys. She demonstrated the kind of determination, intelligence, humor, and grace that endeared her to many. Her fruit will last longer than her success, for the betterment of our community.

This Saturday at 10am, we will be celebrating the life of Doug Roland, whose service you can watch via livestream here.  He and Cheri joined our church in 1986, and immediately made an indelible mark in our church. He shared in nearly every leadership team, participated in our music ministries, and was a leader in many of our small groups. He helped create the Forum Class, a vibrant, spirited collection of disciples who engage vital issues of life and faith.

In what he would name his “pinnacle of service and calling,” he and Cheri would spend their retirement years in South Africa, providing invaluable service to the Seth Mokitimi Methodist Seminary, which trains church leaders from six surrounding African countries. He helped to create their field education program, forging relationships between the seminary and eighteen field placement agencies, including prisons, AIDS care, early learning centers, and psychiatric hospitals. Bishop Peter Storey recalls theirs as a work in which “no firmer foundation could have been laid.”

As branches connected to the vine, we remain connected to saints like Margaret and Doug, nourished and strengthened by the same faith in Christ. Let us choose each day to bear fruit, extending the hospitality of God to others, not for the measures of worldly success, but for the purpose of glorifying God.

Grace and peace,

Magrey

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

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