A Community of Love and Forgiveness

A Community of Love and Forgiveness

Dear Hyde Park Family,

The last time this church did an in-depth worship series on the Sermon on the Mount was February 2002, in the wake of 9/11. Reading through the Beatitudes during that time took on unique meaning in the context of the greatest act of foreign terrorism on American soil.

Now, nearly 20 years later, we find ourselves going through the Sermon on the Mount again, this time in the context of one of the greatest acts of domestic terrorism in our lifetimes.

Like 9/11, it is the images, not just the horrific act itself, that will forever be seared into our collective memory.

  • The image of a noose being hung and a Confederate flag being paraded into the Capitol Building, ghastly gestures of white pride and white supremacy.
  • The image of a man wearing a Camp Auschwitz sweatshirt, a dreadful allusion to the anti-Semitism that fueled atrocities by the Nazis.
  • The image of people flashing an “OK” hand gesture, an adopted symbol of white power often used by radical, alt-right hate groups.
  • The image of the black and green Kekistan flag, another symbol of far-right white nationalist groups patterned after Nazi Germany.
  • The numerous images of crosses, Christian flags and Christian fish symbols, reminding us of the danger of fusing extremist ideology with civil religion.

These are deeply troubling images. And as much as we would want to say, “This is not who we are!” we share a gnawing sense that, in fact, we are a broken people, in which a frightening number of us are driven by racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and hatred. And while I recognize that not all who attended the D.C. event can be characterized in this way, events like 9/11/01 and 1/6/21 raise a mirror to our soul as a country, and we are rightfully horrified by what we see.

In contrast, the Sermon on the Mount raises a different kind of mirror, one that envisions not who we are, but who we can become by the power and grace of God. It is an ethic built on reversals, which invert our sinful tendencies and transform them into the way of love, non-violence, forgiveness and holiness. Its words come to us at just the right time.


No one confronted the scourge of racism with the the power of love and nonviolence more than Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose life and witness we commemorate this Monday. It is poignant liturgical and civic harmony that the observance of MLK Day occurs a week after Baptism of the Lord Sunday. This juxtaposition reminds us that living into the legacy of Dr. King is one way to fulfill our second baptismal vow, to “resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.”

It is also the third baptismal vow that takes on unique significance for us this year, and is the context for a special journey that Bishop Ken Carter invites all Florida United Methodists to take over the next month:

“Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put your whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as your Lord, in union with the Church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations and races?”

These five underlined words constitute the key words for a 31-day journey titled “A Community of Love and Forgiveness,” which takes us from MLK Day to Ash Wednesday. Each day, a lay or clergy person from across the Florida Conference has written a beautiful devotional entry, reflecting on what this vow means to them.

I invite you to join me, Bishop Ken Carter, and Florida United Methodists in reading these daily entries. The devotional can be found here, and the document includes videos of the authors reading their entries, embedded in the .pdf itself.

This journey will move us along the road toward Christian maturity and discipleship, strengthen our understanding of grace and our commitment to Christ, and remind us of our calling to be a community of love and forgiveness, which Christ has opened to all people, without exclusion.

Grace and peace,


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

Abby Ebersole crafted a beautiful song, “No Longer Silent,” that speaks to the challenge for all of us to resist evil, injustice and oppression. Abby and Mike Tworoger, of our worship and tech teams, perform the song in video that will be released Monday.

Family Outdoor Movie Night: Brave

Family Outdoor Movie Night: Brave

Join the Children’s Ministries team for a family movie night out under the stars.

When: 6 – 8 p.m. Feb. 5

Where: Hyde Park Campus, Magnolia Parking Lot

RSVP: Family Outdoor Movie Night

Movie: Brave


Families should bring: 

  • lawn chairs, bean bags or blankets to sit on.
  • snacks and waters
  • Blankets if it gets cold


Important Details: 

  • Family pods will be spaced apart to adhere by social distance guidelines.
  • Masks are required when not eating or drinking.
  • Restrooms will be open/available to use; masks required.
  • This is not a drop-off event


Space is limited RSVP Here! 

The Rev. Magrey deVega Featured in Webinar Tuesday, Jan. 12

The Rev. Magrey deVega Featured in Webinar Tuesday, Jan. 12

With the start of the new year, we begin to consider the season of Lent is fast approaching. Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season, arrives Feb. 17. We observe Lent by focusing on our relationships with God and growing as disciples.

Amplify Media is hosting a new free webinar series, A Season of Reflection: Lenten Studies to Prepare for Easter’s Celebrations. Guests on the webinar include three beloved pastors and authors – Magrey deVega, Adam Hamilton, and Susan Robb – in behind-the-scenes conversations with Nicole Caldwell-Gross about their new Lenten Bible studies.

In his latest book, Savior: What the Bible Says about the Cross, Magrey explores why Jesus died and how it brings us salvation. The cross is the central symbol of the Christian faith. But what exactly did Jesus do to save us from our sins? Why was the cross necessary, and what does it mean for us today? By exploring the mystery of salvation through the cross, we can deepen our love for God and others and strengthen our commitment to follow Jesus.

Please join us and be inspired before you begin this year’s Lent and Easter celebrations with your own churches. Magrey will be interviewed at 3 p.m. ET (2 p.m. CT) Tuesday, Jan. 12.

Register Now

Three Things to Remember

Three Things to Remember

Dear Hyde Park Family,


Before I get to the heart of today’s Midweek Message, I offer a pastoral word in response to the violence we witnessed in the United States Capitol Building yesterday. It was deeply disturbing to our ideals as Americans. It was a reminder of how far we have descended as a society down a death spiral of incivility. It was a demonstration of how broken we are as a people, and our inability to agree on common truth and see past our differences. Let us be in prayer, that we may have finally reached the bottom of our depravity and our racial divide, so that we can begin the work of restoring a peace with justice, and a love for all people.

If you would like to view my pastoral response shared on the church Facebook page last night, click here.


This Sunday is one of my favorite days of the Christian year, as we join with Christians around the world in remembering our baptism. I invite you to have some kind of container of water with you as you join us online, and those worshiping in person under the ministry tent will have a chance to remember their baptism around the Courtyard fountain.

To prepare for this service, I invite you to remember three timely words that come from Matthew’s version of the story of Jesus’ baptism, in Matthew 3:13-17. In the early days of Christian history, the act of baptism was always preceded by a period of lengthy instruction called “catechesis.” The baptismal candidate would learn the essence of the faith and gain a fuller of understanding of what it means to profess their faith in Jesus.

Matthew’s version contains the closest thing to catechesis prior to Jesus’ baptism, as it contains a conversation between Jesus and John. The story teaches us three important lessons that we can remember through our own baptism.

1. You are not God.

When Jesus requests a baptism from John, the first thing John did was exhibit profound humility. He said, “No, Jesus. I’m the one who needs to be baptized by you, not the other way around.” John got it right, of course, and it’s a reminder that despite our talents, initiative, and privilege, we are not God. We should always assume a posture of surrender and service to God, rather than expecting God to serve us.

2. You are enough.

In case we take the first reminder too far, and see ourselves as too unworthy to be of any useful purpose to God, Jesus speaks the second lesson: “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Jesus was essentially telling John that God has indeed given him all that he needs to be his truest self and to fulfill God’s purposes in the world. You may be so fixated on all that you feel is wrong or shameful in your life, but God sees something in you that you do not see. You are enough. God has given you all you need.

3. You are beloved.

The final reminder may be the most important one of them all. As Jesus was emerging from the water, the heavens opened, the spirit descended like a dove, and the voice of God said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” That word beloved comes from the Greek word agape, or unconditional love. Friends, no matter what is happening in your life, no matter what fear, grief, or isolation you may be experiencing, remember this: You are not just loved, you are beloved. Really, really loved. By a God who created you, claimed you, and saved you in Christ.

That is the power of remembering our baptism, it challenges us and comforts us with these three lessons:

1. You are not God.
2. You are enough.
3. You are beloved.

Join me this Sunday as we remember our baptism, with great gratitude.

Grace and Peace,


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




Vibes: A Series on Emotions

Vibes: A Series on Emotions

Join us for Merge Zoom on Sunday, Jan. 10.

Emotions. Think of what our life would be like without them? However, because they are so strong, they can be both helpful and also hurtful. This series we are talking about several powerful emotions and finding ways to feel about things the way God would want us to feel about them.

Click on the Linked text

Join Zoom Meeting

Or enter the credentials below in the Zoom app

Meeting ID: 829 4504 1514
Passcode: 488213

Apply for 2021 Scholarships

Apply for 2021 Scholarships

We believe it is important to invest in higher education for eligible high school, college and seminary students. Below is a list of scholarship opportunities provided by Hyde Park United Methodist and by other United Methodist agencies.

Hyde Park United Methodist Scholarship Applications

There are currently three Hyde Park United Methodist scholarship opportunities available: one is for high school seniors, one for college students (associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree or vocational certificate) and one for divinity students.

Hyde Park’s Scholarship Committee is currently finalizing the 2021 application, which should be available in mid-January. The deadline for applying for any of the Hyde Park scholarships is March 31, 2021.

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