813.253.5388 |  Info@HydeParkUMC.org | 

Dear Hyde Park Family,

In Celtic spirituality there is a term called “thin places,” where a person experiences the God’s presence more readily than in any other place. Travel writer Eric Weiner describes them as “those rare locales where the distance between heaven and Earth collapses.” These places range from religious venues to outdoor scenery to childhood settings and everywhere in between.

Do you have such a “thin place,” where you sense the presence of God most closely to you?

I have a few. There is a prayer labyrinth at the United Methodist Life Enrichment in Leesburg, Florida. There is the backyard of my parents’ home in St. Petersburg, where memories of my childhood seem vivid and real.

By far, the most sacred thin place for me is on Pass-a-Grille Beach, a few steps away from the Gulf of Mexico. It was there that I first sensed God calling me to ministry in 1995, where I heard the closest thing to an audible voice from God that I’ve ever heard. “Magrey, I want you to be a preacher.” When I want to remember my calling, I return to that beach.

It is there that I walked on countless occasions to pray about whatever burden I was carrying and sense God’s direction in my life. It is there that I have sat with a computer to write some of the most important sermons I’ve ever preached, including my Large Church Initiative sermon in 2013 and my installation sermon in 2015. It is there that God has inspired me to write important pieces for this church and for the wider Conference and denomination.



Thousands of years before the Celts, the Hebrew people also had a strong connection between God and the land. The Bible is filled with instances where they experienced the sacred in thin places, connecting them to the promise, presence, and provision of God.

In our worship series on the seven days of creation, this Sunday we will explore day three, when God created the land and the seas. We will remember what a gift the land, the seas, and the environment is to us, and discover ways to be proper stewards and caretakers of it.

Join this Sunday, as you think about those special places where “the distance between Earth and heaven collapses.”

I would love to hear what your thin places are.


See you Sunday!