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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

"A Prayer Collector" - Pastor Cindy's Devotion - November 15, 2017

Good morning,

How about a prayer today?  I am a collector of prayers.  Some days my prayers run out and I need someone else’s words and someone else’s hope.  Maybe I just like to overhear someone else’s conversation with God.  When I hear a really good prayer I simply pray “me too.” 

Today’s prayer is the serenity prayer.  Do you know it? 

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference. Amen

Serenity:  calm and steady
Courage:  strength to withstand danger, fear or difficulty
Wisdom:  knowledge, insight, judgment

Of course, no prayer is simply for us.  God hears our prayers on behalf of the world.  As we gain serenity, courage, and wisdom, the world gains these same things through us.  The world is in dire need of serenity, courage, and wisdom. 

So today we pray. 

And God hears. 

And by God’s grace, we live. 

Every blessing to you today, good people.

Pastor Cindy

Pastor Cindy Hickman
West Des Moines United Methodist Church

Like us on Facebook or visit us at wdmumc.org.  We worship at 8:30 and 11 on Sundays and we would love to worship with you. 

This week at West Des Moines United Methodist Church:

Tonight is Wednesday Night Live and that means supper together!  Good food and good fellowship!  Free will offering.  Pay what works for you!

Sunday morning our sermon series, Healthy Minds, God and Mental Health, continues.  We will be talking about addictions.  Between services Dr. Craige Wrenn will lead a conversation on “America’s Opioid Crisis:  Trends, Science, and Hope.”  At 1pm, we will offer a Healing Service.  Can we as disciples learn more about mental illness and the suffering it creates?  Can we be part of the healing?  You are invited! 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

"Sing, Pray, Listen to the Music of God" - Pastor Cindy's Devotion - November 8, 2017

Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place. I can feel His mighty power and His grace.
I can hear the brush of angels wings.  I see glory on each face.
Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.

On Sunday morning we sang that song in worship.  It was a powerful moment.  Surely the presence of the Lord was in that place.  Music has an amazing ability to take us beyond words and notes.  Beyond the lyrics, beyond the sound of the piano or the trumpet, there is something holy.  It could be in the togetherness of singing.  Our voice blends with the voice beside us. Organ music and human voice together.  It might be because music is eternal.  Birds sing.  The wind sings.  Crickets sing.  On a summer night look up at the stars and you can’t help but wonder if they sing.  It could be because music carries such emotion.  Without a word, music can release joy, or playfulness, or deep sorrow.  It can soothe or energize.  Music can make our toes tap, our hips sway, or our shoulders relax.  People fall in love to the sound of music.  They pledge their lives to each other with musical prelude and postlude.  We say goodbye to loved ones and music that takes us back to moments shared with them. 

I think the power of music is in our breath.  We share the breath of God and when we sing we send the breath of God into the world. 

I am not a musician.  I only remember two songs in my home growing up.  One was a flirtatious little ditty my dad sang to my mom when he was teasing her.  The other was the lullaby my mother sang to my baby sister. 

For me, in many ways music has been a gift to me from the church.  I admit I had to warm up to it.  The old hymns and traditional music were a foreign language.  Now as I stand in front of the church, I feel as though the people sing over me, the holy breath of God released as we sing, a fresh baptism each Sunday

Tom Sletto is the Director of Music Ministries at our church.  He is an excellent musician.  He blends his education and training in sacred music with a clear sense of theology.  Each week he studies the scripture and the sermon theme and he selects music that he feels best supports the message for the day.  Our 8:30 worship is traditional.  The music comes from the rich historic library of church music, great old hymns that have poured out from faithful hearts.   

Our 11:00 worship is a casual service.  The music has a different flair, a different energy.  It is still holy, still passes over a threshold beyond mere words and notes, into the heart of God.  But it seeks to ignite our faith.  It is, honestly, more youthful. A fresh entry into the church. 

This week Tom came to see me.  He wanted to talk about the music at the 11 o’clock casual service.  The big question we discussed was “what is the best style of music for casual worship?”  What best connects God and the people in a casual service?  So we are re-thinking the music for that service.  We are looking for your ideas.  What is the best music for the people who attend that service?  What is the best music to draw people who are not currently attending?  Your thoughts?  This will also require new leadership.  Would you be willing to offer leadership? 

Just as music was at one time foreign to me, casual music is not Tom’s expertise. His training is in sacred music and theology.  It’s a brave and faithful thing for him to pose the question.

So we are re-thinking—which is another way of saying we are opening ourselves to the direction God is leading. 

There are three things I would like you to do today. 

Sing.  Because the world needs your song.

Pray.  About music and those who lead us. 

Listen.  For the music of God around you. 

Our hearts go out to the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas. 

Every blessing,

Pastor Cindy

Pastor Cindy Hickman
West Des Moines United Methodist Church

Like us on Facebook or visit us at wdmumc.org.

We worship at 8:30 and 11 on Sunday mornings and we would love to worship with you. 

This Sunday we begin a three-week sermon series called Healthy Minds, God, and Mental Health.  One in four Americans will experience some sort of mental health issue.  How can the church respond? 

Sunday from 4-6pm Dr. Lisa Little, a psychologist from Orchard Place will be here. Join us for a presentation and discussion about mental health! We will be learning about common mental health concerns from childhood through adulthood, as well as ways to support one another.

Wednesday Night Live!  As I write this Cindy O. is downstairs in the kitchen making meatloaf for supper tonight!  Supper begins at 5:30.  Join in the generosity adventure.  This is a free will offering.  Come and enjoy. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

"How Can You Show Generosity to Others?" - Pastor Cindy's Devotion - November 1, 2017

Hello Friends!

Have you thought of ways to be generous to your family members, neighbors or even strangers?  What may seem small, could have an everlasting effect on someone.  Read this week's Midweek Devotion and ponder how you can show generosity to others.

At one time I worked for a human service agency. The agency provided lots of services to children and families in need. One of the services was a group home for ten teen girls. For a variety of reasons, primarily abuse and neglect, the girls could no longer live at home. So they lived in the group home. A local business learned about the girls and, when one of the girls had a birthday, the business would bring the girl a birthday cake and a small gift. I didn’t work at the group home but my work took me by there from time to time. Once I stopped by on the day of a birthday. The girls were outside sitting on the curb. When I asked what was going on, the adult supervisor explained about the birthday. The girls were waiting for the business to arrive with the cake and presents. And then she said, “They are excited. They’ve never experienced generosity before.” According to the worker, in their lives, everything had come at a cost. Nothing had been freely given. Generosity was worth sitting on the curb and waiting for.

Of course, the girls had seen generosity before. Generosity is a practice of God. It is a form of love, like forgiveness and respect and nurturing and healing. God loves us in these ways all the time. For the girls, though, generosity had gotten all tangled up in very human brokenness. In their lives, someone had lost their way. Someone had behaved in a hateful way. Someone kept score. Even the most basic things, love especially love, came at a cost. And somehow everyone had lost sight of simple generosity.

Today is Wednesday and that means our Wednesday Night Live teams are preparing supper for us. In the past, there has been a set price for the meal. Tonight the Wednesday Night Live program is beginning what they call a Generosity Adventure. Rather than a set price, everyone is invited to come to the meal, pay what they can afford and enjoy a lovely supper.

This Generosity Adventure means that:
Someone who might not have been able to come because they couldn’t afford it can now join us for supper.
It means that customers now become guests, just like when we invite people to dinner in our homes.
It means we shift from cashiers to hosts.
It means that when Jesus asks us to feed people in Matthew 14, we can nod our heads and say “ok.”
It means that as God has been generous to us, we can now be generous to others.

The Wednesday Night Live team is hoping that the generosity will overflow and someday the extra proceeds can be used to help families and children in our community.

Do you think we can trust generosity? Is it really like forgiveness and respect and nurturing and healing, another form of love? Can we trust God?

You are invited to join in the Generosity Adventure. Come and eat. Come and pay what you can afford. Bring the neighbors. Come and see what God has in store. Bring your generous hearts. If you like, we can sit on the curb and watch what happens.

What’s happening this week at West Des Moines United Methodist Church?

This Sunday at West Des Moines United Methodist Church we will celebrate All Saints Day.  We will remember loved ones who have died.  We will thank God for what they have meant to us.  Hope you will join us in this time of remembrance.

Every blessing,

Pastor Cindy

Pastor Cindy Hickman
West Des Moines United Methodist Church
720 Grand Avenue
West Des Moines Iowa 50265

Visit us at wdmumc.org or like us on Facebook.

We worship at 8:30 and 11 on Sundays and we would love to worship with you.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

"Soothing Words" - Pastor Cindy's Devotion - October 25, 2017

Hello friends, 

Here it is Wednesday and this has been a challenging week for me.  Challenges are always a reminder that I can’t live this life on my own.  I need others around me, friends who love and support, and family who lean in and help one another.  And you, good church people who offer encouragement. 

Sometimes words are even an antidote to challenges.   This week words of Mother Teresa came to mind.  Mother Teresa is way beyond my league.  She founded the Missionaries of Charity, a group of Roman Catholic sisters whose work spread throughout the world caring for people with HIV/Aids and suffering the effects of poverty.   She is a modern-day saint, a model for Christian caring.

I bet none of this was easy.  I bet she faced challenges that make my paltry complaints look wimpy.  The work was hard.  She was criticized.  She faced health issues.  She battled with doubt.  And yet on she went. 
I will never be a saint.  And the challenges of this week (none of which the church is responsible for—“no pastor-pity,” no guilt or worry friends!) tested my ability to forgive and I didn’t always pass the test.  It was just a hard week.

And now it is Wednesday. 

And now it is time to renew and refuel. 

And now the words of Mother Teresa come to mind. 

Mother Teresa's Anyway Poem*
People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.
*These words are attributed to Mother Teresa.  She may not be the author.  (Gosh, life is complicated.) 

On we go, despite the challenges.  Glad to be spending this life with you.  (Special prayers for all who have faced challenges this week.) 

See you Sunday, the start of a brand new week!

Every blessing to you. 

Pastor Cindy

Pastor Cindy Hickman
West Des Moines United Methodist Church

We worship at 8:30 and 11 on Sunday and we would love to worship with you! 

Tonight!  Sweet Spooky Fun at Trunk or Treat!  6-730!  Bring the neighbors and come for some fun!  The Wednesday Night Live team will be serving up supper starting at 5:30. 

Commitment Sunday!  This Sunday we will claim our future as we make our financial commitment to the church in 2018.  Hope you will be there for this time of faith in action. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

"Walking the Labyrinth" - Pastor Cindy's Devotion - October 18, 2017

Good morning everyone,

Our prayer team has turned the Friendship room into a prayer space.  They have spread out the prayer labyrinth on the floor.  The lights are low.  Candles glow and soft music plays in the background.  Just walking into the space feels holy and sacred, relief from the noise and the hectic pace of the world. 

Have you ever walked a prayer labyrinth?  The labyrinth looks like a circular maze.  A path goes around and around and back and forth.  The maze forces us to slow down and it offers space to think. 

Enter the path and walk the prayer labyrinth.   Eventually, you will reach the center.  The prayer team has placed a bench there and you can sit and think and pray.  When you are rested and ready, you take the path again, back and forth around and around, until you again find your way out. 

Why do this?  Last night as I was falling asleep, I had three or four issues rumbling back and forth in my mind.  We had a minor disaster in our home yesterday.  (Time will heal all; it just feels lousy now.)  Our church is going through our stewardship campaign, that time of year when we each determine how we will financially support the operating budget of the church in the year ahead.  It is a very important time.  It is also an anxious time.  Money has that effect on us.  I am planning a sermon series for November addressing mental health.  That issue has been on my mind and it is breaking my heart.  And my mother’s glasses have disappeared.  My 90-year-old mother has dementia and lives in a nursing home.  Her daily experiences are limited, but she is generally content.  She likes to look around the world.  Without her glasses, she can’t do that.  All of these things will work themselves out. I am confident of that, but right now, they crash around in my mind disturbing the peace. 

So I am headed to the prayer labyrinth to take the path walking back and forth.  Turning this way and that, remembering again that our lives are like that path, turning and circling.  Making my way to center is like making my way to the heart of God.  I am looking for rest and redemption beyond my own capabilities.  Holy and sacred. 

You are invited to walk the labyrinth.  Whatever is crashing in your mind, take the path.  Sit for a while.  God is near. 

The labyrinth is open all day today and Thursday. 

Every blessing,

Pastor Cindy

Pastor Cindy Hickman
West Des Moines United Methodist Church

Like us on Facebook or visit us at wdmumc.org

We worship at 8:30 and 11 on Sundays and we would love to worship with you. 

What’s happening this week at West Des Moines United Methodist Church?  Lots!

Confirm, our program for youth inviting them into the life of the church begins tonight at 6:15.  If you are a junior high student or a high school student who is wondering whether a life of following Jesus is the life for you, come tonight and being the journey with us!

Reggie’s Sleepout!  Our youth will be supporting homeless youth and sleeping in Drake Stadium this Saturday night.  Prayer for them and their leaders!

Pop-Up Potluck!  Saturday evening bring a dish to share and we have supper together.  Talk, laugh and play games.  (Will there be dancing?  Maybe!)  The fun begins at 4.  Supper at 5. 

And Sunday morning—it’s time for omelets!  Mits Wits, our adult Sunday school class will be cooking up breakfast.  Come for breakfast, stay for worship!

Monday, October 9, 2017

"To-Do" - Pastor Cindy's Devotion - October 9, 2017

Good morning!

I woke up this morning to my to-do list running through my mind:
  • Time to prepare the liturgy for next Sunday’s worship—
  • Yesterday the message was about our homes and the problem of homelessness.  Do I need to do follow up? 
  • Our stewardship campaign, Saints Alive!  Living Generously is kicking off.  Can we be generous saints? 
  • Confirmation begins on the 18th—time to review the materials!
  • New members joining this Sunday!
  • A wedding on Saturday. 
  • Sarah has the bibles ready for our third graders his Sunday.  Anything else we need to do to get ready?
  • I need to call Hillside, our neighborhood elementary school, to talk about working together
  • What should our sermon series be for November?
  • Next week the staff will have a retreat, Am I ready? 
  • And Advent?  Will we have an all-church study for Advent?  (The answer is yes;  we just haven’t selected the book yet.)
  • The Dream Summit.  We have been gathering dreams and dreamers and on October 22 in the afternoon from 3-5, we will come together to dream. 
And people, there are lots and lots of people to see.
And all of this in the shadow of the shooting last week in Las Vegas.  It’s on my mind too. 

All of this (and more actually) needs to be done.  I love the work of the church.  I am a To-Do List, Czar. I constantly run a to-do list.  My worry is that sometimes my to-do list runs me.  Are these the right things to do?  Is this what I should spend my time on? 

So this week, I am stepping away, stepping back, stepping out, just outside the doors of the church. I am bringing my lawn chair to church, setting it on the lawn by the front doors and spending time thinking and planning and praying.  I have a box filled with things I want to read.  I will take that along with me, too. I will carry my cell phone.  (Dave tells me it is cold this morning—I may need a blanket too.)  For this week, I want to give my to-do list to God and let grace help me sort it out. 

I hope you will stop by.  I want to hear what you are thinking about.  Let grace sort your to-do list too. 

So I will be out on the lawn. 

A few practicalities:  There is some business I have to attend to.  Eating, for example.  And I cannot sit all day in a lawn chair, so sometimes I will walk.  But I will carry my cell phone and if I am not at my post and you want to find me, just call or text.   515-988-0636.  I plan to go home around 6:30 or so.  If it rains, I will be in the sanctuary. 

That to-do list above?  All of those things will get done.  I just want to ensure that my heart is in the right place before I go to work on them. 

I leave you with a bit of scripture for the day from Psalm 46:10  Be still and know that I am God. 

Breathing that in this week. 

Every blessing,

Pastor Cindy

Pastor Cindy Hickman
West Des Moines United Methodist Church

Like us on Facebook or visit us at wdmumc.org.

This week at West Des Moines United Methodist Church…
Wednesday Night Live Dinner!  5:30 on Wednesday Cubbie Bear from the Iowa Cubs will be joining us for supper.  You are invited to share in the fun!

And looking ahead—October 25 Trunk or Treat Night! 

Monday, October 2, 2017

"Providing a Sense of Home" - Pastor Cindy's Devotion - October 2, 2017

Good morning friends,
As I write this, I am sitting at my desk in the corner of our family room.  Dave is upstairs getting ready for work and our dog, Ike, is lying on the floor beside me.  Above my desk is a picture of my granddaughter, and nearby is a picture of my mom.  On my desk among the papers and files, there is a wooden bird a friend gave me.  One wall of the family room is covered with books.  We love books and there they sit like old friends who never left. 

In a few minutes, Dave will come downstairs and we will eat breakfast together in the kitchen.  The kitchen is painted a teal color that I love.  The refrigerator is covered with magnets from our travels.  There is a small chalkboard on the wall where we announce family events, birthdays and anniversaries, countdowns to graduations.  Today it simply reads “RELAX.” 

This is my home.  We moved here 25 years ago.  We arrived the day before the moving van.  Dave and I and our two little girls spent our first night here “camping” in the empty family room sleeping on the floor in sleeping bags. 

That began the adventure of living in this house.  Since then we have painted and remodeled and mowed and raked and pulled weeds (and sometimes failed to pull weeds.)  Our children have grown.  Our daughters have homes of their own, but they come to visit and they move through this house with familiarity.  They may have their own homes, but they still carry this house in their hearts. 

Family dinners, graduation parties, Christmas celebrations, Beggars Night when Spiderman and princesses showed up on the doorstep.  After two weddings, we came back home, back here exhausted but too excited to sleep.  This is where we have recovered from the flu.  This is where we have lived in grief at the loss of a loved one. Dave and I have aged and the house has stood through it all.  A shelter through storms.  A sanctuary at the end of the day.  Our lives have taken root here.  This house is the roof over our heads and the foundation beneath our feet. 

Outside I can hear thunder.  Rain is on its way.  We will be fine.  We live in this house. 

On Saturday at West Des Moines United Methodist Church we want to provide this same sense of home to another family.  Working with Habitat for Humanity, we will be framing a house in the parking lot.  Note the word “we.”  The work will be provided by our willing hands.  You are invited to volunteer.  Colleen K. is coordinating this.  The Habitat staff has assured her that there is work for every skill level.  Colleen is also planning a lunch and willing hands are needed for lunch too.  I encourage you to invite family and friends and neighbors to help with this.  You may know someone who is a bit leery about the church.  “Do churches ever actually DO anything?”  On Saturday we will DO something big.  We will build a home for someone else. 

You can sign up to volunteer simply by going to https://gdmhabitat.secure.force.com/ volunteer/VolunteersJobListingFSC?jobId=a0G61000006R3IN&nMonthsToShow=6.  This will take you to the Habitat for Humanity sign up. 

And then on Sunday during worship, we will ask God to bless the house and the family who will live there.  Millions of people are homeless without the kind of security my home has provided for me.  On Saturday together our willing hands can change that for one family. 

Thank you, God, for the opportunity to make a difference. 
See you Saturday and Sunday. 

Every blessing,
Pastor Cindy
Pastor Cindy Hickman
West Des Moines United Methodist Church
720 Grand Avenue
West Des Moines, Iowa 50265

Like us on Facebook or visit us at wdmumc.org. 
We worship at 8:30 and 11 on Sunday mornings and we would love to worship with you! 

This week at West Des Moines United Methodist Church
The 48th Annual Hunger Hike will be held in Des Moines on October 8 at 1:30.  Like to walk?  Want to be part of addressing hunger here in the Des Moines area?  Contact the church for details. 

Sunday, October 8 at 4pm come and enjoy our Fine Arts Concert.  The Grand View University Choir and the area organists will perform.