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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

"Living in the Shadow of the Cross" Pastor Cindy's Devotion - 02/21/2018

Good morning,
On Sunday in worship, we looked at pictures of crosses.  Last week I drove around our neighborhood and took pictures of crosses.  Some were on churches.  One was on a car window. One was a tattoo.  I included a picture of the Normandy cemetery with white crosses in straight rows.  One picture was of a cross hanging in a tent in Haiti after the hurricane.  Another cross was made of ashes and appeared on the forehead of a mother in Parkland, Florida after last week’s shooting.

After worship, several people stopped and told me stories about the crosses they were wearing around their necks.  The stories were beautiful, stories of crosses designed in memory of loved ones, crosses that had been given on special occasions, crosses that held special meaning.  One person shared that she had arrived in a small town for a special event.  She knew it would be held in a church, but she didn’t know where the church was.  She just looked up, looked for a cross, and used that to guide her to the location.

This is all pretty ironic.  We see crosses today as symbols of hope, community, and sacrifice.  The original cross that Jesus faced was a means of execution.  How did the cross undergo such transformation?  And if an ugly thing like the cross can be redeemed, what does that mean for the world?

We all live under the transforming power of the cross.  There is nowhere we can go that is not within the shadow of the powerful event that happened on the cross.

Today at 11 am a memorial service will be held at McLaren’s Funeral home for Alma Selindh.  Alma died last week at the age of 94.  She had no immediate family and at 94 for she had outlived many of her peers.  She had friends, many of them church friends.  In fact, one of her church friends planned her memorial service.  Another family from the church has visited her regularly for more than ten years.

We will gather and pray and read scriptures and celebrate her life.  Some of us there may not have known her at all.  But we know this.  She, like us, lived in the shadow of the cross.  Something happened at that first Easter event.  The redeeming work of God.

So today we will gather and celebrate her life and her resurrection.  You are invited.  You may not have known Alma, but you know the cross and the Christ who has redeemed us all.

I bet if we look around today, we will see a cross or two.  A continual reminder that God is with us, that God is at work in us, that through us, the redeeming work of God continues. 

Blessings to you this day,
Pastor Cindy
Pastor Cindy Hickman
West Des Moines United Methodist Church
720 Grand Avenue
West Des Moines, IA 50265

Please feel free to share this with your email friends.  

See you Sunday!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

"Lent is a Time of Recalculating" - Pastor Cindy's Devotion - 02/13/2018

I make a wrong turn and I hear the smooth voice of my GPS say “recalculating.”  She (my GPS is a “she”) is very sensitive to missed turns.  She doesn’t like me to travel on the wrong path for very long.  Driving is easy compared to life.  In life, I can make lots of wrong turns, say the wrong thing to the people around me, get lost in the fog of my own thinking, and get so busy I forget to fill my tank.

Lent is a time of recalculating.  In some ways, it is a timeout, a God-given excuse to reset our lives.  Am I on the wrong path?  Have I taken a wrong turn?  Wandered a bit from God or who I think God wants me to be?  Are my energies depleted and along with my energies, have I forgotten to love those around me as I should? 

During Lent sometimes people give something up as a means of recalculating.  Sometimes people take something up.
For example, we might
Give up salty foods.
Take up eating two vegetables each day.  (Your doctor will love you for this.)
Give up blaming people.
Take up forgiving.
Give up judging people.
Take up assuming people are doing the best they can at the time.
Give up social media one day a week.
Take up a family reading night.
Give up swearing.
Take up silently asking for God’s blessing on the people around us.
Give up taking the best parking spot.
Take up parking in the furthest spot.
Give up time on the sofa.
Take up helping with a chore. 
Give up seeing the worst in others.
Take up seeing and acknowledging the best. 

Lent is not an exercise plan or a diet plan.  It is really about getting out of old routines that may have become ruts and making time and space for God to set us on a new path.

This Wednesday I am inviting you to the launch of this recalculating season.  Our Ash Wednesday service will be held at 7pm.  We will sing and read some scripture and then one by I will place ashes on your forehead or hand in the sign of a cross.  Someone will place them on mine.  I will say “from dust you have come and to dust you shall return.”  All of us, very human, capable of getting off track.  And then we will pray for a better path, a renewed sense of direction.

And then we will set off on the journey to Easter together. 
And God will meet us there. 

Blessings to you,

Pastor Cindy

Pastor Cindy Hickman
West Des Moines United Methodist Church
720 Grand Ave.

West Des Moines, IA 50265

Saturday, February 10, 2018

"Looking for God?" - Pastor Cindy's Devotion - 02/07/2018

I am looking for God this week.  God is not missing.  I am missing God.  Maybe I better explain. 
First, my life gets busy.  (Does your life get busy?  Can I get an “amen”?)  It is so easy to get swept up in the rumble of life and the things that keep us so busy.  Going a little deeper, the things that keep us busy can take on an importance that they really don’t have. 

Second, Lent begins next Wednesday.  Lent is the 40 day period that prepares us for Easter.  In a way lent is a time-out.  In just the way a parent puts a child in a time-out and says “I want you to think about what you’ve done,” in lent God offers us a time-out, gives us time to reflect on what we have done and who are and (and this a really important part) gives us time to reflect on what God has done and who God is.

Third, during Lent, we follow Jesus to the cross.  That story is an awful witness to what human beings can do to one another.  It’s pretty horrifying to me.  I need to prepare for that. 

Fourth, the world feels heavy right now. In recent weeks, several people have shared their hopelessness and anxiety with me.  In some ways, I share their feelings.
Fifth, I worship a living God.  I experience God in my life, in the day to day. 

So, in order to reset my priorities, to prepare for lent and refuel with the living oxygen God always offers, I have gone looking for God this week.  Someone once said to me “you go looking for what you need.” I think that is true.  The world is so beautiful and so full of amazing things, why not be honest about what we need and look?  

But how do you look for God?

The Australian Aborigines have a custom of walkabout.  A walkabout is a rite of passage for young men ages 10-16.  They live in the wilderness for six months in order to make a spiritual transition to manhood.  I think of what I am doing as a walkabout, no sleeping on the ground, no encounters with crocodiles like the aborigines might experience.  I just walk around my world, my wilderness, looking for what I might discover, watching and listening for the presence of God.

Watching and listening.  In order to do that, I have to slow down.  “Be still and know that I am God” says the psalmist in Psalm 46.  Slow down, listen, breathe.  I am looking for evidence of the living God present in the world, something beyond me.

Have I found God?  I have found good people.  I have seen good ministries and care in place.  I have run into an old friend and been reminded again of how important people are in my life.  But honestly, I have not found what I am looking for yet.  I am looking for a stirring in my heart, and easing of my soul, lungs filling with the reassurance that God is with us.  By faith, I know God is with us, but I want to feel it. 

It is only Wednesday.  And I am not very good at being still.  So more stillness, more downshifting, more looking and watching.  I will share more on Sunday, but right now, I am beginning to feel more at peace. 

May you be filled with the living oxygen of God. 

Blessings to you from the wilderness, 
Pastor Cindy
Pastor Cindy Hickman

West Des Moines United Methodist Church
720 Grand Avenue
West Des Moines, IA 50265

"Are You Having a Good Day?" - Pastor Cindy's Devotion - 01/31/2018

Hello everyone.

Are you having a good day? 

I hope so.  This morning I had coffee with a remarkable person. Then I met with a group of pastors who are working very hard and are smart and funny and dedicated to their churches.  And then I came to the church where the staff was busy at work.  I can hear the sounds of the preschool children in their classrooms.  They bring life and energy to the church.  The Wednesday Night Live Crew will be in soon and the smells of supper cooking will make its way up the stairs.   There is a buzz of life around me, good people tending to the world each in their own way. 

Is this the hum of grace?  Does God move through our actions and our hearts, keep us busy and interested in the world around us, call us to the adventure of living as people of faith? 

A simple prayer for today: 
Fill us, Lord. 
With your grace,
Surge through our veins,
Sing your songs in us,
Dance around hearts,
And then may we,
Fling grace into the world,
Sing songs of hope and mercy,
And dance to the rhythm of your heartbeat. 

Fling, sing, dance this good day.  The world needs you present in this moment and filled to overflowing with the goodness of God.

Every blessing,

Pastor Cindy

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

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

"We are Back" - Pastor Cindy's Devotion - January 24, 2018

Hello friends!

We are back!  Linda Plummer, Annette and Mark Wildin, Jane Beeman, Nancy Cumberland and Dave and I boarded a plane on January 9th and flew to Tel Aviv.  We returned on the 18th, jet-lagged and happy.  We were on the go the entire time.  Wake up call came at 6 am and we spent the day touring holy sites.  In the evening there were lectures and activities and we dropped off to bed each night tired and excited, our minds filled with more than we could process.  Several people have said they would like to see our pictures and we are planning a time when we might share them with you, but the trip was more than what we saw.  It was what we experienced.  Great hospitality from the Arab-Muslim-Palestinian-Christians who fed us and guided us and drove our bus.  Friendship among the 100 Iowans on the trip.  (A shout out to the people from Indianola, Iowa City, Adel, Grinnell, and Rippey!)  Inspiring moments when Bishop Laurie renewed our baptism in the Jordan River.  Lots of care.  How often one person climbing down the steps of a ruin would turn and extend a hand to the person behind them helping them climb down the rocky terrain.  Lots of laughter—some of it as we waited in line to use public restrooms.  (It takes a long time for thirty women to use a public restroom.)  We always felt safe, warmly welcomed, among friends.   

There is more than I describe in a blog post, so let me just tell you about one experience.

One morning we found ourselves sitting on some steps on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.  The water was calm and the shoreline was rocky.  Our guide, Victor, was telling us all about the history of the place.  I don’t think we were paying close attention.  I would guess most of us were just trying to process it all.  That beautiful water in front of us was the Sea of Galilee.  Images from the bible of fishermen repairing their nets played out in our minds.  This is the Sea of Galilee where Jesus calmed storms, where Jesus walked on water and Peter didn’t.  The Sea of Galilee where the Risen Christ appeared to the fishermen and cooked a breakfast of fresh fish for them on the shore.  After Victor was done talking, we walked down to the water and took our shoes off and waded in.  The water was cool and clear.  We cupped it in our hands.  We touched it to our foreheads in memory of our baptism.  We all looked at one another.  He was here.  He is here, our hearts told us.  We prayed.  The air was fresh with grace. 

Water, of course, flows and evaporates.  Water is fluid and mingles with water.  The Sea of Galilee, like Jesus, like grace, is not confined to that shoreline.  Today as you turn on a faucet, that water has mingled with the waters of the Sea of Galilee.  That Christ who stood on the shore and said “follow me” still calls us.  Not just in Israel, not just on 8th and Grand, but in the depth of our heart.  We too are water and grace. 

I am glad I went to Israel.  And I glad to be home among you.  Grace like water flows among us.

This is a big weekend at West Des Moines United Methodist Church.  On Saturday night at 5 pm, we will have our Annual Meeting Celebration.  We will thank our retiring leaders and install incoming leaders and look to our future.  A reception follows at 6 pm.  You are all invited! 

On Sunday afternoon at 4 pm, Max Wellman will jazz it up our sanctuary with a concert.  What a great way to warm up on a winter afternoon.  Come!  And bring a friend! 

And of course worship, at 8:30 am and 11:00 am we will renew and rejoice and rejuvenate our faith.  What could be better!  See you there!
Every blessing to you,

Pastor Cindy

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

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

"Detours" - Rachel Olson - January 17, 2018

Good afternoon friends-

How do you handle detours, big or small?

This past Monday, as the temperatures were below freezing again, I look outside and see a beautiful sundog. The sun that brings us warmth is giving me a glimpse of a rainbow. That rainbow gives me hope during a time I am experiencing detours. Where am I? I am sitting at a body shop getting a battery for my van, detour. My daughter fractured her pinky finger and hasn’t been able to compete at her first 2 meets this season, detour. Last Thursday, the ice storm put limitations on how I was able to work and could have put me a day behind, detour. This past Sunday morning as I was getting ready to visit my grandfather who was in the hospital, I received a call that he had passed. That was a major detour! How do I continue my discipleship path when hit with these detours? Romans 8:28 came to mind. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Detours come in all shapes and sizes, but all of them share one thing in common...we didn’t see them coming. They catch us off guard, leaving us feeling frustrated, confused, curious and even heart-broken. We question God; why did this happen, at this time. The temptation is to become discouraged, even angry at God, as we experience our faith being rocked. Do we fight it? Do we take a deep breath and submit?

As we experience life, God changes our plans. We choose how we respond. 

Perhaps the lesson we can learn from these experiences is that when we take such detours we might try taking the time to enjoy the detour. What do we see along the detour that we would have missed going our own way? What is it God is trying to focus our attention on? As I reflect on my detours and ponder why God used these at this time, I truly can’t see the big picture, God’s picture. Sometimes it is hard to imagine that things are being worked out for our good. The only thing I can do is...TRUST. To put my faith in God’s plan and continue to worship, serve and be a witness. I have to trust that all things work for good as in Romans 8:28. My grandfather was 95 years old. He lived a long, good life and was at peace. Now I will continue on my disciple journey holding on to his memories

Join us this Sunday for Max Wellman and Friends concert at 4 pm.  A part of the Music & More on Grand series.

Annual Celebration January 27th at 5 pm!  Everyone is invited for an evening of fun thanking our retiring leaders, installing new leaders and looking at our plans for 2018.  RSVP to Sandy Law at 223-1189 or slaw.2@hotmail.com.


Rachel Olson

West Des Moines United Methodist Church
720 Grand Avenue
West Des Moines Iowa 50265

Friday, January 12, 2018

"How Does One Become a Disciple?" - Rachel Olson - January 10, 2018

SHHHHHH!! Pastor Cindy’s out and I am taking over the midweek devotion. I want to begin by saying “Thank You” for welcoming me into your church! With the people I have met so far, I can feel that God has big plans for WDMUMC. This got me thinking, what makes this such a great church? Is it the building? The weekly activities held here? The staff? Or people of the church being disciples? This led me to wonder how does one become a disciple.

A disciple of Jesus can be defined as being a worshiper, a servant, and a witness. It might seem overwhelming to be a disciple, but having faith in Christ and only worshiping Him is a great start. Are we going to mess up? Of course, we are only human. We then need to be able to see that something such as money, career or family is our priority and as GPS says “recalculating,” and turn back to Him. This will take practice, but the relationships you will make and the peace you will feel is so worth the journey.

Creating relationships is wrapped around being a servant. Serving those next door, down the street or even beyond. Even Jesus had served the disciples by washing their feet and giving the commandment to love one another. “…As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34 During my one year break from working full time, it was all about me…I was on empty and I needed a lot of “me” time to get filled up again and gain a positive outlook on life. I was anxious beginning a new job, wondering will my serving attitude come back or would I have a constant struggle between serving others and serving myself. The transformation was amazing and I’m able to be a witness again.

“…As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” John 20:21. We are all on a mission to be His witness to the great love and grace He gives us every day. Just as Jesus was sent for a purpose, so are we, to reveal God and tell of His good news. To do this there is no need to stand in the middle of a busy intersection shouting how you are saved, but reflect on those times that God has shown up in your life and SHARE.

With our world full of busyness and anxiety, people are searching for hope and peace. As we understand more about becoming a worshiper, servant and a witness we can start to change the world. As we begin or continue our disciple walk, we will bring hope to others and sometimes not even realize the lives we have changed. God knows where you are today, and He knows how to get you where you need to be. Trust Him and follow His lead.