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Thursday, April 19, 2018

"Running on Empty" Pastor Cindy's Devotion 04/19/18

Suddenly it’s Thursday!  The Midweek is late! This week has gone by in a flash.  Worship on Sunday.  Bulletin and sermon prep for next Sunday.  Staff meeting. The Finance Committee. The Worship Re-design Team.  The Christian Education Coordinating Council.  An all-day Conference Workshop.  The Senior Disciple Luncheon.  Confirmation.  A memorial service.  Meeting with two couples planning weddings.  A hospital visit.  Several meetings today.  All good work, but suddenly it’s Thursday and I can feel my energies running low.

And your week?  I am wondering if it isn’t similar.  A rush of a week.  I admire our young families, the way they juggle work, family, and church.  I know it is not easy and it often means setting aside their own needs to care for others. 

Tomorrow is my Sabbath.  Sabbath is this wonderful holy time that God sets aside and then gives back to us.  It is a gift that in our fast-paced modern culture, we often fail to accept.  It is time to pause and think, take a nap, renew, breath in and out slowly.  Tomorrow I will wake up, read for a while, go back to sleep, get up, walk around my house, pet the dog, and do tasks that I want to do.  Maybe. And maybe I will do nothing at all.  Sabbath acknowledges that that hours and minutes tick away and sometimes we need to simply feel their passage.

Do you keep Sabbath?  Without Sabbath we are vulnerable. If we don't accept Sabbath, we can find ourselves soul-exhausted, and we can forget to love those around us.  We can make serious mistakes stumbling through our encounters with other human beings. Can we all open our lives for a day, maybe even just an hour, and allow ourselves the gift of Sabbath?  My prayer for us all:  that we all can accept the gift of Sabbath.   Even now, for the next five minutes, give Sabbath to yourself as a time of rest. 

Before I know it, it will suddenly be Saturday.  Back to work, back to routine.  Fueled by Sabbath. 
Blessings and see you Sunday!
Pastor Cindy
Pastor Cindy Hickman
West Des Moines United Methodist Church
720 Grand Avenue, West Des Moines, IA 50265

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

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

"John's Story About Spring" Pastor Cindy's Devotion 04/11/18

Good morning!  Did you see what happened yesterday?  Spring!  It has been on the calendar for weeks now and it has teased us with occasional afternoons of sunshine—followed by ice and snow and cold temps, but yesterday spring seemed to actually arrive.
Every spring I watch for tulips and lungwort to come poking up in my flowerbeds.  And that inevitably gets me thinking about John.  John was a family friend when I was a child.  He and my dad liked to tell stories.  They could use up an entire Sunday afternoon exchanging stories.  One of John’s stories has stuck with me.  I always associate it with spring.  This is how John told it.
In 1945 John was serving in the military and he was stationed in Chicago.  One day he was in downtown Chicago.   I don’t remember the details.  He may have been heading home on furlough.  He spotted a cab at the curb and jumped in, without really looking to see if it was occupied.  He was seated before he realized there were a black man and a young boy in the cab.
The man nodded to him and John apologized.  They quickly learned they were headed in the same direction and agreed to share the cab.

They sat in silence, the way strangers often do when they are uneasy.  The little boy sitting between them looked at his father and then at John, who was a pale white man of Irish heritage.  Back and forth he looked at them, and then he asked his father, “Why did God make some people white and some people brown?” 
It was the sort of question that adults don’t speak in words, but they sometimes wonder.  A question like that voiced out loud is often followed by a pause, because it is asked in such innocence, and it strikes so deep at our pain and brokenness.  “Why” questions are the hardest.  Why violence?  Why racism?  Why hatred? It requires a wise answer.  John turned to the boy’s father to see what he would say.

The boy’s father said that God created people of all colors so that when God looked down on the world it would like a garden in the spring, beautiful and full of color.

The boy was satisfied and so was John, so satisfied he told the story more than 20 years later in my family’s living room.  I am glad he did.

Welcome to spring.  Enjoy the garden.

Pastor Cindy
Pastor Cindy Hickman
West Des Moines United Methodist Church
720 Grand Ave, West Des Moines, IA 50265

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

This week at West Des Moines UMC:
Wednesday Night Live tonight!  Dinner at 5:30.  No cost, but you are invited to give a free will offering.  We will use the money this summer to feed school children.
This Sunday we will continue our sermon series “Where are we going?”  Rachel Hollingsworth, our ministry intern will be telling us where she thinks we are going.  I can’t wait to hear what she has to say. 
Last Sunday I announced in worship that the church is entering into a time of visioning.  I said that we would keep you informed along the way.  A summary of what is happening appears below.  If you have questions please contact me or one of the team members.
An Update from the Visioning R&D Team
The church now faces lots of opportunities and challenges.  The opportunities include Holy Spirit momentum, increased worship numbers, our children and youth, increased use and effectiveness of our technology, and strong competent disciple leaders among our laity and staff. 
There are challenges too.  We have an ageing building, and, even though it is hard to admit, an ageing congregation.  The church owns 8 houses east of the church and these have become a challenge.  These were purchased 14 years ago with the plan of expanding the parking lot and the church building.  That was the vision at the time.  For a variety of reasons, the expansion was never realized.  The houses have been rented.  Recently the trustees informed the church council that the houses are in need of costly repairs beyond general maintenance.

With all these opportunities and challenges, what should we do?  What sort of future do we want?  What is God’s dream for this church?   Looking forward, how can we grow and serve as disciples?

We have established a Visioning Research and Development Team to gather all the information they can and propose a response to those questions.  The members of the team are Lesley Montgomery, Craige Wrenn, Berneda Franson, Becky Daniels,  Mike Powers,  Gary Norton,  Carol Litscher,  Mark Willson,  Kristen Kouba, Kristin Pawlowski, and Cindy Hickman.  They represent a cross-section of involvement and experience in the church.  They are all disciples committed to its future.

The team will be led by Sarai Rice.  She is the director of the Des Moines Area Religious Council.  She is a Presbyterian minister and has worked as a church consultant for the Alban Institute.  She brings a wealth of knowledge about church structure and visioning.

The team is committed to meeting every Thursday night for 12 weeks.  They will be doing research about our church and church trends.  They will be conducting lots of interviews with people in the community.  They will be seeking your input.  When they have compiled their information and created a proposal, they will present it to the church.

And of course, this is all words, all simply an interesting exercise, until it becomes action, lived out as we follow Jesus.  This is a process, a journey.  And I think, an exciting adventure.

What is God’s dream for this church?   Looking forward, how can we grow and serve as disciples?  Please pray for this team, for this effort, and for our church.
Every blessing,

Pastor Cindy

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

"Now Live It" Pastor Cindy's Devotion 04/04/2018

Good morning!
Sunday was wonderful.  Nearly 600 people came together at the church to celebrate Easter.  The music was beautiful.  Prayers soared to heaven.  We shared communion and dipped our hands in the baptismal bowl.  We read the story of the first Easter and imagined an empty tomb and a Risen Christ.

I preached about baggage,
·         that we all have it,
·         that Jesus carried it to the cross,
·         that the empty tomb means our baggage has been transformed, forgiven, redeemable.  Our baggage and everyone else’s baggage acceptable to God.  
·         that through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we have all been made holy, worthy of our place in the universe, needed and necessary in God’s plan for the world.

We celebrated Easter and now it is time to live it.

Look around.  What does living Easter look like in your life? A Risen Christ who goes before us, our lives made holy and usable by God, the impossible becomes possible.

We’ll leave it there today.  What does living Easter look like in your life?

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

This week at West Des Moines United Methodist Church

Tonight!  Wednesday Night Live with supper at 5:30!  Bible Study at 5, Confirmation, Praise Band rehearsal at 6:15.  All sorts of ways to grow in faith.

Worship at 8:30 (Traditional) and 11 (Casual).  Get ready for some fun!  The Des Moines Big Band Combo lead us in music at both services.  Our sermon series "Where are we going?" will kick off.  Lots of good, good things ahead!  Come and enjoy!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

"I'm Giddy this Week" Pastor Cindy's Devotion 03/28/18

Good morning!

I am not sleeping very well this week.  There are six worship services between Thursday and Sunday!  Lots of details to attend to.  But that is not what is keeping me awake at night.

I am just plain excited.  Like a kid-before-Christmas-excited. Giddy.

It started last Saturday when the prayer team hosted a 24-hour prayer vigil at the church and camped all night in the prayer room praying for our church.  I couldn’t sleep that night either.  So I just laid awake and thought about the people praying at church and smiled.

And then came Sunday, Palm Sunday and the palm parade.  Did I mention that I love Palm Sunday?  Many thanks to the amazing, enthusiastic children who paraded at both services to celebrate the day!  You rock!

All this week our staff is working hard to prepare the church for Easter. I am excited about their excitement about their work.

Charlie’s Filling Station brought us two big loads of groceries this week and a cash gift for our Little Pantry.  Generosity is always exciting.  Feeding hungry people is super exciting.  Meeting new people and sharing ministry with them–to-the-moon exciting!

Thursday the men of the church will tell the stories of the disciples in the Last Supper Drama.  Are they nervous about performing?  I don’t know.  I am excited.

Friday in our Good Friday service or hearts will descend into the depths of Jesus’ pain and sorrow.  A painful and heart-breaking sort of excitement.

And then SUNDAY!  Easter Sunday. Lilies and trumpets and bells.

I am excited about the blurry-eyed 6:30 am service when the sun will rise and the Son will rise.
I am excited about 8:30 and 10:30 worship services and the Hallelujah chorus we will all sing just because sometimes you have to let loose and sing “Hallelujah.”

And more than all this I am excited about that empty tomb and the stone rolled away and the light that comes streaming in.  I am excited about what that means in my life and yours. The places that feel like tombs, mistakes I’ve made, hurt I have felt and hurts I have inflicted, relationships that have broken up and broken down and ache for healing. All those tombs are open and the fresh air of grace can bring healing.  I am excited that the stones of judgment, cynicism, hatred, greed, prejudice, all those heavy boulders we heave at one another, can be rolled away.

And the light of the resurrection.  The Risen Christ standing with us and for us.  Who could have seen that coming?  You know what this means?  Anything is possible.  ANYTHING!
So I can’t wait and I can’t sleep and I am excited.  (I’ll sleep next week.)

See you Sunday.

Every Easter blessing to you,

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

This week at WDMUMC
Wednesday Night Live TONIGHT!  Supper at 5:30.  Rehearsals, youth group, confirmation and more.  The Praise band is growing!  Want to be a part of it?  6:15 p.m. in the Friendship Room.

Last Supper Drama Thursday at 7 pm.  Hear the stories of the disciples and share communion with them.

Good Friday Worship at 7 pm.  A solemn service of scripture and music.

Easter Sunday Worship!    Sunrise service 6:30 am.  Traditional Services in the Sanctuary at 8:30 and 10:30 a.m.

Praise be to God!  I am excited!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

"From the Stone Age into the 21st Century" Mike Plymale - 03/21/18

Ten years in internet time is like 10,000 years in real time.  I have been working with the Web Team for ten years.  We have been using the same platform for our website for longer than that.  It was old looking and did not meet the needs of current users.  It did not work well with smartphones or tablets.  It was like a huge ocean liner held together with chewing gum and duct tape.  Things fell apart and it took a lot of time to change direction.

All of this changed in January.  After meeting with Pastor Cindy to discuss the advantages and benefits of investing in a new platform for our website she found the funds to bring us into the 21st century.  We now have a church website that is modern and will meet the needs of our members, future members, and the community.  You can access all information from your home computer, tablet or smartphone.  And we are saving money too.
The first thing you see when you open our website (www.wdmumc.org) is a pair of welcoming hands.  On the homepage, there is a “New to WDMUMC” module that when clicked takes you to information that anyone looking for a new church would need.  It features a 30-second video by Pastor Cindy welcoming people to come to our church.
There are also modules for “Worship”, Children & Youth”, “Music”, “Education”, “Missions”, and “Give Online”.  Each of these modules contains pictures and information that is of interest to our members, future members, and the community.  In the Tool Bar, you can access modules about groups and committees, information about our church its leaders and history, and media (The Link, Pathways, sermons, news and the blog).
How will you use our new website?  Do you want to know who is on the Board of Trustees, the information is there.  Do you want to see pictures from the latest youth mission trip?  They are there.  Do you have a question about holding a wedding at WDMUMC?  The Wedding Guide is there.  Did you miss church last week and want to hear Pastor Cindy’s message?  It is there.  What is for dinner this week at Wednesday Night Live?  The menu is there with pictures.  Want to know how many days until the State Fair stand opens?  It is there.  And if you are looking for something and can’t find it, just let us know and we will do our best to get you the information.
Over the last four weeks, I have been participating in a “Boot Camp” with Aboundant, our internet platform provider, to improve my skills in using the new platform and get expert advice about the content, look, and feel of our website.  The “Boot Camp” consisted of twelve missions that were completed, submitted, and then critiqued by professionals.  Mission 11 was to let you know what changes are happening to our website and how you, future members and, the community will benefit.   I hope I pass.

"Why You Should Come to Church this Sunday" Pastor Cindy's Devotion - 03/21/18

I was an incredibly shy and serious little girl.  Take a look at my second-grade picture.  My mouth is clamped shut tight. I am staring straight at the camera and I look like I am personally responsible for world peace and failing the task.  (It doesn’t help that my bangs are super short.  That’s another story.)  I didn’t talk in school.  I went by my official name “Cynthia” because I was afraid that if I went by “Cindy” no one would know who I was.  There was no reason for all this anxiety.  I grew up in a loving home.  I lived in a peaceful community.  My teachers were good people.  It was just me living in my fortress of shyness.

My family attended the Presbyterian Church, sometimes.  And sometimes we didn’t attend at all.  My grandmother was very involved in the church and it was her influence that got us there, sometimes.  Our church was a solemn place.  The faithful Presbyterians sat quietly in the pews absorbing their religion passively.  It was all pretty boring, but for a shy little girl like me who wanted to walk through life unnoticed, that was ok.  Maybe the reserved nature of my church even reinforced my fears.  The people sat so quietly, so obediently, maybe there was something to fear.  Maybe silence was the way to get through this scary life.

And then that all changed.  Palm Sunday arrived.  Lucky for me Palm Sunday was one of the sometimes we attended church.  Every person entering the church was given a palm branch.  The pastor in his dark robe had a palm branch.  The grim man who sat behind us and nodded off during church was given a palm branch.  The choir, in green robes, were all handed palm branches.  Grandma was given a palm branch.  Even the children, like me, were handed a palm branch.

We stood and the organist began to play and all heaven broke loose.  Up went the palm branches, waving back and forth.   The children paraded around the sanctuary and all those solemn Presbyterians began to smile and then laugh.  Honestly, it was the first time I had ever seen them move in any joyous way.  They were happy.  Me too.  It was like those palm branches were a magic wand that set us free.   I didn’t know then that “Hosanna,” the word we sang over and over that morning, meant “save us.”  I just knew it was ok to smile, to laugh, that there was something in us all that wanted to be set free.  For this one morning, these good-hearted Presbyterians were free to stand and smile and parade around with joy.

The following Sunday was Easter.  I liked the smell of the lilies and we sang with more gusto than most days, but in my little girl mind, nothing could compare to Palm Sunday.

This Sunday is Palm Sunday.  My favorite Sunday.  I can’t wait.

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

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

This week at West Des Moines United Methodist Church
Tonight!  Wednesday Night Live will be serving up a Baked Potato Bar supper at 5:30.  The cost is a free will offering and the proceeds will be used to feed hungry children next summer.

The Praise Band is in launch mode.  They are looking for a drummer and someone who plays the bass—but every musician is invited.  They practice at 6:15 in the Friendship Room.

And youth group and confirmation and the traditional choir and bible study and more, it’s all happening tonight.  And you are invited. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

"Courage" - Pastor Cindy's Devotion - 3/14/2018

Courage, noun.
1.the power or quality of dealing with or facing danger, fear, pain, etc
2.the courage of one's convictions, the confidence to act in accordance with one's beliefs
Originating from the Latin “cor” “to speak from one’s heart.” 

When I am preparing a sermon, I print the scripture I will be using, put it in my pocket, and carry it around for a few days.  I ask God to show me the truth of the scripture, now, in the world around me. 

Next Sunday the message is about courage.  So here’s your assignment.  Write the word “courage” on a piece of paper and put it in your pocket.  Carry it around and ask God to show you what courage means, in your life, in your neighborhood, now.  (Some of you are on Spring Break.  We are jealous.  Do this assignment anyway.  I hope you have a pocket in your swimsuit.) 

Of course, there are varieties of courage:
·         The heroic run-into-a burning-house sort of courage.
·         The courage of the old man who goes to the nursing home day after day to visit his wife as she descends into dementia. 
·         The courage of kindness.
·         The courage of a parent to love their children even when they are ornery, to drop them off at daycare or kindergarten and trust they will grow up healthy, to hand them the car keys and watch them drive away. 
·         The courage to risk confrontation and speak out about what you know to be true. 
·         The courage to speak up about things people don’t want to hear. “#Me Too” sort of courage.
·         The courage of the students of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School to return to classes after the shooting. 
·         The courage of the widow to trust that a time will come when the grief-fueled ache she feels every morning will ease. 
·         The courage to trust God and to trust our own hearts. 
Courage great and small, personal and public.  Put courage in your pocket and carry it around this week.  Let me know what you discover.  On Sunday we’ll thank God for the gift of courage. 

Every blessing,
Pastor Cindy

Pastor Cindy Hickman
West Des Moines United Methodist Church
720 Grand Ave., West Des Moines, IA 50265
We worship at 8:30 and 11 every Sunday and we would love to worship with you. 

This week at WDMUMC: 
Gabe Schott will be practicing with the Praise Band at 6:15.  We are looking for musicians!  Join in the fun. 

No Wednesday Night Live Supper—the cooks are off on a beach somewhere (sigh,,,,).