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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

"Midweek and Just 11 Shopping Days to Christmas!" - Pastor Cindy's Devotion - December 13, 2017


Good morning friends—

Christmas is coming!  That is probably not news to you.  There are just 11 shopping days until Christmas.  That whole business of thinking of our days as “shopping days” got me to thinking about how we might spend these days leading up to Christmas.  Read this week’s devotion to learn what these days might hold.  How will you spend these days?  Blessings to you, Pastor Cindy

PS:  Feel free to forward this on to others.  Let them know you are spending these days thinking of them!

11 Shopping days to Christmas! 

11 Get the tree ready, get the gifts ready, get me ready days.
 
11 Watching children, giddy with the season, sing and clap their hands about what is about to happen days.   

11 Days pondering why God would want to take on our human life.

11 Days making room for the Christ Child to live in my neighborhood.
 
11 Peering into the manger days and knowing God picked the perfect place to be born, the prince of the humble and the hurting. 

11 Looking again at the nativities around my home days.  Mary with head bowed looking over her child, Joseph just behind her shoulder standing tall with a staff in hand, and wondering where I stand in the story of Christ’s birth.  

11 Looking into the mailbox days and reaching for Christmas cards from old friends. 

11 Listening to the news days and wondering what Christmas looks like in refugee camps or war-torn places days, wondering how and when God will heal the divisions between us, wondering if we will let God do that. 

11 Singing Christmas carol days and believing the lyrics “peace on earth, good will to men” could possibly become a reality. 

11 Days to open my heart to receive the Christ, to receive the light, to carry it for the rest of my days. 
The sun just came up while I am writing this.  Time to live this day. 

Every blessing to you as we make our way to Christmas! 
Pastor Cindy
Pastor Cindy Hickman
West Des Moines United Methodist Church
720 Grand Avenue
West Des Moines Iowa 50265
515-279-0826

Like us on Facebook or visit us at wdmumc.org

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

This week at West Des Moines United Methodist Church

On Sunday we will continue our sermon series, Not The Christmas We Would Have Planned.  Christ was born into a world in quite a mess.  Why would God do such a thing?  Come Sunday and we will talk about it!  God’s plans are always bigger than ours. 


Tonight!  Wednesday Night Live is serving up roast beef and mash potatoes in their last dinner before our Christmas break.  The cost is simply a free will offering, pay what works for you.  The proceeds from the dinner will help meet the hunger needs of our neighbors.  During Christmas break, we will be providing 75 Subway sandwiches to children at Hillside Elementary.  A very good way to celebrate the birth of Christ among us.  

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

"All I Want for Christmas is Courage" - Pastor Cindy's Devotion - December 6, 2017


“What do you want for Christmas?”  That’s a question that has been buzzing around my house.  Dave and I and our daughters and their families have been making up our Christmas lists.  My Fitbit is falling apart and I would like a replacement.  This will be my 64th Christmas and honestly “what I want for Christmas” lists have become routine.  We do love Christmas at our house and we will all gather Christmas morning and share a meal and then open presents.  And it will be wonderful to be together, but the exchange of things has worn a bit thin for me. 

This morning in prayer that question “what do I want for Christmas?” surfaced.  And I found myself asking “what do I want for Christmas from God?”  Rather than asking my family or Santa for something special under the tree, what do I need from God this year?

The answer came surprisingly quickly.  Courage.  Living in this world this year seems especially tough.  I want courage. 

I want the sort of courage that Joseph and Mary had, to do what needed to be done.   

I want courage to lead my church. 

I want courage to preach the truth that we are deeply loved and that it is the love of God and our love for one another that makes life livable. 

I want courage to listen to hurting persons. 

I want courage to let go of things and values that are not of God. 

I want courage to use my voice to speak out against evil.  I want courage to use my feet to take me to the places where I can serve.  I want courage to use my hands to make a difference in the lives of others.  I want courage to do what needs to be done, even if it is unpopular. 

I want courage to say “I need…” when my body and spirit needs rest and renewal. 

Mary and Joseph lived lives that changed the world. Through their courage, Christ entered the world.  This was all quite disruptive to the powers of the day.  Living lives of faithful courage is disruptive.  So I will need the courage to face the consequences too. 

The Christmas tree is up and sparkling at our house, and there are already gifts under it.  I am looking forward to a wonderful Christmas with family and friends and my church.  Christmas morning we will gather for breakfast together and we will unwrap presents and “ooh” and “aah” our lovely gifts. 

But I am thinking and praying about Christmas beyond December 25th.   What lasting gifts will God offer this year?   

Good and Holy God, I want courage for Christmas.  But you know better I what I need.  This Christmas and all the days beyond, give me what you will that I might fully live.  Give me what you want me to share with the world.   In the name of the one who came to us both in a manger and on the cross, amen. 

Advent blessings to you all,

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 every Sunday and we would love to worship with you. 

This Sunday we continue our sermon series Not The Christmas We Would Have Planned.  That first Christmas was certainly a surprise to Mary!  The angel Gabriel tells her the big news:  she is going to have a baby.  Her response:  “how can this be?”  This is not the direction she thought her life would take.  Rev.  Lee Schott will be preaching.  Pastor Lee is the pastor of Women at the Well, a United Methodist congregation inside Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville.  Read Luke 1:26-38 to prepare. 

And following worship:  Q and A with Pastor Lee  Who is in prison?  What is life like there?  What does it mean to be a church inside a prison?  From 10-10:45 in the cafĂ©, Pastor Lee will share what she has learned serving at Women at the Well.  

And of course tonight—join us for Wednesday Night Live dinner at 5:30!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

"St Dymphna Church, Geel, Belgium" - Pastor Cindy's Devotion - November 28, 2017


Good morning!
Last Sunday we finished a three-week sermon series on Mental Health.  The series has ended, but before I move on to advent, I want to share one more story.  Have you ever heard of the city of Geel, Belgium?  It has an amazing story.  In the 7th century, a daughter was born to an Irish king and his wife.  They named Dymphna. When Dymphna was 14, her mother died.  Her father loved his wife dearly and after her death he was heartbroken.  Dymphna resembled her mother and the king decided he would marry his daughter to replace his wife.  (Unacceptable by any standards.)  Dymphna ran away to Geel, Belgium, taking the local priest with her as her spiritual guide.  She settled there and built a hospice to care for the poor and the sick.  She used her royal wealth to do this and through the use of her wealth, her father discovered where she was hiding.  The king followed her to Geel and tried to force her to return to Ireland and marry him.  She refused and he did what kings do.  He cut off her head.  She was 15 years old.  He also killed the priest.  The residents of Geel buried her remains. In 1349 they built a church to honor her.  People began bringing loved ones struggling with mental illness to the church for healing.  The sanctuary of the church became so full of people in need of care that they had to expand it.  Eventually, there were so many people coming for healing, that the people of Geel simply took the suffering persons home with them.  That began a tradition of caring for the mentally ill that continues today.  Those in need of mental health care are taken into the homes of Geel residents.  They are not called “patients.”  They are called “boarders.” They are cared for within families.  They have jobs, generally in menial labor. They are treated as valued members of the community.  Some stay a few months, some stay for years, some for the rest of their lives.  In the 1930’s when the practice was at its peak, over 4,000 boarders lived with the people of Geel.   The practice continues today with 500 boarders living in the community. 

It's an amazing story, isn’t it?  People simply taking others in need into their homes.  Why do this?  At the core of this whole story is faith.  Who did Dymphna take with her when she fled?  Her priest.  What did she do when she got to Geel?  She built a hospice to care for others.  What did the people build in her honor?  A church.  What did they do when they saw suffering people?  They cared for them.  All because of faith in a loving God. 

I have never been to Geel, but I bet Geel looks something like the kingdom Jesus talked about. 

It’s Wednesday and somewhere across the Atlantic in a city named Geel, healing is happening.  Good news.  Thanks be to God.   

Blessings,

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.  Advent, the time that prepares us for Christmas begins this Sunday and we will start a new sermon series, Not the Christmas We Would Have Planned.  If we had planned Christmas, would we have chosen a bewildered husband, and a young woman and a country in turmoil?  Could it be that God has different plans than we have?  We’ll talk about it on Sunday.  


And join us tonight for Wednesday Night Live dinner!  Serving begins at 5:30. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

"A Thanksgiving Prayer" - Pastor Cindy's Devotion - November 22, 2017


Hello Friends!

Give thanks for each new morning with its light,
for rest and shelter of the night,
for health and food,
for love and friends,
for everything thy goodness sends.
-Ralph Emerson

Enjoy this week's Midweek devotion for there are so many things to be thankful for.
Good morning—
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and today I want to share a Thanksgiving prayer.

Generous God,
Thank you for the celebration of Thanksgiving,
We pray that Thanksgiving is not just a day, but a way of life.
Thank you for the food before us,
We pray that we care for the earth and the water and those who work the soil, respecting their role in
bringing this food to our table.
Thank you for the people at our table,
We pray that we live as family, sharing struggles, celebrating accomplishments, offering encouragement,
and forgiveness.
Thank you for people who are not at our table,
Police officers and hospital personnel who are at work this day caring for our community.
Thank you for opening our hearts to the challenges of this world,
The need to feed the hungry, reduce violence, bring justice. As we meet these challenges, may we grow
in love and compassion and gratitude.
Let your loving spirit join us at this table. Nourish our body, mind, and soul.
As your people, may we wake each morning giving thanks.
May giving thanks be the atmosphere of our days, the air we breathe, the tone of our conversation each
hour.
May we sleep in peace each night as we give thanks even in our dreams.
To you who gave us all that is life and life beyond life, we say thank you.
Amen

In this world where there are so much fear and strife, may tomorrow be a day of thanksgiving and peace.
In the name of the Living God, Amen.
 
Happy Thanksgiving,


Pastor Cindy

Pastor Cindy Hickman
West Des Moines United Methodist Church
720 Grand Avenue
West Des Moines Iowa 50265
515-279-0826

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, 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
515-279-o826

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
515-279-0826

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!