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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,,,,). 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

"Practice the Pause" - Pastor Cindy's Devotion - 03/07/2018

Congratulations!  You made it to Wednesday!  Whatever loomed large on Monday—that conversation you needed to have with your boss, taking the dog to the vet, a dentist appointment for all three kids, whatever it was—you made it.  It’s Wednesday.  You can see Friday from here!

So I am going to ask you today, right here in the middle of the week, to pause.  (It’s ok.  You can stop for a moment.)  Pause and feel what you are feeling.  Look around.  Inhale and exhale.  Let a sense of peace arrived.

So did it?  Did peace arrive?  A strange mixture of it-will-be-all-right and a steadiness that whispers you-are-a-perfectly-acceptable-human-being-loving-and-lovable.
Do you suppose that just beyond our busy schedules, just beyond the blink of a text on my cellphone, just beyond the noisy anxiety that has become white noise to us, just beyond all that, God stands waiting, the divine hands full of fresh air and fresh grace, ready to hand us peace if we just pause?

Beauty queens say they all want world peace.

And there it is.  Just beyond the zooming of our lives.  Peace in our hearts.  This is the first step. 
Once more, pause.  And breathe.  Hear the whisper of God say your name.
Every blessing,
Pastor Cindy
Pastor Cindy Hickman
West Des Moines United Methodist Church
720 Grand Avenue
West Des Moines, IA 50265

On Sundays, we worship at 8:30 in a traditional way and at 11 in a casual way.  Hope to see you there!

Please feel free to share this with your email friends.

See you Sunday!

"Praise Band" - Pastor Cindy's Devotion - 02/28/2018

Gabe wants to start a Praise Band at our church. 

That makes me smile.

A Praise Band will broaden our ministries.  We will have both traditional music and contemporary music and we can reach people who listen to either style.  Gabe is new to our church and he wants to bring his talents and abilities to the church. Gabe is in his 20’s and he represents a whole new generation.
All of that is a reason to celebrate.
The way I calculate it, we are the 80th generation of followers of Jesus Christ.  For 2000 years, generation after generation has arrived at the church, brought in by parents and grandparents, invited by a friend to youth group, stumbled in looking for something.  Curiosity, community, hope, and hunger are all tactics employed by the Holy Spirit.  One generation yields to another.  The Bible pays close attention to generations.  Genesis 10, Matthew 1, and Luke 3 all describe one generation “begetting” another.  We are born, we age, we grow old, and another generation rises up to carry on the work of the church, the work of living on this planet with grace and commitment as followers of Jesus Christ.

People of Gabe’s generation are called “Digital Natives.”  They have grown up with computers and the internet and quick access to social media.   I feel my age.  I am over the hill.  The digital landscape of Facebook and Twitter feels like a foreign place to me.  I would rather sit on the porch and read a book.
But we need digital natives to reach digital natives.  This new generation, people like Gabe, will lead the church.  I believe and I hope they will honor our traditions, but they will not be content to simply follow our traditions.  The changing world outside the doors of the church will not allow them to.  In addition to being digital, they are the generation who grew up after 911.  School violence has always been a part of their understanding of school.  In light of what they have seen and experienced, their world makes different demands.  They will respond in their way.  They will start new traditions of their own, just as we did 40, 50, 60 years ago.

Gabe has written a description of what he hopes to do.  The goal is not just a band.  The goal is a small group ministry, where people get to know one another and glorify God with their gifts.  By their lives, they will inspire others.

Each new generation is really a fulfillment of God’s promise.  Hope continues.  Faith is eternal.  Mercy maintained. One generation after another.  New voices.  The same God.

That makes me smile.  Draws a prayer of thanks from my heart.

Holy God,
Thank you for the gifts of each generation.  With eyes open wide, the youth of each generation emerge.  Thank you for my father and his generation, who with full hearts headed off to World War 2 and then came home to live and lead their communities with the same sense of service.  Thank you for my generation, those who shared this road with me, the ones who knew Viet Nam and the Civil Rights Movement and paused before television sets to watch a man walk on the moon.  Thank you for the generation to come, those with cell phones in their pockets and apps and twitter to guide their days.  A generation who has grown up after 911.  A generation well aware of school violence.  Every generation has faced challenges and in each generation, Good and Holy God, you have been faithful, leading and guiding, teaching us to care for one another.  A changing world.  A sure and consistent grace.  As a new generation rises, allow us to hand over the reins of leadership with trust and celebration and anticipation of what is to come.  In the name of Jesus, Amen. 

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!

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