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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

"Thoughts While on the Steps" - Pastor Cindy's Devotional - August 30, 2017

Yesterday I sat on the Grand Avenue steps of the church and ate my lunch.  The weather was beautiful.  Cars and trucks drove by and I watched and enjoyed the time. 

That is pretty much my midweek for this week.  I just sat and took in the world around me. 

I am worried about the people in Houston and the horrible flooding. 

I officiated at a funeral this week and I feel the grief of friends and family.  I will attend another funeral on Friday

I am thinking about the future of our church, what I will preach this Sunday and in the weeks that followed.  We are ordering Advent bulletins.  I met with a confirmation leader to make plans. 

The violence and divisiveness in our country breaks my heart and I want to find my place in building peace. 

All of this and more is on my mind and on my desk.  As a disciple, it is my job to work and serve and build the kingdom God dreams of. 

But if I don’t take time and look at the world around me and take it in in all its beauty, I will lose track of why I do what I do.  It is this thing called “sabbath” that God gave us.  Sabbath is holy time to rest and enjoy and refuel.  Without it, work is simply work and our lives are a rush of to do lists.  Sabbath restores our “why.”  Why work?  Why serve?  Why pray for the people of Houston?  Why work toward peace? 

Because yesterday at noon, God sat with me on the Grand Avenue steps and I heard God sigh, “Isn’t this a good world?”  And a holy yes poured into my soul. 

And then I went back to work, reminded again of why I work. 

My prayer for you today:  that you have a time of Sabbath and that the holy yes finds you. 

Every blessing,

Pastor Cindy

Pastor Cindy Hickman
West Des Moines United Methodist Church
720 Grand Avenue
West Des Moines Iowa 50265
We worship at 8:30 and 11 on Sundays and we would love to worship with you.

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

This week at West Des Moines United Methodist Church
On Sunday in worship we look at just what God is promising when God says “see I am making all things new.”  Come and join in the conversation.

Thursday night at 6 Pastor Cindy will be talking about “What Makes a Methodist a Methodist” with people interested in learning more about the United Methodist Church.  You are invited. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

"God Bless Our Neighbors" - Pastor Cindy's Devotional - August 23, 2017

Good morning friends!

Last Sunday morning just after our casual service ended, a young man approached me.  He said he was a  neighbor from across the street.  There had been a wedding in his family and they had covered the tables at the reception with paper.  They had a big roll of paper left over.  “Could the church use it?”   “Yes.  Thanks for thinking of us.  And next Sunday night we are having a Block Party.  You’re invited!”  He smiled and left and a few minutes later the paper appeared in the lobby downstairs. 

On Monday I walked over to Hillside School to drop off flyers about the Block Party.  I told the woman working in the office that if the school ever needed anything, to let us know.  The church would be glad to help.  We’re neighbors. 

The Imani Church, just on the other side of our parking lot, has offered their parking lot as a place for us to park on Sunday evening so our parking lot will be available for the party.  They’re coming to the party too, and they are pretty excited. 

Hillside school children and their families, Imani church people, a young man I had never seen before.  Our neighbors.  People I never intended to meet or share my life with and yet, there they are. 

Here’s the question I find myself asking this morning:  Does God put us in a particular place at a particular time surrounded by particular people so that we can care and support one another?  Are the people who live and work around us not just a coincidence, but the specific people God wants us to know and share our lives with?  Are they people who need my presence?  Are they people whose presence I need? 

I am writing this at home.  Out my window, I can see my neighbors’ homes.  In one home two young men have gone off to college.  In another home, a young man is facing challenges.  Two houses are for sale and we will be getting new neighbors.  The school bus will soon be by to pick up children on their first day. 

I admit, and this is really a confession, I never thought about this before.  I am pretty guarded about who I interact with.  Thinking of all these neighbors, I wonder if I don’t treat love as though it is in limited supply, and mine to own.  In truth, love is something I have received in quantities greater than I could ever deserve.  And as love has flowed into my life.   From my life, it should flow into the lives of others. 

God bless my neighbors.  And use me in the 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.

This week at West Des Moines United Methodist Church:
We will worship at 8:30 in a traditional way and at 11 in a more casual setting.  Come and join us!  We are making our way through a sermon series called In the Beginning.  Need a fresh start in your life?  God loves beginnings! 

Sunday from 5:30-7:30 it’s time to party!  You are invited to our Block Party!  Free food, games for the kids, and just plain fun being together.  Bring a lawn chair and plan to meet some great people! 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

"May We Find Our Way Back to Beauty" - Pastor Cindy's Devotional - August 15, 2017

I have a young friend who is kind and compassionate.   She is a blessing to me.  A year ago she left family and friends and moved half way across the country to attend seminary.  As you can imagine, that was a stressful time.  To help ease the transition, we decided to look around each day, spot something beautiful, take a picture of it, and text the picture to each other.  We agreed to do this for 30 days.
So each day we sent pictures.  Cloud formations.  The cannas in my front yard.  Sunsets.  My mother’s hand.  The view out our windows.  We looked and saw beautiful things and sent them to each other.  It was fun and reassuring.  Even though this was a time of change, even though she was facing a big learning curve in a strange new place, there was still beauty in the world.  We only had to slow down and look.  (I recommend this!  Try it with someone you love!)

She texted a few weeks ago to see how I was doing in my new appointment serving as the pastor at West Des Moines United Methodist Church.  “Most challenging thing I have ever done,” I told her. 
And she suggested 30 days of beautiful things, this time for my transition. 

Game on.  This time our sense of beauty had changed a bit, more nuanced.  She sent me a picture of a backpack filled with things she was taking to a student who was in the hospital.  I sent her a picture of my windshield on one of the few days it has rained this summer, beautiful, precious raindrops. 
She sent a picture of the flower bed in front of the office where her boyfriend works.  I sent her a picture of the first page of a sermon I had been struggling to write.  She sent me a picture of stained glass window.  I sent her a picture from the Des Moines Register of a rattlesnake that was spotted in Madison County, which we noted was probably beautiful to another rattlesnake.  She sent me a picture of the mug she received when she worshiped with us.  I sent her a picture of an ear of sweet corn. 

And on Saturday I received this message:  “I’m having a hard time finding beauty today—I’m devastated by the events in Virginia.” 

Blinded by evil. 

I wonder about the cost of violence.  In Charlottesville, three people have died and many others were injured.  That alone is heartbreaking.  But I wonder how many people across the country felt like my friend, defeated.  How much does violence and hatred in our world chip away at our hearts?  In our church, we are daring to dream about our future.  Does violence and hatred diminish our ability to dream? 

I often hear people say that they don’t like to read the Old Testament because it is so violent.  There is a lot of violence in the Old Testament.  Almost all of the Old Testament was written during times of war and oppression.  The people are crying out to God for a world where they can live in peace.  In Psalm 137 the people have been captured and exiled to a foreign nation.  They hang their harps in the willows.  In their pain, they cannot bear to sing.  The violence has not only broken their hearts, it has broken their ability to care for others. The psalm ends with the writer calling for the brutal death of the children of their enemies.  The cost of violence and hatred: our own souls. 

I plan to send my friend a picture today.  I am looking around for some sort of beauty that will counter what she has seen and felt.  I am looking.  And praying. 

May peace be our goal.  May the love of others not just be our hope, but also our mission. May the gracious presence of God in our lives free us to give of ourselves freely and accept others.  May we live with justice.  And in living lives that reflect the love of Christ, may we find our way back to beauty.  

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 morning and we would love to worship with you. 
This link will take you to Bishop Laurie Haller’s statement on the violence in Charlottesville.  http://www.iaumc.org/features/bishops-statement-on-charlottesville-9023957

This week at West Des Moines United Methodist Church: 
Next Sunday we continue our sermon series “In the Beginning…”  How does the disciple life begin?  If Paul’s life is any indication, the disciple life does not begin with a big celebration and a pat on the back.  Paul’s disciple life began in a completely different way.  And even though it had a rough beginning, Paul became a New Testament hero.  What might God be beginning in you?  Read Acts 9:1-19 to prepare.  See you next Sunday. 

Blessing of the Backpacks!  Time to head back to school and this Sunday during worship we will be blessing backpacks!  Bring yours and we will bless it.  Open for “children” of all ages.  We know some adults carry backpacks too! 

Dreaming… We are free to be the church and it is time to dream here at WDMUMC.  What should the church look like in the year ahead?  How can we strengthen our worship services and open them to more people?  How can we get to know one another better and grow as disciples together?   How can we make a difference in our community?  We are gathering dreams and dreamers.  Outside Pastor Cindy’s door, there are sticky notes.  If you have a dream, or if you are a dreamer, or if you want to nominate a dreamer, fill out a sticky note and put it on Pastor Cindy’s door.  It is time to dream!

Get ready!  Neighborhood Block Party August 27!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

"No Limits" - Pastor Cindy's Devotional - August 9, 2017 - Mike Powers, Guest Writer

Hello, Friends!

Here's a question for you.  Does anyone dream anymore? Not just the sleeping sort of dreams but the kind of dreams that send us forward?  Do people dream about a better world?  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said: "I have a dream that my four little children will someday live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."  A big dream.  Does anyone have those sorts of dreams anymore? That sort of dream is fueled by hope and faith and a vision that sounds a lot like the kind of kingdom Jesus described.  Do we still dream like that?

I do.  And I hope you do.  Call me a fool, but I don't think God is done with us.  This seems like an incredibly hopeful time to me.  I want to dream with the people of West Des Moines United Methodist Church.  We have sticky notes laying around at the church.  If you are a dreamer, write your name on a note and put it on my door.  If you know a dreamer, nominate them and write their name on a note and put it on my door.  If you have a dream, write it on a note and put it on my door.  We will gather up the dreams and the dreamers and see what sort of future is ahead.

Mike Powers is dreaming and he has written today's midweek.

“No Limits” by Mike Powers

 A few weeks ago I walked into my office and someone had written the following question on a large white board on a wall, “What one thing would you do if you knew you could not fail?” The question remained on that white board for several days and was finally erased. But it has lingered in my mind.

An opportunity to achieve without fail would be a rare and precious gift. Not one to be squandered on something that is not meaningful. The question forces one to identify and prioritize what is important to them. The question also prompts a person to expand their thinking as to what is possible if there were no insurmountable barriers to success. To dream without the constraints of limitations.

That is a sobering prospect. To some extent, by believing that there are limits to what is possible, we acclimate ourselves to the status quo and don’t spend the time to consider what could be achieved if change could occur. Perceived limitations can restrain change but they can also shield us from confronting what our priorities would be if anything were possible.

With the arrival of Pastor Cindy and the great field of energy and enthusiasm that surrounds her, this is an opportune time for each of us to consider what is our dream for West Des Moines United Methodist Church? If we knew that we could not fail, what do you want the church to achieve?

As I speak with members of the church, my sense is there is a renewed spirit of optimism and positivity about our future. It is a new day and we all need to think expansively about what we should be doing. How can our church make a meaningful difference? Everyone has a role here. What is your dream for the church?

In coming weeks, we will be having this conversation as a church family. Be bold in your thinking as the Holy Spirit will be our ally in this process. Jesus said, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26 NRSV)
Mike Powers

I can’t wait to see what happens.
Wherever you are, whatever you are facing in life, I hope you are dreaming of a better world.  I am certain God delights in our dreams and is ready to help them come true.

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

This week at West Des Moines United Methodist Church:
This Sunday we continue our sermon series, “In the Beginning?”.  David was called by God to lead the nation of Israel.  David did not look like the right person for the job.  What did God see that others didn’t see?  Read 1Samuel 16:1-13 to prepare and next Sunday we will talk about it!  Something new is always beginning.

West Des Moines UMC Disciples at the Fair!  Keep our disciple crew at our state fair stand in your prayers!  We are the church, even as we serve up biscuits and gravy!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

"Small Gifts" - Pastor Cindy's Devotional - August 2, 2017

Good morning friends, 

Sometimes life is simply a series of small gifts.
This week the Heartland Youth Choir Camp is being held at our church.  Sixty children and their leaders arrive each morning.  I don't know their schedule for the day, but part of the time they gather in the Friendship Room and sing.  The Friendship Room is just across the hall from my office.  I cannot see them but I can hear them.

They begin by warming up their voices.  One morning they made hooting sounds that reminded me of the sounds the mourning doves make when they sit on our arbor early in the morning.  I imagined the children looking at each other and almost giggling as they hooted at one another. 

After they warm up, they practice scales and then they begin to sing.  They have the high-pitched voices of children.  Like bells ringing in innocence.  Like an angel choir.  The sound drifts down the hall and into my office, a heavenly soundtrack for my day.  Beauty always offers healing.  A balm, even when we didn’t know we needed it. 

Listening, I am reminded again that I am not God.  I could never have designed anything so beautiful. 

Overhearing their voices is a small gift, an accident of being in the same space at the same time. 

I think small gifts come to us like that, small encounters that string together to form our days.  The kindness of a clerk at the FedEx store, an encouraging text from a friend, evening prayer, and a good night’s sleep. 

May we be open always to the small gifts. 

May we receive the small gifts with gratitude.
May we offer small gifts of ourselves to others. 

In the name of the Risen Christ, amen. 

Blessings, friends.  See you Sunday.

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 Sunday mornings and we would love to worship with you. 
This Sunday we continue our sermon series called In the Beginning….  How does God begin things?  Sometimes God simply says “Go.”  Where are you going these days?  Come Sunday and join in the conversation. 

If you would like to hear the Heartland Youth Choir, they will conclude their week with a concert on Friday evening at 7 pm at the church.  You will be blessed.