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Monday, September 18, 2017

"The Economy of Forgiveness" - Pastor Cindy's Devotional - September 18, 2017

Good morning friends,

Last week I issued a challenge to everyone in the church to do something to improve the lives of children beyond our own families.  I asked that everyone do something within the week.  There has been a lot of buzz about what people might do.  I have been excited about the plans and conversations I have heard.  I want to extend the timeline to the end of September.  By September 30 do what you can to improve the lives of children.  And one more thing, I would like you to let the church know what you have done.  Simply email Linda or me.  We want to celebrate the impact we can have on our community.  Thank you. 

My daughter lives in a small nearby town and last night a friend and I drove there to visit her.  It was a really nice evening, so we decided to go for a walk.  The town has a town square with a stately old courthouse.  We headed for the square, with a stop at the local ice cream shop on the way. 

We got our ice cream and we walked on toward the square.  The sun was going down.  The shops were closed.  We strolled and window shopped. 

We came to a corner and as we stood there waiting for the light to change, a car ran a red light and hit a pickup truck broadside.  If you have ever witnessed an accident, you know the sounds.  The squeal of tires as the driver realized his mistake and tried to stop.  The thump as the car and pickup collide.  The crunch of metal.  The sound of glass and plastic shattering.  It all happened in an instant.   

A big dog had been riding in the back of the pickup and on impact, it flew out of the bed of the truck, into the air and onto the concrete. 

We all felt a burst of adrenaline.  My daughter reached for her phone to call 911 and told us to see if everyone was all right.  We ran into the street and called to the drivers.  The driver of the pickup got out quickly.  He seemed angry but physically fine.  He scooped up his dog and put him in the cab.  He told us the dog was all right too.  I hope the dog was.  He has to be pretty bruised and sore today. 

The driver of the car sat stunned for a bit longer and then he got out too.  He told us he was ok. 

The driver of the truck yelled at the driver of the car.  The driver of car shouted back “I am sorry” and then he leaned his head against his car.  They wisely kept their distance from one another. 

When all this began we were the only people on the street, but within a few minutes a dozen people, who must have heard the collision, arrived. 

The police arrived quickly.  They were calm and matter of fact, all business. 

The truck had a sizable dent in the side.  The car was in much worse shape.  The front end was smashed in.  It would not start and didn’t look like it was drivable.  It was sitting in the middle of the intersection obstructing traffic.  The two police officers pushed the car out of traffic and into a parking spot.  Then the driver stood and talked with them.  I heard one of the police officers say “It happens.”   

Just a few hours earlier I preached about forgiveness. 

The guy ran a red light.  Why would he do such a thing?  There are probably a dozen good reasons why he would.  Maybe he was tired because he was working too much.  A lot of people are working too much these days.  Maybe he was distracted by whatever else is going on in his life.  Maybe he just didn’t see the truck.  Every driver has had a moment when they “just didn’t see” something or other. 

Sunday morning, we talked about an economy of forgiveness.  You forgive me, and because I have been forgiven, I forgive someone else, and that person extends forgiveness and we all do this because ultimately we have all been forgiven by God and really it is the only way to live.  I once rear-ended a pickup truck.  It was completely my fault. 

For a moment last night, the peace was disrupted.  And there are consequences.  Someone, probably the police, had to sweep up all that glass and plastic.  Today the insurance companies are at work sorting out the damages.  The driver of the car will be without transportation for a while.  I hope the dog is ok.  By morning, more consequences may be evident. 

We walked on home and you could feel a sense of grace settling around as though God got the 911 call too.  Peace being restored.  There was a path forward in forgiveness.  There is always a path forward in forgiveness.

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 and we would love to worship with you.   

This week at WDMUMC…
Wednesday Night Live supper at 5:30 and all sorts of activities around the church.  You are invited!

We are building a Habitat for Humanity House in our parking lot on October 7.  Check out our website for details! 

Next week I will be on vacation and there will be no midweek devotion.  Love God and serve your neighbors.  Or serve God and love your neighbors.  Either works. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

"Change a Child's Life" - Pastor Cindy's Devotional - September 11, 2017

Good morning!

Something happened yesterday at worship.  I want to share it so the midweek is arriving early. 

Yesterday we talked about being disciples.  Jesus’ ministry lasted three years from the time when he began teaching and preaching and healing until his crucifixion.  Just three years—but his mission has lasted 2017 years—because he handed it over to his disciples, people like you and me.  It is pretty amazing that Jesus would put such important work in our hands, but for some reason Jesus did.  Jesus still inspires and leads and energizes and enables his mission, but we, disciples, carry it out. 

Yesterday we read Matthew 18.  Jesus’ first disciple recruits asked Jesus a basic organizational question.  Who Is the greatest?  Who was in charge?  Jesus answered them by placing a child in the middle of the conversation.  A child was the greatest and he urged us (his disciples) to welcome children. 

Ok, he didn’t exactly urge us—he went on to say awful things would happen if we didn’t care for the little ones.  It may sound like a threat.  I think caring for the small and the vulnerable is simply the reality in Jesus’ kingdom. 

So at the end of worship, the pastor (ok—that was me) issued a challenge.  Every person was asked to take Jesus’ words seriously and do something this week that improved the lives of children.  Not our own children or grandchildren—of course, we are caring for them.  We were asked to do something that improves the lives of children, beyond our own families.    

After worship, several people stopped me and said they didn’t know what to do.  I knew exactly how they felt.  I live in a comfortable suburb.  I think that blinds me to the needs of children.  (My neighbor kids seem to be doing fine.)  I need to learn more about the needs of children across our community.  I have to do some research.  I have to step out of my comfort zone to discover what the needs of children are. 

Some people began talking about what they might do. One was a retired teacher and she taught on the east side of Des Moines.  She talked about calling the school and seeing what they needed.  Someone else mentioned the DMARC Food Pantry.  That might be a place to meet the nutritional needs of children.  We have at least two retired people who volunteer at our local schools.  Ann RC and I spoke after worship and she sent me this email after worship:

Here is the literacy/mentoring program I was talking about after service on Sunday.  
I know Hillside hosts this program along with many other schools and children's programs around central Iowa.  This would be a great opportunity to "remove a stumbling" block for a child.  

(By the way, Ann is one of our younger disciples and our younger disciples are waiting and watching for the church to make a difference in the world.)

248 people attended worship yesterday.  Another 800 people receive this email.  Can we, as disciples, make a difference in the lives of children in our community and world?  Jesus seems to think so. 


Pastor Cindy

Pastor Cindy Hickman
West Des Moines United Methodist Church
Like us on Facebook and visit us at wdmumc.org

Next Sunday our sermon series Questions Disciples Ask continues.  “What about forgiveness, Jesus?  What are we supposed to do about that?”  Read Matthew 18:15-35 for Jesus’ answer.  Next Sunday, we’ll talk about it. 

This week at West Des Moines United Methodist Church…
Wednesday Night Live!  Good food, lots of learning opportunities and music!  You are invited!

And a whole lot of people changing the lives of children. 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

"Is Life a Test?" - Pastor Cindy's Devotional - September 6, 2017

Hello, friends!

I admit it—I am an easy target for personal preference quizzes in magazines.  Do you know what I am talking about?  These are the articles that have a catching headline like “What’s your Cooking IQ?” or “Decorating Diva or Cabin Queen, what sort of decorating is right for you?” or “Choosing a Pet that fits your lifestyle.”  And then the headline is followed by a series of questions. The reader answers the questions, adds up the score, and discovers that they are rookies in the kitchen, love French Country design, and would be happiest with a gerbil. 

So today the midweek devotion is a personal preference quiz.  Just answer the four questions below:

  1. Name three people who have made a real difference in your life. 
  2. Describe what is tugging at your heart right now. 
  3. If you could make one change in the world, what would you do? 
  4. What is the first step to the change you describe above? 

Now that you have finished the quiz above, here’s my personalized assessment of your answers:

Boy, people sure have made a difference in your life!  Thank the three people you listed.  The best way to thank them is by making a difference in someone else’s life.  Look around.  Who needs your encouragement? 

Re-examine the tugging at your heart.  Perhaps it is God tugging at you to do something to change the situation. 

Write the one change you would like to see on a small piece of paper and put it in your pocket.  Carry it around today. 

Take the first step. 

Congratulations!  You passed the quiz.  Wow, you seem to be a person with a good heart!  I was so impressed by your responses, I have already prayed for you. 

A few years ago I took a test like this with a bit more teeth in it.  It was an assessment of my level of racial bias.  It was created at Harvard University as part of their Project Implicit which looks at how we perceive and judge.  (Google “Project Implicit” to learn more.)  The results shocked me.  This link will take you to the test I took:  https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/user/agg/blindspot/indexrk.htm.

Is life a test?  I don’t think so.  I do think it is a journey and along the way we discover how to love those we journey with and which path we should follow.  A test from time to time is a good way to reset our GPS. 


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—

Wednesday Night Live starts tonight!  Good food, games, and fun together.  Supper begins at 5:30.  Come early at 5 and enjoy a cup of coffee!