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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.   


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
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.

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

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

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

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.