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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

"God's Big Dream" - Pastor Cindy's Devotion - December 27, 2017

Good morning!

Last week I went to the movie Wonder.  Have you seen it?  It is based on a book of the same name by R.J. Palacio.  It’s the story of a fifth-grade boy named Auggie.  He was born with severe facial deformities.  He has had 27 surgeries to repair his face.  His mother has homeschooled him, but as he reaches 5th grade, his family decides it is time for him to go to school with other children.  Off he goes.  It is a difficult adjustment.  Here’s what I love about the movie: everyone (eventually) does the right thing.  A friend who saw the movie thought it was predictable and contrived.  Ok.  But it is my kind of contrived.  Every person in the movie (eventually) behaves in a way that makes life better for others.  The characters are brave, courageous, encouraging, forgiving, repentance, supportive, compassionate, wise, patient, and loyal.  Each a hero in their own small way.  At the end I found myself cheering for them all. 

So is a world where people are all (eventually) heroically good possible?  My cynical mind says “no!”  Look at the violence and greed in the world.  Look at the hatred.  Look at the suffering of one human being at the hands of another. 

But last night as I was shopping at Hy-Vee I looked around at the other people shopping.  It was miserable cold outside and we were good-naturedly complaining.  The woman working at the checkout had moved to Iowa from California this year.  This was her first winter driving in snow and facing bone-chilling temperatures.  The man in front of me laughed with her and told her she would be ok.  It may seem like a silly thing, but last night at HyVee it did seem like a world where people are all (eventually) heroically good was possible. 

This morning I posed that same question to God in prayer.  You know how God answered.  A world where people are all (eventually) heroically good is God’s big dream.  It is what God put in motion from the beginning of time.  It is what God has worked so hard for, sacrificed for.  This is the kingdom. 

Getting to such a world is inefficient and messy and “eventually” can be a very long time.  But God seems to have great faith in us. 

It is a cold world out there today.  Perhaps if we live as heroically good people, we can warm it up a bit. 

Stay warm today.  And heroic. 


Pastor Cindy

Pastor Cindy Hickman
West Des Moines United Methodist Church
720 Grand Avenue
West Des Moines Iowa 50265

We will worship at 9:30 this Sunday.  We will be looking at the year ahead.  You are invited!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

"Ready or Not Here Christmas Comes" - Pastor Cindy's Devotion - December 20, 2017

Good morning friends!

Christmas has a way of coming at us, ready or not. God made God’s way into the world on God’s schedule, not ours. For some of us, Christmas will arrive with a flock of family members laughing their way in the door. For others, Christmas will make its presence known in the smell of gingerbread cookies. Last night Dave and I read Christmas cards from old friends and there was Christmas in memories of times spent together and the rich gift of friendship. Perhaps for others, Christmas will arrive at a quarter to ten on Christmas Eve in the sanctuary, our faces aglow with candlelight as we sing “Silent Night.”

For so many of us, Christmas also arrives with a sense of loss. We remember those who have died who will not be here to share Christmas. My grandmother, a maker of suet pudding (ICK!), is no longer here to stretch out her big dining room table and invite us all to the feast. My dad, the one who sat in his recliner with a pile of envelopes on his lap with our names written on them, will not be here to hand out those envelopes with money tucked inside and follow the distribution with his annual Christmas speech describing how much he and my mom love us all.

Maybe the losses come in a different ways. Maybe this is the first Christmas after the divorce and Christmas is awkward and divisive and painful. Maybe this is the Christmas after the job loss or the end of a friendship.

Christmas arrives despite all this. God makes God’s way. We love the sweetness of Christmas, the sparkle, and the lights, but on that first Christmas God was not warmly welcomed with hot spice and a plate of cookies. God came to ease the world’s pain. Over the years in our excitement and gratitude, we added the sweetness and sparkle.

So this Christmas, if the loss is evident, if Christmas carries sadness or if you just want to remember, you are invited to participate in the Blue Christmas Service at 11 am December 24th in the Café community room. The Stephen Ministers have provided a special Christmas Tree covered with blue lights. There are also blue decorations available. You can write the name of a loved one or a circumstance on a decoration and hang it on the tree as a memorial of who or what was lost. In a short service we will open the empty places in our hands and our hearts, acknowledge the losses and bow our heads before God. Christmas arrives, even to empty mangers.
This week at West Des Moines United Methodist Church

Just a reminder!  December 24th, Christmas Eve we will worship at 9:30 am6 pm and 9 pm.  The evening services will conclude with a candlelight singing of Silent Night.  There will also be a special Blue Christmas Service at 11 am.

Christmas Blessings to you,

Pastor Cindy

Pastor Cindy Hickman

West Des Moines United Methodist Church
720 Grand Avenue
West Des Moines Iowa 50265

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

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 café, 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!