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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

"Midweek and Thinking About the L-Word" Pastor Cindy's Devotion 10/17/2018

Today I am just thinking….

I sometimes think that we have worn out the word “love.”  We have overused it. We say we love the Boston Red Sox or [your team goes here], pizza, puppies, and today’s beautiful weather.  I am careful about using the word “love” in my sermons because love is often regarded as wimpy, the stuff of chick flicks.  We have also sexualized it, as though love and lust are synonymous.  We have in many ways, made love a small thing, Maybe that’s our way of trying to control its power.

And it is powerful.  Loving is a courageous, daring act.  It takes a lot of guts to love deeply, to give of ourselves, to risk disappointment, to regard someone or something as more important than our own survival. 

Love is not confined to the love between people.  We can love an idea, like freedom or education, and love it into reality.  I think Jesus was like that.  I think he loved people, but more than people he loved who we could become, that kingdom he so often mentioned.  He loved that idea with his whole being.

So I watch for love in action and I find myself looking for other words for love. 
Mercy, respect, sacrifice, commitment, courage, devotion, friendship, honor, community, acceptance.

Help me out here.  Do you have words for love?   Where have you seen it in action?

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 mornings and we would love to worship with you.

This week at WDMUMC:
Consecration Sunday!  This Sunday we will celebrate our future as consecrate our financial pledges for the year ahead.  Come and join the party!

Midweek Refuel!  Supper’s on tonight at 5:30!  (Pasta night!) Lots of activities for young and old.

Trunk or Treat!  Next Wednesday!  Morganne is collecting candy in the bin outside her office.

A Baptism Celebration!  On Saturday, September 27th at 5:30 we are celebrating the baptism of a baby girl.  And you are invited.  Family members are flying in from across the country and they are not able to make a Sunday morning service, so we are holding a special service.  Babies are baptized into the church community and we need members of the church community to surround this little girl.  Can you come and represent the church?

And—there’s more.  This little girl is surrounded by loving parents and aunts and uncles and grandparents and church.  Not all babies are.  So we are celebrating this baptism with a “baby shower” for babies in need.  You are invited to bring a baby gift and these will be given to a local program that supports infants and toddlers at risk.  We will celebrate babies!

It is good to be the church.  

Thursday, October 11, 2018

"Midweek and Everyone Wisdom" Pastor Cindy's Devotion 10/11/2018

Good morning everyone,
In the last few weeks, we have been talking about wisdom at the church.  I believe God is continually offering us wisdom, ways of understanding and living in the world around us in line with God’s purposes.  Yesterday I was attending a conference and I received what sounded like wisdom to me.

It came from our Bishop Laurie Haller.  That alone made me sit up and listen.  She is a woman of great courage and faith.  One way to assess whether wisdom is really wisdom is to consider the source.  I have often seen Bishop Laurie speak the truth that needed to be told.

So here’s what she said.  I wrote it down because I wanted to think about it and pray about it.

“Everyone should be able to name who they are and not be challenged.”

Everyone. The little girl with glasses.  My barista.  Brett.  The elderly woman descending into memory loss.  Each of our confirmation students.  The person inside the Cubby Bear get-up last night.  The teen who struggles with depression. [your name goes here]  Everyone.

Wisdom, or suspected wisdom, requires testing.  We take it into the laboratory of our lives and see if the hypothesis is true.  For the rest of the day, I found myself looking at people and thinking: “You, you get to name who you are and not be challenged.”  The young woman who took my fee as I left the parking ramp.  The wife I visited in the hospital waiting room.  The woman I spoke to on the phone who was grieving the death of her mother. 
As I tested this wisdom, I wondered about how often I deny people their identity by my words or actions.

I wondered about my own identity.  Am I comfortable just being me or do I live by the expectations of others?

Wisdom is like that. It is not a pithy recipe or an easy solution.  It is not as simple as change your oil every 5,000 miles or always check the expiration date when buying milk.  Wisdom opens up questions, gets in our way as we go about our day, and gives life more depth and meaning.  Ultimately, it changes us.

Bishop Laurie said, “Everyone should be able to name who they are and not be challenged.”  She said it twice.  I wrote it down.  I have tested it and I can feel its strength and grace.  It is an expression of peace.   It suits what I know of God.

Now I am wondering if I can write it on my heart and live it in my life.

Pastor Cindy
Cindy Hickman, Pastor, 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 wdmumc:
This weekend is Hunger Weekend here at wdmumc and you have two opportunities to fight hunger.  On Saturday we will be filling Meals from the Heartland.  On Sunday we will be walking in the Hunger Hike.  You can sign up on our website.  We stand against hunger.  

And this Sunday nine new people will be joining the church and our third graders will receive their bibles.  Lots to celebrate!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

"Midweek and Thinking About My First Job" Pastor Cindy's Devotion 10/03/2018

Good morning friends!

Here are WDMUMC we are in the second week of our Stewardship Campaign.  Earn. Save. Give. Healthy disciples, healthy church, healthy world.  My challenge this week is to write a sermon on what we earn.  I have to admit I haven’t thought a lot about what I earn and how that is linked to my faith.  I think a lot about what I give.  I tithe 12% of my income.  But I haven’t thought about what I earn, or if I deserve it.

This all has me thinking about my first job.  Do you remember your first job?  I was 14 years old when I began working in the kitchen of the local hospital from 4-7 pm.  As soon as school was out, I hurried to the hospital.  I put on a lime green uniform and a hairnet (ugh) and went to the hot steamy kitchen where I worked with the cook and two other teens to prepare the supper meal for the staff and the patients.

I had no idea what I was doing. Fortunately, I had compassionate co-workers who taught me how to work.  I learned to peel potatoes and wash lots of pots and pans and dishes.

There is a minor miracle in this.  I learned that I could have an impact on the world around me.  I learned that my work could be valued.  I think this is an essential rite of passage from childhood to adulthood.  We learn to work.

For my work, I was paid the minimum wage at the time:  $1.25 an hour.  The other teens and I thought we were rich.  With our earnings, we could go to the movies and the A&W.  If we saved for a few weeks, we could buy a new pair of jeans.

There were adults who worked alongside us.  I am sure they had more important things to spend their money on.  It amazes me to think they worked a 40 hour week for $50.  Today the minimum wage in Iowa is $7.25.  Work a 40 hour week and earn $290.

So what was your first job?  How much were you paid?  Did you earn it?  I wonder about what we are paid and what we deserve and what is valued and what this all has to do with faith.  I don’t find any evidence of Jesus ever receiving a paycheck.  What did he deserve?  Is his work valued?

So I am off to read and pray and ponder and (hopefully, eventually) write a sermon.   That’s my work today.  Hope to see you on Sunday and we will see where this all leads.

Every blessing to you,
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 on Sunday mornings at 8:30 in a traditional way and 11 in a casual way.  We would love to worship with you.

This week at WDMUMC:

Midweek Refuel tonight!  Supper is served at 5:30.  And tonight lasagna is on the menu!  Check out our website for details, wdmumc.org

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

"It's Midweek and Time to Pray" Pastor Cindy's Devotion 09/26/2018

Good morning!  Welcome to midweek.  I hope this morning finds you filled with hope.  Did you see the full moon last night?  The sun rose this morning, bright and beautiful in a clear blue sky.  Anything is possible.  

Just a prayer today. 

Dear God,
If this day is like yesterday, I know there will be moments of joy and laughter.  I think back on each time I shared in laughter yesterday.  Thank you for those moments.  I pray that today I am ready for joy, prepared for goodness, ready to encourage. 

If this day is like yesterday, I know I will encounter challenging moments and challenging people and challenging decisions.  I pray for a courageous heart that in those moments I can be grace-filled and steady.

If this day is like yesterday, I know there will be moments when you will need me to be a disciple, when the world around me will need to feel the presence of Christ and you have claimed me to be that presence.  I pray that I can be the hands, feet, eyes, and ears of Christ.  That I can move in rhythm with your will. 

I know too, that today may be nothing like yesterday, that change may come roaring in, new opportunities, new people, rock-the-world events, small-did-you-notice-this events.  A day that twists and turns in unexpected ways.  A disrupted day of unscheduled intrusions. I pray, that if today is that sort of day, I pray I don’t hold so tightly to my agenda that I miss it.  I pray I can simply trust in you, surrendering to the unexpected, feeling your presence (and even your laughter) in the serendipity.  Always certain that this too is of God. 

Today, God.  Today.  You in every moment.  You in every breath.

I am off to begin your day. 


Every blessing to you, today.  
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 our website at wdmumc.org

We worship on Sundays at 8:30 in a traditional way and at 11 we worship in a casual way.  Either way, we would love to worship with you! 

This week at WDMUMC:
Tonight!  Midweek Refuel is serving up food for body, mind, and soul.  Supper is at 5:30 and baked ham and homemade mac and cheese are on the menu.  (Yumm).  Bible study, confirmation, youth group, choir, praise band, a Mental Health Study and lots of fellowship.  Come hungry!

Building a house!  People need affordable housing--so why not build one?  Saturday we are partnering with Habitat for Humanity and building a house (at least the walls of a house!) in our parking lot. Want to help?  Go to our website and sign up.  (Not a sign-up sort of person?  Just SHOW up!) 

And Sunday we begin a new sermon series, Earn. Save. Give.  Are you wise when it comes to money?  On Sunday we’ll talk about money and wisdom.  See you there!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

"Midweek - Assignment" Pastor Cindy's Devotion 09/19/2018

Good morning!

At West Des Moines UMC we are in our third week of a sermon series called Juggling.  It’s all about how we balance (or don’t balance) our time and our energy and our resources.  Next Sunday we will focus on Sabbath and in preparation, I have an assignment for you:


That’s the assignment.  Sometime between now and Sunday, rest.  Go to your favorite spot, maybe your deck, or a comfortable chair.  Shut down all the noise and distractions.  And simply rest.  Inhale.  Exhale.  Rest.

Rest from the tasks of the day.

Rest from worry.  (It’s ok.  The worry can go on without you for a while.)

Rest from thinking you are essential to the well being of everything and everyone.

Rest and trust that God is God and you are not.

Just rest.  10 minutes?  20 minutes?  All afternoon?  You decide.  The hum of life will call you back. 
But during that resting, listen to your heart and your breathing.  Listen for the presence of grace.

That’s it.  Just rest.  There is work to do, a kingdom to come, as we pray.  But before that can happen, we need to rest in God.
See you Sunday!

Pastor Cindy

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

We worship at 8:30 and 11 on Sundays and we would love to worship with you!  Like us on Facebook or visit us at wdmumc.org.

This morning as I was writing this, I learned of the murder of Celia Barquin Arozamena. , and Iowa State Student.  Our hearts break.  How do we address the violence in the world?  Our sanctuary is open for prayer. 

What’s Happening at WDMUMC:
Midweek Refuel!  (Formerly Wednesday Night Live) Come and re-fuel with bible study, supper, and just good fellowship.  Love music?  The praise band will be rehearsing.  The choir will be practicing.  Looking for programming for your children?  We’ve got that too.  Lots happening at Refuel!  See you there!

Habitat Build!  Sept 29 we will be putting a Habitat house together in our parking lot.  Want to help?  You can find out more at our website:  wdmumc.org

Hunger Weekend!  1 in 8 people in Iowa is food insecure, a formal term that simply means hungry.  October 13-14, we will be tackling hunger.  On Saturday we will package Meals from the Heartland and on Sunday, laces up your walking shoes and join in the Hunger Hike.  Check out our website for details! 

And thank you for being the church. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

"Midweek Resurrection" Pastor Cindy's Devotion 09/11/2018

Good morning friends!

Last night around 6 in the evening I was working here at the church.  (Thank you, church for my lovely office.  I feel very at home in this space.)  I could hear laughter from the hallway. 
Out the window, I saw people making their way across the parking lot.  Some were coming for AA.  Some were on their way to the Safety and Security meeting.  A covenant group was meeting on lawn chairs in front of the church.  The Missions Team was gathering and they would later welcome an international missionary.  The Des Moines Diversity Chorus sang together in the Fellowship room.  I met with a family to talk about a baptism.  Later a young couple came to talk about their wedding.

It was the laughter that touched my heart.  To gather together in a place that welcomes us and find joy in one another’s company.  There is such health in that.

All of this happened on the eve of the anniversary of 911.  Seventeen years ago we watched in horror as the lives of thousands of people came to an end.  Today thousands will remember and grieve.  We remember too and we pray for peace.

On Easter Sunday we talk about resurrection. The stone is rolled away from the tomb, the tomb is empty, and Jesus greets Mary in the garden.

We personalize that story and it is personal.  We look toward our own resurrection.  We trust in the resurrection of our loved ones.  But I think we make God too small if we confine resurrection to individuals. 

I believe resurrection is a public story too.  I believe God is always at work resurrecting us all, neighborhood, community, world.  And God is always equipping us to work together for the common good so that all of creation might experience resurrection.  This is always happening around us. So familiar, we are often blind to it.  So subtle and gentle, we barely notice.  So right, it gives us life.

So on this 911 anniversary, I look around for resurrection, for the rising up of grace among the people God loves so much. 

Last night I heard resurrection in the laughter in the halls of this place we call church. 

Thanks be to God.

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 our website wdmumc.org

We worship at 8:30 and 11 each Sunday and you are invited. 

This week at WDMUMC:
A big thank you to everyone who helped with the Block Party.  Todd S—you rock!  Thanks for being our DJ!  You Methodists know how to party!

Wednesday Night Live!  Supper, children’s programming, adult studies!  WNL has it all.  Want to play in the praise band?  Always wanted to sing with the choir?  Wednesday night is your opportunity for food, faith, fellowship, and fun.  Check out our website for details!

Charge Conference!  This Thursday at 6:30 our District Superintendent Heecheon Jeon will convene a charge conference for the purpose of voting on the future of the properties we own.  Everyone is invited to attend.

#Just Read Pastor Cindy wants to just read the bible and she is inviting you to join her.  #Just Read begins tonight!  4:30-5:30!  Join in.

Juggling!  Next Sunday our sermon series continues.  Jesus was coming to visit Mary and Martha.  There was so much to do in preparation for his visit!  How do we juggle our responsibilities and our faith in times of stress?  Read Luke 10:38-42 and we will talk about it on Sunday. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

"Midweek and I am Flying Away" Pastor Cindy's Blog 09/04/2018

Good morning!

I hope all is well with you.

I am sending the midweek early this week.  Later today I will fly off to Washington DC for a United Methodist Seminar, Scarcity in Abundance:  Hunger in the United States.

As I packed and prepared for the seminar, I have been thinking about my own experiences with hunger.  I don’t think I have personally experienced hunger, other than the “Mom, what’s for supper?” variety.  Mom always had an answer and my hunger was more impatience than lack of food.  I have never lived in a household where there was not enough food or any worry about where our next meal was coming from.  My mother prepared supper each night, good Iowa fare of meat, potatoes, and vegetables.  My family sat down and ate supper together.  There was always fruit in my house, oranges, grapes, apples.  And my mother was famous for her cookies.  The cookie jar was rarely empty.  Food and family structures and communities have changed.  I realize now how fortunate I was. 
My experience with hunger has come through the stories of others.

When Dave and I lived in the married student housing at the University of Iowa, a little girl, five or six years old, roamed the housing complex.  She would sometimes knock on doors and ask to look in refrigerators.   She never asked for food.  She just wanted to see what was in the fridge. One of our neighbors, a mother herself, had a chat with the little girl.  The little girl confessed that her fridge was empty and her mother had told her that she was not to ask the neighbors for food.  My quick-witted neighbor asked the little girl if she was telling the truth. The little girl said yes.  My neighbor announced that in their house when someone told the truth, they always celebrated.  And so they celebrated the little girl’s truth-telling, with a sandwich and a glass of milk and an apple.  I am not sure about the logic, but that eased her hunger for a day.

When I was teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, two of my students had come to the US as children with their mother fleeing the violence of Cambodia.  They slept during the day and ran through the jungle at night.  They were often hungry and when there was no food, their mother gave them dirt to eat.  She worried about what would happen to their stomachs if they were ever completely empty.  I wondered if I could ever feed my children dirt.

A Des Moines schoolteacher told me about a third-grade student who began sitting under his desk and crying during the day.  Finally, he shared that there was no food in his home.  He and his siblings were getting their meals at school.  His mother did not have any food and he was worried about her.  The school helped the family.

These stories are horrifying.   They also carry a sense of shame.  Is there shame in being hungry?  They are also all stories of children.  I think children are the most vulnerable when it comes to hunger.  Perhaps adults don’t talk about their hunger. 

I also wonder about nutrition.  Much of what we digest is not really food.   It doesn’t really offer nutrition, particularly nutrition for young growing bodies.

Here at WDMUMC, we are involved in a number of food ministries.  As far as I can tell no one planned this.  It seems to be the work of the Holy Spirit.  Our Little Food Pantry, the food we provide through our Wednesday Night Live program, Meals from the Heartland, and more provide emergency food for those in need.  We are learning more and more that one of the causes of hunger in our local community is the lack of affordable housing.  If a family’s income is absorbed in paying rent, there may not be enough money left over for food.  As we work with Habitat to provide affordable housing, we are also addressing hunger needs.

Methodist Churches all across the country are in the feeding business.  Methodists provide thousands of meals every week to those in need.  Is there a way to help people gain greater food security?  I hope to find that out this week.

Why do we care?  That’s simple.  Because Jesus did.

John Wesley said, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”  Let that be our goal.

I will be back on Sunday.  See you then!

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

This week at WDMUMC:
Wednesday Night Live Kickoff Bash! This Wednesday we are starting our programming year with a party!  Supper begins at 5:30 and lots of fun follows!  See you there!

Block Party!  Sunday night from 4-7 we are inviting the neighborhood to a block party!  Food and fun!

Charge Conference! Our District Superintendent Heecheon Jeon will be leading a charge conference on September 13 at 6:30.  At the charge conference, we will vote on whether to divest of the houses the church owns.  Everyone is invited to attend.  Members will vote on the decision.

And we begin a new sermon series, Juggling!  We are busy people.  How do we juggle all the demands we face?  In September in this three-week sermons series, we will talk about priorities and time and faithful living.  Read Romans 12 to prepare for Sunday!

Have a great week!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

"Midweek and Our Grieving Hearts" Pastor Cindy's Devotion 08/22/2018

Good morning,
Micah 6:8b what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
That was our scripture on Sunday.  Such strong clear words.  Read on Sunday morning surrounded by song and prayer and friends, they settle our hearts.  Of course, we want to walk humbly with God.
Yesterday the body of Molly Tibbets was found.  She was a 20-year-old college student.  Few of us actually knew her.  We became acquainted with her in pictures.  We saw her big smile on posters and in our newsfeeds.  In some ways, Molly represented all our children and we become anxious for their safety.  On my way to work this morning I passed two women out for a morning run and I thought of Molly.
A 24-year-old man Cristhian Rivera has been charged with her murder.  He has worked on an Iowa farm for four years. He is in the United States without proper legal documentation. 
Mollie’s death and his citizenship status become political fuel.
Our hearts are broken.  In the long days since Molly’s disappearance, we had hoped for the best and feared the worst.  The worst has happened.
We feel grief and sadness and anger.  We are wounded and when we are wounded be have to be careful.  We can easily be manipulated.  Evil can creep in turning our grief and sadness and anger to bitterness and hatred.  God feels grief and sadness and anger.  Christ felt grief and sadness and anger.  But the God we love and the Christ we follow never succumbed to bitterness or hatred.  Bitterness and hatred are not part of the character of God.   
The words from Sunday come back:  what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
If these words are more than just a theory, we do what God asks.  We do justice and love kindness, knowing that justice and kindness must somehow work in tandem because they are both of God.
And we walk, humbly, with God.
Our sanctuary is open today.  There is sunlight streaming in the east windows, just as it always does at this time of day, as certain as God’s love.  You are invited to bring your grief and sadness and anger to the sanctuary.  There are prayers and prayer shawls.  There is water in the baptismal font.  You can remember your baptism and the baptism of all of God’s children.
Humbly before God, we grieve. 
Blessings, even in this hour, blessings,
Pastor Cindy
Pastor Cindy Hickman
West Des Moines United Methodist Church
720 Grand Ave
West Des Moines Iowa 50265
We worship at 8:30 and 11 on Sunday mornings and you are invited.
This week at WDMUMC:
On Sunday we will continue our sermon series, Methodist r Us. A panel of individuals from our church will share their stories of what being Methodist means to them.  Come and join in the discussion.
Visioning Informational Meeting  Tonight at 6:30 Mike Powers will share the Visioning team’s proposal.  If you haven’t heard about the plans, come tonight!
We are still in need of teachers for Wednesday Night Live  Could that be you?  Email Morganne if you would like to get involved in an exciting ministry!
Charge Conference!  On Thursday, September 13 at 6:30, West Des Moines United Methodist Church will hold a charge conference for the purpose of voting on the divesting of the houses now owned by the church.  All are welcome to attend.  Church members will have voting rights.

And I will be out of the office next week--so no Midweek.  Take an hour next Wednesday and just slow down, take a walk or sit on the deck and listen to what God has to say to you.  Blessings.  Pastor Cindy

Thursday, August 16, 2018

"Midweek and Where We Find Ourselves" Pastor Cindy's Devotion 08/16/2018

On Monday, Becky emailed me “if you ever want to see how chemo goes, I’m open to having some company. I’ll be at Stoddard cancer center from 10 til about 130 tomorrow if you happen to be around.”

So I went to see how chemo goes.

The treatment room is a large open room with 15-20 recliners lining the walls and partitions.  Each recliner has an IV pole nearby and flat screen tv within site.  There are also small rooms with beds off to one side of the main room.  Becky told me they were for patients who need to stay all day.  There is a nurse’s station overlooking the rooms and the recliners.  Busy nurses move in an out of the station, tending to patients.  Occasionally a beeper will go off, letting the nurses know that the chemo bag is empty and it is time to hang another one.

Women and men of all ages, reading magazines, watching the television, some sleeping.   All within sight of one another.  The room was surprisingly quiet, maybe it has become a routine.  There is a sense of reverence about the room.  The quiet felt holy.    
I was invited to see how chemo goes.  The people there didn’t come by invitation.  Everyone else in the room was there to receive chemo.  They came because this was where their journey had led them.

I think it is surprising where our journeys lead us, the places where we find ourselves.  A room full of people with a shared diagnosis.  Partners in a journey no one chooses. 
I think of other journeys, other places I have visited sometimes by invitation and sometimes because my journey has led me there.  I visited Mitchellville Prison and I looked around and wondered what led all these women to this place.  I sat in the parlor of a funeral home, not by invitation but because my journey led me there. I wondered about the other people who found themselves in that place, sat on that couch, felt what I felt.  I think of those who find themselves in a courtroom, something went terribly wrong, and they find themselves before a bench, someone in a robe trying to sort it out.

Of course, not all of our journeys lead to tragedy.  There are sunny beaches, the comfort of our homes, bright classrooms, and delivery rooms where newborns arrive and begin their journeys.  Healing places.  Sanctuary places.  Hope-filled places.  Taken-for-granted places.

But the chemo room was not on anyone’s list of “Fun Places To Spend Time.”  And yet there it was, a room dedicated to pumping hope and healing into ports.  Fiercely chasing down cancer, telling it to “SCAT!”  Chemistry fighting evil.

I open my bible and I read of Jesus standing in the courtyard of Pilate’s palace.  Roman guards surround him, spitting on him, mocking him, torturing him.  A horrifying stop on his journey.  And then the cross.  A destination no one would choose.

Was this all God’s way of saying God go would to the depths for us?  The God of Courtyard, the God of the Cross is also the God of the chemo treatment room, the God of the Mitchellville, the God of the funeral home, the God of the courtroom, the God of our journeys.   Declaring hope when all feels hopeless, absorbing our pain, present in the struggle, insisting on sharing our journey, witnessing to the worth of our souls, of us.
Healing.  Healing. Healing.

Where are you today?  God is there, too.

Every blessing,
Pastor Cindy
Pastor Cindy Hickman
West Des Moines United Methodist Church
720 Grand Ave
West Des Moines, Iowa 50265

We worship at 8:30 and 11 on Sundays and we would love to worship with you.

This week at WDMUMC:
On Sunday in worship, we will ask a big question:  what is God thinking?  If we want to walk with God, we need to have some idea where God is going.  You are invited to join the conversation.

State Fair!  Our church continues to serve up walking tacos at the state fair.  Thank you to all our volunteers!

Special Charge Conference Thursday, September 13 at 6:30 for the purpose of divesting of the houses.  All are invited to attend.  Members will vote on the proposal. 

Want to serve?  Sure! Here are some great opportunities!  
Dr. Jones from Hillside elementary needs a volunteer on Thursdays to do some pick and delivery for the school.  This requires a reliable person who can do some lifting and has a decent size car.

Janet H is also looking for volunteers to help with the Booster Pack program providing food for area children and families.

Sunday morning coffee servers are needed!

If any of these ministries interest you, just reply to this email and I will forward it to the coordinators. 

Road Construction Continues!  This Sunday the corner of 8th and Grand may be closed due to construction.  My best advice is to approach the church from the south on 8th Street.  If your health allows, you can park at Hillside.  If you need to be close to the building, you will be able to enter from the west entrance.

See you Sunday! 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

"In Action at the State Fair" Pastor Cindy's Devotion 08/08/2018

Hello everyone! 
The church has mobilized!  We are now in ministry at the Iowa State Fair.  As you read this, the Wednesday crew is serving up breakfast sandwiches and walking tacos.  So, a prayer for the state fair,

Holy God,

You are the God of cattle and sheep, of gladiolas and pumpkins, of animals and people, the Lord of all.

For the next ten days, people will travel from far and near to the Iowa State Fair.

We will be there too, supporting our church and representing you to the people we meet and in all that we do. So Lord, we pray that you might,

Bless the 4-H students who bring their projects and hope for blue ribbons.  Bless all the ribbons, no matter what color.

Bless those who bring their sheep or hogs or cattle or rabbits.  Bless their hard work.

Bless the carnival workers who arrive from who knows where and at the end of the fair will drive off to who knows where.  (You know where Lord.)  In their nomad life, bless.

Bless the hawkers in the Varied Industry building.  Bless the sellers of hot tubs and apple strudel and hand-made furniture.

Bless the butter cow and the one who carved it and thousands to walk by to marvel.

Bless the campers who build a neighborhood just for the fair.

Bless those who will win the hog calling and the fiddle contest and chainsaw carving.

Bless the stages where the weary will sit and rest their feet and listen to music.

Bless the horse shows and the century farms.

Bless the antique engines and the Pork Producers and the Egg Council.

Bless the ones that will hold hands in the darkness of the Old Mill or on top of the sky ride. 
Bless the noise and the smells.

Aren’t we a funny bunch, Lord? Bless us all.

And bless the other side of the fair, the workers who come late at night to clean after all the fairgoers have gone.

Bless the people who will pick up the trash and clean the restrooms and stand at gates taking the tickets.

Bless the children who will cry because it is SO HOT and the revelers who will drink too much.

Bless those who might face loss or even abuse at the fair.  (We, people, can hurt each other.)

Bless those who can’t make it to the fair this year and those who miss them.

Bless, because that is who you are.

Bless because we are a people in need of your holy presence.

Bless because whether we are at the fair or the grocery store or in our homes, we belong to you.

Bless us in a way prods us to bless others.

As we hand over cups of coffee, slices of pie, and Stew’s Big Boy Breakfast, may we hand over grace.

Find us at the fair, Lord, and find us faithful.

In the name of Jesus, who loved to gather with others, in his name, Amen.

Amen!  See you at the fair!
Pastor Cindy
Pastor Cindy Hickman
West Des Moines United Methodist Church (now on location at the state fair)
720 Grand Avenue
West Des Moines Iowa 50265

We worship at 8:30 and 11 and you are invited!

This week at WDMUMC

Help Needed with Booster Paks on Thursday! Drivers are needed to deliver Booster Paks to Hillside Elementary from Learning Resource Center on Thursday mornings. This ministry provides food for hungry people.  Contact Janet at 865-2670 if you can help!

Worship this Sunday!  One service at 9:30!  And a potluck to follow!  Bring a main dish or a side dish or a dessert! 

Thursday, August 2, 2018

"For the Children" Pastor Cindy's Devotion 08/02/2018

Good morning!
We spent the month of July focusing on children with our KidTalk sermon series.  During this month we talked about what it means to be a child of God.  Dr. Graham Jones preached sharing his experience as the principal at Hillside and he told his own story.  Jesus said heaven is designed for children, so we spent a Sunday talking about heaven.  Our intern Rachel Hollingsworth described what it is like to be 21.  We recognized the gift of each generation.  Young people served as liturgists.  One young man played the prelude.  Vacation Bible school filled our halls with more than 50 children.  The MITSWITS Sunday school class served up ice cream outside on the lawn.  Our youth went off to Colorado on a mission trip.  Your baby pictures are hanging in the hallway.  The goal was to remember our identity as God’s children.  I‘d love to hear your feedback on what this series meant to you.  Feel free to email me with your thoughts.

Before we leave this series, I want to ask you to do one more thing.  I want you to be a champion for children.  How can you do that?

Honor the child you once were.  I don’t know what your childhood was like.  Every childhood has its joys and its struggles.  That experience formed you.  Whatever you experienced, at the core is you, the person God delightfully formed you to be.  Spend some time marveling at that. Honor that child. Let your heart play.  Receive God’s delight in you.

Encourage children, all children.  Children are these little sponges absorbing the world around them, always learning.  They are a bit like arrows—they will land where we point them.  Our job, as the big people in the world, is to point them in the direction of God’s goodness.  Listen to them and if you have forgotten how to listen, go see the Fred Rogers movie Won’t You Be My Neighbor and remember again how tender the hearts of children are.  Applaud and encourage when they are doing good things.   Pay special attention to teens, the ones we run into behind the counter at HyVee or at the ball park.  They too need encouragement.  Lots of people correct children.  Fewer people open themselves to look directly at children, listen, and encourage.  Be an encourager.

Advocate for children.  Every action we take—paying our taxes, our treatment of the environment, how we vote, impacts children.  As adults, we have a voice.  We have the power.  Children have neither.  Hunger, homelessness, violence, these are issues children face and they can do nothing about them.  These are issues created by adults who can do something.  Us.  Want to know more about what you can do?  Go to http://www.childrensdefense.org/  You will find lots of information and ideas there.

And pray, not simply with-eyes-closed, head-bowed, when-I-remember prayers. Pray with eyes wide open as to the needs of children.  Pray with a willingness to be personally changed. Make prayer for all children of God our passion.  God listens.

God bless the children. 
Pastor Cindy
Pastor Cindy Hickman
West Des Moines United Methodist Church
720 Grand Avenue
West Des Moines, Iowa 50256

We worship at 8:30 and 11 on Sunday and we would love to worship with you!

This week at WDMUMC:
The Visioning Team has completed their work!  Their proposal carries us deeper in our commitment as disciples.  It meets the needs of the church and it serves God’s people.  It is exciting and it was enthusiastically approved at a special church council meeting on Tuesday evening.  Before the plan can be enacted, it requires approval by the District Board on Location and Building and the approval of the membership of our church in a charge conference.  Now is the time to share what the visioning team has learned with our entire church family.  This Sunday you are invited to an informational meeting between services in the Wesley Center.  Many thanks to the visioning team for their good and faithful work!  We are setting off on an exciting path.

Sunday School and Wednesday Night Live Teachers needed!  Morganne, our director of Christian Ed is looking for teachers.  And she is making it easy for you by designing short-term assignments and easy to teach the curriculum.  Contact Morganne if you are willing to help.  She is great to work with!

Count Down to the State Fair!  We can almost hear the cattle barn from here!  The State Fair will be here before we know it!  Want an insider’s view of the fair?  Work our State Fair Stand!  There are still a few open slots.  And we are always looking for subs—people to fill in if someone is not able to make it.  Check out our website, wdmumc.org to sign up or call the church if you would like to sub. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

"Have You Found Your Baby Picture?" Pastor Cindy's Devotion 07/24/2018

(Not Pastor Cindy's picture)

Good morning, friends!

I went looking for my little girl self this morning.  Or at least a picture of who I was when I was a little girl.

Here at church during the month of July, we are doing a sermon series called KidTalk, what children can teach us about God, and faith and the church.  This Sunday we are asking everyone to bring a baby picture of themselves.  (Better yet-a photocopy of your baby picture—those pictures are precious!)

And this morning I found my baby picture.  The little girl in the picture looks like she is six months old.  She is propped up at the end of a sofa.  She is wearing a pink dress with bows on the front and lace around the hem.  Her chubby legs peek out under the dress and on her feet, she wears anklets with flowers embroidered on them and white leather shoes, that are actually a bit scuffed.  (She was the middle child, after all.)  She has only a wisp of hair.  There is just a hint of a smile.  Her cheeks are round and rosy, the way all babies’ cheeks are.

The thing you notice most about her are her eyes.  They are dark brown and each one reflects a single sparkle of light.  She is looking at someone or something.  Maybe the photographer was holding a teddy bear in front of her to draw a smile or maybe her mom was calling her name and clapping her hands, eliciting delight.

She looks content, assured, trusting.

In the picture, you can’t tell that she had an older brother at home or that one day she would have a baby sister.  You can’t tell she will have a succession of dogs and a few cats during her life.  Or that she will love to read.  There is no way to know whether she will marry or what sort of career she will have.  From the picture, you can’t detect the tiny hole in her heart that a doctor will discover years later.

She is just a little girl, content, assured, trusting, looking out on the world.

Is that how God sees me?  Still sees me?  Am I still a child of God?

She is lifting her right hand.  My right hand, the one I raise in blessing at the end of every worship service.  Maybe she is reaching for something, in the way all children reach out.  Reaching for God perhaps?  Reaching for grace?  Trusting it will be there within her grasp? 
As I type this, I see my reflection in the computer screen, an older face.  I know now that that little girl’s trust has not been in vain.

God has been faithful, is faithful.  I am a child of God.  You are, too. 
Every blessing to you,
Pastor Cindy
Pastor Cindy Hickman
West Des Moines United Methodist Church
720 Grand Ave
West Des Moines, Iowa 50265

We worship at 8:30 and 11 and we would love to worship with you.

This week at WDMUMC:
KidTalk!  Bring YOUR baby picture on Sunday and we will have a place to display them.  If you would like to make a photocopy, stop by the church and you can use our copier.

Celebrating the Music Ministry of Tom Sletto!  Tom is retiring and this Sunday is his last day to worship with us.  Tom’s wife Barbara will be here on Sunday too and we will enjoy their last Sunday with us.  Come and thank Tom for his service to the church.

State Fair!  If you have not signed up to work at our amazing state fair stand, go directly to wdmumc.org and sign up now!  And bring a friend or a co-worker!  Lots of fun and a very important ministry.

Our Visioning Team will have their final meeting this Sunday night.  They have listened and learned and studied and interviewed and surveyed and prayed.  Sunday evening they hope to finalize their proposal and make plans to present it to the church.  Please keep the visioning in your prayers.  Pray that our plans are in keeping with God’s will for our church and our neighborhood. 

See you at church!  

Thursday, July 19, 2018

"Midweek and Still Practicing Heaven" Pastor Cindy's Devotion 07/19/2018

Good morning!  Last week I asked you to “practice heaven.”  How’s it going?
I believe heaven is a place where we are fully immersed in God’s love.  So that’s what I have been practicing.  I am assuming heaven is all around and I just have to open myself to it.  It has been interesting.

Some heaven is completely obvious.  Vacation Bible school is happening at the church this week and that’s heaven all around with 54 children filling our halls.  We have dozens of faithful helpers, among them teenagers who dote on the kids and are clearly rock stars in the children’s eyes.  VBS begins each night following Kathy’s lead with song and dance and dancing has been amazingly fun.  I am sure there is dancing in heaven.  Supper has been heavenly, too.

Some heaven is more subtle.  Since I am “practicing” that I am immersed in God’s love, I assume every person I encounter must be too.  And honestly, sometimes I have to squint to see heaven in others.  There is this age-old question about who we will meet in heaven.  I once belonged to a bible study where that topic came up for debate every so often.  Someone would offer the name of notorious villain—the Unabomber, Hitler, Jeffrey Dahmer, and we would debate what their chances were of being welcomed into heaven.  One day it occurred to us that people who judge who gets into heaven are probably jeopardizing their own possibility of going to heaven.  We ended the debates.
So this week as I practice, I am assuming heaven citizenship in every one I meet. It has opened some doors.

And heaven is also demanding.  I think we tend to think of heaven as this perfect place that suits our taste and sensibility, the next room over only with better decorating.  The more I practice heaven the less I believe that.  Heaven is the fullness of God’s love, not our preferred eternal vacation destination.

God’s love means justice, and human dignity and compassion.  It means clean water and nourishing food and shelter.  It means respect for the least.  It means relinquishing the abundance that I have so that others can have enough.  It means sacrifice and sticking my neck out and speaking up for others.  Heaven beyond a place designed just for me.  Heaven beyond my narrow view of heaven. More than I could ever imagine.  Better. 

In the last week, God has shown me things that are not heavenly.  Things like hunger and poor housing and discrimination.  God has not only shown me these things, God has me wondering how these things might become more heaven-like and what I role I have in making that happen.
A pastor I once had said, “If you don’t see God in this life, you won’t see God in the next.”  Maybe that is true of heaven too.  If we don’t live heaven in this life, and offer it to others, we won’t arrive in heaven in the next. 

So I am practicing heaven.  I hope you are too.


Pastor Cindy

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

We worship at 8:30 and 11 and we would love to worship with you!

This week at WDMUMC
Our sermon series, KidTalk, what children can teach us about God and faith and church, continues.  Our intern Rachel Hollingsworth will preach about what life is like for a 21-year-old disciple.  I will be there too and I am excited to hear what she has to say.

Vacation Bible School ends tonight.  Many thanks to all who have taught and lead.  You ROCK!
And if you haven’t signed up to serve at our food booth at the Iowa State Fair, please do!  Simply go to our website, wdmumc.org and sign up.  We need you at the fair!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

"Practice Heaven!" Pastor Cindy's Devotion 07/12/2018

Good morning friends,
This Sunday we will continue our sermon series, Kid Talk, what children can teach us about God, faith, and the church.  This Sunday the topic is heaven.  Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven belongs to children.  What do you think he meant?

So, to get ready for Sunday I have been thinking a lot about heaven.  I believe in heaven, but generally, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it.  This week I have discovered a curious thing.  I am better off when I do think about heaven.  (Honestly, I have also discovered I spend too much time thinking about the stuff of hell—anxiousness, worrying, judging, not trusting God.)
So, I am giving you an assignment:  practice heaven.

For the next three days, I want you to practice living as though this is heaven.

What would the heaven around you look like?  Is it open and spacious?  Is it beautiful?

What happens there?  Is everyone accepted?  Is everything shared?  Are we reunited with everyone we ever loved?

What doesn’t happen there?  Are hatred and judgment prohibited?  Are we united with everyone we failed to love?

I want my heaven to be filled with friendly dogs and books and summer breezes.  I want to dance and sing in my heaven and act goofy from time to time for no reason at all.  I want evening campfires and early morning birdsong in my heaven.
There is a little problem with that.  It isn’t my heaven.  It can never be.  Heaven is completely and forever God’s domain.

Which means it is better than anything I might plan.

I think heaven is a place where we are immersed in love, so much so that love overflows from us to those around us and those beyond us.  Whatever keeps us from being fully loving now, falls away and we come fully into God’s presence and at the same time fully ourselves.

So for three days, practice heaven.  And I will practice too.  See you on Sunday.

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

Visit us at wdmumc.org, or like us on Facebook and Instagram.
We worship at 8:30 and 11 every Sunday and you are invited.

This week at WDMUMC…
Heartland Youth Choir Concert Friday at 7 pm.  The youth have been practicing all week and filling our halls with song.  Come and enjoy the concert!

Vacation Bible School!  Begins Sunday evening at 6 pm. There is still time to sign up.  Visit wdmumc.org to register.

And ice cream!  This Sunday between services we will have ice cream and lemonade outside on the lawn.  If you worship at 11, come early to enjoy the ice cream!  (Who knows?  Maybe there is ice cream in heaven.)