Blog Archives

Pastor’s July Column

Summer is here and with it, changes in schedules at work, school and church. But there is also a lot going on at HPC.

By early July, you will begin to see construction trucks around the church as the renovation of the Pleune-Mobley Center begins! Months of planning with architects and our general
contractor have come to an end, and the Session has authorized the Property Committee to sign contracts for this project. Once they begin, the total renovation will take approximately 13 months. KRM has re-located a few staff members (mostly the immigration attorneys) off-site because of their need for privacy, but the rest will
remain in place and working while their new offices are completed. We have already moved our two programs (STITCH and Women of the World or WOW) to the downstairs dining room.

Here is an update from Property Committee Chair, Bill Wade.

The Property Committee is pleased to announce the next phase in our construction projects.

This exciting work will include:

  • Renovation of the First and Second Floor for our mission partners, Ky Refugee Ministries
  • Renovation of space on the First Floor to create additional classroom/seminar rooms for HPC and other use on the Highland Ave end of the building close to the existing Session Room.
  • Removal of the exiting metal fire escape on the exterior.
  • Creating a new ramp into the building from the Highland Ave. side.
  • Creation of new space for the STITCH group on the 3rd floor.
  • Extending the exiting elevator to the 3rd floor.
  • Expanding the geo-thermal field to complete the HVAC system and provide air conditioning through the entire building and remove the archaic boiler system for heating the building.
  • Gym refresh with new floor, paint and lighting.

What can you do to help? This 16-month construction period will cause some inconveniences and messy situations that will require patience, but by keeping our “eye’s on the prize” we will finally have the facility that was envisioned so many years ago when we bought the building.  Making your Capital Campaign pledge payment early will allow us to continue to pay for this without the use of borrowed money, keeping our overall costs down.

If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact me. You can reach me at bill.wade@gmail.com.

 

Cynthia Campbell, Pastor

 

Sunday School: Faith & Film

Adult Sunday School in July: Faith & Film This faith and film class invites the congregation to watch a movie at home that engages issues related to faith and culture and on Sunday mornings, participate in a discussion of the movie led by staff and church members. The class will meet in Fellowship Hall at 9:30 each Sunday morning. Movies are available on Netflix or Amazon streaming.

The schedule for movies is:

July 2: Babette’s Feast

July 9: Denial

July 16: The Visitor

July 23: The Wanted 18

July 30: The Way

iCal

Lenten Devotional #7

 April 10 | Monday                                Today’s Reading | Psalm 139:7-10

 

Whither should I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there; If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

 

I’ll never forget, back in my running days, I was on an early morning run in the pasture near my house and had just said these verses when I stumbled and fell flat on my face.    It’s a shock to fall at any time, but this was a double whammy, because  I had just thanked the Lord for holding me in his right hand, when I was sent sprawling.   It took a few minutes, but then the irony of the situation hit me, and I burst out laughing.   I had been feeling so self righteous that I wasn’t looking where I was going.

I memorized this magnificent Psalm of David over 40 years ago, and I have used it over the years to begin worship periods – both public and private, to entertain myself driving alone on a trip, or stuck in traffic or to fill my mind with good things on a crowded bus or subway.  It’s become almost like Pavlov’s dogs in that it kicks me into a spiritual attitude before I reach verse 4.   Over time it has become for me truly HOLY scripture.

No doubt all of us have from time to time memorized words that resonated, so you know that when you memorize you own the material.   Since this Psalm is one about God’s owning us – each individual  – from the time “we were made in secret and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth”  to the “way everlasting” it is truly one of the mightiest paens to faith ever written.  It opens my eyes  AND reminds me to look where I am going.

 

Prayer

God, the knowledge of you is too wonderful for me;  it is high I cannot attain unto it.   Awaken me to accept your surprising nearness. Amen.

 

Written by Jane Welch

 

 

 

Today’s Reading | Isaiah 43:1-2                                  Tuesday | April 11

 

But now, says the Lord—the one who created you, Jacob, the one who formed you, Israel: Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; when through the rivers, they won’t sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you won’t be scorched and flame won’t burn you.

 

On the day when I had to contact my sister-in-law & tell her to come quickly because her brother, my husband Noel, had begun the practice of actively dying, she suggested a prayer. Our prayer was for God to remember that we are in his hands. Specifically, to help us by putting people in our path, people who might help us, people of whom we were not even aware that would help us in ways we might not even be aware we would need. Over the next days my eyes were opened. I began to notice that things were happening, people were literally there just when I needed them, usually before I knew what was needed. I was literally being held up by God through the people who were placed in our path. The hospice chaplain who helped me make some final arrangements without me having to ask, the friend who called and gave me the idea of holding the phone up to Noel’s ear while in a coma so he might listen, the physician who made his dying so quickly, understandable to family members who were questioning how could this happen so fast because he seemed fine just the week before. God took up our burdens and made the unbearable bearable. All we had to do was see him present there with us surrounding us with exactly what was needed. Never had I seen God so present and active as he was for us just when we needed him most.

 

Prayer

Thank you God, for you presence in our burdens. Thank you for your presence in our challenges. Amen.

 

Written by Patti Pinkley

 

 

April 12 | Wednesday                             Today’s Reading | Isaiah 58:6-9a

 

“I give up Lent for chocolate, not chocolate for Lent,” he would say. Reared in a church culture where the Christian year comprised Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, and psychologically,  the Fourth of July, he didn’t observe a Lenten fast.   Moreover, such commonly mentioned “sacrifices” as temporarily foregoing a treat to honor the suffering of Christ seemed trivial.

Then he learned that fasting, not only in Lent but every Friday, was an expected discipline for several generations in his denomination, and that his forebears in faith saw Isaiah 58:3-12 as the fast the Lord desires.  The fast the Lord desires mirrors Jesus’ announcement in his home church that Isaiah 61:1-2 defined his ministry.  It links with Mary’s psalm of praise at Luke 1:46-55, her son’s social gospel sermon at Luke 6:20-49, his only description of the Lord’s assessment of our lives at Matthew 25:31-46, and his laconic summary of following him at Matthew 7:21.  The fast the Lord desires expresses Jesus’ bonding of spirituality and religion in his distillation of our Torah as simply calling us to practice the love of God – our love of God and God’s love of people (Matthew 22:35-40; Mark 12:28-34).

He researched how the founder of his “ecclesial community” used Isaiah 58:3-12 to interpret Jesus’ instruction on fasting (Matthew 6:16-18).  The chief points were these: 1) Fasting is different from abstinence. To abstain is wholly to do without an item or items of food or drink.  Fasting is temporarily to leave aside both. Abstinence can be permanent without harming, or indeed to improve, one’s health. Fasting is occasional — once, perhaps twice, a week — and should be adopted after checking with your physician. 2)Fasting is not merely skipping lunch. Apart from keeping hydrated, a fast is generally a 24 hour experience. 3) A fast includes prayer, especially intercession — praying at large for justice and mercy in all forms of human community, and praying in solidarity with persons in special need. 4) Fasting also includes redirecting the money you saved to help feed the poor. Thus did initial indifference to the Lenten fast lead to keeping the weekly one.

Lenten devotion can be positive, permanently taking up a new ministry rather than merely briefly giving up some pleasure. The giving up takes care of itself as priorities are reordered to enable the taking up. The fast the Lord desires is such a discipline and such a service.  I’m a witness, for as you have surmised, I am the he in this story.

 

Prayer

Thank you God, for your sacrificial love. May our fasting tune our hearts to your grace, mercy, and justice. Amen.

 

Written by Parish Associate Charles Brockwell

Today’s Reading | Matthew 18:18-20                           Thursday | April 13

 

Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”

 

There is a specific section of C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters that has always stuck with me, and I believe it offers a good analog of for this challenging collection of Jesus’ teachings. Lewis’ fable chronicles a series of letters from an older, experienced demon in Hell (Screwtape) aimed at mentoring a young, novice devil (Wormwood) in the ways of luring humanity away from God. The section that has long stayed in my mind occurs when Wormwood has become distressed that a man whom he has been trying to tempt has begun regularly praying. The older Screwtape tells him not to worry. He goes on to instruct Wormwood to merely encourage his target to keep all of his prayers vague and spiritual in nature and to pray for things far away or general so that the man would be praying to an abstraction rather than something real. At the close of his instruction, Screwtape says:

 

Think of your man as a series of concentric circles: his will being the innermost, his intellect coming next, and finally his fantasy. You can hardly hope at once to exclude from all the circles everything that smells of [God], but you must keep on shoving all the virtues outward till they are finally located in the circle of fantasy, and all the desirable qualities inward into the will.

 

  1. S. Lewis’ irony points to a clear but essential point: God is not an idea or a fantasy. The incarnation and resurrection reveal that the LORD is not an abstraction. He and His designs for the Kingdom are here in the real world, now.

Jesus seems to be saying something similar in this discussion with his disciples. Moral devotion is not a mental exercise; it is real action in the real world.  Likewise, don’t worship by yourself; engage in faithful communion with your neighbors and God will be there.

With that promise in mind, I am going to take more time to savor the passing of the peace in the coming weeks. God is there.

 

Prayer

God, thank you for calling us into community with one another and ultimately with you. Help us to love our neighbors and honor our promises as You have honored your promises to us.  Our faithfulness brings us closer to you. Amen.

 

Written by Clay Gahan

April 14 | Friday                                     Today’s Reading | John 19:40-42

 

Following Jewish burial customs, they took Jesus’ body and wrapped it, with the spices, in linen cloths. There was a garden in the place where Jesus was crucified, and in the garden was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish Preparation Day and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus in it.

 

Though Questions

What does sacrifice mean for a life of faith?

 

What does it mean to follow Jesus?

 

What can you see in the world that needs life to take shape around it?

 

 Prayer

God, give us patience to wait, to trust, to follow, and in time, to see your resurrection shape our lives. Amen.

Photo received by Associate Pastor Matt Nickel

 

 

Today’s Reading | Romans 8:38-39                               Saturday | April 15

 

I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers or height or depth, or any other thing that is created.

 

After seven years as a faculty member at Austin Presbyterian Seminary, I accepted a call as pastor of First Presbyterian in Salina, Kansas. Between finishing my Ph.D. and teaching, I had not made a hospital call or led a funeral service in about ten years. My first weekend in Salina, two members of the congregation died, the first of nearly twenty my first year. Intellectually, I affirmed with the Apostles’ Creed that I believed in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. But it wasn’t until I sat with families in the middle of grief and stood beside open graves and said the words of Romans 8 over and over again, that those words began to take flesh – to embed themselves in my flesh, my voice, my hands. I am still somewhat agnostic about what “life everlasting” will look like, but I am more convinced than ever about the truth of this: “nothing in life or in death will be able to separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus.” Tonight, as we celebrate the Easter Vigil, we celebrate the deepest truth of Christian faith: love is stronger than death. Love wins. Alleluia!

 

Prayer

Dear God: thank you for your love for us and for the world that became flesh in Jesus. May we trust you with ourselves and those dear to us, knowing that in life and in death, we belong to you. Amen.

 

Written by Pastor Cynthia Campbell

 

 

 

April 16 | Sunday                                   Today’s Reading | Luke 24:28-32

 

When they came to Emmaus, he acted as if he was going on ahead. But they urged him, saying, “Stay with us. It’s nearly evening, and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. After he took his seat at the table with them, he took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he disappeared from their sight. They said to each other, “Weren’t our hearts on fire when he spoke to us along the road and when he explained the scriptures for us?”

Though Questions

Where in your life would you invite God to walk with you?

Where do you see God alive and active in your life?

Remember a time when you participated in the Lord’s supper. What do you remember from the experience?

 

Prayer

Thank you God for the gift of resurrection and new life continually taking shape in the life of the world. Amen.

 

 

Lenten Devotional #6

Today’s Reading | Matthew 21:42                                     Monday | April 3

 

Jesus said to them, Have you never read in the scriptures: “the stone that the builder rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and is amazing in our eyes”?

 

Hidden Figures, the wonderful movie based on the book by the same name, is the story of the African American women responsible for figuring out the complex math behind America’s early space program. John Glenn relied on the accuracy of the “computers” as the young women were called, to ensure the safety of his historic orbit of the earth. Most of us have heard only of John Glenn and very few of us knew about the women actually doing the work while white male engineers received the fame and glory. These young women faced formidable odds because of discrimination in communities, schools, and work places. The film’s vivid portrayal of segregated bathrooms and prejudiced supervisors is absolutely heart breaking. And yet these brilliant women persevered, despite set backs and challenges never experienced by white citizens. Segregation in the 1960s was an ugly, heart braking, obstacle the computers were able to overcome by tenacity, perseverance, shrewdness, and hard work. I was brought to tears by their indomitability and success.

What if Jesus is yet again reminding us in this parable that God’s ways are not human ways? What if those of us in power have a God given responsibility to stay alert to the in breaking of God’s revelations in our lives? Is it such a stretch to say that there will be “Pharisees” in every age, whether literal or metaphoric? When, with self-righteous confidence, do we assume that we have God’s ways all figured out? What if this difficult parable is best understood within the context of our need to stay alert and be startled when we are so sure of ourselves yet actually need to be reminded over and over again that God’s ways are not our ways?

 

Prayer

God, teach us your ways that they may be our ways. Show us your love that we may love others as you love us. Amen.

Written by Chris Valentine

 

 

 

April 4 | Tuesday                                   Today’s Reading | Psalm 8:3-4

 

When I look up at your skies, at what your fingers made—the moon and the stars that you set firmly in place—what are human beings that you think about them; what are human beings that you pay attention to them?

 

As mundane, quotidian, and perhaps strange as it might seem, on an Wednesday evenings when I drag the trash to the curb and set the recycling next to it, I have this moment of peace. It means the day is done, Naomi is in bed, the meetings are finished and my mind can settle and be quiet. There is space.

In the space there is the clear markings of human ingenuity bumping into mighty expanse of creation. There is the distant sound of the highway—cars of people seeking a destination that invade the neighborhood full of tall trees. There is the light of the city that pushes into the night sky full of stars, daring to compete. Occasionally a small plane passes overhead, preparing to land at Bowman Field.

But it is clear to me when the sky is overhead that creation is foundational and primary, though we are a part of it. And God, full of grace and mercy, is mindful of us in the middle of all it is. And why, in the middle of doing chores would God’s presence seem so important? I imagine that it is because we are created to be part of creation. But how strange to me, that in the hustle of the day, it can be the entirely ordinary activities of human life where the space to meet God might be.

 

Prayer

God, let us meet your presence in the gifts that come each day, whether complex or simple. Amen.

Written by Associate Pastor Matt Nickel

 

 

 

Today’s Reading | Deuteronomy 10:17-19                 Wednesday | April 5

 

Because the Lord your God is the God of all gods and Lord of all lords, the great, mighty, and awesome God who doesn’t play favorites and doesn’t take bribes. He enacts justice for orphans and widows, and he loves immigrants, giving them food and clothing. That means you must also love immigrants because you were immigrants in Egypt.

 

Growing up deep in Appalachia in the 1990s, trips to the BIG CITY of Lexington, Kentucky, were always an exciting experience. The girls in the malls wore less makeup than the girls back home, and their hair, though still late 80s – early 90s big, lacked the explosiveness of the mountain girls’ hair. Other differences, such as accent and dialect, became painfully obvious – a few occasions of the food court cashier laughingly asking you to say the word chicken (pronounced chee-ken) again will quickly teach you to leave the accent in the car.

So you learn pretty early how to “code switch” — you’ll still feel like an outsider, but at least it won’t be evident within 15 seconds of a conversation. I’ve never been great at it, so it’s been very meaningful to me to have been accepted and even embraced in places very unlike Appalachia. I spent a year working in New York City, mostly in the Bronx, and I will never forget the goodbye lunch my colleagues had for me just before I moved back to Kentucky. There I was, the son of a coal miner, sitting in a Jamaican restaurant sharing an amazing goodbye meal with a group of people whose life experience was fundamentally different than my own. I remain thankful to the New Yorkers who loved the Appalachian foreigner living among them.

As a White man, I’ll never understand the challenges encountered by immigrants and refugees in the contemporary U.S. But I am so proud to be affiliated with a congregation that has made such a significant commitment to “…loving the foreigner residing among you…”

 

Prayer

Dear God, help us to use our privilege to improve the lives of immigrants and refugees. Amen.

Written by Martin Hall

 

 

 

April 6 | Thursday                                     Today’s Reading | Romans 12:2

 

Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

 

When deeply engaged in some reading, I find myself in an internal, ongoing conversation with the author, narrator, or characters. When reading a suspenseful novel, I’m apt to silently scream, “don’t go in there!”, or I ask, “have you considered this?” when reading a thought-provoking article. I presume many of you do this, as well. So, when I read “do not be conformed to this world,” I want to yell in frustration, “BUT I LIVE HERE! And not just some of the time, all of the time–every second that I have ever known has been in ‘this world.’ How do I not conform to this world? What does that even mean?”

Once that frustration subsides,  I find myself initially disposed to take Paul’s directive on a kind of practical level and assume Paul is encouraging spiritual discipline.  In this reading, this verse is just a reminder to put first things first. Love your family, not your car; devote time to prayer, not just Netflix; seek truth not power–that kind of thing. There is clearly some important wisdom in this reading of Paul’s statement. We can all agree that perpetual pursuits of club memberships, the most exotic wines, and/or the perfect body are unlikely to  lead to salvation in God. If we are honest, we can all also likely agree that when these pursuits get intertwined with our considerations of our careers, our health, and our relationships, the trappings of “this world” often dominate our attention, and we “conform” without much consideration otherwise.  At the same time, I am not convinced that maintaining a discipline of putting some better earthly things above some worse earthly thing, no matter how rigorously practiced, is what Paul is getting at. I am not sure that kind of discipline will necessarily reveal “what is good and acceptable and perfect.” The deep moral insight that Paul describes is more likely born out of communion with God–something that discipline can foster but it is not discipline in and of itself.  The aim is God, not performance and not self-perfection. To not conform to “this world” is to see and and feel things as God does, not as humans do–to see God’s story, not only our own. We cannot will ourselves to that perspective, in my estimation; we must genuinely invite God in. Whatever we as people need to do to ready ourselves to make that sincere invitation to our LORD is good, but discipline without opening of the self to God is still conformity.

 

Prayer

Dear God, I love being part of Your story. Thank you for allowing me to share in it and enjoy it.  Show me how to love the life You have given me in ways that also love You. Thank you for being with me here so I can, with Your help, revel in your wisdom. Amen.

Written by Clay Gahan

 

 

Today’s Reading | Romans 12:4-5                                    Friday | April 7

 

 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

 

Working in a JK-12 school allows me to see this scripture in action every day. I am lucky to be surrounded by colleagues who have dedicated their lives to a particular craft: teaching first grade, coaching middle school cross country, and developing a Robotics team, just to name a few. What unites us all is a love for young people. What inspires me most is the way each member of our school community applies that love to helping people learn something specific, meaningful, and impactful.

 

My own classes focus on writing and literature. My high school senior students are also actors, athletes, artists, engineers, introverts, and extroverts, just to name a few of their many roles and identities. My favorite classes are the ones when my voice is replaced by their individual and collective voices as they discuss and debate the topics of the day. Their leadership of class is a daily reminder to me that everyone is gifted with his/her own talents, interests, and perspectives. In the moments when I celebrate and embrace those, rather than try to align and control them, I sense God’s presence in my life and in the world.

 

Teaching and learning from young people affirms for me that we are all called to love others and to love learning. To me, there is no greater joy.

 

Prayer

Lord, may we see you in the moments of listening, learning from, and loving others, all of whom offer us gifts from you.

 

Written by Sara Gahan

 

 

April 8 | Saturday                                Today’s Reading | Psalm 32:6-7

 

Therefore let all who are faithful offer prayer to you; at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters  shall not reach them. You are a hiding-place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with glad cries of deliverance.

 

The Mid-Kentucky Presbytery Hispanic/Latino Commission supports outreach in the Preston Highway area known as “little Mexico.”  Rev. Elmer Zavala oversees a ministry to this community which includes worship, bible study, pastoral care and, at times, navigating the court system.  Among those he serves are families which have been separated due to deportation.

 

My eyes were opened when I recently attended a worship service with a friend who also knows very little Spanish.  Elmer’s wife sat behind us, translating as he delivered his sermon.  He preached on the David & Goliath text.  He pointed out that no one expected David, the least of all his kin, to be chosen to face the giant, much less to emerge a hero.  He preached that David had God on his side, as do we all.  He preached to this vulnerable, fragile community that if they come for you, don’t hide under the bed, but when they take you away, let your children see what you are fighting for.  I probably don’t need to add that this was a deeply humbling experience.

 

Prayer

God of compassion, we thank you for those you send to walk with the most vulnerable during frightening times.  Amen.

Written by Carol Pye

 

 

Today’s Reading | Micah 6:8                                    Sunday | April 9

 

He has told you, human one, what is good and what the Lord requires from you: to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God.

 

I had been struggling to sing. My voice was cracking, I couldn’t hit my high notes, I would cough when trying to sing certain notes. The ENT had discovered a small lesion on my vocal fold, and the prescription was vocal rest. I had to go the entire summer of 2014 without singing?! And only speaking at half volume and only when necessary?! Singing is who I am, my connection with God and with my own spirit. How would I survive?! I headed to Cherokee Park to walk and think and pray (yell at God?). And then, I encountered this. I stopped. I stood there for a long time. “Out of the darkness and into the light.” I had to trust that something good would come out of this mess. I snapped this photo on my phone, and to this day I keep it as a reminder that there will be times of darkness and that light will follow. And light did follow. I have my voice back, better than ever. And that summer of “half volume” made me more patient and a better listener. I certainly learned something about walking humbly with God.

Prayer

Creator God, thank you for using nature to remind us of the Truth that you are always with us in times of darkness and that out of the darkness, light and good can come. Amen.

 

Written by and photo received by Suzanne Bowman

 

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