Do You Wanna Go On A Run?

The following is only an excerpt of this sermon. The full sermon can be heard by clicking the audio link below.

Luke 24.1-12

I have started something new recently, that is also something old. I’ve started running, again, another start. But this time I’m running with a friend.

He sent me an email a few weeks ago and asked me if I wanted to go for a run with him and even though I knew that this person was in much better shape than I, a foolish voice inside my head said, “Say yes!” So I typed in, “Yeah, let’s do it!” and I sent it back.
Now I okayed sharing this with all of you with him, and I don’t want to embarrass him, but his first name sounds a lot like mine, A LOT like mine, and his last name rhymes with “Ronson” and that’s all I’ll say.

I don’t want to get into any more detail than that but one of the reasons I mention this is because merely saying that I am running with this person raises my own status as a runner. People who know this runner, when they hear that I am working out with him, they say, “Oh wow! He’s a serious runner.” And I say, “Well, yeah!” Just being associated with him lifts me up.

But the truth is something a little less than impressive. Truth be told, his fitness level is up here and mine is somewhere well, down here. And too quickly on our first run, as I was wheezing and I looked over and he’s kind of cruising, I started to curse that foolish voice in my head that said yes. What were you thinking Paul? You could have conveniently lost that email! But alas. But on that first run, even though I was wheezing, I rejoiced – part of me rejoiced – just a little. I enjoyed the moments outside, the view of the mountains, and the conversation – what I could muster between breaths. At one point he asked me a question that required more than a grunt in return and then he looked at me and said, “Uh, that’s all right, you can answer later if you want.”

You see, I run with him on his recovery days. The days when he’s supposed to take it nice and easy and not supposed to push it too hard. And my program is very simple: I just try to survive. But together, with a lot of patience and forbearance on his part, and a little bit of suffering on my part, we come together. And for those few moments, we meet in the middle. And I rejoice.
You see, I’m challenged during these runs, I’m motivated to put on my running shoes when I would otherwise stay in bed. Or when I would otherwise sit in my chair and do something else. I’m motivated to get on the road and I am getting in better shape and I’m getting stronger, just a little, just because he’s pushing me. And for him, well, I give him plenty of rest. I make sure he doesn’t do too much on his recovery days. See, it works when we meet in the middle.

As I thought about this, it occurred to me that this is just like the good news of the cross. The good news confirmed by Easter. In the story of scripture, Jesus, the Living Word of God, is born into an earthly life. He lives in one of our bodies and struggles with our weakness and our brokenness. But even though he is fully human, his fitness level is way up here and he lives faithfully. And as he walks this earth he shows us how to love, I mean really love ourselves and our families and our neighbors.

And he can sprint. And in brief encounters, in those quick 5Ks, he heals and he feeds and he embraces others in those short runs. And he also does ultra-marathons because he’s teaching the disciples again and again and again what he’s all about. He’s in it for the long haul. And slowly, but surely his patience and forbearance pay off and he meets in the middle.

(To listen to the sermon in full, please click below)

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  • Back to School, Not Back to Church…

    …at least not all the way. Some ministries of the church are in action, others are not.

    Ministry is Continuing!

    To date we have shared around $7,000 with our local community to help relieve those affected by coronavirus, and we have another $2,000 we will be distributing now. This has gone toward food, diapers for families in need, rent & mortgage relief, and other purposes.

    Thank you for continuing to worship with us—our YouTube videos get around a hundred views each week, and in some cases, there are multiple people watching one screen. Thank you for listening. And thank you for your continued financial support.

    We are going to be doing some new things in the interest of our own spiritual health, fellowship, and the ministry of the church. The first is drive-through communion (or drive-thru, as it is frequently written).

    Drive-Through Communion — Sept 6th, 9:15-9:45am

    If you wish, you’re invited to drive through our parking lot on Sunday, September 6th from 9:15-9:45am and I will serve communion to you. You are just as welcome to partake of communion from home, as we’ve done the last few months.

    Fellowship Bike Ride — Sept 13th, beginning at 1pm

    On Sunday, September 13th we will have an FPC Bike Ride. We will meet at FPC and go on a 10-mile bike ride led by John and Jean Stewart. Maps of the route will be provided, and a shorter route will be available if needed. Some of the route will be on streets and some on dedicated bike paths. Meet us in the parking lot at 1pm, and we will depart by 1:15.

    Zoom Bible Study — every Tuesday morning from 8-9am

    If you’d like to join us for Bible Study we will begin on Tuesday, Sept 8th, from 8-9am. We will meet via Zoom so you can enjoy breakfast and coffee from home. The zoom link will be available on our First Pres Logan Facebook page each Tuesday morning.

    My role as pastor is to be a spiritual guide, someone who helps each of you on your faith journey (and as you might imagine, you help me just as much). I confess to you that feeling like we are connected and in touch these months has been a struggle. Continuing to not meet in person remains one of the more challenging decisions of my career in ministry. I want to see all of you each week. Worshiping at home via YouTube is certainly just as pleasing to God as when we gather and sing, but it doesn’t feel the same to me, and I’m sure it doesn’t feel the same to you. Hopefully, some of the above activities will help us with that.

    In the Presbyterian system the pastor does not make decisions about all of the activities and happenings around a church. The pastor leads worship, teaches through Bible Study and similar endeavors, provides pastoral care, and participates in many other diverse activities around the church and community. We have Elders and Deacons who take on other responsibilities, including making decisions about church activities (reserved for Elders, who serve on Session). Who does what around a church (and how we do it) is outlined in the Book of Order, which covers all kinds of things. But as you can imagine, there isn’t a chapter titled What To Do in Case of Worldwide Pandemic.

    The Elders that we elect as a congregation (you elect them, Pastor Meg and I do not vote) make many important decisions for each congregation, although pastors frequently share their thoughts and offer guidance for any vote that is taken. The Session of FPC Logan met on Wednesday, August 19 and voted unanimously to continue with online worship for at least the next month (until the next Session meeting, on September 16th).  At that meeting we will reassess the situation and take another vote for the coming month (or months). Session made this decision because we don’t feel it is safe for us to be in the same room for an hour together. Some people may be willing to take the risk. I am not, and neither are your FPC Elders. Of particular interest is the effect that the return to school will have on coronavirus numbers. Public schools and the Utah State University are back in class now, with both online and in-person classes. Also, of great interest is progress in vaccine trials. We are praying that one (or several) of these vaccine trials provides good news in the next few months.

    May the grace and peace of Jesus Christ be with you all,

    Derek

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