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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  • Courageous Ministry

    Dear Friends,

    I hope this month’s edition of the Pulse finds you and your loved ones navigating life and faith with as much grace and self-compassion as possible. I know that some in our community have welcomed summer as a time to travel with family and friends, and to be reunited with loved ones. Others continue to struggle with health issues, isolation, and anxiety about the resurgence of Covid with the Delta variant. In the immortal words of Paul to the Romans, as a community, we “rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” There is a chair or pew here on Sunday mornings for people in all seasons of life, and an open door to my office for any burdens (or celebrations) to be shared. I hope that you will join us or tune in via livestream on August 8th when I incorporate a compassion ritual in our worship services, to mark the lingering impact of Covid on the lives of God’s people everywhere. 

    Whether you have been in Bruner Hall often this summer, or it has been some time since you’ve walked through the doors of FPC, I want to share with you some happenings that I celebrate as we continue to serve faithfully as an inclusive community of faith and compassion at FPC Logan. Since the beginning of Pastor Derek’s sabbatical on June 1st, we welcomed four guest preachers who shared the Good News with us, from Scriptures ranging from Genesis to the Gospels, from Ezekiel to Ephesians. Two of these preachers are women who I’ve had the privilege of mentoring as ministers in the ordination process with the Presbyterian Church in Utah. At summer’s end, we will welcome two additional preachers to share in our worship life, and I will conclude my ongoing spiritual disciplines sermon series later this month. 

    This summer, FPC has been home to Loaves & Fishes and a series of Red Cross Blood Drives. In June, our middle schoolers organized and delivered a supplies drive for Cache Humane Society, with two middle schoolers traveling to American Fork Canyon for a reservoir clean-up with presbytery peers. Eight high schoolers from FPC Logan traveled with me to Denver, where we served with Habitat for Humanity for four days, offering a total of 22 hours of service each. In two weeks, we will gather at Stokes Nature Center for earth care efforts. The Mission Committee is gearing up to prepare us for another Mission Sunday at FPC this fall. I learned that just this week, the Sew n’ Sews prepared a large shipment of homemade sanitary pads to benefit our neighbors in Ethiopia. Beth MacDonald and Barbara Troisi have been busy processing Deacon’s Fund applications to provide for the safety and welfare of neighbors here in Cache Valley. Barbara and Dorothy Jones visited our neighbors at Williamsburg with Cache Ministries in early July. Truly, there is no summer break in the ministry of FPC Logan! 

    In their meetings in June and July, your session has thoughtfully and prayerfully navigated decisions about worship safety precautions, knowing that there is no “right answer” about how to be the Church in a pandemic. Even among our Presbyterian churches in Utah, there is no uniform approach to worship in these strange days. We are discerning together, and the updated policy you received this week is the session’s most current discernment of how FPC Logan can be both a welcoming and safe house of worship for every beloved child of God, from the under 12 to the most senior among us. In electing the elders to serve on session, you covenant to pray for them and to abide by their decision-making. I hope and pray that you will continue to do both in the coming days and weeks.  

    Earlier this week, acknowledging the presence and concern of the Delta variant, the Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II, challenged us, the people of the Church, to “wait on the Lord and be of good courage.” Courage has many faces in Scripture and in our society today, but I am drawn to this Sunday’s passage from John in which the crowd went looking for Jesus. When they find him, Jesus instructs them to work for the food that endures for eternal life and reminds them that he is the bread of life. As we take up the charge to be of good courage, I hope that together, as a church community, we will be on the lookout for Jesus, the bread of life. I expect him to surprise us and challenge us, as he always does with his faithful followers in Scripture, the disciples and friends who want to do as Jesus does in the world. You will find him here at FPC Logan, whether we worship in Bruner or the Sanctuary, with or without masks, and you will find him in the community to which we are called as partners in ministry. Come and behold that God is doing a new thing in this place, if we only have the courage to answer the call, to work for the food that endures, and to fix our sight on Jesus, the bread of life. 

    In Christ’s promises,

    Pastor Meg

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