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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  • November COVID Update

    If you are reading this before Sunday November 1st, I hope you take the time on Sunday morning to join us for communion in the parking lot at FPC.  It’s communion in the drive-through style, something the first Christians could never have envisioned.  It is nonetheless a faithful celebration of the meal that Jesus first initiated with his disciples.  Pastor Meg and I will be in the parking lot from 11 to 11:30 a.m. and we’ll have music to go along with the meal and hopefully lift your spirits. Stop by to hear the music, and for a blessing along with the communion meal.

    One of the most exciting things for me in recent weeks was our congregational meeting that we held via the online service Zoom.  It was so heart-warming to see that many of you in attendance.  Counting the couples on various screens, I think there were around 50 of you in attendance.  Thank you for your participation.

    At the meeting we elected new elders and deacons for the Class of 2023.  Please join me in expressing our thanks to elders Lovet Fokunang, Dee Logterman, Scott Hofmann, and Dawn Drost, and deacons Terry Brennand, Darcie Bessinger, and Marcia Baker.  We also elected Sheryl Bessinger to fill a partial term as an elder in the Class of 2021.  I’m thankful that they’ve accepted God’s call upon their lives to serve God by serving the people of our community.  May we lift them up in prayer (along with our other deacons & elders) as they help to care for and lead our congregation in challenging times.

    As you might imagine if you’re watching the news, Session unanimously voted to continue with YouTube worship for the month of November.  We continue to get around one hundred views each week, and I am very thankful for your participation in worship on YouTube.  It’s wonderful to have Pastor Meg back from maternity leave.  She is already busy planning Christian Education events and leading youth ministries.

    We will not host a church Thanksgiving dinner for obvious reasons, but we are spending this month getting ready for some exciting things in Advent.  We will have special music throughout our Advent worship services, there will be Advent activities for families, there is a special online bell choir concert in the works, and we’re hoping for an in-person outdoor Christmas Eve service.  Yes, it will be chilly, but we live in northern Utah and I know you people are hardy!  This service will be 30 minutes long, so you don’t get too cold.  We’ll have wonderful organ and bell music and Christmas hymns to sing, along with gospel readings of the birth of Jesus.  I think it’s going to be a wonderful way to celebrate the birth of the Christ-child.

    May the grace and peace of our Lord be with you all.

    —Pastor Derek

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