God Is Not Finished With Us Yet

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

John 21.1-19

When I was young, about 10 or so, there was a period in my life where I was a shameless zealot for God. It was before we moved to Hawaii, and my dad and me along with him got swept up into the charismatic movement if you know what that was. It started in southern California and I was anointed by the Spirit to proclaim the truth. And I was encouraged to go out witnessing and was brought to parks and shopping malls and tracts were put in my hand to go up to people and hand them to them to talk about the gospel. About how to save their souls for Jesus Christ.

And one of these little tracts… I remember one of them… in particular was a cartoon, it was drawings, and I remember it picturing Judgment Day. And in this comic a scared man dies and goes to appear before the throne of glory. And he’s shown all of his sins that he thought were hidden, but of course God has seen. And the climax, the last few pages of the comic, there’s this big hand coming down from heaven, pointing at the scared man, cowering on the side in the corner of the page. And there’s a little bubble above his head, the voice from heaven, “Depart from me ye cursed one into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels!” The point of the tract, of course, was that if you wanted to avoid that fate, you’d better accept Jesus and now before a car runs you over. Before you fall out of an airplane or drop dead or something. Oh, and by the way, God loves you.

Can you imagine a 10-year-old handing out that tract in a park? I wasn’t very good at it. I don’t think I saved many souls for Jesus. But during that time, my parents gave me a tee-shirt that became one of my favorites. I wore it as many times as I could before my mother made me take it off and throw it in the laundry. It was a simple shirt, eventually became quite tattered. I had a hole here and a tear in the seam but I kept wearing it, it was my favorite. Eventually I outgrew it. But it was a very simple shirt. It just had some letters on it… PBPGINFWMY… It’s an acronym: Please Be Patient God Is Not Finished With Me Yet.

And I loved it because everywhere I went people would ask me, “What does that shirt mean?” and I would tell them about Jesus! Little did I know that in my youthful exuberance, little did I know how true that was. Little did I know how far I had yet to travel from that state of youthful exuberance, when I was using big, religious words that I had no understanding of what they meant. Little did I know how many twists and turns my journey would take, sometimes closer to God and many, many times farther away. God was not done with me yet.

I am still on that journey, and very often I find myself pleading with God and pleading with others, “Please, please be patient.” That shirt, PBPGINFWMY, would have been fitting for Peter in our story. It would have been fitting if he had put that shirt on. Perhaps you know Peter, he was the disciple who exemplified the youthful exuberance for the Lord. On that last night, before his arrest, when Jesus was sitting with his disciples… Peter exclaimed to him, “Lord! I will lay my life down for you! I am with you to the end Jesus! I love you! I’m there for you!” But then, only hours later, when the chips were really down and Jesus was really in trouble, Peter would deny having any connection with him.

But God wasn’t finished with him yet. Later after his resurrection, Jesus would appear to his disciples and say, “Peace be with you.” And he would say, “As my Father has sent me, so I now send you into the world. Go.” But instead of going out into the mission field, apparently the disciples with Peter leading the way, go back home to Galilee and to the one activity they know best. They go fishing. God was not finished with them yet.

(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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