Facing Our Vaders

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

Psalm 32

In the third installment of the great saga of my child, that is “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi”, Luke Skywalker seeks to complete his training as a Jedi Knight. The Jedi, by the way, for those of you who don’t know, are the guardians of the galaxy, the defenders of all that is good until they are wiped out. But to finish his training, Luke turns to the home of Yoda. And Yoda is old now, and he’s about to pass into the realm beyond and he tells Luke, “No more training do you require. Already know you that which you need. “

“Then I am a Jedi,” says Luke.

“Hmm, not yet,” says Yoda, “One thing remains: Vader. You must confront Vader. Then and only then a Jedi will you be.”

Now let’s be honest, you all want to be Jedis, right? You all want to move things with your mind and you all want to kicks some patootie with a lightsaber… Come on, fess up! Well, maybe that’s just for young boys fascinated with light sabers. I don’t know, maybe you don’t want to be a Jedi. But there are some pretty good things that come with being a Jedi. Because in addition to being guardians of the peace, the Jedi have peace. On top of being defenders of freedom, the Jedi are free. Who doesn’t want to be at peace and free?

Unfortunately there are too many things that stand between us and peace and freedom. To reach peace and freedom, in the words of the Jedi Master, we must face our Vaders.

Now, an essential part of every Presbyterian Worship service is a time of confession. In the traditional service, we usually have a printed prayer or some kind of litany which gives language, which gives voice to our sin, to our brokenness. And it always includes a time of silence for us to reflect, to turn our gaze inward, so that we might reflect on our own brokenness, our own sin and offer it up to God. Now this time and opportunity for confession, though it is essential, it is not meant or intended to make you feel bad or guilty. It is not meant to make feel as if you were worthless as a person. It is not a threat, it is not meant to inspire fear or trepidation. It is not a word of judgment in the way of the great Colonial revivalist, Jonathan Edwards, who pictured us as spiders dangling from the hand of God over the eternal flame.

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

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  • Sabbatical

    Well my friends, this is my last point of contact with you for the next three months, barring unforeseen circumstances. I am taking a sabbatical this summer, granted to me by you (through a congregational meeting some time ago). Clergy sabbaticals are designed for rest, recovery, and restoration. It’s a healthy thing to do, of course, and the Presbytery of Utah recommends that congregations grant their pastors a sabbatical every seven years (serving the same church, that is). It’s hard for me to believe, but I’ve been here in Logan for eight and a half years.

    The end goal for such a time is to provide pastors with opportunity for spiritual and mental rest and restoration, to help re-energize pastors, and to prevent burnout. Pastors have a fairly high rate of burnout, but providing time for spiritual, mental, and physical self-care is one of the best ways to prevent such things.

    It’s not only about rest, however. I’ll be studying and engaging in some healthy spiritual practices too. I will be worshiping at other churches each Sunday to experience the ways that other congregations praise the Lord, so that I might observe and consider new things for the ministry life of FPC Logan. I have a small collection of books I plan to read, including Canoeing the Mountains (a book about Christian leadership in uncharted territory) and One Long River of Song (recommended by someone at FPC), and a few others that I hope will inspire good preaching and pastoral leadership when I return. These readings will go along with daily scripture study. Due to the Covid pandemic I didn’t attend any continuing education conferences last year, but I plan to use part of this sabbatical time to so some individual continuing education. There is always something more for me to learn about my role as your pastor. I look forward to sharing some of this with you upon my return to First Presbyterian Church in September.

    Summer Worship—

    A reminder to you all that during the months of June, July, and August worship will be at 9am and 10:30am. If you show up at 11 you’ll miss half of the sermon!Masks will be required until Session determines otherwise, and worship will be in Bruner Hall for both services (this allows us to space out our seating). I have carefully chosen guest preachers for you on the Sundays that Pastor Meg won’t be preaching. They range from experienced pastors to seminary graduates, but I fell they will all bring a wonderful message to you each Sunday. Please give them the warmest welcome when they help lead worship.

    We have a system in place to live stream worship to YouTube, but there are a few technical challenges with this that I’ve been trying to work out over the last month (with audio and live streaming the video). If you choose to worship from home and the live stream is not available on Sunday mornings (because of some technical difficulty), we will try to post the recording for your viewing on Monday morning when the office is open. Please extend us some grace with this. I think it will all work out, but it’s not always a simple process and complications arise.

    Praying that you all have a wonderful, Spirit-filled summer. I’ll see you soon.

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

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