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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  • A Season of Resurrection

    Resurrection day has arrived. And with it the reminder of eternal hope because of Jesus Christ. Spring has also arrived here in Cache Valley, and while it’s not over, the end of our year-long pandemic seems to be approaching, thanks be to God. I hope this day finds you well in spirit and body, and also vaccinated (or soon-to be). I saw a sign the other day that reminded me while we’ve all been through the same storm in this last year, we haven’t all been in the same boat. Some people have weathered this storm fairly well, others have struggled mightily in one way or another. In spiritual terms, economic terms, emotional terms, and in health. And of course, not everyone has made it through the storm. I am worried that recent progress in this pandemic could be lost, but I’m thankful so many vaccinations are underway. As I’m sure it has been for you, this has been an emotionally challenging year for me as well. It seems to have contained more “downs” than “ups.” But my belief in God keeps me hopeful. Having spoken to many of you, I am thankful that a large portion of our congregation has received Covid-19 vaccinations or are in process of doing that now. The better our state and local community are doing, the sooner we’ll be able to worship in the building together.

    We’re beginning to worship together (outdoors, for the moment) for the first time in over a year. Your elders and Worship Committee have been hard at work making plans for us to transition from online worship back to in-person worship. I’d like to share with you how this process will work. To begin, we will continue to have online worship in some form, even as we get back to in-person outdoor worship (and eventually indoor). This allows anyone who wishes to continue worshiping from home to do so. We will be purchasing a special camera that allows us to livestream a worship service (which means what we do in worship goes straight to YouTube, with no long hours of editing required).

    Details for May are not yet determined, although we are making preparations and plans for indoor worship, for when Session feels it is safe. Session and the Worship Committee have approved the following plans for April:

    April 4th (Easter Sunday!)—we will worship together outdoors, in the Peace Garden and along the East side of the sanctuary, at 11 a.m.  We will hold this outdoor service (with members of our choir leading us in song) no matter the weather, so bring an umbrella or rain jacket if necessary. Masks will be required. YouTube worship will also be available.

    April 11th—we will worship via YouTube on April 11th, with a sermon delivered by an outstanding preacher named Rev. Brian Ellison. Brian is the Executive Director of the Covenant Network, a national group of church leaders working for a church that is simultaneously faithful, just, and whole, that seeks to support the mission and unity of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and to articulate and act on the church’s historic, progressive vision and to work for a fully inclusive church (particularly concerning the LGBTQIA+ community). FPC Logan is a member of the Covenant Network. Meg and I will lead the service, but Brian will be our preacher.

    April 18th—we will worship together outdoors at Trapper Park in southwest Logan, at 11 a.m. This Sunday is dedicated to Earth Day, and after a service (with music from our Praise Band) you are invited to walk the wonderful Logan River Trail with us. Materials will be provided to collect trash along the trail. There is a pavilion at Trapper’s Park. We will hold this service rain or shine (come dressed for the weather). Masks will be required for the service in the park. A YouTube service will be available for those who wish to stay home.

    April 25th—we will worship via YouTube on April 25th. Going back to YouTube this Sunday allows us to evaluate the recent outdoor services and make plans for future services, which may be outdoor, or if we are fortunate, perhaps indoor.

    I thank you for your grace and patience during this long year, and in coming months. It’s been a difficult one for your pastors and church staff too. I am thankful that we’ve had YouTube worship, but I’m very much looking forward to getting back to seeing each other in person and worshiping the Lord together.

    In this season of resurrection, may your hearts be filled with grace, peace, and joy.

    —Pastor Derek

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