Angels For A Moment In Time

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

1 Kings 19.1-15a

These stories from the Old Testament, they’re great stuff. Amen? Nice, juicy, just full of stuff for us to chew on. There’s this great image, just before our story: There has been a drought on the land that Elijah pronounced because of Israel’s unfaithfulness to God and just after the triumph on Mt. Carmel, God tells Elijah that the drought is coming to an end and he takes him up to the peak of Mt. Carmel and he says Look out over the ocean, and there’s a small cloud that begins to rise up and says You better tell King Ahab he better get to his royal residence in Jezreel. And so Elijah tells him, You’d better get into your chariot and head to Jezreel because there’s a storm coming. And so Ahab hitches up his chariot and you know how fast chariots go, right? They go pretty fast! And so he’s riding as fast as he can, but the bible tells us that 17 miles away (well,you can measure it now), but 17 miles away he’s urging his horses on and on to try and beat that gathering storm, but out in front of his chariot is Elijah! Like the Six-Million-Dollar Prophet. Running! 17 miles! There might be some marathoners out there, but even so, that’s pretty impressive. I bet you couldn’t beat a chariot. 17 miles. In sandals. And a robe. Actually, the bible doesn’t say what he was wearing, but I’m guessing. Still pretty impressive.

All that leads into this wonderful story that we have before us this morning. Oh, it is a wonderful story. It has danger and suspense. It has excitement. It swims in despair and hopelessness, but it doesn’t end there. It’s a story that displays tender grace. It models good communication and it moves toward healing and renewal and action. The larger story is very real and profound and I like it because it portrays for us Elijah’s humanity. Here he is, one of the greatest prophets of the Hebrew tradition, and we can see it leading up to the story. Can you see him there, bellowing out against the prophets of Baal, challenging them in the power of the Lord, proclaiming! That’s what prophets are supposed to do! Bring down fire! And it happens and that’s Elijah at his best. He’s strong, he’s confident, expressing the power of the Lord. He’s on top of his game up on that mountain. He’s victorious. This is the public Elijah, the one everyone sees. This is the one everyone knows. The one, gussied up on Sundays. The one always looking their best.

But in the next episode, just a little bit later, Elijah is running for his life! He’s depressed, he’s alone, he’s questioning himself. He’s questioning the God who brought all of this on him. This is the private Elijah. This is the one you don’t see gussied up on Sundays. This is the one the Israelites and the prophets of Baal and Ahab and Jezebel didn’t see. This is the real inside of Elijah, in his moments of struggle and weakness.

These stories together picture Elijah a lot like us. We have our moments when we are strong, when we are confident , when we discover our gifts, we know who we are! We’re successful, we’re strong, we’re confident , we’re collected, we’re gussied up on Sunday. I have to tell you, honestly, you see me gussied up on Sunday. We have those moments when we look and feel and perform our best. This is the one that everyone sees. This is the we who everyone knows about. But then we also have other moments, as human beings. Those moments when we feel alone, when we feel drained of energy and strength and inspiration, when we struggle with despair. Like Elijah. The great, but human prophet. How human is this story.

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

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  • Back to School, Not Back to Church…

    …at least not all the way. Some ministries of the church are in action, others are not.

    Ministry is Continuing!

    To date we have shared around $7,000 with our local community to help relieve those affected by coronavirus, and we have another $2,000 we will be distributing now. This has gone toward food, diapers for families in need, rent & mortgage relief, and other purposes.

    Thank you for continuing to worship with us—our YouTube videos get around a hundred views each week, and in some cases, there are multiple people watching one screen. Thank you for listening. And thank you for your continued financial support.

    We are going to be doing some new things in the interest of our own spiritual health, fellowship, and the ministry of the church. The first is drive-through communion (or drive-thru, as it is frequently written).

    Drive-Through Communion — Sept 6th, 9:15-9:45am

    If you wish, you’re invited to drive through our parking lot on Sunday, September 6th from 9:15-9:45am and I will serve communion to you. You are just as welcome to partake of communion from home, as we’ve done the last few months.

    Fellowship Bike Ride — Sept 13th, beginning at 1pm

    On Sunday, September 13th we will have an FPC Bike Ride. We will meet at FPC and go on a 10-mile bike ride led by John and Jean Stewart. Maps of the route will be provided, and a shorter route will be available if needed. Some of the route will be on streets and some on dedicated bike paths. Meet us in the parking lot at 1pm, and we will depart by 1:15.

    Zoom Bible Study — every Tuesday morning from 8-9am

    If you’d like to join us for Bible Study we will begin on Tuesday, Sept 8th, from 8-9am. We will meet via Zoom so you can enjoy breakfast and coffee from home. The zoom link will be available on our First Pres Logan Facebook page each Tuesday morning.

    My role as pastor is to be a spiritual guide, someone who helps each of you on your faith journey (and as you might imagine, you help me just as much). I confess to you that feeling like we are connected and in touch these months has been a struggle. Continuing to not meet in person remains one of the more challenging decisions of my career in ministry. I want to see all of you each week. Worshiping at home via YouTube is certainly just as pleasing to God as when we gather and sing, but it doesn’t feel the same to me, and I’m sure it doesn’t feel the same to you. Hopefully, some of the above activities will help us with that.

    In the Presbyterian system the pastor does not make decisions about all of the activities and happenings around a church. The pastor leads worship, teaches through Bible Study and similar endeavors, provides pastoral care, and participates in many other diverse activities around the church and community. We have Elders and Deacons who take on other responsibilities, including making decisions about church activities (reserved for Elders, who serve on Session). Who does what around a church (and how we do it) is outlined in the Book of Order, which covers all kinds of things. But as you can imagine, there isn’t a chapter titled What To Do in Case of Worldwide Pandemic.

    The Elders that we elect as a congregation (you elect them, Pastor Meg and I do not vote) make many important decisions for each congregation, although pastors frequently share their thoughts and offer guidance for any vote that is taken. The Session of FPC Logan met on Wednesday, August 19 and voted unanimously to continue with online worship for at least the next month (until the next Session meeting, on September 16th).  At that meeting we will reassess the situation and take another vote for the coming month (or months). Session made this decision because we don’t feel it is safe for us to be in the same room for an hour together. Some people may be willing to take the risk. I am not, and neither are your FPC Elders. Of particular interest is the effect that the return to school will have on coronavirus numbers. Public schools and the Utah State University are back in class now, with both online and in-person classes. Also, of great interest is progress in vaccine trials. We are praying that one (or several) of these vaccine trials provides good news in the next few months.

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

    Derek

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