Doubters and Leapers

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

John 20.19-31

Does anybody want to go to Hawaii?

Well, I’d like to take you, as Barney might say, in our imagination to the north shore of the island of Oahu. There is a bay there called Waimea Bay. Has anybody ever been there, Waimea Bay? If you go there in the winter, it’s best not to enter the water, because they have some of the wildest, largest surf on the planet there. But in the summer, the bay is actually pretty calm and you can scuba dive around there if you want. To one side of the bay is a big rock that extends out from the sand into the water. And they call it, “The Big Rock.” It is perfectly positioned with a steep face right over the water and it’s about 30 feet high. Does anybody know how high this ceiling is, to the tip of the ceiling? About 30 feet? So you would be standing there about at the top. Now in terms of cliff-diving it might not be the highest thing, but if you’re a little kid, or if you’re a little squeamish about heights, that’s a big rock.

It’s become a tradition to ignore the signs not to climb on the rocks and to make your way up to the top and to jump off into the water. Perhaps if you would visit with me in your imagination and would go up on the rock with me… now I want to ask you, are you someone who would just go up there and look and go “YEAH!!!!” and jump off and fly into the water, legs and arms flailing, or would you kind of inch your way up to the top and peer over and say, “Uh, you do it first.” Now which kind of person are you?

Somebody’s looking at their partner and saying, “No, you’re not! You’re the other kind!”

At the bottom is cool refreshing water, but you have to leap to reach it. This morning we gather here in this place, we climb a rock of a different sort, it is the Rock of Decision. At the bottom we see the cool refreshing waters of faith, but to get there, you have to take a leap. We don’t hurl our bodies off, at least not in the beginning (faith may involve that later), but initially, the leap of faith is one that involves our minds and our hearts and our very spirits.

When you sincerely leap, it shapes your core convictions. Not just the convictions that we utter for public consumption, you know the ones that we like to talk about when others are looking and listening. But it shapes the convictions that govern how we see things, that determine what we do, and what we say and what decisions we make with our money and our time and our talents. Folks, that Rock of Decision is The Big Rock. It shapes our life.

Now some go up and climb up that rock and make the leap with abandon. They jump off, legs flailing, “Yes, Jesus! I’m yours! Amen! Hallelujah!” Some make this leap hesitantly, inching up to the side, watching others go first. And then there are also some that wait at the top of the rock, just looking, thinking, wondering whether it’s really worth it at the bottom. Wondering whether there are any rocks that we can’t see down there that might break a leg or two. Maybe we can just climb down and wade in the water.

Well, that might be an option in Waimea, but not when it comes to faith. There comes a point when faith asks us to step out, to leap off, to give ourselves up to gravity and the water. We might not be sure about how deep it is, but others are doing it. How about us? When it comes to faith, are you a doubter or a leaper?

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

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  • Lent in the Midst of COVID

    We’re in the church season of Lent, a time of journeying with Jesus as he makes his way to Jerusalem and to the cross.  In addition to Sunday worship services on YouTube we will be adding short mid-week Lenten devotions from Pastor Meg and myself (also available on YouTube).

     Last month Mary-Ann Muffoletto sent me a picture. She took a ‘screen shot’ of our most recent Zoom congregational meeting, and I’m thankful she thought to do this. This is the moment when we ordained and installed new elders and deacons to our church. This is usually a sacred moment of our worship together on Sunday mornings, a special time for those new deacons and elders and also for the congregation as these individuals step into leadership positions for us. We’re usually doing a “laying on of hands” at this moment, as we offer a prayer for these new officers. This last year Presbyterian churches around the country have doing this via Zoom, and here we are, lifting up our hands as a blessing for these church officers, as we lift them up to God in their new roles.

    The big thing on our mind in the church office and with Session is when will we be back in worship together? I don’t have an answer for you at the moment, but as more people receive vaccines and transmission rates continue to decrease in Utah and around the country, we get closer to that time. Two Session members have volunteered to work with Pastor Meg and myself on plans for when we get back into the building. Outdoor worship services in a park is also a possibility before we return to our church building. When we are back in the sanctuary and Bruner Hall together our plan is to record the service and make it available on YouTube for those who choose to continue worshiping from home.

    I want to close by sharing a few things with you about our building during this last year. You might think the building has been empty and unused, but I assure you this is not the case. While most of our activities have been put on hold, several things have been occurring in our building. Session approved Loaves & Fishes to serve take-away meals and that has been ongoing through much of the year. Additionally, numerous recovery programs (similar to AA) have been meeting throughout the year (for some people, being able to attend a sobriety meeting is a life and death matter). And finally, the Red Cross has been holding blood drives every month or so. Craig Mortensen passed along to me that Red Cross blood drives at FPC collected 490 units of blood in the last year. Most of these units even came from willing donors… (just kidding!). All of these activities have required people to wear masks and socially distance to prevent spread of COVID.

    It brings me great joy to think of how many people Loaves & Fishes has helped, how many people have continued their journeys of sobriety, and how many people were helped through blood donations in the last year. Each of these activities come with some risk of COVID transmission, but Session approved them because they are essential for certain members of our community. All of these happenings are possible because of the use of our church building. I thank all of you for your ongoing support of FPC Logan. I know we aren’t worshiping there, and many of us are anxious to be back in the sanctuary (I am too). Thank you for bearing with us and our cautious approach. Good things are indeed happening through use of our building and because of our collective journeys with Jesus Christ.

    Grace and peace be with you on your Lenten journey.

    Pastor Derek

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