Pastor Paul’s Lenten Message

Just Words

“Rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Prov 12:18)

Friends,

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me. That’s what they say, right? Well, I am not sure who “they” are, but they are most certainly wrong.

Another version of the saying ends, “and words will never hurt me.” ‘I usually (I don’t think) put things so bluntly, but that’s wrong too. I think most if not all of us discover this pretty quickly. Words most definitely can hurt. Though I do not want to minimize the profound tragedy of physical violence, I believe, in fact, that words can wound more deeply and with more lasting effect than any stick or stone.

It’s time to elect a President again. Public discussion on the critical issues we face needs to proceed. In our churches, school boards, council chambers, as well as in our personal relationships, I believe we need to give more thought to the words we use.

In Genesis, the Spirit of the Lord hovered over the deep and said, “Let there be … “ With words the cosmos came into being. God’s creative words bring life. One of the ways that we reflect (or not) the image of our creator is through our words. The words we use shape our reality. They effect perceptions. They can give birth to new thoughts and possibilities, or they can kill them. They can unite or inspire, or divide and discourage. They can deepen love, or spread hate. Words have power.

Too often, our words are chosen less for truth, edification, and nurturing community and more for their power to manipulate, obfuscate, and demean. Too often, this negative use of words is employed because it works. They are effective because we let them be so.

This may seem to be a rant, I know, but as we enter the season of Lent, it might be helpful for us to reflect on our words, and how we receive the words of others. Do they illumine? Are they helpful? Are they honest? Do they bring life? Or do they accomplish something else?

This season of Lent, let’s give some thought to our words. Let’s choose them carefully. Let’s let others know when their words hurt more than they help. Let’s not accept a public discourse that is less than the values of love, justice, and equality that we confess.

I confess that many words that I have uttered and written have been less than well chosen. Careless words and words that hurt escape all of our mouths at one point or another.

Thankfully, our language contains the word “grace” which can be one of the most powerful words we know. With grace, and nurturing habits of choosing life giving words, I believe we can reflect our creator and when we examine our words, the Lord will say, “It is good.”

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony … And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Col 3:14,17)

–Peace, Paul

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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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