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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  • Courageous Ministry

    Dear Friends,

    I hope this month’s edition of the Pulse finds you and your loved ones navigating life and faith with as much grace and self-compassion as possible. I know that some in our community have welcomed summer as a time to travel with family and friends, and to be reunited with loved ones. Others continue to struggle with health issues, isolation, and anxiety about the resurgence of Covid with the Delta variant. In the immortal words of Paul to the Romans, as a community, we “rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” There is a chair or pew here on Sunday mornings for people in all seasons of life, and an open door to my office for any burdens (or celebrations) to be shared. I hope that you will join us or tune in via livestream on August 8th when I incorporate a compassion ritual in our worship services, to mark the lingering impact of Covid on the lives of God’s people everywhere. 

    Whether you have been in Bruner Hall often this summer, or it has been some time since you’ve walked through the doors of FPC, I want to share with you some happenings that I celebrate as we continue to serve faithfully as an inclusive community of faith and compassion at FPC Logan. Since the beginning of Pastor Derek’s sabbatical on June 1st, we welcomed four guest preachers who shared the Good News with us, from Scriptures ranging from Genesis to the Gospels, from Ezekiel to Ephesians. Two of these preachers are women who I’ve had the privilege of mentoring as ministers in the ordination process with the Presbyterian Church in Utah. At summer’s end, we will welcome two additional preachers to share in our worship life, and I will conclude my ongoing spiritual disciplines sermon series later this month. 

    This summer, FPC has been home to Loaves & Fishes and a series of Red Cross Blood Drives. In June, our middle schoolers organized and delivered a supplies drive for Cache Humane Society, with two middle schoolers traveling to American Fork Canyon for a reservoir clean-up with presbytery peers. Eight high schoolers from FPC Logan traveled with me to Denver, where we served with Habitat for Humanity for four days, offering a total of 22 hours of service each. In two weeks, we will gather at Stokes Nature Center for earth care efforts. The Mission Committee is gearing up to prepare us for another Mission Sunday at FPC this fall. I learned that just this week, the Sew n’ Sews prepared a large shipment of homemade sanitary pads to benefit our neighbors in Ethiopia. Beth MacDonald and Barbara Troisi have been busy processing Deacon’s Fund applications to provide for the safety and welfare of neighbors here in Cache Valley. Barbara and Dorothy Jones visited our neighbors at Williamsburg with Cache Ministries in early July. Truly, there is no summer break in the ministry of FPC Logan! 

    In their meetings in June and July, your session has thoughtfully and prayerfully navigated decisions about worship safety precautions, knowing that there is no “right answer” about how to be the Church in a pandemic. Even among our Presbyterian churches in Utah, there is no uniform approach to worship in these strange days. We are discerning together, and the updated policy you received this week is the session’s most current discernment of how FPC Logan can be both a welcoming and safe house of worship for every beloved child of God, from the under 12 to the most senior among us. In electing the elders to serve on session, you covenant to pray for them and to abide by their decision-making. I hope and pray that you will continue to do both in the coming days and weeks.  

    Earlier this week, acknowledging the presence and concern of the Delta variant, the Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II, challenged us, the people of the Church, to “wait on the Lord and be of good courage.” Courage has many faces in Scripture and in our society today, but I am drawn to this Sunday’s passage from John in which the crowd went looking for Jesus. When they find him, Jesus instructs them to work for the food that endures for eternal life and reminds them that he is the bread of life. As we take up the charge to be of good courage, I hope that together, as a church community, we will be on the lookout for Jesus, the bread of life. I expect him to surprise us and challenge us, as he always does with his faithful followers in Scripture, the disciples and friends who want to do as Jesus does in the world. You will find him here at FPC Logan, whether we worship in Bruner or the Sanctuary, with or without masks, and you will find him in the community to which we are called as partners in ministry. Come and behold that God is doing a new thing in this place, if we only have the courage to answer the call, to work for the food that endures, and to fix our sight on Jesus, the bread of life. 

    In Christ’s promises,

    Pastor Meg

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