Pastor Paul’s Easter Message

A New Kind of Christianity

We are having an interesting time in Sunday school. We are studying Brian McLaren’s book A New Kind of Christianity. With a wide variety of perspectives around the table, I’ve enjoyed the give and take.

One of the first things that we had to wrestle with (and it lurks behind the whole discussion) is the title. It begs the question, do we need a new kind of Christianity? Isn’t God the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow? Isn’t the Bible I pick up today the same Bible my parents (and theirs) picked up?

Well, yes … and no, says McLaren. He and many others are surveying the landscape of church and world and noticing that many are in need of good news. There are many who are not receiving that good news through traditional expressions of the gospel and church (and, indeed, many who struggle with and have been wounded/excluded by them). Is there a new way of expressing/living our faith that speaks to our world and our context today? Are there new ways of doing/being church?

I think these are healthy (if tough) questions. From the Apostle Paul, to Martin Luther, to Martin Luther King, Jr, faithful Christians have always asked “what does the good news of Jesus Christ mean for us, and how does it address our needs and circumstances today?” Jesus said ” … every student well-trained in God’s kingdom is like the owner of a general store who can put his hands on anything you need, old or new, exactly when you need it.”

Jesus loves us so much he wants us to discover a faith that renews our life, that speaks to our issues, and that reaches our generation. Many in our day may be in need of a new kind of Christianity, but we are all looking for the same living Jesus.

That’s the neat thing about our faith. It reaches us where we are with what we need. That’s good news. Jesus doesn’t wait for us to come to him, he comes looking for us.

It’s almost Easter. With the cross and empty tomb, God offers us a fresh start with new and bright hope for both today and tomorrow. May this Easter be just that for you.

Peace, Paul

This entry was posted in Sermons. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
  • Affirmations of Faith

    On the last Sunday of October, ‘Mission Sunday,’ many of you helped us pack more than two hundred bags for a local school food distribution program.  Those bags of food went out to local schoolchildren, who live in food insecure settings, to keep their bellies full. The food we provided has the potential to ensure the schoolchildren are more successful in life and in their education.  In worship we sometimes use the phrase ‘Affirmation of Faith’ and then repeat a longstanding confession of the church, such as the Apostles’ Creed or the Brief Statement of Faith. I value reciting these affirmations, because they remind us of the core values we hold as Christians. But as I was thinking about this over the last few months, I believe that such mission work to the community around us is an even deeper affirmation of our faith by acknowledging Jesus’ call upon our lives, and then living out that ministry.

    I want to share information with you this month about another ministry which I believe is an affirmation of our faith. You have heard us talk about it quite a bit but may not know the details. For years now the Deacon’s Fund at First Presbyterian Church has provided financial assistance to those in our community facing immediate financial need that impacts their ability to live a healthy and productive life.

    There are social services around town, which provide supportive and meaningful resources, but there can be qualifications and restrictions associated with the access of those services. The Deacon’s Fund strives to offer judgment-free ministry to those who are facing financial challenges in life and helps people access these services.

    Barbara Troisi and Beth MacDonald are currently our two Deacon’s Fund facilitators.  They spend time each month looking at applications for assistance, and then distribute funds, which may involve multiple phone calls, trips to the store for Smith’s gift cards (useful for food or fuel), and various other tasks.  Prior to Beth and Barbara, other wonderful people contributed their efforts to this ministry: Linda Roberts, Tina Purintun, Kelly Rhea, Terry Brennand, Barbara Lutz (I am sure I have left a name or two off, please forgive me). Pam Riffe also makes contributions and supports people applying for these funds in her role as our office administrator.

    These are some of the ‘saints’ of the church. These are angels among us – superheroes, one might say – who make time in their lives to help others.

    The Deacon’s Fund recently received a large contribution from a couple in our community.  They are not part of our church, but they learned of our efforts to help local people through some friends who are church members.  They made this contribution to help those who are struggling to find sustainable and affordable housing. They wanted to make a significant contribution to help with housing issues and knew that First Presbyterian Church would be a wonderful avenue for those efforts. I am thankful for everyone who makes contributions to the Deacon’s Fund, small or large (most offerings to this ministry come in $10, $20, or $100 increments). Over the decades these dollars have helped hundreds of people in our community in moments of great need. This is truly part of the mission of the church, and one of the callings Jesus has placed upon us.

    Beth MacDonald is transitioning out of her role as a Deacon’s Fund facilitator at the end of the year (she will be plenty busy helping to organize and lead the Westminster Bell Choir). Thank you, Beth, for your efforts. This means we are looking for a new Deacon’s Fund coordinator to work alongside Barbara Troisi. If any of you would like to help, please let me know. If you have questions about this ministry, please talk to Beth, Barbara, or me. Beth has set up a nice spreadsheet to help keep track of funds received and funds dispersed. You don’t need to be a financial expert or math whiz to fill this role, only to have a caring heart.

    The ministry efforts of Mission Sunday and through the Deacon’s Fund are two of the wonderful aspects of First Presbyterian Church. Our calling as a faith community is certainly to worship and praise the Lord, but also to share the good news and make helpful, life-affirming contributions to the community and world around us. I pray that our ministry together continues to be vigorous.

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

    Pastor Derek

  • Pages