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

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  • After all this time…

    Well, this is it my fellow followers of Jesus, we are returning to in-person worship at First Presbyterian Church. It has been fourteen long months of us learning to be a worshiping community in the best ways we could figure out (thank you Jesus, even for things like YouTube and Zoom). It’s been challenging for me as your pastor (I imagine Pastor Meg would say the same). It’s been challenging for all of you in faith and life and with family and friends. 

    But we’re going back to church, praise the Lord.

    Many things seem to be happening in our world at this moment. How are you handling it all? We’re opening the church doors again. There was a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis. Many of you have your Covid-19 vaccinations. It’s Springtime and the tulips are starting to bloom. The Sandhill Cranes and other migratory birds are back in the valley. So how are we doing as we process all of this? How are you doing?

    Relief? Sorrow? Joy? Sadness? 

    All of the above?

    I’ve heard several phrases of late, including ‘pandemic pain.’ I’ve felt fatigued myself. But having received the vaccination shots, I am ready to be back in our church building with you praising the Lord together. With high vaccination rates among our church members and several safety precautions, Session has voted for our return to in-person worship. Details are listed in another article inside this edition, but our first Sunday back will be Sunday, May 9th, with our regular service times of 9 & 11 a.m.

    This worldwide pandemic is not over. Not by a long shot as I watch the news from places like India and Brazil, or even Michigan. But many of us have received our vaccinations and we are implementing some practices that should allow us to worship the Lord together, safely. And to be clear (I cannot say this enough), if you do not feel safe coming to church in the near future, please continue to worship from home. I will do my absolute best to make sure our worship live-stream allows you to connect with God and connect with the rest of us from the safety of your own home. We have purchased a small and simple (yet high quality) camera that will live-stream Sunday morning worship directly to YouTube. You have the option to watch it ‘live’ as we are worshiping or watch it at a later time that is more convenient for you.

    So, what might we expect on Sunday mornings in May when we go back? First and foremost, we will be together singing, praying, and praising the Lord. Hallelujah! There will be a few changes, of course. We ask that everyone wear a mask while in the building. We will not have indoor fellowship to prevent ‘grouping’ around the food. Both services will be in Bruner Hall (this is to allow for social distancing). We will initially space chairs out in groups of one, two, three, four, etc. (please find a group of chairs that matches your household). Our air handling system will be on during the service. We won’t use hymnals so that multiple people aren’t touching them each morning (lyrics will be in the bulletin and projected onto the wall). And finally, if you are feeling under the weather, we ask that you please be extra-considerate of your fellow worshipers and remain home.

    Every day of life is a new endeavor. The same is true for us in this process of returning to worship. May we prayerfully and carefully take actions that promote good community health, along with our spiritual health. Thank you for your patience with us, and I look forward to seeing every one of you, whenever that might be.

    —Pastor Derek

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