Paul’s Message: Faith For the Middle of Things

Life is tough in the middle of things…and it seems that we are always in the middle of things.

We are in the middle of a search for a new associate pastor to help lead us into an exciting new era of ministry. It’s taking longer than we had hoped.

As I write, the General Assembly of our denomination is meeting. On the agenda are such ‘easy’ issues as same sex marriage, whether or not to divest from companies that actively support Israel’s occupation of the West Bank [update: the Assembly voted down divestment by a two vote margin], and a pretty radical re-visioning of the structures of Presbyterian government. This assembly takes place in the shadow of many congregations who are in the middle of leaving the denomination because they do not agree with stands the denomination has taken (particularly in areas of inclusiveness and LGBT equality). We as Presbyterians, are definitely in the middle of things.

We are smack dab in the middle of another election season. Billions are being spent to steer (or commandeer) the course of our nation because we struggle in the middle of many urgent issues (and the powers that be want to ensure that they stay the powers that be).

In the middle, things are undecided, unclear, uncertain. In the middle, too much of life dangles frustratingly beyond our control. Do you have areas in your life where you feel like you are stuck in the middle? (…thought so)

We are always in the middle of things.

The good news is that our Christian faith is precisely for the middle of things. Through our faith, God lightens our middle with thanksgiving and joy that come from the good things God has done. Jesus heals our middle by setting us free from the brokenness of Sin (the kind of our own making and the kind visited upon us). The Holy Spirit shades our middle with hope–the kind rooted in God’s steadfast love and enduring faithfulness. Though many things are maddeningly beyond our control, our Faith reminds us that we can entrust them to God’s control.

Our faith, when we live it, also brings out the best in us for life in the middle. It calls and enables us to listen with humility, to speak truth in love, to move forward with purpose in the face of risk, and to rest when needed.

By showing us where we can make a difference and by setting us free from anxiety about what is out of our reach, our faith empowers us. God gives us a faith for life in the middle of things.

Friends, may you discover faith for whatever middle you find yourself in, and may it be an awesome adventure

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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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