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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  • 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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