Paul’s Message: A New Year

MLK QuoteFriends,

As I sat down to write this piece, the headlines from Newtown, CT exploded on the news. You know what they are. We are left in shock and grief…

There are no words. There can be no explanation. There is no equation that is able to compute the evil that flooded Sandy Hook Elementary School.

But that’s not the end of the story. That can’t be the end of the story.

There are grieving families who must somehow pick up the pieces while wrestling with their grief. There is a school full of survivors that must somehow figure out how to work their way through their trauma. There is a community that must recover.

And then there’s us. We too must continue.

We are not hit as hard as the families of Newtown, and indeed we can’t know their suffering. But scripture encourages us to “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep”(Rom 12:15) and “bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal.6:2). I think that this means more than shaking our heads in sadness, saying a prayer, and moving on living in exactly the same way. I think it means more than supporting survivors and loved ones as they rebuild their lives. I believe the divine nudge to “bear one another’s burdens” means doing everything we can to bring harmony, wholeness, safety, and peace. I believe it means changing the way we live.

What will we change to turn our glorification of violence into revulsion of it? What will we do about our attitude that, when push comes to shove, violence is the final and most effective answer and arbiter in the world? What will we change so that weapons are not so easily within reach for those who are in pain? What will we change to open doors to mental health resources for those who are struggling? What will we change to welcome those who don’t fit society’s molds? This is about more than Newtown. It’s about a society where 2012 brought us too long a list of mass shootings, too many victims, too many perpetrators who saw violence as the only answer open to them.

What will 2013 bring us? Will we dare to engage in the tough but necessary conversations? Will we examine ourselves and our own complicity in cycles of violence? Will we move beyond blaming our politicians and talk to them, call them, write/bug/nag them until they respond? Will we pray, love, and make peace even if it costs us something?
We are not powerless. We are not voiceless. We are not at the mercy of forces beyond our control. We are people of faith. We are followers of the Prince of Peace. We are lovers of God and neighbor. May we live like it in 2013.

May Christ be with you and with us all. –Paul.

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  • Back to School, Not Back to Church…

    …at least not all the way. Some ministries of the church are in action, others are not.

    Ministry is Continuing!

    To date we have shared around $7,000 with our local community to help relieve those affected by coronavirus, and we have another $2,000 we will be distributing now. This has gone toward food, diapers for families in need, rent & mortgage relief, and other purposes.

    Thank you for continuing to worship with us—our YouTube videos get around a hundred views each week, and in some cases, there are multiple people watching one screen. Thank you for listening. And thank you for your continued financial support.

    We are going to be doing some new things in the interest of our own spiritual health, fellowship, and the ministry of the church. The first is drive-through communion (or drive-thru, as it is frequently written).

    Drive-Through Communion — Sept 6th, 9:15-9:45am

    If you wish, you’re invited to drive through our parking lot on Sunday, September 6th from 9:15-9:45am and I will serve communion to you. You are just as welcome to partake of communion from home, as we’ve done the last few months.

    Fellowship Bike Ride — Sept 13th, beginning at 1pm

    On Sunday, September 13th we will have an FPC Bike Ride. We will meet at FPC and go on a 10-mile bike ride led by John and Jean Stewart. Maps of the route will be provided, and a shorter route will be available if needed. Some of the route will be on streets and some on dedicated bike paths. Meet us in the parking lot at 1pm, and we will depart by 1:15.

    Zoom Bible Study — every Tuesday morning from 8-9am

    If you’d like to join us for Bible Study we will begin on Tuesday, Sept 8th, from 8-9am. We will meet via Zoom so you can enjoy breakfast and coffee from home. The zoom link will be available on our First Pres Logan Facebook page each Tuesday morning.

    My role as pastor is to be a spiritual guide, someone who helps each of you on your faith journey (and as you might imagine, you help me just as much). I confess to you that feeling like we are connected and in touch these months has been a struggle. Continuing to not meet in person remains one of the more challenging decisions of my career in ministry. I want to see all of you each week. Worshiping at home via YouTube is certainly just as pleasing to God as when we gather and sing, but it doesn’t feel the same to me, and I’m sure it doesn’t feel the same to you. Hopefully, some of the above activities will help us with that.

    In the Presbyterian system the pastor does not make decisions about all of the activities and happenings around a church. The pastor leads worship, teaches through Bible Study and similar endeavors, provides pastoral care, and participates in many other diverse activities around the church and community. We have Elders and Deacons who take on other responsibilities, including making decisions about church activities (reserved for Elders, who serve on Session). Who does what around a church (and how we do it) is outlined in the Book of Order, which covers all kinds of things. But as you can imagine, there isn’t a chapter titled What To Do in Case of Worldwide Pandemic.

    The Elders that we elect as a congregation (you elect them, Pastor Meg and I do not vote) make many important decisions for each congregation, although pastors frequently share their thoughts and offer guidance for any vote that is taken. The Session of FPC Logan met on Wednesday, August 19 and voted unanimously to continue with online worship for at least the next month (until the next Session meeting, on September 16th).  At that meeting we will reassess the situation and take another vote for the coming month (or months). Session made this decision because we don’t feel it is safe for us to be in the same room for an hour together. Some people may be willing to take the risk. I am not, and neither are your FPC Elders. Of particular interest is the effect that the return to school will have on coronavirus numbers. Public schools and the Utah State University are back in class now, with both online and in-person classes. Also, of great interest is progress in vaccine trials. We are praying that one (or several) of these vaccine trials provides good news in the next few months.

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

    Derek

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