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.

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

  • Pages