Paul’s Message: Sabbath Living

SabbathWorldIt’s stewardship time?! Nooooooooo! And that’s just the reaction of the pastor. Yes, May will be stewardship time in the life of FPC. Yes, a significant part of the discussion will involve money (cue another Noooooo!)

Ok, now that we have all of the ‘Noooooo’s’ out of the way, we can get down to business. Stewardship in the church context often means talking about money to pay the church’s bills. Doesn’t that sound exciting? Here at FPC, however, stewardship means something different. We will not be talking about the church budget. We will not be focusing on the need to pay the church’s monthly electric bill or the pastor’s salary. That’s not personal stewardship.

We at FPC focus on giving for you and not to get something from you. That’s why we don’t ask for pledges, or for how much you plan to give to the church. The specifics are between you and God. What we will be talking about is celebrating the joy of giving, and giving to nurture Sabbath life.

Sabbath life is the kind of life that God intends–individuals, communities, and creation living together in diverse and beautiful harmony. It’s what Adam and Eve experienced in the garden. It’s what Jesus made possible in the cross and resurrection and will complete when he returns. We can experience that kind of life when we live, love, and give like Jesus.

As a church body, we try to model this principle. Of all the income that we received in 2012 (including special offerings), just over 10% went directly to supporting mission and not to our operating expenses. We believe that this giving is one reason why, as a congregation, we are so blessed. We will encourage you to think about what God has blessed you with in terms of time, talents and treasure, and to ask yourself, “What is God calling me/us to give back?”

When we experience God’s grace and provision for us, our faith teaches us to respond by returning the first portion of that to God. It’s not a duty. It’s not an obligation that earns a few marks in the good column of God’s heavenly ledger. It’s a spiritual discipline that uncovers the profound truth that giving is the secret to abundant life. We were created to give, and giving empowers us to live life to its fullest.

When you give to God through this community, your giving will support the discovery of Sabbath living through our ministry. You will be supporting the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ. We hope you’ll join us in this journey to discover Sabbath living, and may you have a blessed Spring.

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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