Paul’s Message: Steadfastness and Newness

BalloonInFallTake a look at our congregation. On one level, we have to celebrate many things that are, for the most part, abiding – things that haven’t changed for a long time. Our red brick building has been here since the twenties. Much of our liturgy comes from scripture and the early church. We enjoy potlucks like the church has had since Peter first said, “Thomas, pass the pita.” That steadiness is good. It reflects the abiding character and essence of God’s love. It is comforting to recognize that the steadfast love of the Lord is just that, steadfast.

But if you look carefully, change has also always been part of the church. In the 50’s, the building added a gym. Many different faces have come and gone. Different preachers have offered their thoughts and prayers. A praise band has added its joyful sounds to the organ in out music ministry. The gym has become a multi-use space that ministers to us and to many in the community. We have added Derek to our staff and he is doing wonderful new things. We are, I believe, discovering the significance of the gospel ever more deeply. It is inspiring and empowering to know that our steadfast God is ever and always “doing a new thing.”

Steadfastness and newness, two blessed sides of faith.

God’s vision for our congregation today also reflects both steadfastness and newness. As we have discerned it, our vision is to continue to offer the same grace-filled, hope-planting, justice-building, peace-fostering ministry that this church has offered since we opened our doors in 1878.

At the same time, we believe that God wants us to grow. God wants us to grow in faith, and grow in our outreach to the community and to the world.God has new things in store for us – a new era of ministry at First Presbyterian that reaches out to more youth and young adults, that guides more people of all stripes of faith, that heals the creation in profound ways; all this through the abiding gospel of Jesus Christ.

Fall is here – a new season. Fall is part of the abiding cycle of nature that brings new life. But before you get tot he newness of spring, you have to shake all the old leaves off the tree to make room for new ones to grow. In that spirit, we are having a capital campaign this fall. A mailing has been sent to all attending this congregation. Through the campaign, we want to shake off the leaves of debt that we still have from the last building renewal. We need to make room for new leaves. This is what the campaign is about.

Steadfast and new – this is what the gospel is. This is what we are. When you come on a Sunday morning or on any day for any church activity, we believe you will find comfort in the abiding gopel. At the same time, you will be empowered by a breeze of new, challenging,refreshing ministry. This ministry comes from God through you, and it is for you. It will bless you, and it enables you to be a blessing. We hope you’ll be a part.

Peace, Paul

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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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