Paul’s Message: A Pondering Christmas

WisemenLet’s take a cue from Mary this year. Let’s ponder.

When Gabe the angel came visit, he opened this everyday conversation with, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”

Of course, this wasn’t an everyday conversation. It’s not every day that an angel chats with an young teenage girl in a small town far from the center of anything.  It was an extraordinary conversation. Mary knew it. It perplexed her. What did she do? She pondered.

It’s easy to go through this season without pondering.  There is so much to do. There are so many carols to sing, so many gifts to wrap, so many parties, and gatherings, and concerts, and on and on.  It’s easy to wake up in January having celebrated much, but pondered little.

For some of us, the season is a little more blue. We are supposed to be happy. We do our best to put a smile on our face. We try and get into the spirit of things. But on the inside, the more we try and be happy, the more we slide into the darker corners of our hearts.  We grieve the loss of a loved one, or struggle with an inner hurt. We wake up in January, emotionally wrung out from a holiday known for joy.

Whether we are on the happy side or the blue side of the holiday season, I believe that we can grow from Mary’s example. We can pause to ponder.

When we ponder, we pause to turn things over in our heads and hearts. We listen. We share. We wonder. We question. We doubt. We examine. Sometimes, we even come to believe. That is to say, we come to discover that the good news of a coming savior is not just for others, it’s for us.

Perhaps you would benefit from some communal pondering. Ponder with a friend. Ponder with your church.  Our worship services, sunday school classes, mid-week bible studies, and more are there to give us an opportunity to ponder the significance and depth of the one whose coming we await. When we ponder together, we are reminded that we are not alone.

After Mary pondered, she was able to say yes to God’s invitation. She ended up singing a pretty profound and joyous song of good news that still echoes today.

When we ponder, it gives us opportunity to sense an angel’s greeting (It might not be the angel Gabriel. Maybe it will be angel Gus, or angel Betty, or Angel Hala), “favored one! The Lord is with you.”

And we can sense that in the midst of everything, God is waiting to bring peace to our hearts and peace to the world.

May you ponder this Advent and Christmas, and may you be blessed.
Paul

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  • On Being the Church

    As you can see in the note from Session, we’ll be continuing with online worship in the month of October. I am aware that many people are struggling with these decisions. You may see other churches holding worship and wonder why we are not doing so. You may not be aware, but Session makes this decision, not myself as pastor. At our last Session meeting the decision was unanimous to continue with online worship. To be clear, I fully support this decision, and I think they are making the correct call. It is important to me that we all survive this global pandemic. It’s not the decision that some of our members want to hear, of course.

    I wonder how we can turn this around from being something that weighs us down or frustrates us. I imagine that the hour or two you normally spend on Sunday morning at FPC Logan is an extremely important time for you each week. We worship God. We learn from scripture. We sing and listen to talented musicians. We pray with and for each other. We socialize with each other.

    Perhaps you can ask yourself, like I’m asking myself, what it means to be the church? Coming together on Sunday mornings has been important to Christians for two thousand years. But there is much more to being the church than being in the same room together for that one hour on Sunday morning. There are 167 other hours in the week when we are called to ‘be the church.’ Even in the middle of this pandemic, I hope that we each continue to find ways to pray for one another, learn (or teach) from scripture, pray for each other and the world, enjoy beautiful music (a Christmas Bell Choir concert on YouTube is in the works!), and spread God’s goodness to others around us. The only thing that’s truly missing is the fellowship and social aspect of Sunday morning. Those are important, and they are certainly good for our emotional well-being. But I hope you will join me in the many other ways we can still be the church. That will help nourish our spiritual well-being.

    One way that we have been the church during Covid-19 is by caring for those in our community who have been affected the most. I’ve shared with you how we have donated many dollars and goods to help those in need. Inside these pages is a thank you note that was sent to me by St. Thomas Aquinas Church. Although the thank you note was sent to me, it needs to be shared with you, for you are the ones who have contributed greatly to this ministry in Jesus’ name. Take a moment to carefully read this thank you letter and reflect on how much you have shown God’s love to others. I am incredibly grateful for the way you have ministered to our community in this manner.

    October Communion (World Communion Sunday)

    We will offer drive-through communion on Sunday, October 4th. Unfortunately, I will not be there. My mother has been struggling greatly with her aggressive chemotherapy treatments in Colorado, and I will be visiting her this weekend when I should be serving communion to you. I apologize to you all for not being present for communion, but I feel this trip is necessary to be with my mom and dad during a very difficult time. I hope that you understand, and that you will join me in praying for her during her remaining four months of chemo. If you wish to participate in the communion, an elder will serve communion and offer a blessing to you on Sunday morning October 4th, from 9:30-10:15 a.m. in the church parking lot.

    Congregation Meeting October 25th, 7pm

    We hold a congregational meeting every October for two important reasons: to elect new elders and deacons for the coming term, and to approve pastors’ terms of call (salary, benefits, etc.) for 2021. This year we will hold the meeting via Zoom. We will email names to you of the elders and deacons who are nominated, and details about your pastors’ terms of call. I will also help anyone who is not familiar with Zoom find a way to participate in the meeting. If you would like to participate but are unfamiliar with Zoom, please contact me and we’ll make arrangements.

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

    Pastor Derek

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