Paul’s Message: Live the Now

LiveInTheNowAs I sit and gather my thoughts for this article, the snow is gently falling outside my window. It’s covered the trees and the walk. The day’s light is growing stronger.

Hala, our new puppy is nibbling on my slipper not so subtly waiting for me to play with her (she will get into some mischief here in a minute as if to say, “If you’re not going to pay attention to me, I will make you pay attention to me!” oh, how puppies are like us … ). Carrie is finding some much needed rest and recovery after a tough few work weeks. Lydia is home (acting all adult like) and Eric is on his way. It’s quiet right now … a blessed quiet.

One year is ending and a new one is dawning. I know that around New Years, we tend to gaze backward with thanksgiving or regret or both. We look forward with a sense of foreboding or anticipation or both. I intended to write about the new year coming up, but a friend reminded me not to get so caught in the past, or so lost wondering about the future that you miss out on the present moment.

2013 was full. 2014 will be too, I am sure. Some of it will be great/awesome/ life affirming and some of it will be challenging/overwhelming, perhaps even wounding. That’s life.

In a bit, I am going to have to shovel the driveway and walk. I am going to have feed the dog, finish the bulletin, and write my sermon (and take care of that mischievous puppy that has decided to steal ornaments off our tree … )

As a church, we will have a conversation about signs and faith, and faith and life. We will have a mission to follow, ministries to support, and lives to bless. Our agenda is full.

But we can’t miss the power of the present. There is possibility in this moment. We can focus on the present and enjoy it to its fullest. We can devote our full strength and attention to the present moment’s challenges. Our faith tells us that the Spirit is with us in our present. If we focus on this moment, we are more able to sense that presence. That’s living.

So live the now, my brothers and sisters. I know this isn’t original, but we can always use a reminder. Now about that puppy…

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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