Paul’s Message: HWJD (How Would Jesus Drive)? Less!

Deep Breath by Melanie Weidner

Deep Breath by Melanie Weidner

When meeting with people in the context of pastoral care and counseling, I often offer the counsel to breathe … When the stress is getting high, and you don’t know what to do, or what is going to happen, take a few deep breaths … breathe slowly … breathe deeply. It’s amazing what a few slow, deep, prayerful breaths can do when the burdens are heavy and the heart and spirit are racing.

In the bible, the Hebrew word used for God’s Spirit is ruah. Before the creation of the cosmos, “it was dark over the deep sea, and God’s wind (ruah) swept over the waters (Genesis 1:2 CEB). The same Hebrew word can be translated as ‘spirit’, ‘wind’, ‘breath’, ‘atmosphere’, or most simply, ‘air’. This ‘air’ or ‘breath’ or ‘Spirit’ brings life.

In Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry, lifeless bones (you know the song, “the head bone’s connected to the neck bone; the neck bone’s connected to the … etc.), the prophet proclaims the word of the Lord, “I am about to put breath (ruah) in you, and you will live again” (Ezekiel 37:5 CEB). Interestingly the breath ruah that breathes life into the dead bones comes from the four corners of the earth, the entire atmosphere. We draw breath (ruah) from God’s breath (ruah) from the breath of the entire atmosphere (ruah). How intimately and wonderfully related is the life-giving breath of God and the lifegiving breath of God’s creation. Do you get why breathing slowly and deeply can be so wonderfully healing?

The exception to this, of course, is when the air we breathe is toxic. There is no more graphic or direct illustration of the brokenness in our relationship with the creation as when we draw in breaths filled with dirty particulate matter. Instead of breathe deeply, we are counseled don’t breathe too deeply. It’s a spiritual problem as well as a scientific and behavioral one. I believe God’s ruah weeps when we choke.

But this is not the end of the story. God’s gift of science and reason gives us counsel, and our faith gives us encouragement and hope. In the context of our valley, if we want to feel the healing of ruah again, the solution is not to escape it (although sometimes that’s ok), but to change it. As a congregation, we want to pursue that goal.

One of the greatest contributions we make to the dirty air in this valley is when we drive. So, to heal our environment, we want to challenge our congregation to drive less.

February is a special month, and we have a special challenge for the congregation. We invite you to read this month’s “Creation Corner” and participate. Think about the difference we can begin to make when we change our living from the problem of hurting ruah to healing ruah. In so doing, may we breathe in, slowly and deeply, God’s life-giving Spirit. –Peace, Paul

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  • Back to School, Not Back to Church…

    …at least not all the way. Some ministries of the church are in action, others are not.

    Ministry is Continuing!

    To date we have shared around $7,000 with our local community to help relieve those affected by coronavirus, and we have another $2,000 we will be distributing now. This has gone toward food, diapers for families in need, rent & mortgage relief, and other purposes.

    Thank you for continuing to worship with us—our YouTube videos get around a hundred views each week, and in some cases, there are multiple people watching one screen. Thank you for listening. And thank you for your continued financial support.

    We are going to be doing some new things in the interest of our own spiritual health, fellowship, and the ministry of the church. The first is drive-through communion (or drive-thru, as it is frequently written).

    Drive-Through Communion — Sept 6th, 9:15-9:45am

    If you wish, you’re invited to drive through our parking lot on Sunday, September 6th from 9:15-9:45am and I will serve communion to you. You are just as welcome to partake of communion from home, as we’ve done the last few months.

    Fellowship Bike Ride — Sept 13th, beginning at 1pm

    On Sunday, September 13th we will have an FPC Bike Ride. We will meet at FPC and go on a 10-mile bike ride led by John and Jean Stewart. Maps of the route will be provided, and a shorter route will be available if needed. Some of the route will be on streets and some on dedicated bike paths. Meet us in the parking lot at 1pm, and we will depart by 1:15.

    Zoom Bible Study — every Tuesday morning from 8-9am

    If you’d like to join us for Bible Study we will begin on Tuesday, Sept 8th, from 8-9am. We will meet via Zoom so you can enjoy breakfast and coffee from home. The zoom link will be available on our First Pres Logan Facebook page each Tuesday morning.

    My role as pastor is to be a spiritual guide, someone who helps each of you on your faith journey (and as you might imagine, you help me just as much). I confess to you that feeling like we are connected and in touch these months has been a struggle. Continuing to not meet in person remains one of the more challenging decisions of my career in ministry. I want to see all of you each week. Worshiping at home via YouTube is certainly just as pleasing to God as when we gather and sing, but it doesn’t feel the same to me, and I’m sure it doesn’t feel the same to you. Hopefully, some of the above activities will help us with that.

    In the Presbyterian system the pastor does not make decisions about all of the activities and happenings around a church. The pastor leads worship, teaches through Bible Study and similar endeavors, provides pastoral care, and participates in many other diverse activities around the church and community. We have Elders and Deacons who take on other responsibilities, including making decisions about church activities (reserved for Elders, who serve on Session). Who does what around a church (and how we do it) is outlined in the Book of Order, which covers all kinds of things. But as you can imagine, there isn’t a chapter titled What To Do in Case of Worldwide Pandemic.

    The Elders that we elect as a congregation (you elect them, Pastor Meg and I do not vote) make many important decisions for each congregation, although pastors frequently share their thoughts and offer guidance for any vote that is taken. The Session of FPC Logan met on Wednesday, August 19 and voted unanimously to continue with online worship for at least the next month (until the next Session meeting, on September 16th).  At that meeting we will reassess the situation and take another vote for the coming month (or months). Session made this decision because we don’t feel it is safe for us to be in the same room for an hour together. Some people may be willing to take the risk. I am not, and neither are your FPC Elders. Of particular interest is the effect that the return to school will have on coronavirus numbers. Public schools and the Utah State University are back in class now, with both online and in-person classes. Also, of great interest is progress in vaccine trials. We are praying that one (or several) of these vaccine trials provides good news in the next few months.

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

    Derek

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