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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  • November COVID Update

    If you are reading this before Sunday November 1st, I hope you take the time on Sunday morning to join us for communion in the parking lot at FPC.  It’s communion in the drive-through style, something the first Christians could never have envisioned.  It is nonetheless a faithful celebration of the meal that Jesus first initiated with his disciples.  Pastor Meg and I will be in the parking lot from 11 to 11:30 a.m. and we’ll have music to go along with the meal and hopefully lift your spirits. Stop by to hear the music, and for a blessing along with the communion meal.

    One of the most exciting things for me in recent weeks was our congregational meeting that we held via the online service Zoom.  It was so heart-warming to see that many of you in attendance.  Counting the couples on various screens, I think there were around 50 of you in attendance.  Thank you for your participation.

    At the meeting we elected new elders and deacons for the Class of 2023.  Please join me in expressing our thanks to elders Lovet Fokunang, Dee Logterman, Scott Hofmann, and Dawn Drost, and deacons Terry Brennand, Darcie Bessinger, and Marcia Baker.  We also elected Sheryl Bessinger to fill a partial term as an elder in the Class of 2021.  I’m thankful that they’ve accepted God’s call upon their lives to serve God by serving the people of our community.  May we lift them up in prayer (along with our other deacons & elders) as they help to care for and lead our congregation in challenging times.

    As you might imagine if you’re watching the news, Session unanimously voted to continue with YouTube worship for the month of November.  We continue to get around one hundred views each week, and I am very thankful for your participation in worship on YouTube.  It’s wonderful to have Pastor Meg back from maternity leave.  She is already busy planning Christian Education events and leading youth ministries.

    We will not host a church Thanksgiving dinner for obvious reasons, but we are spending this month getting ready for some exciting things in Advent.  We will have special music throughout our Advent worship services, there will be Advent activities for families, there is a special online bell choir concert in the works, and we’re hoping for an in-person outdoor Christmas Eve service.  Yes, it will be chilly, but we live in northern Utah and I know you people are hardy!  This service will be 30 minutes long, so you don’t get too cold.  We’ll have wonderful organ and bell music and Christmas hymns to sing, along with gospel readings of the birth of Jesus.  I think it’s going to be a wonderful way to celebrate the birth of the Christ-child.

    May the grace and peace of our Lord be with you all.

    —Pastor Derek

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