Paul’s Message: Learning to Read

TaizeJust before Jesus began to tell his disciples about his expected fate in Jerusalem at the hands of the religious types and worldly powers that be, he was approached by a few of them and they asked for some sign, some proof from heaven that what he was about was true. Jesus responds (in Eugene Peterson’s imaginative translation), “You have a saying that goes, ‘Red sky at night, sailor’s delight; red sky at morning, sailors take warning.’ You find it easy enough to forecast the weather—why can’t you read the signs of the times?” (Matt 16:2–3 MESSAGE)

Like a good teacher, and like God in the Hebrew Scriptures, Jesus doesn’t just lay everything out so that everyone is forced to bow down and worship. It’s not Jesus way to coerce and force obedience. Jesus doesn’t give his disciples all the answers, he teaches them to read–to read the signs of the times.

Jesus knew, after his journey on earth was done, that he would need disciples who would not just parrot his words. He would need disciples who could read the signs of the times and interpret the life changing significance of his coming in light of their times. Jesus was training disciples who could do more than memorize his words; he was inviting disciples who could live his words.

We would love for Jesus just to give us clear, irrefutable answers. Instead, Jesus wants to teach us how to read-to read the signs of our times. The better we know our times, our needs, our desires, our hopes, the more we are able to discover and live Jesus words of good news for us.

In some ways the signs of our times point to circumstances that are very different from the ancient world, and in some ways also to conditions and realities that are profoundly the same. In some ways, the signs are inside of us: our worries, fears, burdens, hurts, guilt, and grief–our own personal need for God’s grace and love. In other ways, the signs are also around us: air that makes us cough, conflicts that make us hot, tragedies and loss that make us weep, ideologies and theologies that cause our vision to narrow or blur-our communal need for God’s grace and love.

We need Jesus to help us read. We are trying something a little different this year as we journey together toward Holy Week and Easter. Join us for our Ash Wednesday service, which marks the beginning of the season of Lent–a season of connection, reflection, prayer, and preparation. Join us for small group time based on the film Pay It Forward. Join us for a mid-week service of quiet music, Scripture, prayer, and reflection in the Taizé style. It’s a meditative half hour of personal and communal blessing in worship followed by a simple Lenten meal of soup and bread. The services will be lay led. Join us for Sunday worship.

We will sharpen and deepen our reading skills together, and so open ourselves to a fresh encounter of the Living Word Jesus Christ.

This entry was posted in Sermons. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
  • 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

  • Pages