Paul’s Message: Let’s Go For A Walk!

EmptyTombWhen you come to First Presbyterian Church on April 20, 2014, you will find an empty tomb.

I mean that theologically, as it will be Easter morning and we will be celebrating the story of the first disciples discovering an empty tomb. But I also mean it on a more material level as our sanctuary on that morning will be empty.

We are inviting everyone to take a walk instead! Instead of two services that overfill the space we have, we are celebrating Easter together in one service at the Logan High School Auditorium.

There are two factors behind our decision to celebrate the resurrection this way. First, we have run out of room for our Easter morning celebrations. Last year, people actually came to church and then turned around and went home when there was no room for them. Secondly, we want to worship together as one church family! It’s great having two services. But this has meant that some of us don’t have a chance to connect with those from the other service.

Don’t worry, we will have some folks here to welcome those who come to church that morning to steer them down the block. Don’t worry, the bells will play and the choir will sing. We will all join together in the Hallelujah Chorus. We will hear and experience the blessed story once more. All the wonderful parts of Easter will be there. We will just enjoy and celebrate them together!

If you are a first service type, when the clock strikes 9am on 4/20, sleep in a little longer, color some eggs, go for a run or ride, enjoy some extra family time, or cook yourself a healthy breakfast (one that’s a little decadent is ok too. It’s a holiday!). Because at 11am, we are all going to have church together! The good news of Easter will ring at First Presbyterian transplanted. The church, after all, is not the building, it’s you, and all of us together in the presence of a risen Savior.

After the service, the hospitality deacons will be hosting a special, expanded fellowship time back at FPC in Bruner Hall, complete with Easter egg hunt (you know you want that chocolate kiss). All the details of the morning are still in the works. It will be a special, whole community celebration.

So bring your family and good friends. Invite casual acquaintances, the stranger you run into at the market, the neighbor who has nowhere else to go on Easter, and the one you haven’t talked to in too long. You might even invite the one you had a little disagreement with the last time you saw each other. There’s room for everyone this year (or at least room for many more). Let’s bring a smile to Jesus face.

It’s a time for community, for fellowship, for celebration, for joy. It’s Easter! It’s good news. It’s reconciliation and new life. We’ll discover it together. I look forward to seeing you.


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  • Breakfast Encounter

    Last Friday morning, I stopped by my GP’s office to let them draw some blood for a test and to get my flu vaccine for the year. Because of the blood test, I had to ‘fast,’ arriving for the blood draw without having any food that morning. When the phlebotomist had drawn the blood and given me the shot, I went to a nearby diner to get some breakfast. Little did I know I was about to witness something extraordinary.

    While I was eating my pancake, egg, and piece of sausage and reading a book about Oscar Romero, a young man went up to the counter to pay. I didn’t notice any of this, of course (occupied as I was with not only Oscar Romero’s life and ministry to the poor of El Salvador, but also all that butter and syrup…) until the young man started yelling at the woman behind the counter.

    “Swipe it again!” is what drew my attention.

    She did, and the card must have been denied a second time. She ran it again, and the look on her face told me the same thing happened. Denied.

    The young man was getting more agitated and saying things to her under his breath. I was paying more attention now, and she asked if he had another card she could try.

    “No! I don’t have another bleeping card!” he yelled at her. Except he didn’t say bleeping.

    Now I’m not a stranger to harsh words. I’ve said them myself. Usually when I’m trying to get a rusted bolt off an old machine and it finally comes loose, taking some of my knuckle skin with it. And I think I quietly swore under my breath in January of 1988 when the Washington football team beat my beloved Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl, 42-10. There have been other times too. But never, ever at a person.

    Upon being sworn at, the young woman stared at the man like she didn’t know what to do (how could she?). Tears were about to appear. And the air in the room went real still. Like in the movies. I’m sure the background music was still playing, but it seemed deathly quiet at that moment.

    I was about to get up and walk over to the counter—not exactly sure what I was going to do once I got there—when another man who had been eating nearby wandered up real slow, eyes staring at the young man. He was a tall guy, with white hair under his old IFA ball cap, probably in his sixties. He asked the young woman, “What seems to be the problem here?”

    And that’s when the young man made what I thought was a fatal mistake: he answered when he hadn’t been spoken to. “It’s nothin’. My card won’t work,” he spat back.

    I thought a fight was about to break out, but the older man, his eyes searing into the young disgruntled one’s face, reached for his wallet and said to the cashier, “Aubrey, I’d like to pay for this young man’s meal, if that’s okay with him.” And after getting out some cash, he put his hand on the young man’s shoulder, not one of those friendly pats on the shoulder, but one of those firm grips that, well, made me think he was making sure the lesson was going to stick.

    I’ve had those kinds of hands on my shoulders a few times over the years. Perhaps from a coach, maybe from my dad once or twice; they happen when a boy or young man really needs to start paying attention.

    And after staring at him for what seemed like an eternity, the old guy said, “Be kind.” And then walked away.

    The young man left the restaurant and climbed into an oversize truck that was parked right out front, cranked up the volume on his radio, and left some rubber on the road as he departed.

    I went into the church office sometime later to finish my sermon, but I kept thinking about angry people and hurt people and kind people and people who teach lessons to those who could use them. I also thought about people who have a head full of kind words who refuse to tolerate ugliness.

    I hope I can be someone like that.

    I have a feeling Aubrey earned a whole lot of tips that morning. She deserved them.

    Be kind.

    That’s all for now.

    —Pastor Derek

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