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.

Peace,
Paul

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  • Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

    There is a beautiful piece of seasonal writing attributed to the theologian and civil rights leader Howard Thurman that you may have encountered in Christmases past. It’s entitled, “Now the Work of Christmas Begins.” Take in these words from the author:

    When the song of the angels is stilled,

    when the star in the sky is gone,

    when the kings and princes are home,

    when the shepherds are back with their flocks,

    the work of Christmas begins:

    to find the lost,

    to heal the broken,

    to feed the hungry,

    to release the prisoner,

    to rebuild the nations,

    to bring peace among the people,

    to make music in the heart.

    Indeed, this is the real work of Christmas. This is the work we discover in faith when we follow the light of Christ, which the darkness has not and will not overcome. In last Sunday’s Scripture passage, Luke records that Mary and Joseph were amazed at what was said about Jesus when they encountered Simeon in the temple in Jerusalem. On account of the angel Gabriel’s visit, Mary knew in the beginning that the child she would bear would be holy, but I wonder if she knew that this would be the character of His holy work? What a proud mother she must have been. What a nervous mother she must have been, watching her Son challenge the status quo as He lived in obedient faith to God, gently shepherding God’s people! Yes, this holy child will lead us – the Church – in finding, healing, feeding, releasing, rebuilding, and bringing peace. His story is ours to discover anew in the pages of the Gospel, the pages we will turn together in worship in the months to come. 

    Although the real work of Christmas is ours to offer another, let us also take to heart that it is also ours to receive as blessing and gift. At times we are lost, feeling broken, or living and praying for peace of mind or spirit. At times we sense that our lives are in need of rebuilding. As the great Henri Nouwen has observed, our own wounds may serve as a source of strength and healing in our own work of serving.

    My heart is full this holiday season. As may be true for you, I am holding joy and sorrow in the same chamber. I rejoice in what I hold dear, in the embrace of my loved ones in the home, and in the privilege of worshiping with you through a variety of experiences this December. I grieve with families who lost loved ones to Covid or other causes in 2020, and most recently, Pastor Derek’s family. I find joy in new traditions and customs that this holiday season has inspired. I long for loved ones who are no longer with us and who I remember especially at Christmas. My faith is wide enough to embrace these differing realities, to hold joy and sorrow in tandem. I pray yours is, too. 

    In faith, we will find, heal, feed, and rebuild, because Christ has first found us and embraced us with His healing presence. He feeds us with His Word and at table, in our hunger for bread that nourishes and lasts. In the grateful words of Martin Luther, “to you Christ is born. For this purpose Christ willed to be born, that through him we might be born anew. Christ must above all things become our own and we become his. See to it that you make this birth your own and that Christ be born in you.”

    Dear friends, Christ is born in us, and His love will guide and equip our ministry together in 2021. Pastor Derek and I look forward with anticipation to a new year of ministry with you. Let us follow the light of Christ together!  With joy, Pastor Meg

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