Paul’s Message: Anticipation

peacemaking_mosaicdoveThe mountains are green. The trees are budding. The tulips are peeking (and they will survive until the deer munch them). Spring is a time for looking forward.

I admit, as my fingers tap the keys on my keyboard, I am a little distracted. In a couple of days, I will be taking off for Israel/Palestine for a conference sponsored by the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program – Mosaic of Peace: Responding to a call for peace and wholeness in a land called ‘holy.’

I am looking forward to walking in the Old City of Jerusalem and in Bethlehem, to seeing the olive groves of the West Bank and Galilee, and to walking in the paths where Jesus and the disciples made their mark. Most of you know that I studied there as an undergraduate in the ’80’s. I am looking forward to returning to the place where my life took a big turn toward ministry.

But I am not going there just to sightsee. I am very excited about meeting Jews and Palestinians and other Presbyterians engaged in ministry toward justice and peace. Making peace involves passion, controversy, and risk. It’s tough, but it’s what Jesus did. I am looking forward to meeting those on the front lines of the struggle. I am looking forward to learning, sharing, and being empowered to contribute in whatever tiny way I can to justice and peace. You’ll hear and see more when I return, of course! (I will be back on May 10)

This spring, I am also looking forward to ongoing, meaningful, and relevant ministry with all of you. We don’t all agree on everything, but we stand together on the core of things – loving life in relationship with Jesus and with each other. Sometimes it’s tough (Living with me often is. How about you?) and asks a lot. Sometimes the deer munch the flowers before they get a chance to bloom. But more often, a loving life together is blessed. What I love about so many of you is that you don’t just want to exist; you want to live, and you want to share life. That’s awesome! Ministering together, with all of its challenges and blessings, is something to look forward to.

Thanks for all you do. Thanks for being who you are, and for being willing to stretch with me in becoming the people God calls us to be. I thank God for bringing us together.

Happy Spring! Now if I can just remember where I put my passport…

Peace, Paul

For more details about the trip, follow this link: http://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/peacemaking/mosaic-peace/

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  • Sabbatical

    Well my friends, this is my last point of contact with you for the next three months, barring unforeseen circumstances. I am taking a sabbatical this summer, granted to me by you (through a congregational meeting some time ago). Clergy sabbaticals are designed for rest, recovery, and restoration. It’s a healthy thing to do, of course, and the Presbytery of Utah recommends that congregations grant their pastors a sabbatical every seven years (serving the same church, that is). It’s hard for me to believe, but I’ve been here in Logan for eight and a half years.

    The end goal for such a time is to provide pastors with opportunity for spiritual and mental rest and restoration, to help re-energize pastors, and to prevent burnout. Pastors have a fairly high rate of burnout, but providing time for spiritual, mental, and physical self-care is one of the best ways to prevent such things.

    It’s not only about rest, however. I’ll be studying and engaging in some healthy spiritual practices too. I will be worshiping at other churches each Sunday to experience the ways that other congregations praise the Lord, so that I might observe and consider new things for the ministry life of FPC Logan. I have a small collection of books I plan to read, including Canoeing the Mountains (a book about Christian leadership in uncharted territory) and One Long River of Song (recommended by someone at FPC), and a few others that I hope will inspire good preaching and pastoral leadership when I return. These readings will go along with daily scripture study. Due to the Covid pandemic I didn’t attend any continuing education conferences last year, but I plan to use part of this sabbatical time to so some individual continuing education. There is always something more for me to learn about my role as your pastor. I look forward to sharing some of this with you upon my return to First Presbyterian Church in September.

    Summer Worship—

    A reminder to you all that during the months of June, July, and August worship will be at 9am and 10:30am. If you show up at 11 you’ll miss half of the sermon!Masks will be required until Session determines otherwise, and worship will be in Bruner Hall for both services (this allows us to space out our seating). I have carefully chosen guest preachers for you on the Sundays that Pastor Meg won’t be preaching. They range from experienced pastors to seminary graduates, but I fell they will all bring a wonderful message to you each Sunday. Please give them the warmest welcome when they help lead worship.

    We have a system in place to live stream worship to YouTube, but there are a few technical challenges with this that I’ve been trying to work out over the last month (with audio and live streaming the video). If you choose to worship from home and the live stream is not available on Sunday mornings (because of some technical difficulty), we will try to post the recording for your viewing on Monday morning when the office is open. Please extend us some grace with this. I think it will all work out, but it’s not always a simple process and complications arise.

    Praying that you all have a wonderful, Spirit-filled summer. I’ll see you soon.

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

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