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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  • A Season of Resurrection

    Resurrection day has arrived. And with it the reminder of eternal hope because of Jesus Christ. Spring has also arrived here in Cache Valley, and while it’s not over, the end of our year-long pandemic seems to be approaching, thanks be to God. I hope this day finds you well in spirit and body, and also vaccinated (or soon-to be). I saw a sign the other day that reminded me while we’ve all been through the same storm in this last year, we haven’t all been in the same boat. Some people have weathered this storm fairly well, others have struggled mightily in one way or another. In spiritual terms, economic terms, emotional terms, and in health. And of course, not everyone has made it through the storm. I am worried that recent progress in this pandemic could be lost, but I’m thankful so many vaccinations are underway. As I’m sure it has been for you, this has been an emotionally challenging year for me as well. It seems to have contained more “downs” than “ups.” But my belief in God keeps me hopeful. Having spoken to many of you, I am thankful that a large portion of our congregation has received Covid-19 vaccinations or are in process of doing that now. The better our state and local community are doing, the sooner we’ll be able to worship in the building together.

    We’re beginning to worship together (outdoors, for the moment) for the first time in over a year. Your elders and Worship Committee have been hard at work making plans for us to transition from online worship back to in-person worship. I’d like to share with you how this process will work. To begin, we will continue to have online worship in some form, even as we get back to in-person outdoor worship (and eventually indoor). This allows anyone who wishes to continue worshiping from home to do so. We will be purchasing a special camera that allows us to livestream a worship service (which means what we do in worship goes straight to YouTube, with no long hours of editing required).

    Details for May are not yet determined, although we are making preparations and plans for indoor worship, for when Session feels it is safe. Session and the Worship Committee have approved the following plans for April:

    April 4th (Easter Sunday!)—we will worship together outdoors, in the Peace Garden and along the East side of the sanctuary, at 11 a.m.  We will hold this outdoor service (with members of our choir leading us in song) no matter the weather, so bring an umbrella or rain jacket if necessary. Masks will be required. YouTube worship will also be available.

    April 11th—we will worship via YouTube on April 11th, with a sermon delivered by an outstanding preacher named Rev. Brian Ellison. Brian is the Executive Director of the Covenant Network, a national group of church leaders working for a church that is simultaneously faithful, just, and whole, that seeks to support the mission and unity of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and to articulate and act on the church’s historic, progressive vision and to work for a fully inclusive church (particularly concerning the LGBTQIA+ community). FPC Logan is a member of the Covenant Network. Meg and I will lead the service, but Brian will be our preacher.

    April 18th—we will worship together outdoors at Trapper Park in southwest Logan, at 11 a.m. This Sunday is dedicated to Earth Day, and after a service (with music from our Praise Band) you are invited to walk the wonderful Logan River Trail with us. Materials will be provided to collect trash along the trail. There is a pavilion at Trapper’s Park. We will hold this service rain or shine (come dressed for the weather). Masks will be required for the service in the park. A YouTube service will be available for those who wish to stay home.

    April 25th—we will worship via YouTube on April 25th. Going back to YouTube this Sunday allows us to evaluate the recent outdoor services and make plans for future services, which may be outdoor, or if we are fortunate, perhaps indoor.

    I thank you for your grace and patience during this long year, and in coming months. It’s been a difficult one for your pastors and church staff too. I am thankful that we’ve had YouTube worship, but I’m very much looking forward to getting back to seeing each other in person and worshiping the Lord together.

    In this season of resurrection, may your hearts be filled with grace, peace, and joy.

    —Pastor Derek

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