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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  • 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

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