Paul’s Message: Exploring Our Faith

faithI am excited about 2015.

It’s going to start out with a couple of parties. We will have an all-church potluck at the Epiphany meal on the evening of January 4. Our annual meeting will not be your average church business meeting. We are going to party as we celebrate paying off the debt from our building renewal (we sent the final payment out last week!).

And we will explore our faith.

As the new year gets underway, we will be focusing on some faith basics, and where the foundations of faith might be calling us to go and grow as individuals, as families, and as a church. We will be asking the question, Faith is…?

In worship, in our small group and other gatherings, in our Sunday school classes, we will explore our common faith and invite you to reflect and discover your own personal faith more deeply. For those who are newer to our congregation, and for those who are thinking about taking the next step of discipleship and joining our church, we will be offering an inquirer’s class. These are always fun times of conversation and getting to know some of you better.

This will be a journey of learning, as we encounter the wisdom of our tradition, and what it teaches us.

It will also be a journey of exploration. You will be invited to enter into conversation with our faith tradition, the larger church, those around you who are also seeking, your own inner voice, and the Holy Spirit, to discover what your faith is…and what it can be.

We believe this journey will be a blessing for you. You will discover more deeply the person you are, and who God calls you to be. You will discover more deeply the abundant life God wants to share with you. You will discover more deeply the blessings of seeking and sharing. You will discover more deeply ways to connect with yourself, your neighbor, and the God who loves you.

We will focus on particular themes in worship and through the week (Faith is … Receiving, Caring, Giving, and Building) There will be chances to discuss and learn. There will be opportunities to share your wisdom and experiences. We hope you will be challenged and nurtured. Stay tuned for details and invitations. Bring your questions and your unique perspective and we will discover together.

Happy new year! May 2015 bring shalom.

Paul

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  • After all this time…

    Well, this is it my fellow followers of Jesus, we are returning to in-person worship at First Presbyterian Church. It has been fourteen long months of us learning to be a worshiping community in the best ways we could figure out (thank you Jesus, even for things like YouTube and Zoom). It’s been challenging for me as your pastor (I imagine Pastor Meg would say the same). It’s been challenging for all of you in faith and life and with family and friends. 

    But we’re going back to church, praise the Lord.

    Many things seem to be happening in our world at this moment. How are you handling it all? We’re opening the church doors again. There was a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis. Many of you have your Covid-19 vaccinations. It’s Springtime and the tulips are starting to bloom. The Sandhill Cranes and other migratory birds are back in the valley. So how are we doing as we process all of this? How are you doing?

    Relief? Sorrow? Joy? Sadness? 

    All of the above?

    I’ve heard several phrases of late, including ‘pandemic pain.’ I’ve felt fatigued myself. But having received the vaccination shots, I am ready to be back in our church building with you praising the Lord together. With high vaccination rates among our church members and several safety precautions, Session has voted for our return to in-person worship. Details are listed in another article inside this edition, but our first Sunday back will be Sunday, May 9th, with our regular service times of 9 & 11 a.m.

    This worldwide pandemic is not over. Not by a long shot as I watch the news from places like India and Brazil, or even Michigan. But many of us have received our vaccinations and we are implementing some practices that should allow us to worship the Lord together, safely. And to be clear (I cannot say this enough), if you do not feel safe coming to church in the near future, please continue to worship from home. I will do my absolute best to make sure our worship live-stream allows you to connect with God and connect with the rest of us from the safety of your own home. We have purchased a small and simple (yet high quality) camera that will live-stream Sunday morning worship directly to YouTube. You have the option to watch it ‘live’ as we are worshiping or watch it at a later time that is more convenient for you.

    So, what might we expect on Sunday mornings in May when we go back? First and foremost, we will be together singing, praying, and praising the Lord. Hallelujah! There will be a few changes, of course. We ask that everyone wear a mask while in the building. We will not have indoor fellowship to prevent ‘grouping’ around the food. Both services will be in Bruner Hall (this is to allow for social distancing). We will initially space chairs out in groups of one, two, three, four, etc. (please find a group of chairs that matches your household). Our air handling system will be on during the service. We won’t use hymnals so that multiple people aren’t touching them each morning (lyrics will be in the bulletin and projected onto the wall). And finally, if you are feeling under the weather, we ask that you please be extra-considerate of your fellow worshipers and remain home.

    Every day of life is a new endeavor. The same is true for us in this process of returning to worship. May we prayerfully and carefully take actions that promote good community health, along with our spiritual health. Thank you for your patience with us, and I look forward to seeing every one of you, whenever that might be.

    —Pastor Derek

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