Paul’s Message: The Season of Resurrection

Dear Friends,

We are entering the season of resurrection!

The journey of Lent has its challenges. Focusing on our brokenness and our need for God, it can be a little long, and a little dark.

But I would maintain that the season of Easter and resurrection is ever more challenging.

That’s because Lent focuses on where we are and where we have been, but Easter focuses on where God wants to take us.

When Mary Magdalene finally let the gardener go at the empty tomb (the gardener turned out to be the risen Jesus!) she had no idea where life would take her when she started proclaiming “I have seen the Lord!”

The disciples had no idea where God would lead them; they couldn’t imagine what God would accomplish through them (the beginning of the Church with a capital “C”!) after the risen Lord appeared to them behind their fears and locked doors on Easter night.

Given that he had persecuted so many and so passionately the followers of Jesus, the Apostle Paul had no idea of the miles that he would travel around the Roman empire for Jesus the Christ after the living Jesus knocked him off his horse on the road to Damascus.

If Lent is tough because it highlights our limits and failures, Easter can be tougher because it calls us to follow Jesus to vistas unknown.

Where will the risen Jesus lead you?

No matter who you are, no matter how old or young you might be, no matter where you find yourself at this moment, the promise of Easter is that there is more to discover. Even death, proclaims the Gospel, is not an ending. It is a new beginning. Try that on for size.

This month we are invited to step out of our tombs and into the light of day. After our eyes get used to the light, we are invited to recall the rebel Jesus who dared to challenge the powers that be. We are invited to follow him – to embrace like he did, to share like he did, and to risk like he did. Things might look one way (Good Friday despair), but God says go that way (resurrection action).

This Easter gospel is tough. WE might feel the urge to walk back into our tombs (after all, it is the darkness we know…). But Jesus invites us to not only discover but pursue the future unknown. It is challenging, but it is also blessed because it rests in the hands of a living Savior.
Where will the risen Jesus lead you?

Happy Easter everyone. May the season of resurrection lead you to new life.

Peace, 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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