Paul’s Message: From Messiness to Hope

messy rainbowOur house is a mess.

We are trying to get it ready to put on the market, followed by a two stage move out to our new home in Port Townsend, WA. We have boxes both filled and empty all over the place. Furniture has been moved around. Closets and nooks and crannies that have stored our lives for the past eight years have seemingly exploded. Hala (our retriever) is wearing her questioning “nothing good can come of this” expressions that says, “What’s going on?”

And this is just to get our house ready to list. In addition, we are loaded with things to take care of. We have threads to tie off here, and doors to open there. WE have pieces that we need to let go of here, and pieces that we need to pick up there, with all of the steps in-between. We have tough goodbyes to say. Life is messy.

We will get through it and a new stage of our lives will begin. We are hopeful and excited. But right now life is a little messy.

Perhaps your life is all squared away, your corners are tucked, your lamp shades are dusted, and the dishwasher is in the final rinse with your sink clear.

Perhaps you are discouraged by your life’s messiness (and I’m not just talking about the dried crusties on the dishes piled in the sink).

Perhaps your life is a mixture of messiness and order, of chaos and cleanliness, of uncertainty and thanksgiving.

I don’t have any special wisdom for you, whatever your life may look like right now. But I myself try to cling to these nuggets when I face the messiness of my own life (and I also try to not to forget them when things seem dandy):

“Blessed are those who trust in the LORD,
Whose trust is the LORD.
They shall be like a tree planted by water,
Sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes,
And its leaves shall stay green;
In the year of drought it is not anxious,
And it does not cease to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8)

And “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you.” (Jeremiah 29:11-12)

This is the last Pulse message I will write as pastor of FPC Logan. It’s a tough one to write for me as this place, and you, have been a real blessing for me. Now that new times have come, and I am leaving, there might be some moments and places of messiness around here. But I believe that FPC Logan is like “a tree planted by water.” The messiness is opportunity for new growth and discover. I believe that when the heat comes your leaves will stay green, and that the Lord has plans for you to bear much fruit for all of Cache Valley.

My life, right now, is too messy to clean up all the different metaphors in this message. Whatever your circumstance, know that God loves you and is focused on your shalom. “Blessed are those who trust in the LORD.” I believe that your messiness (individual and corporate), your love for God and neighbor, and your trust in the Lord and in each other will lead to a future filled with hope.

Peace my friends,
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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