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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  • Courageous Ministry

    Dear Friends,

    I hope this month’s edition of the Pulse finds you and your loved ones navigating life and faith with as much grace and self-compassion as possible. I know that some in our community have welcomed summer as a time to travel with family and friends, and to be reunited with loved ones. Others continue to struggle with health issues, isolation, and anxiety about the resurgence of Covid with the Delta variant. In the immortal words of Paul to the Romans, as a community, we “rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” There is a chair or pew here on Sunday mornings for people in all seasons of life, and an open door to my office for any burdens (or celebrations) to be shared. I hope that you will join us or tune in via livestream on August 8th when I incorporate a compassion ritual in our worship services, to mark the lingering impact of Covid on the lives of God’s people everywhere. 

    Whether you have been in Bruner Hall often this summer, or it has been some time since you’ve walked through the doors of FPC, I want to share with you some happenings that I celebrate as we continue to serve faithfully as an inclusive community of faith and compassion at FPC Logan. Since the beginning of Pastor Derek’s sabbatical on June 1st, we welcomed four guest preachers who shared the Good News with us, from Scriptures ranging from Genesis to the Gospels, from Ezekiel to Ephesians. Two of these preachers are women who I’ve had the privilege of mentoring as ministers in the ordination process with the Presbyterian Church in Utah. At summer’s end, we will welcome two additional preachers to share in our worship life, and I will conclude my ongoing spiritual disciplines sermon series later this month. 

    This summer, FPC has been home to Loaves & Fishes and a series of Red Cross Blood Drives. In June, our middle schoolers organized and delivered a supplies drive for Cache Humane Society, with two middle schoolers traveling to American Fork Canyon for a reservoir clean-up with presbytery peers. Eight high schoolers from FPC Logan traveled with me to Denver, where we served with Habitat for Humanity for four days, offering a total of 22 hours of service each. In two weeks, we will gather at Stokes Nature Center for earth care efforts. The Mission Committee is gearing up to prepare us for another Mission Sunday at FPC this fall. I learned that just this week, the Sew n’ Sews prepared a large shipment of homemade sanitary pads to benefit our neighbors in Ethiopia. Beth MacDonald and Barbara Troisi have been busy processing Deacon’s Fund applications to provide for the safety and welfare of neighbors here in Cache Valley. Barbara and Dorothy Jones visited our neighbors at Williamsburg with Cache Ministries in early July. Truly, there is no summer break in the ministry of FPC Logan! 

    In their meetings in June and July, your session has thoughtfully and prayerfully navigated decisions about worship safety precautions, knowing that there is no “right answer” about how to be the Church in a pandemic. Even among our Presbyterian churches in Utah, there is no uniform approach to worship in these strange days. We are discerning together, and the updated policy you received this week is the session’s most current discernment of how FPC Logan can be both a welcoming and safe house of worship for every beloved child of God, from the under 12 to the most senior among us. In electing the elders to serve on session, you covenant to pray for them and to abide by their decision-making. I hope and pray that you will continue to do both in the coming days and weeks.  

    Earlier this week, acknowledging the presence and concern of the Delta variant, the Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II, challenged us, the people of the Church, to “wait on the Lord and be of good courage.” Courage has many faces in Scripture and in our society today, but I am drawn to this Sunday’s passage from John in which the crowd went looking for Jesus. When they find him, Jesus instructs them to work for the food that endures for eternal life and reminds them that he is the bread of life. As we take up the charge to be of good courage, I hope that together, as a church community, we will be on the lookout for Jesus, the bread of life. I expect him to surprise us and challenge us, as he always does with his faithful followers in Scripture, the disciples and friends who want to do as Jesus does in the world. You will find him here at FPC Logan, whether we worship in Bruner or the Sanctuary, with or without masks, and you will find him in the community to which we are called as partners in ministry. Come and behold that God is doing a new thing in this place, if we only have the courage to answer the call, to work for the food that endures, and to fix our sight on Jesus, the bread of life. 

    In Christ’s promises,

    Pastor Meg

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