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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  • Lent in the Midst of COVID

    We’re in the church season of Lent, a time of journeying with Jesus as he makes his way to Jerusalem and to the cross.  In addition to Sunday worship services on YouTube we will be adding short mid-week Lenten devotions from Pastor Meg and myself (also available on YouTube).

     Last month Mary-Ann Muffoletto sent me a picture. She took a ‘screen shot’ of our most recent Zoom congregational meeting, and I’m thankful she thought to do this. This is the moment when we ordained and installed new elders and deacons to our church. This is usually a sacred moment of our worship together on Sunday mornings, a special time for those new deacons and elders and also for the congregation as these individuals step into leadership positions for us. We’re usually doing a “laying on of hands” at this moment, as we offer a prayer for these new officers. This last year Presbyterian churches around the country have doing this via Zoom, and here we are, lifting up our hands as a blessing for these church officers, as we lift them up to God in their new roles.

    The big thing on our mind in the church office and with Session is when will we be back in worship together? I don’t have an answer for you at the moment, but as more people receive vaccines and transmission rates continue to decrease in Utah and around the country, we get closer to that time. Two Session members have volunteered to work with Pastor Meg and myself on plans for when we get back into the building. Outdoor worship services in a park is also a possibility before we return to our church building. When we are back in the sanctuary and Bruner Hall together our plan is to record the service and make it available on YouTube for those who choose to continue worshiping from home.

    I want to close by sharing a few things with you about our building during this last year. You might think the building has been empty and unused, but I assure you this is not the case. While most of our activities have been put on hold, several things have been occurring in our building. Session approved Loaves & Fishes to serve take-away meals and that has been ongoing through much of the year. Additionally, numerous recovery programs (similar to AA) have been meeting throughout the year (for some people, being able to attend a sobriety meeting is a life and death matter). And finally, the Red Cross has been holding blood drives every month or so. Craig Mortensen passed along to me that Red Cross blood drives at FPC collected 490 units of blood in the last year. Most of these units even came from willing donors… (just kidding!). All of these activities have required people to wear masks and socially distance to prevent spread of COVID.

    It brings me great joy to think of how many people Loaves & Fishes has helped, how many people have continued their journeys of sobriety, and how many people were helped through blood donations in the last year. Each of these activities come with some risk of COVID transmission, but Session approved them because they are essential for certain members of our community. All of these happenings are possible because of the use of our church building. I thank all of you for your ongoing support of FPC Logan. I know we aren’t worshiping there, and many of us are anxious to be back in the sanctuary (I am too). Thank you for bearing with us and our cautious approach. Good things are indeed happening through use of our building and because of our collective journeys with Jesus Christ.

    Grace and peace be with you on your Lenten journey.

    Pastor Derek

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