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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  • Affirmations of Faith

    On the last Sunday of October, ‘Mission Sunday,’ many of you helped us pack more than two hundred bags for a local school food distribution program.  Those bags of food went out to local schoolchildren, who live in food insecure settings, to keep their bellies full. The food we provided has the potential to ensure the schoolchildren are more successful in life and in their education.  In worship we sometimes use the phrase ‘Affirmation of Faith’ and then repeat a longstanding confession of the church, such as the Apostles’ Creed or the Brief Statement of Faith. I value reciting these affirmations, because they remind us of the core values we hold as Christians. But as I was thinking about this over the last few months, I believe that such mission work to the community around us is an even deeper affirmation of our faith by acknowledging Jesus’ call upon our lives, and then living out that ministry.

    I want to share information with you this month about another ministry which I believe is an affirmation of our faith. You have heard us talk about it quite a bit but may not know the details. For years now the Deacon’s Fund at First Presbyterian Church has provided financial assistance to those in our community facing immediate financial need that impacts their ability to live a healthy and productive life.

    There are social services around town, which provide supportive and meaningful resources, but there can be qualifications and restrictions associated with the access of those services. The Deacon’s Fund strives to offer judgment-free ministry to those who are facing financial challenges in life and helps people access these services.

    Barbara Troisi and Beth MacDonald are currently our two Deacon’s Fund facilitators.  They spend time each month looking at applications for assistance, and then distribute funds, which may involve multiple phone calls, trips to the store for Smith’s gift cards (useful for food or fuel), and various other tasks.  Prior to Beth and Barbara, other wonderful people contributed their efforts to this ministry: Linda Roberts, Tina Purintun, Kelly Rhea, Terry Brennand, Barbara Lutz (I am sure I have left a name or two off, please forgive me). Pam Riffe also makes contributions and supports people applying for these funds in her role as our office administrator.

    These are some of the ‘saints’ of the church. These are angels among us – superheroes, one might say – who make time in their lives to help others.

    The Deacon’s Fund recently received a large contribution from a couple in our community.  They are not part of our church, but they learned of our efforts to help local people through some friends who are church members.  They made this contribution to help those who are struggling to find sustainable and affordable housing. They wanted to make a significant contribution to help with housing issues and knew that First Presbyterian Church would be a wonderful avenue for those efforts. I am thankful for everyone who makes contributions to the Deacon’s Fund, small or large (most offerings to this ministry come in $10, $20, or $100 increments). Over the decades these dollars have helped hundreds of people in our community in moments of great need. This is truly part of the mission of the church, and one of the callings Jesus has placed upon us.

    Beth MacDonald is transitioning out of her role as a Deacon’s Fund facilitator at the end of the year (she will be plenty busy helping to organize and lead the Westminster Bell Choir). Thank you, Beth, for your efforts. This means we are looking for a new Deacon’s Fund coordinator to work alongside Barbara Troisi. If any of you would like to help, please let me know. If you have questions about this ministry, please talk to Beth, Barbara, or me. Beth has set up a nice spreadsheet to help keep track of funds received and funds dispersed. You don’t need to be a financial expert or math whiz to fill this role, only to have a caring heart.

    The ministry efforts of Mission Sunday and through the Deacon’s Fund are two of the wonderful aspects of First Presbyterian Church. Our calling as a faith community is certainly to worship and praise the Lord, but also to share the good news and make helpful, life-affirming contributions to the community and world around us. I pray that our ministry together continues to be vigorous.

    May the grace and peace of Christ be with you all,

    Pastor Derek

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