December 10, 2018

Dear FPC—

                Hurray for a break from the inversion!  It always surprises me to drive up the canyon during an inversion and discover a beautiful, sunny day going on.  And I am SO grateful when the inversion breaks and the sun shines here at home! 

                I think we can get in an “inversion” spiritually.  Gunk and pollution build up and we find ourselves living in a gray, closed in world.  But just above our cloud of yuckiness the Son is shining and life is good.  The good news is we don’t have to wait for snow to clear that inversion out.  We just turn to God and let go of our junk.  We should also turn off whatever engines are polluting our spiritual life—what do you do (or watch or listen to) that makes you angry, upset, covetous, lustful, or mean?  Try taking a break from those things! 

                Our “Common Rule” Advent devotional (find it here ) had a good “inversion breaker” prayer this week:

                Lord, we confess that we long for wholeness, but we meditate on brokenness.  We are addicted to controversy.  We get excited over online fights.  We preach about reconciliation, but we post about division.  We speak and write carelessly.  Our speech builds a wall of division rather than a bridge to reconciliation.  We tear the world down with our words.  Lord, purify our hearts so that we may think and sound more like you, that we may seek liturgies of love and reconciliation, rather than anger and fear.  Amen! 

                This Sunday we will be lighting the mysterious pink (or rose) candle in our Advent wreath –the JOY candle, as we learn about the coming predicted savior.  Come join us!  And please plan on joining us for Christmas Eve at 7 pm—invite your friends! 

 Enjoy the sun/Son! 

 Pastor Steve

December 3, 2018

Dear FPC—I hope you are enjoying the first week of Advent!  As you practice waiting for Jesus, are you waiting with hope?  Hope gives us the power and courage to last through whatever challenges today brings.  We can survive because of the promises our faithful God has made and is keeping.  As we said on Sunday—always trust an unknown future to a known God!  Our God is faithful, he is trustworthy, and he understands us—that is what Jesus’ incarnation is all about. 

              I really want to encourage you to stop and connect with God each day this Advent while we wait for Jesus to arrive.  That is what our Advent Resources are for—please check them out and choose one, it is never too late to start!  The lovely Advent for Everyone books are available in the office for $11.  The Common Rule guide offers both a short reflection and a modern song to reflect on each day.  

              Personally, I am striving to observe the “no phone before scripture” rule each day to make connecting with God my first priority and then to not touch my phone while waiting to make connecting with others my next highest priority.  It is hard to change our habits! 

              If you wonder how to do a daily quiet time, here is an example for a 7 minute quiet time.  (we all have 7 minutes, right?)—

1) Prepare your heart (30 seconds)—just stop and ask God to cleanse your heart and to help you hear his voice as you read Scripture. 

2) Listen to God—4 minutes—read the Bible.  Let God’s word speak to you!  Not sure what to read?  Try Matthew or Luke this Christmas time, or come talk to me.

3) Talk to God—2 ½ minutes—pray!  No sure what to pray?  Remember ACTS—adoration (praise God for his greatness and his love), confession (let go of those things that separate you from God), thanksgiving (thank him for several specific things in your life, maybe even hardships), and supplication (ask God for what is on your heart—your needs and the needs of others). 

Seven minutes with God can change your day—and your life! 

You can check out more information on daily quiet times here. (and I’ve attached it to the email version of this letter).

 

2 things looking ahead—Christmas Eve is coming!  Invite your friends and family to join us for a wonderful candlelight service at 7 pm, and cookies and cocoa and coffee to follow! Also, Wangari is part of the Wasatch Master Chorale and they have two great events you can enjoy for free!  —the Messiah Sing-In at the Ogden Tabernacle on Sunday, Dec. 9 at 7 pm, go and sing along! And the Chorale’s Christmas concerts on December 14 and 15 at 7:30 at the Tabernacle.

See you on Sunday as we enjoy the peace that hope brings us. 

Jesus loves you, that is why we have Christmas at all!

Pastor Steve 

November 26, 2018

Dear FPC—

              Advent is nearly upon us!  I am grateful for this little breather between Thanksgiving and Advent this year.  I hope you can feel a bit of reduced pressure.  Remembering who our true King is can help.  Stop and walk with your King this week. 

              Advent is a season of waiting.  A time of developing patience.  Little kids (and some bigger kids) struggle with this as they know that presents are waiting for them, why shouldn’t they get them now?  All of us would prefer what we want right now as opposed to later.  But sometimes we need to practice patience and wait.  As we wait for Jesus to come this Advent, I invite you to take some intentional steps closer to Jesus.  Stop for a few minutes each day and focus on your coming King.  There are lots of ways to do this, but here are a few for you to consider: 

  • A traditional Advent Devotional.  Scripture, reflection and prayer each day.  A devotional prepared by Pittsburgh Theological Seminary is attached to the email version of this mail, and you can also access it here.    

  • Developing New Habits—the Common Rule Advent Edition.  I really like the Common Rule folk (www.thecommonrule.org ), and this is their offering of 4 daily habits and 4 seasonal habits to try this Advent.  I’m going to try this!  I’ve attached a copy of this to the email version, or you can access it here.

  • A longer daily Advent devotional focusing on the gospel of Luke by N.T. Wright.  This costs 11 dollars and is available in the church office. 

  • Advent Prayer Retreat!   This is a wonderful audio resource from our friends at Pray As You Go.  I love their daily prayer and scripture reflections, this is their special Advent retreat with 4 weekly parts, called Dwelling with God, focusing on the opening verses of the Gospel of John.  You can access the introduction now and new sessions will be added each week during advent. 

 Don’t be overwhelmed this Christmas—stop and rest with God as we wait for Jesus to arrive.  I hope you will check out one of these resources and live with it during Advent. 

 Come and worship with us as we start our time of Waiting for Jesus this Sunday! 

 May you feel God’s blessing in the waiting!
Pastor Steve

p.s. You can also access these Advent resources here.