November 6, 2018

Dear FPC--        

              I am writing this on election day.  It is a beautiful day—the sun is shining, the air is crisp.  What a privilege it is for us get to vote!  Having a say in our government is a treasure, and I am glad that so many of you are doing your part.  Regardless of who wins what race or how any of us feel about the outcomes, I know one thing is true—God is still on the throne!  He is ultimately in control and will work his purposes out.  That is often a source of comfort for me.  God chooses to let us play our parts in his story, but ultimately he will accomplish his purposes. 

Have you ever wondered what God’s purposes are?  We were just talking about that in the Women’s Bible Study today.  Here is an answer from Dallas Willard:  “The aim of God in history is the creation of an all-inclusive community of loving persons with God himself at the very center of this community as its prime Sustainer and most glorious Inhabitant.”  See, e.g., Ephesians 2:19-22, 3:10.  That means that God’s goal is to be in community with you and with me.  And he calls us to share the love of those around us!  God is recruiting us to help him create that community of loving people. 

              As we live out our faith, we are called to ACT out our faith.  Sometimes that looks like voting, but every day it looks like caring for others, especially those likely to be overlooked by other people.  God calls us out of our comfort zones, but into a place of joy and meaning.  Let’s GO!  

              I hope you can join us on Sunday for the beginning of our last week of Immerse:Messiah.  We’ll be talking about the end of God’s story and how we fit into it. Don’t forget the Craft Fair on Saturday in the gym from 9-2! 

               May you walk with Jesus this week and feel his pleasure in you—

               Pastor Steve

October 29, 2018

Dear FPC—

              Happy Halloween!  Or maybe I should say Happy All Saints Day Eve (or all hallow’s eve as they used to say—do you hear where Halloween came from?).  Tomorrow is a great day to remember all of those who have gone before in the faith.  They are examples for us and we are standing on their shoulders!  We literally would not have a church or a faith if it were not for the faithfulness of our parents and grandparents in the faith.  We remembered some of those forebearers on Sunday.  Our Kirkin Celebration was a blast!  This Sunday we will be celebrating the Lord’s Supper.  Come and be fed.  But don’t forget to FALL BACK an hour on Saturday night.  Everyone should be all rested on Sunday!

              Last night Alice and I attended a candle light vigil at Congregation Kol Ami in Salt Lake, remembering the 11 people murdered out of hate in Pittsburgh while in worship on Saturday.  There were hundreds of people standing outside in the cold for over an hour—it was a very moving event!  Part way through we say that the young couple to our right were our friends—I officiated at their wedding in February, and we have known the young woman all her life!  I never thought I would have to be responding to anti-Semitic hatred and violence.  But here we are.  As another pastor said—if you hate Jews, you hate Jesus.  Period.  God made all of us in his image and that gives all of us worth and value.  Anytime we find ourselves creating an “other”—a group of “those people”—we need to stop and remember that they are beloved by God, just like we are.  The Pittsburgh area around the Tree of Life Synagogue was literally Mr. Rodger’s Neighborhood.  His house was a few blocks away. 

              What will change the world?  How do we respond to all the pain, suffering, evil, anger and violence that we see?  The Jesus way is not more anger, violence, etc.  The Jesus Way is love.  It is self sacrificing.  It actually changes the world.  Love really does win—that is the gospel.  So—may all of us practice imitating Jesus.  If that seems too daunting, imitate Mr. Rodgers—he was well on his way to Christ-likeness. 

              Remember—as we put on Jesus’ yoke—as we walk with him and learn from him, as we learn the unforced rhythms of grace—Jesus is with us.  He is with us right now.  Right through the pain and confusion of today’s world.  Walk with Jesus, he’ll bring rest to your soul. 

God bless you!
Pastor Steve