FPC Sermon 01-27-19

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  • A Spiritual Controlled Burn

    Hello FPC Family and Friends,   

    As I write to you this month I am beginning a two-week vacation. Laura and I are in Delaware to visit her parents and her daughter Katelyn, who will be visiting from Oregon. Then we are off to the Netherlands for a week to see FPC church friends Tanya and John Rice, who are spending a year in Delft while John works with a local university there.

    In Delaware one Sunday we worshiped at Lower Brandywine Presbyterian Church, where Laura’s parents have been longtime members. That afternoon we drove to nearby Longwood Gardens, a beautiful and expansive botanic gardens created by one of the wealthy DuPont heirs. This garden encompasses acres of land. A large portion has been left in the natural state of a meadow from this part of the country, and every so often they undergo a controlled burn to help mimic the natural lifecycle of a meadow. Such a burn had happened just a week or so prior to our visit. As we ventured through the acres of burnt land on the walking path, the burn seemed not only ecologically appropriate but also spiritually relevant, with our Ash Wednesday service just a few weeks ago. Just as we are reborn through our relationship with Jesus Christ in our baptisms, the landscape was already sprouting with new life from recent rains. The green tips of dozens of species of grasses and wildflowers were beginning to grow again, even after the heat and destruction of the fire.

    Observing this process up close reminded me of the grace of God. Thanks to God’s grace we too can rise from the ashes and dark places of this world—forgiven, free, and with the knowledge that in Jesus Christ there is new life.

    The season of Lent is one that allows us to take an assessment of our lives, to acknowledge our shortcomings and our dependence upon God, perhaps even to consider a spiritual controlled burn, something to rid ourselves of the unnecessary distractions in our lives and fertilize our souls for new growth in relationship with God and others. I hope something similar to this is your experience in Lent. 

    In the spirit of death, resurrection, and new life in Christ, you are invited to participate with us in our Holy Week services toward the end of April. We will hold joint Holy Week services with the local churches that we regularly partner with: our Maundy Thursday service will be at First Pres on April 18th at 7pm (Pastor Teri Hermsmeyer will be preaching), and our Good Friday service will be at St. John’s Episcopal Church on April 19th at 7pm (I will be preaching). If you are interested, there is a Stations of the Cross walk on Good Friday at noon beginning at FPC and ending at St. John’s.

    Please take note that on Easter Sunday—April 21st—we will have three worship services. The sunrise service will be at Brian Owen’s home (stay tuned for precise time, to be announced later), along with our regular 9am service (Praise Band and Westminster Bell Choir) and 11am service (Chancel Choir). I hope to see you all that day as we celebrate Christ’s—and therefore our own—victory over death.

    By the time you read this the first one will have already happened, but I’d like to call to your attention the Taizé services that we will be holding once a month. Taizé is a style of worship that involves sung and chanted prayers, meditation, periods of silence, liturgical readings, and religious icons. There is no preaching. Our Taizé services aren’t meant to take the place of our Sunday morning services, but they are another beautiful way for us to connect with God in the presence of others. The music, the scripture, the prayers, and the silence are all designed to speak to us in unique ways. Our next Taizé service will be on April 9th at 7pm, in the sanctuary.

    Shortly after I return to Logan we will be gathering on Saturday April 6th to celebrate the life of Jean Schmidt. I hope that you can join us in the sanctuary as we gather with Jack Schmidt and extended family to remember her life and acknowledge Jean as a member of Jesus’ flock.

    A final note… you may recall that even though I injured my knee at the end of November I was still able to enjoy a nice snowboarding season with Laura. Snowboard season is over and now it is time for surgery for a torn meniscus, which is minimally invasive surgery. You may see me on crutches a few days in April, but don’t be alarmed. It does mean that motorcycle season for me will be pushed back until Jun

    I’m enjoying some peaceful and beautiful days away, but looking forward to being back with all of you wonderful people soon! May the grace and peace of Jesus Christ be with you all.

    —Pastor Derek

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