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Derek Forber -1

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  • Happy Fall to you all!

     As I write this, I am in St. George for the week.  There is a Presbytery meeting here on Saturday, and I’ve taken four days as study leave to spend some time doing sermon planning for the next six months.  Presbyterian pastors receive two weeks of Continuing Education (or Study Leave) each year.  In the spring of this year, I spent five days in a peer preaching workshop, working on my preaching and sermon-writing skills.  This last week of September, I am looking at Sunday texts for the next six months, planning and developing sermon & worship themes.  I am thankful that this is part of our terms-of-call as pastors, since it affords me time to further educate myself as a pastor and to plan for future ministry.

    On Tuesday after I’d spent the morning looking at texts and laying out plans, I hopped in the car for an afternoon drive to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon (a bit of a drive, but not all that far from where I’m staying near St. George).  It was fascinating to travel through the pine and aspen forests just as the aspens are turning for fall.

    The view of the Grand Canyon at sunset was astonishing.  I met three English tourists in their early 30s and talked with them for a while.  One man who was fascinated by the place—as well as being terrified of heights—proclaimed, “It’s the biggest thing I’ve ever seen!”  Although I’ve seen it before, I hope that inwardly I was just as impressed as he was.

    The most wonderful part of the day was an experience I won’t soon forget.  While leaving the North Rim around twilight and driving back on the two-lane highway, I noticed several large shapes off to the right of the road.  I was surprised to drive up alongside four buffalo that were at full sprint about 30 feet to my right!  I could barely make them out in the darkness, but with the window rolled down I could hear the thunder of their hooves.  I followed along with them for a hundred yards or so, then pulled ahead and stopped the car while they caught up with me.  I confess that I was nervous for a moment, presuming they would keep running parallel to the road, but wondering if they would instead veer toward my vehicle.  When I was in Zimbabwe I had a few close calls with elephants, water buffalo, and rhinoceros—all of which have been known to ram vehicles.  Fortunately for me, these four buffalo continued their path through the meadow, parallel to road, and eventually ran further up the slight incline into the evergreen trees.

    It was a very special moment, almost a spiritual experience.  I suppose that even in the American West we rarely get to be so close to such large animals when they are at a full sprint.  It seemed to be a close encounter with God’s wonderful creation, and I was almost moved to tears at the beauty of it.

    Do you have these moments in your own life?  When you know that you are in the presence of something special, something holy?  I’ve had such moments driving alongside buffalo at full sprint, or when I watched a rare moonlight rainbow over Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.  But I frequently have those moments in our community of faith, and I hope that you do also.  I experience them in all manners of ministry.   When the Chancel Choir, Westminster Bell Choir, or Praise Band offers a wonderful rendition of a favorite song.  When one of the young people in our congregation helps lead worship.  When a children’s sermon seems particularly joyful, yet poignant.  In other moments too, like when I cross paths with a Deacon while visiting someone who is homebound.  Or when we have a good conversation at Bible Study.  Those moments in life remind me of the beauty of God’s kingdom and make me incredibly thankful for our church family.  I had such a moment a few weeks ago while golfing with twenty-five church members on a Sunday afternoon.  It was beautiful fellowship, and brilliantly fun.

    I sincerely hope that you find such moments of your own while in association with FPC Logan and your friends in this community, and that in finding those moments, you feel blessed by God.

    Grace and peace be with you all,

    Derek

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