Dear FPC—
How are you doing? We all are tired of the pandemic, and yet the risk of catching COVID 19 in our community is much higher than ever before. That is discouraging. All of us are sick of having our lives disrupted, worried about jobs and the economy, and anxious about getting sick ourselves. Then there is social injustice and unrest and political fights. It is crummy! It is ok to say that! You can say it to God too! About 40% of the psalms in the Bible are laments—lifting up our sorrowful situation to almighty God. Lament is our natural response to asking “Why” and getting no clear answer. I invite you to pray some lament psalms to expand your vocabulary of what feels ok to say to God. Try Psalm 10 (“Why do you stand so far off, O Lord, and hide your face in the time of need and trouble?”), Psalm 13 (“How long will you utterly forget me, O Lord?”), and Psalm 22 (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
Then I encourage you to close your prayer time with Psalm 19. It reminds us of God’s amazing work in nature, in His Word, and our response to our loving God—ending with “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be always acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Amen! We can bring our fears, our sorrows, our anxiety to our rock solid redeemer God and we can re-center ourselves in the reality of God’s love and power and faithfulness.

Lord—we praise you—the one who enters into our sorrow and our pain, who bears the hurt of the world on your shoulders. Give us patience. Give us hope. Give us energy. Help us to move through and beyond our shut in feelings and reach out in love to those you have put around us. Help us to pick up the phone and to reach out in love. In Jesus’ name we ask it. Amen.

I am praying for you all and am thanking God for the blessing you are—to me, to one another, and to the world. Let’s unleash the power of God’s love in our neighborhoods!

Grace and Peace to you!

Pastor Steve

Dear FPC—
Happy July! That means that the first half of 2020 is over! Frankly, I’m ready to move on to something new . But, of course actual events—pandemics, systemic racism, economic turmoil, political disputes, etc. – don’t care about our turning over the page on a calendar. So our lives today look a lot like our lives last week for most of us.
I am encouraged by your broad engagement with our book study on Race Talk. We had over 50 people involved and everyone was very open and honest in their reflections, which I really respect. I am hopeful that we will all learn some new things about ourselves and about how our society has embedded racism in some surprising ways that most of us are unaware of. My prayer for this time is that each of us will learn something about ourselves and become more open to listening and learning from others, especially others from differing backgrounds.
Of course, many of you are not able or inspired to join an 8 week book group. That is of course fine! But, we have gathered some resources that any of us could find helpful. They are on the Resources for Anti-Racism page on our website. http://fpcslc.org/anti-racism-resources/
Some of these were shared by some members of the congregation! If you have other resources you think would be helpful, please feel free to let Pastor Chris and I know about them.
Have a safe and happy Fourth of July. For all of our challenges, it is good to celebrate our country and the aspirations of freedom, equal justice for all, and opportunities for life, liberty and happiness that it still points us towards.

This Sunday we will be looking at the surprising power of forgiveness and mercy. That kind of power is sorely needed today. As Abe Lincoln once said—do I not destroy my enemies by making them my friends? If you really want change in our world, we need to start making friends, one person at a time.

God bless you!

Pastor Steve

Dear FPC:
Last Sunday we saw God’s expansive welcome—sending us out into the streets, the alleys, the highways and the hedges to invite all kinds of people to his banquet. Do you think of being with God as a party? The Bible often describes it as a great party—a banquet or a wedding feast. Our future is not an unending pew sitting, it is a rich, sumptuous celebration! I hope that none of us miss out!
This Sunday we are talking about how far God will go to bring each one of us home. I think you might be surprised! One of the big questions our society is facing today is who is included in the “us.” We are wired to look for differences and to treat people who are different from ourselves as “the other.” As not part of “us.” My question for you is where do you think Jesus would draw the line between us and them? Who is our neighbor that we are called to love?
Do those questions make you uncomfortable? I have to admit that they often unsettle me. Let’s walk together as we let Jesus disrupt us!
Grace and peace to you this week!

Pastor Steve

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