Dear FPC—
Today is the Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. This is a time of putting our wants on hold so we can really focus on our needs. What we all need most is Jesus—a living relationship with the God of the Universe. It is easy for our wants—that vacation, that new car or gadget, that desire to keep up with or one up our neighbors—to drown out the really important things. Last week Pastor Bre and I attended a virtual leadership summit. One of the speakers urged us to call our “10 years from now selves” –that person will help us see what is important and what is just a passing fancy.
I encourage you to take time during Lent to connect with Jesus. You can access our Lenten devotional and get other ideas for observing Lent here: www.fpcslc.org/lent Perhaps you can decide to deny yourself something during Lent—and each time you find yourself wanting that thing (chocolate, Instagram, your favorite news show), use that as a cue to talk to God about what is most important. You can begin by joining us for Ash Wednesday services tonight at 6:30.
I also hope you will check out Alpha. It starts on Thursday and is a great way to go deeper in your faith and to grow closer to others. Come join us (in person or on Zoom) Thursdays at 6:30! www.fpcslc.org/alpha
I’m grateful for the ways I see God at work in and through you—and I can’t wait to see what He has next for us!

Pastor Steve

Dear FPC—
Just a few weeks ago we were talking about how Jesus said “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.” This is one of the “help” beatitudes where we go out to serve others by eliminating conflict. Now here we are with an actual bullets-and-bombs war starting in the Ukraine. What does it look like for us to be peacemakers in this context? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Certainly one part of it is to be in prayer for those impacted by the war. I invite you to join me in praying for peace, praying for the people injured and displaced in the conflict, praying for the physical and mental health of the people impacted, particularly the children. Praying for those who lose their homes or jobs or families. Pray for wisdom for leaders all over the world and for a change of heart for the invaders. Pray for those directly involved in the fighting and for the safety of our armed forces. Pray for those who see this only as an exercise of power and miss the human tragedy it is. Lord have mercy! Help us to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. In Jesus’ name we ask it, amen!
This Sunday we see the first of Jesus’ commands in his teaching as he starts to fill in the details of what being salt and light really means. I hope you can join us. Then next week we will mark the beginning of Lent with our special Ash Wednesday service and Alpha begins on Thursday March 3. I hope you will join us!
Pastor Steve

Dear FPC—
I hope you are enjoying Valentines week! In our society Valentine’s Day is strongly associated with romance and so is a point of tenderness and loss for many. But St. Valentine was an early (200s AD) Christian martyr and priest. He was associated with that Jesus kind of love, agape—the self-giving love that Jesus commands us to show our neighbors. Maybe we can use St Valentine’s Day to remind us all to be a little kinder towards others.
This week I ran across a short reflection by the great Christian thinker John Stott about the relationship between Jesus’ command to love our neighbors and his commission to go and make disciples. Insight: Evangelism vs. Neighbor-Love by John Stott (plough.com) Bottom line—we are called to go, to love, to serve –without any ulterior motives. Evangelism is a form of loving our neighbor (as Stott says “How can we possibly claim to love our neighbor if we know the gospel but keep it from them?”), but loving goes far beyond sharing the good news, and often does not start with that.
One way we can love our neighbors is to be hospitable. Invite them to come with you to Alpha! It is a great way to be together (either in person or on zoom!) and to create space for honest, thoughtful conversation about the biggest questions in life. Get more information or sign up at www.pfcslc.org/alpha
May you feel the warmth of God’s smile as you reach out in love today!

Pastor Steve

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