Virtual Worship Service begins at 10:30 AM
Third & Adams Street, PO Box 9774, Moscow, Idaho USA | (208) 882-3715

Pastor Debbie's E-Devotion - March 20, 2020

A few days ago I was looking through the hymnal for worship music. The hymnal is divided into topical sections like "promised to come" "birth and baptism" and "life and teaching". The hymns relate to those topics and also carry us through the Christian calendar. As I searched I was particularly drawn to "assurance", "prayer, trust, and hope" and "strength in tribulation". There are lots of songs in those sections and many that I know well (and I expect you do too). Some of the ones I love the most include:

My Hope Is Built
Blessed Assurance
Standing on the Promises
There is a Balm in Gilead
It is Well With My Soul
Amazing Grace
There's Within My Heart a Melody
Trust and Obey
Precious Lord, Take My Hand

And that's the shortlist!!! I find comfort in these songs because I've spent nearly 40 years singing them, but also because they point strongly to the fact that Christians suffer and find solace in God.

The last few weeks have been taxing, if for nothing more than the unknown of all that will happen with this pandemic (and yes, there have been many many more stressors for lots of people) and yet our faith offers us assurance and hope and community that reaches through the ages.

And the assurance is not cheap. It's not platitudes or weightless memes. The assurance of faith comes from people who have seen the worst in life and yet found God's grace and love in the midst of it. It's not that we will be spared from hardship, but we worship a God who enters the heart of our heartache. Jesus walked on this earth and he suffered--rejection, betrayal, misunderstanding, isolation, loneliness, even doubt and he remains with us.

I don't know what these next weeks or months might hold, but I do know God is going to walk it with us and we get to help one another get through it. Our means are different. We can't just go sit for coffee like we used to, but we can call one another, some of us are comfortable with ZOOM or FaceTime and can call and connect that way. And we need to do those things, both with people we love and know well, and reaching out to someone in the directory or in our neighborhood that we don't know--checking in and seeing if we can be a listening ear or help with something practical.

We don't cease to be the church just because we don't sit together in our building. We are the church because we follow Jesus and choose to care for others.

If you haven't seen it otherwise, we are offering virtual worship on Sundays at 10:30 am through Facebook. The service is live and takes about 30 minutes. It is also recorded and can be found during the week. I also will be doing a live stream prayer time at 9 am on Thursdays, also on Facebook. (I'm sorry to those who aren't on Facebook, for now, it's our easiest platform. We are working on ways we can make it accessible to others). If you would like to send a prayer request for us to include in the pastoral prayer on Sunday, please just send me a note.

Please let me know how we can be of service to you this week. If you need someone to go to the store for you, please let me know. If you need a meal, please let me know. If you want to connect by phone or FaceTime or Zoom, please let me know. (there is also a group called "Palouse mutual aid" that is helping connect people with what they need. They are trusted and working with the Moscow Interfaith Association to help our community. They have a request form you can find here.

In the meantime, I encourage you to listen to some of the links above, or search for your own favorites and share in the wealth of faith shared through music.


In Christ,
Pastor Debbie


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Pastor Debbie's E-Spire - March 9, 2020

In my senior year of seminary, a good friend of mine invited me to join her for a ministry to the homeless in downtown Atlanta. The Open Door community served hundreds of homeless brothers and sisters on a weekly basis, including meals, showers, clean clothes, and a medical clinic on Thursday nights. At the clinic, med students from Emory University would come and see patients for free. The Open Door also hosted a “foot clinic” where volunteers (overseen by a nurse) would wash and care for the feet of the homeless. That was the ministry I was invited to do.


First, we would share dinner and then we would clear the dining room and set up chairs with hot water tubs and stools for the volunteers to sit at the clients’ feet. They would soak their feet, and then we’d scrub them, trim their toenails, remove callouses and corns, and then lotion them and give them clean socks to wear.


Living on the streets often demands a lot of walking. People walk to stay warm. Walk to stay safe from others. Walk from agency to agency to try and get assistance. Walk from potential employer to potential employer. They walk a lot. In Atlanta it is humid and rains a good bit, which means their feet get wet. And when you sleep on the streets, you keep your shoes and socks on. 1) It keeps your feet warmer. 2) You can get up and run faster if you have to. 3) They don’t generally get stolen straight off your feet.


If you’ve never experienced it, feet that stay wet and soggy for days can be extra charming. =) The callouses are thick. Foot fungus is normative. And corns are common.


And we were expected to welcome each person with love and warmth—to be kind and generous, recognizing their vulnerability when they presented us their feet to be washed. We were gentle and tried to help with whatever was needed. We treated the foot fungus. We cut away corns. We massaged their weary feet. And we invited them to share whatever of their story that they wanted to. It was a holy and sacred task.


To sit at someone’s feet as the servant, when under ordinary circumstances our roles (or at least our perceived power) could be considered inverted was truly a gift. It was so clear to me that washing dirty feet was what Jesus chose to do and commanded us to do that to do so myself was easy.


This week in our small groups you will (likely) be invited to participate in the vulnerability and care of foot washing. I know it can be intimidating for some. You will also have the option of washing one another’s hands instead. Even if you’re reluctant, I invite you to participate. It is a holy act. And a beautiful thing. If you’re not in a group but want to share in the experience, please let me know, I would be more than willing to wash your feet. And if you’re shy about your feet, or you think they’re too this or too that, please know that I have seen the worst of what can be offered. I’m not bothered by the looks of your feet, or the smell, or your unpainted toes.


I believe it is my calling to serve God’s people, including this holy and unconventional way.


In Christ,

Pastor Debbie



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Pastor Debbie's E-Spire - February 26, 2020

Our first year here the winter was particularly snowy. It started snowing before Thanksgiving and snowed regularly and often. We set record snowfall in December. And it just kept snowing. We had a sheet of ice on our cul de sac and piles of snow everywhere. At one point we had close to 3’ of standing snow in the back yard. And I distinctly remember being “in the snow” until mid-May. We expected a cold and snowy winter and since we hadn’t experienced any Idaho winter otherwise, it was all normal as far as we were concerned.


I went out regularly for work and other things and wasn’t afraid of driving in the snow (we grew up near snow), but I also wasn’t quite ready (or prepared) to embrace being out in it on a regular basis. Which is to say, I was inside a good bit.


Then I remember sometime in the Spring (though I couldn’t tell you exactly which month) I was out for a walk and there was a blue sky! I was elated because it felt like forever since I had seen a blue sky. I’ve mentioned it a few times recently…how much I appreciate the blue skies this year. I don’t honestly know if there are more blue skies this year, or if I simply am outside more to see and appreciate them. Either way, each time I see blue sky, I pay attention and appreciate it’s beauty amid the winter weather.


In many ways, I think meditation has helped me become more aware of God’s presence and actions. I sometimes wonder, “Was God always this active, or am I just more observant?!” I don’t know the answer to that either (though I have my guess that God has been equally active and attentive in my life and I’m just growing in receptivity, but I couldn’t guarantee it). =)


If you’re willing to try the discipline of meditation, I imagine you might gain receptivity and awareness of your own. You might hear or see God more regularly, or more clearly and might even ask, “Has it always been this way or was I just not noticing?”




Pastor Debbie

Ash Wednesday 20


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Pastor Debbie's E-Spire - February 19, 2020

I was in my early 20s when I first heard any kind of preaching that suggested Sabbath was something we should do as Christians. The woman who was preaching didn’t seem to think it needed to be an absolution of duties for the day, but rather a day that was dedicated to self-care. When she shared about her sabbath practices she mentioned things like reading a book, going out to eat, and getting a pedicure. If that was sabbath, I was totally on board. I don’t know how soon I started, but it was within a few weeks. Only once I declared that Saturday was my Sabbath, some of my friends saw it as a free day so that we could go do things. We set up meals and movies and other things. All of which I enjoyed, but I quickly realized that even though I liked doing those things, putting them on my calendar gave me yet another obligation. Something I had to be ready for and do. Something that interrupted whatever else it was I was choosing to do that day. So I changed the rules, creating stricter boundaries, and refusing to schedule anything for Sabbath. No appointments. No dates. Then on my Sabbath when I got up (naturally, not to an alarm), I’d ask myself, “What do I want to do today?” I might want to watch TV. I might want to work in the yard. I might want to cook. I might want to go out to eat with a friend. But I wouldn’t arrange those things until the day of, and if my waiting meant I missed certain opportunities with friends, I had to live with that.


My sabbath rule early on was, “I won’t do anything I have to do.” If I had to do laundry, or read a book, or write a paper for a class, it was automatically off-limits until the next day. As I established and honored that rule, I found I had more energy in the days that followed. I wanted to do the reading and writing and chores on my non-sabbath days. Despite the incessant demands on my time, if I honored my sabbath, I was restored in strength, creativity, and stamina and was much more fruitful the following week.


Over the years, the rules of sabbath have had to change. I obviously had to change diapers once our kids came along. And I’ve had to learn to navigate personal time to recharge my introverted side, and social time to enjoy my family or friends. Nevertheless, Sabbath is a key practice in my life. When I neglect it, I pay for it—emotionally and spiritually. Fridays are my sabbath day (which means I generally won’t schedule an appointment or meeting unless it’s an emergency, and when I’m dutiful, I won’t return an email or a phone call unless it’s urgent).


Sabbath time is important for all of us, no matter how neglected it is in our society. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to think about practicing sabbath for yourself. Set aside a day (or a half-day to start) and ask yourself what you want to do that day. What will recharge and refill your spirit so you are ready for what comes after your sabbath?


Shabbat Shalom. (Sabbath peace)

Pastor Debbie




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Pastor Debbie's E-Spire - February 14, 2020

Most often in the Protestant calendar, fasting is practiced during Lent (40 days plus Sundays before Easter). Fasting is often seen as a sacrifice. We forsake something to help us be mindful of others who may go without by force rather than choice (fasting from food can help us be mindful of those who are hungry day in and day out, fasting from specialty drinks can remind us of those who don’t even have clean water to drink). Fasting can be used to clear the clutter from our lives. We can be challenged to clear the noise of television or the internet. Fasting can also challenge us to turn to God instead of vices or distractions. Instead of chocolate, or alcohol, or Facebook, or whatever else we might use to help ourselves feel better, or feel less…we are invited to fast and ask God to fill our void instead.



Fasting has taken many forms in my life over the years. During Lent, I’ve fasted from coffee, dessert, TV, Facebook. I’ve “fasted” in the sense of clearing SpaceX for God and adding in a spiritual practice…adding in a devotional time, a journaling practice, or some type of self-care.


In seminary, I noticed (with the help of my pastoral counselor) how hard I was on myself. I was regularly speaking words of judgment and criticism to myself. So, that year I gave up self-deprecation for Lent. If a negative thought came to mind, I’d simply say “Not today” and dismiss it. (Some judgments were easier to quiet than others). And in its place, I added a ritual of blessing myself. I would take time daily to bless my body and my being, recognizing that I was a beloved child of God and claiming that as more important than any critique I, or others, might offer.


Which is all to say fasting isn’t just making yourself “hangry for Jesus.” It is a beautiful practice of mindfulness, intentionality, humility, and yes, sacrifice to draw us into a deeper relationship with God and others. If you haven’t tried it yet, I invite you to try it.



p.s. I know not all of us were able to join a small group, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use the study and try the practices yourself. We have extra booklets available if you’d like one. And if you are interested in a small group, we still have space. Simply contact me or Crystal Tibbals (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Peace and Grace

Pastor Debbie


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Sunday morning parking at the church is available in the high school parking lot on Third Street across from the church and in the city lots west of the church. These lots are available only on Sunday mornings. A small lot for handicapped parking is available just off of Adams Street on the north side of the church, with an accessible entrance directly into the sanctuary. A lift operates between the Fellowship Hall (3rd Street level) and the Sanctuary. William Sound System Receivers and Headsets are available to assist with hearing problems.

322 East Third Street
Moscow, ID 83843


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The First United Methodist Church of Moscow, Idaho takes as our mission to be the body of Jesus Christ, ministering to a community which draws strength from its diversity. Our mission centers on the worship of God, expressed through varied forms of prayer, preaching, music, and ritual.  See more...

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