Dear Members and Friends of St. John,
In 2004 the movie “The Passion of the Christ” caused world-wide reaction. There was much opposition even to the release of the movie from Hollywood. But, the movie industry was surprised that the movie did so well at the box office. Many Christians, on the other hand, delighted that the portrayal of the great salvation act of God was shown in a positive light. Christians and non-Christians discussed the movie in churches, and in public.
But, there is a reason the move was named “The Passion of the Christ.” The scenes depicting the scourging, and the beating, and the crucifixion of Jesus were exceptionally violent and bloody. Some wondered if Mel Gibson, as director, hadn’t over-dramatized the violence and the blood. But, the truth is, without Jesus’ death, there would have been no resurrection. More fully stated, without Jesus’ suffering and death to pay for the sin of the world, and for our sin, there could be no salvation for the world, or for us.
The suffering and death of Jesus has always been a hard lesson for people just to hear, and even harder to learn. We are sinful people. Our rebellion, our hard-headed nature, our selfishness, our greed, our lust and anger and hatred and violence, are abhorrent to our Holy Creator and Heavenly Father. Our sin is real, even if we don’t want to admit that fact. We would like to be saved without admitting that our separation from God is something we have caused by our own sinful hearts and our own rebellious actions.
More unbelievable, for the eternal Son of God Himself to die seems so contrary to what our minds think of when we consider the Almighty God working His love and showing His glory. How could God die? That still causes many questions and doubts today.
However, whether or not the violence and the blood of the movie “The Passion of the Christ” was totally accurate, the movie got one very important fact right. Jesus’ suffering and death was necessary. For God to continue holy and opposed to sin, and for God to continue loving and saving His people, it was necessary that sin be paid for by one who was totally without sin and totally righteous. That is why the holy Son of God became man at Christmas. And, that is why Jesus, the sinless God-Man suffered and died, so that the one who had no sin could suffer in the place of sinners. It was necessary, that for us to be saved, Jesus had to pay for our sins because He was holy and did not deserve to suffer and die. Our rebellion, our selfishness, our hatred, our sin deserves God’s righteous and just punishment. We could not save ourselves.
The disciples also had trouble hearing this lesson and believing this truth that it was necessary for Jesus to suffer and die. In Matthew 16:21 we are told of Jesus teaching His disciples, “21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” (See also Mark 8:31, Mark 9:12, Luke 9:22, and Luke 17:25) Time and again Jesus taught this truth to His disciples. Time and again they ignored Jesus, or opposed Him, like Peter did in Matthew 16:22. “Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!’" The truth of the suffering and death of Jesus, the Son of God and the son of Mary, and the reason for the suffering and death of Jesus is hard to swallow. It always has been.
That is why Christian churches don’t just celebrate Jesus’s victorious rising from the dead on Easter, but they also observe Holy Week. Holy Week considers all of Jesus’ suffering and His death. Holy Week gives Christians a chance to confess that our sins are so abhorrent to our Holy and Loving God that His own Son had to suffer and die to save us.
This week at St. John, and at many other Christian churches, we will observe Palm Sunday and Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem as part of our Holy Week observance. We will celebrate Passover, and receive the Lord’s Supper on Maundy Thursday, remembering Jesus’ last Supper. We will leave in silence on Good Friday after watching again the retelling of Jesus’ death on the cross. And then on Easter, April 1 this year, we will celebrate that in spite of our sin, and in spite of the worst that Satan could muster, in spite of the suffering and death of God’s Son, Jesus rose from the dead and God is victorious.
But, before the victory celebration of Easter, there is the opportunity to confess our sin, and the opportunity to remember the love of God shown in the suffering and death of His Son in our Holy Week observance.
A Child of God, Remembering the Price God Paid to Save Me from My Sin,
P.S. Last week was a BUSY Lenten week. Here are some pictures from LAST WEEK
· Alyeska Ski Day https://photos.app.goo.gl/ICtOJyou3rLMKPEJ3
· New Member Potluck https://photos.app.goo.gl/dlH2UFRY2Dns14yn2
P.P.S. THIS SUNDAY begins our Holy Week Observance. Two events that are important to remember.
· JEWS FOR JESUS PRESENTATION - “Christ in the Passover” – Rob Wertheim from Jews for Jesus will present “Christ in the Passover in both services on Palm Sunday, March 25. This will help prepare us for Holy Week, for our Passover celebration, and for our Easter Celebration. Plan to attend worship this Sunday.
· THE ANNUAL SHANE WOODS MEMORIAL ICE FISHING OUTING will be held at Seventeen Mile Lake this Sunday, March 25 after late worship (beginning around 1:00 p.m.?). We have fished in this lake the last 3 years. Here is a link to the ADFG page for Seventeen Mile lake. http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=fishingSportLakeData.lakeDetail&LakeID=402
The St. John Promise Keepers will provide fishing holes, fishing gear, and bait. They will provide hot dogs, hot cocoa, cookies and chips.
However, a number of our men will be out of town this year. We can use some help from other adults in the congregation.
Here is a link to pictures from last year’s outing. https://goo.gl/photos/EFBUg6ppMDfTMQnw6
ABOUT ‘THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR’ - I am sending these e-mail messages, hopefully weekly, to all St. John members and friends whose e-mails I have. (I am regularly adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.) However, if you do not want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message.
ST. JOHN ACTIVITIES AND OPPORTUNITIES
MID WEEK LENTEN WORSHIP CONLUDES THIS Wednesday. This Wednesday, March 21, at 6:30 p.m. we continue with services under the theme, “Conventional Wisdom vs. God’s Wisdom.” This week we consider the women at the cross and our sermon is entitled, “God’s Wisdom Concerning Death.”
Come and prepare your hearts for Easter with our Mid-Week Lenten series listed below..
Lent 1 - God’s Wisdom Concerning Glory Palm Sunday, Upper Room
Lent 2 - God’s Wisdom Concerning Prayer Gethsemane (Not my will but your
will – Does God answer?)
Lent 3 - God’s Wisdom About Forgiveness Judas – Forgiveness Can’t be Real
. . . for me
Lent 4 - God’s Wisdom Concerning Selfishness Peter’s Denial – Take Care of # 1
Lent 5 - God’s Wisdom Concerning Power Pilate – The Government Has the
Lent 6 - God’s Wisdom Concerning Death Ladies at the Tomb – Death is
MID –WEEK LENTEN MEALS are served each Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., before Lenten worship. These meal allow people to attend worship and not worry about eating beforehand. This week the Lawtons and Stephen Ministers who are serving the meal. THANK YOU to the Rim Rock Riders 4-H Club for serving the meal on March 14.
THANK YOU to all those who are serving God and their Christian family at St. John by providing these meals.
AMC VBS MEETING THIS WEDNESDAY . . A group of 6 families and individuals has shown interest in an Alaska Mission for Christ Vacation Bible School in Southwest Alaska. We meet during the Lenten meal this Wednesday, March 21 at 5:30 p.m. Join us if you are interested.
SUNDAY SCHOOL AND BIBLE CLASSES are offered each Sunday. In addition to regular Sunday School the following Adult Classes are taught.
· “Selected Psalms” taught by Hunter Richards began Sunday, March 11.
· Dave Nufer began a new class on March 11. We will look at some Christian videos in March.
PRAYER GROUP OPPORTUNITY
As children of God we seek to put our faith in action through regular prayer. A NEW PRAYER OPPORTUNITY began at St. John iin January. Two of our Elders, Donita Odland and Jackie Kolberg, (and sometimes other Elders) will be in Pastor Allen’s former office to spend time in prayer each Sunday. Anyone who wants to join them is invited to do so. Anyone who wants to leave a prayer request may do so verbally, or in writing (There is a “prayer request box” hanging on the wall outside this office.) The plan is for this time of prayer to begin at 9:30 a.m. each Sunday and continue until prayer is finished.
This has been WELL RECEIVED! Please feel free to join Donita and Jackie and our Elders in prayer, or to share your requests with them.
PLEASE BRING EASTER LILIES TO CHURCH NEXT WEEK to beautify our sanctuary for Easter Sunday. Please have them to St. John by Friday, March 30, if possible.
OTHER ACTIVITIES SCHEDULED FOR GROWTH, MINISTRY, AND FELLOWSHIP IN THE FUTURE . . .
March 25 – April 1 - Holy Week starts with Palm Sunday, March 25, and concludes with Easter on Sunday, April 1.
o Palm Sunday Processional with Children in both services Sunday, March 25
o Jews for Jesus Presentation of “Christ in the Passover” by Rob Wertheim in both services Sunday, March 25.
o The Passover Meal is Thursday, March 29 at 6:00 p.m.
o Maundy Thursday worship is held on Thursday, March 29 at 7:30 p.m. Seventh grade Confirmation Students will receive communion for the first time in this service.
o The St. John Youth will present Good Friday worship at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 30.
o The Easter Festival and Easter Egg Hunt will be held at St. John on Saturday, March 31
o Easter Worship is offered on Easter Sunday, April 1, at 7:00, 9:00, and 11:00 a.m.
o Easter Breakfast will be offered on April 1 from 8:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
· April 8 - Confirmation Day is held at St. John on Sunday, April 8 in the 11:00 a.m. worship service.
Our prayers are that these opportunities for worship and fellowship will strengthen God’s family at St. John in faith and love.
SIGN-UP SHEETS – One way to participate in the ministry and activities of God’s family at St. John is to sign-up on the various sign-up sheets which are placed on the counter in the narthex. At the current time we have multiple opportunities. Please see below.
Sign-ups in the Narthex
· Passover Help - The annual Passover Meal will again be held on
Maundy Thursday, March 29, at 6:00 p.m. If you can help with the Passover there is a sign-up sheet in the narthex. We can especially use help with setting up and taking down.
· Passover Attendance -If you plan to attend the Passover it helps in
planning if you sign up. Cost is $15.00 for adults and $10.00 for children.
· Easter Breakfast Help -Traditionally our men serve Easter Breakfast. You
can sign up to help in this service to our congregation and visitors.
· Mary Poppins Fellowship Outing -St. John has 30 seats reserved for the VPS
production of Mary Poppins to be held at the Glen Massay Theater. This family activity will be held on Sunday afternoon, with the play starting at 2:00 p.m. Cost is $25 for adults and $23 for children and seniors (12 and under, 65 and older). Those attending will have the opportunity of a pot luck meal at St. John after late worship.
· Alaska Mission for Christ
Southwest Alaska VBS -The AMC has the opportunity to present Vacation
Bible School in 10 new villages in Southwest Alaska. If you are interested in possibly being part of a team from St. John, please sign up and we will discuss possible dates, times, and place for serving.
SPECIAL OFFERINGS – A number of years ago a “Finance Committee” worked to increase offerings to missions through St. John. One of the recommendations was that we give from our budget to the Northwest District of the LCMS (our denomination), and to Alaska Mission for Christ. In addition, we planned to have special offerings for other mission opportunities. These offerings add to the offerings from the budgeted income. The process developed is that the Stewardship Board suggests a schedule of offerings and the Church Council approves these suggestions.
In the February Church Council meeting the Stewardship Board made suggestions for 2018 and the Church Council approved their suggestions. (Sometimes opportunities arise for other special offerings. In 2017 we took an offering for the Grosz family as David was battling lymphoma. This year we took a special offering for Grace Miller to help with expenses related to her trip to the Paralympics in Korea.)
Special offerings for 2018 include:
· Heartreach Crisis Pregnancy Center baby bottles, January – March
· Grace Miller Paralympics - February
· Jews for Jesus – March 25 worship presentation
· Alaska Mission for Christ – April/May
· Northwest District – June
· Bible Sticks for military service people – July
· Family Promise – August
· LWML – LWML Sunday, October
· Christmas Shoeboxes for Samaritan’s Purse – November
· Food Drive for Thanksgiving Blessing – November
· Advent Offering – December
· Offering for Local Missions / needy – December
DID YOU KNOW THAT MUCH INFORMATION ABOUT ST. JOHN is available on our church website? On our web page you can find sermons, newsletters, and these weekly devotions. The link is: http://www.stjohnpalmer.org
In fact, IF YOU WANT TO RECEIVE YOUR MONTHLY CHURCH NEWSLETTER BY E-MAIL please e-mail Judy Stahancyk and let her know. You can call at 745-3338, or e-mail Judy at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you receive the newsletter by e-mail it saves printing, postage, and time compiling the newsletter. Also, you receive the monthly newsletter more quickly!!