Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Thankful for Vital Communication that is ALWAYS Open!

Dear Members and Friends of St. John, 


I’ve heard many times in recent years that we live in “The Age of Communication.”  People are “on-line”, “plugged-in”, and “connected” . . . supposedly.  Modern technology exists all around the world.  People in Alaska can talk to and see what is happening in New York City, in China, or Africa!  Even in the village of Eek we saw children on their cellular devices – connected!


But some say, with good reason, that there is too much information available and we experience “information overload.”  Have you gone to Google to find out information on a topic?  Have you visited Wikipedia?  Once you find your information, is it reliable?


Others say that we are so “connected” that there is no real communication.  People communicate by Facebook, or by text message, or by e-mail (like this one).  But, how many people sit down and look another person in the eye, and talk person to person about something really vital or important?  Perhaps in this “Communication Age” there is less real communication going on in the lives of individuals.


These topics fill my mind and heart because we had a communication challenge while our St. John AMC VBS team was in the village of Eek in early July.  I had thought of trying to get a GCI cell phone for our trip, knowing that GCI is the only network that works in much of rural Alaska.  (I learned this fact most vividly when my daughter, Mary, was teaching in Chevak.)  But, I never got around to making those arrangements.  We had no GCI network phone.


So, while in Eek, all our adults had cell phones, but we could not use them to call, or to text, or to get onto the internet.  This created some communication challenges.  Not only could we not communicate with family at home, but also had some challenges reaching people in the village.  For example, our contact, George Alexie, would come by the place we were staying a number of times a day.  We could ask questions and get things taken care when George visited.  But, if we needed to contact George we could not do so.  We did not have phones that worked.


In order to travel by plane to and from the villages, a person gets in touch with the Airline Contact.  Emma was the airline contact person in Eek.  When we wanted to check on our flights out of Eek we were told to get in touch with Emma.  But, we did not have phones that worked.


One of the blessings in Eek is they now have a water system up and working.  George says he got water to his home last summer.  However, there was no running water yet in the place we stayed.  Yet, the village did open up the washerteria for us.  Fritz was the person in Eek in charge of the washerteria and opened it up one night so we could use the showers.  Realizing how much we appreciated the showers, Fritz later came by to tell me, “Anytime you want a shower, just call me up and I’ll open it for you.”  But, we couldn’t call Fritz.  We did not have phones that worked.


Our team is not the only example of people having trouble with communicating, even with all our technology.  How about you?  Have you ever called someone, but they did not answer?  Have you ever text-messaged someone, but they did not text back?  Have you ever e-mailed someone, but have gotten no response?  Listening is the most important part of communicating.  But sometimes we also need to speak.  What if you speak, but you are not heard?


There is one very important communication that does not require cell service, and where the One with whom we communicate always hears our message and always answers.  Listen to what Jesus teaches His disciples about prayer. 


7 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!


Jesus tells us that our Heavenly Father always hears us.  The Lord always answers us, even if we can’t understand His answer, at least for the moment.  God’s answer always includes His goodness, even if we have trouble seeing, or understanding God’s goodness.


If communicating with others is important, communication with our Lord, our Creator, our Savior, our Comforter, is even more vital.  God speaks to us first in His Word, in the Scriptures and in His Son Jesus.  But, when we respond and speak to God there is never a network problem.  Our Heavenly Father hears and answers with His wisdom and love.  7 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.


A Child of God, Thankful for Vital Communication that is Always Open,

Pastor Jonathan          


P.S.  Here are some pictures from our garden last week.


P.P.S.  These are summer pictures of the flowers in our front yard, this week. -


P.P.P.S.  Here are some pictures of an evening of fishing on a local lake.


P.P.P.P.S.  Here are some pictures of halibut fishing with my daughter, Mary, my niece, KJ, and her husband, Brian.  (Thank you, Fred Vasilie, cousin of Mike Sweeney and Karen Sweeney Johnson!)




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.






VOLUNTEERS NEEDED!!  -  ST. JOHN VBS! – St. John Vacation Bible School is held during the mornings at St. John, July 23-27.  WE NEED VOLUNTEERS!  Please sign up on the sign up sheets in the narthex to help with VBS.



HELP NEEDED!! – Mark and Nicole Ford will be moving to Minnesota for Mark’s new job with the FAA which starts August 19.  The Ford’s are very active at St. John.  We will need folks to fill their place.


·         Treasurer – Mark works with Garnet Robertson on the job of treasurer for St. John.  They have the treasurer job down to a regular routine.  If someone can help in this area or is interested in serving please talk to Mark, or Garnet, or congregational president, Karl Kopperud, or Pastor Rockey.


·         Nursery – Nicole Ford staffs the nursery on Sundays from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.  If you are interested in helping in this area please talk with Cathy Glaser, or Karl Kopperud, or Pastor Rockey.  There is a $50.00 a week stipend for this service.





During Summer months our schedule changes.  However, we still have many regular activities for growth in faith and Christian Fellowship, . . . IN ADDITION TO regular summer worship. 


Please note our schedule below for your personal growth in Jesus.





·         The Book of Acts is being taught by Jim Summers in the fellowship hall.  There is nursery care offered during the class.


·         Prayer Ministry Opportunity – There are Elders in Pastor Allen’s former office between worship who are available for prayer each Sunday between services.


·         Summer Sunday School  Starts this Sunday–  Summer Sunday School is scheduled for July 8, 15, 22, 29, August 5, 12.  It started on July 8!

This Summer Sunday School will be one session for all ages, and will meet at the same time as the adult class is meeting.  We have six adults who have each volunteered to team up with another person for these sessions.  So, we have leaders but could use others to sit in and help.  The August sessions are now planned as  “Intergenerational.”


o   July 8 – Michelle Bower and Hunter Richards

o   July 15 – Hunter Richards and Jenny Carlson

o   July 22 – Nathan and Maranda Bower

o   July 29 – Michelle Bower and Ethan Mirly

o   August 5 – (Intergenerational), Ethan and Hunter

o   August 12 - (Intergenerational), Ethan and Hunter




·         TUESDAY - SUMMER HIKES! - St. John continues its tradition of weekly summer hikes on Tuesdays this year.  Meet a church at 9:00 a.m. to leave.  Bring a friend or a dog if you wish.  Plan on a day of hiking with fellow Christians and enjoy God’s outdoors!  Sara Guhl and DCE Intern Ethan Mirly are helping to lead these hikes.  ETHAN LEADS A HIKE UP THE BUTTE THIS TUESDAY!


·         WEDNESDAY


o   WEDNESDAY WORSHIP – Wednesday worship is offered each week at 6:30 p.m. at St. John.  This service gives another worship opportunity to God’s family in addition to Sunday worship services.  If a person cannot worship on Sunday, the same readings from Sunday are used on Wednesdays, with a different sermon from the Sunday morning sermon.  In addition, if someone wants an additional opportunity for growth and fellowship and praise, Wednesday worship can provide that opportunity.  Come and join us on Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m.



o   Middle School Youth meet at St. John from 5-6:00 p.m. on Wednesdays.


o   High School Youth meet at St. John on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m.


·         FRIDAY - NEW ORIGINAL BIBLE STUDY – Twenty and thirty something’s meet at the home of Hunter and Elizabeth Richard, 340 North Bonanza, on Friday nights for Food, Fellowship, and Bible Study.


·         SATURDAY ST. JOHN MEN’S BREAKFAST - The St. John men’s group, Promise Keepers, is meeting on Saturday mornings this summer at the Noisy Goose at 7:30 a.m. for food and fellowship.  ALL MEN are invited to join us.  “Fathers, feel free to bring your sons too!  SCOTT MANKE WILL LEAD DISCUSSION AT THE BREAKFAST THIS SATURDAY!


I pray that these activities provide you with opportunities for growth in your relationship with Jesus and times of service.





DAVE ANDERSON AND ROGER WALCK will present an August 5 CONCERT at St. John benefitting Shepherds Canyon Retreat Center (for church workers) at 6:00 p.m.  

Plan now to attend this concert!



Anchorage Lutheran Benefit Golf Tournament


From: Deborah <>
Sent: Thursday, June 28, 2018 10:11 AM
To: undisclosed-recipients:
Subject: Benefit Golf Tournament


You are cordially invited to Join Anchorage Lutheran Church and Thrivent Financial at a golf tournament benefiting:

·         Habitat for Humanity

·         Lutheran Social Services of Alaska

·         Anchor Lutheran School

The tournament is on Wednesday, August 8th at the Moose Run Golf Course and the 

event starts at 7:00 am


Please see the attached registration and tournament sponsorship form, or go to our website at to register.


If you have any questions, or need additional information, please call Anchorage Lutheran Church at 907-272-5323.




(Meeting coming SOON!)


Pastor Jonathan and Kathy Rockey will be leading a trip to Germany November 26-December 10, 2019.  We will start in Vienna and end in Berlin.  The focus of this trip will be Christmas markets, music, and Martin Luther.  Information about the itinerary, cost, and registration can be found at this link from Luther Tours. -

Already, even before publicity, about 15 people have indicated an interest in attending.  If you want to know more about this trip talk to Pastor Rockey or Kathy.





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:

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 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!!








Monday, July 9, 2018

Thankful for Smiles and Teamwork

Dear Members and Friends of St. John, 


Well, I can report on another Alaskan Adventure.  A St. John team of 6 people conducted Vacation Bible School in the small village of Eek, a Yupik town of about 300 people along the Eek River, a tributary of the Kuskokwim.  St. John has helped lead Alaska Mission for Christ Vacation Bible Schools in past years in such places as Cordova and Sterling, Eagle and Delta, Northway and Kenai.  But this is the first St. John VBS in Southwest Alaska.


Two impressions stick out in my mind from this adventure: the smiles and the team work. 


The smiles are the easy part.  We count that about 70 children participated in VBS over the week, though there were seldom more than 40 children present at once.  We provided music and Bible lessons, crafts and snacks, and we led games.  Children would come and go throughout each session of VBS.  They especially participated in the crafts.  But, whether we were teaching lessons, or giving snacks, whether they were coming or going, the faces of the children lit up with smiles.  I’m not sure if it was just because of the setting and because they were children, or if the smiles on these children were especially beautiful.  But the smiles of these children touched my heart.


I have a hope that these smiles came from the love of God.  St. Paul wrote from prison, “Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again I will say it, Rejoice!”  (Philippians 4:4).  It is amazing that Paul could find joy in prison.  But, joy is different than happiness.  Happiness, which is pursued by Americans, is often based on the circumstances and experiences of life.  When life goes well we tend to be happy.  When life goes badly, we can become sad or depressed.  Yet, while in a Roman prison, Paul found joy!  If you read the verse above, Paul’s joy was not found in the circumstances of the moment.  Paul wasn’t happy about being in jail.  But the undeserved love of God in Jesus, His forgiveness and the eternal life which God gives through faith in Jesus as our Savior, this grace was the source of Paul’s joy.  Even when life is bad, God’s love is sure.  Even in prison, because of Jesus, Paul could write, “Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again I will say it, Rejoice!” 


The children would often arrive at the church where we led VBS 45 minutes early and ask, “Is it VBS yet?”  My hope is that, as we taught the children about God’s creative, saving, and sustaining love, God’s love brought joy to their hearts and that is the joy we saw in their smiles.


But, teaching 70 children about God’s love takes the planned efforts of many people.  In our team, Sara and Marilee led music.  Marilee taught the lessons.  Temple did the crafts and Rod led games.  I helped with the lessons and dealt with the little crises that would arise.  And Gaelen was our evangelist. He went about town and made friends, and then he invited those friends to attend VBS.  We all worked together.


But, it took more than our St. John team to lead VBS. George Alexie was our local contact.  George is a Yupik man who is an active member in the local Moravian Church.  He arranged for our housing in the Ministry House of the congregation.   George got us into the church and showed us around.  George brought us water in trash cans for our dwelling, where there was no running water.  George also took out our trash, and . . . our honey buckets.  Thank you, George!


Cindy Cleveland was the local Eek church member who attended a meeting in Bethel last winter and asked for an AMC VBS team.  Cindy not only came to visit us in the Ministry House one evening, but she also hosted and entertained the ladies of our team in her home.  Cindy’s children also attended VBS.  Thank you Cindy!


There were also parents who helped us teach the children.  Trudi Joshua was present every day to help with all the chores, including directing children and cleaning up each day.  Gail and Edith and Theodora also helped direct children.  We wanted to bring joy to these tender hearts.  Having these ladies present, part of our team, helping to direct the children, made a big difference.


Then, there is the staff of Alaska Mission for Christ.  The AMC staff arranged for the VBS opportunities, provided manuals and information, dealt with the forms necessary in our current litigious world.  The AMC staff also prepared devotions which we used each day. 


Each of us, and many more, had a part in this effort.  But, according to Romans 12, that’s what happens in the lives of Jesus’ followers.  3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.” (Romans 12:3-6)  The different parts of Christ’s body work together, as a team, to accomplish God’s purposes.


All of us worked as a team, as the body of Christ, to bring joy in the Lord Jesus to the children of Eek.  Hopefully the smiles of the children, worked by the joint efforts of so many people, were based on joy these children found in Jesus’ love.


A Child of God, Thankful for the Opportunity to Work as a Team and Bring the Joy of Jesus to Others,

Pastor Jonathan          


P.S.  Here are some pictures from the Eek VBS, summer 2018.  Look for the smiles. 





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.





Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Trusting God When Facing the Unknown

Dear Members and Friends of St. John, 


As I write this devotion a team of St. John members is preparing to travel to the village of Eek.  We plan to lead Vacation Bible School on behalf of Alaska Mission for Christ for the children of this village.  Perhaps the most stunning aspect of this trip is how much we do not know.  Rod and Temple Christiansen, Sara Guhl and her grandson, Gaelen Swigart, Marilee Nufer and myself are traveling to Eek . . . but none of us have been there before.


So, on the flight to Bethel, and then to Eek, we will be facing the unknown.   On Monday night before we left my daughter, Mary, was explaining to me about traveling through the Bethel Airport.  Mary explained that after we arrive inBethel on Alaska Air, and transfer to Raven airlines for the flight to Eek, we will need to get our luggage and take a shuttle to the “Raven Airport.”  I just expected that the Bethel airport would be like others through which I’ve traveled.  It just shows what I don’t know.


We have talked to our local contact in Eek, George Alexi, to ask questions about what we might expect.  We asked George about how many children might attend.  George’s first estimate is 30-40 children.  However, we also talked to Paul Seidel from Saginaw, MI, who had led teams to Eek before.  Paul too says they started with about 30 children in attendance.  But, after a few years 90 children attended.  Of course, then George told me, “I don’t know.  For the last day of Sunday School we prepared 400 hot dogs.  They were all eaten!”  So how many children will attend?  We are prepared for 60.  Do we have too many supplies or too few?  We don’t know! 


We will be staying in the Ministry House next to the church.  We have been told there are 2 beds, and a kitchen in this house, but no running water.  George says there is a town well where we can get our water.  Paul says we should take filters, so we have done that.  But, we will find out the situation better when we get there.  In truth, we just don’t know.


I asked Paul, and I asked George, about fishing.  Paul said the only fishing was done with nets.  But George told me the different kind of fish they catch.  He told me to bring hiking boots, and that if I bring a fishing pole he’ll “have to go with me.”  Mary said that if I go fishing the children will follow.  I’m bringing a little equipment.  Will I really be able to fish?  Will I be able to build relationships through this recreational activity?  The truth is, I don’t know.


So, the six of us are going to Eek for the purpose of teaching children about Jesus, but not having been there, we don’t necessarily know what we will find.  We’re not sure how many will attend.  We are going trusting God will provide.


Have you ever faced life as a child of God not knowing what the future holds? Listen to what the writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 11:1.  Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  We are UNCERTAIN of what we will experience and find.  But, what we trust is that God will provide.  With the presence and help of God we will have what we need to do His work.  We are not trusting ourselves, but we are trusting God and His eternal love.  We are UNCERTAIN of how many children will attend.  But we are certain that these children, as all children, need the savings love of Jesus.


Life is full of “unknowns.” In the midst of life’s uncertainty there is one thing certain, the love of God in Jesus Christ.  So, our team is facing the unknown as we travel to Eek, sure that the Lord who loves us eternally in Jesus will provide what we need to do His work.


A Child of God, Trusting God When Facing the Unknown,

Pastor Jonathan          


P.S.  Here are some pictures of a halibut fishing trip with friend, Pastor Tony Schultz.  We fished on Friday, June 29, out of Seward, AK.





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.




Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Learning that God Grows Faith Through Individual Relationships of Love

Dear Members and Friends of St. John, 


My wife recently told me that she has an idea for me as pastor.  Now, Kathy has had a number of ideas for me over the years.  Actually, they are usually pretty good ideas.  But, and this is a big “but”, Kathy’s ideas usually lead to quite a bit of work.  Kathy once shared with me, “We have such a good time at our congregational picnics, we ought to invite our neighbors.”  Now look at our Colony Days Picnic!  I like to tell Kathy that she has the ideas, and I get the work.  However, I also believe in what Psalm 100 says about “serving the Lord with gladness.”  So, I’ll share my wife’s new idea with you.


Kathy’s idea came from a conversation with our daughter, Mary.  Mary recently commented to Kathy how I used to bring her, and my other children, with me on shut in calls.  Mary related to Kathy how much she and Tim learned on these visits.  For one thing, Mary says they learned to behave.  According to Mary I taught my children to politely greet the folks we were visiting.  In addition, while I was talking with our elderly members, my children had to be quiet so I could talk with the adults.  Mary says that she and Tim had to find constructive ways to keep themselves occupied.  According to Mary, this also helped her, and helped Tim, to learn to relate to adults, even as a child. So, Mary learned a lot about faith and life on shut in calls with dad.


Actually, I also remember such shut in visits with my older children.  One lady I visited in a nursing home in St. Louis was failing and had not spoken to me in months . . . until I brought my infant son, Joshua, along.  Then she had all sorts of questions.  I also used to lead worship at a nursing home in St. Louis and would hold either Josh or Andrew in my arms as I led worship.  One day, however, I didn’t bring them with me.  I did not just hear disappointment.  I heard complaints about me not bringing my children!  (I even remember bringing Josh with me to jail in St. Louis, and bringing Mary on a prison visit in Jacksonville. I guess they got quite an education!)


So, Kathy’s idea is that I should take each of my confirmation students with me, one at a time, when I visit our elderly shut in members.  Or I could also take the students with me when I visit people in the hospital.  My normal plan is to visit members in the afternoons, 1-3 days a week.  Sometimes visits don’t happen when other demands take my time.  But, this is one of the parts of being a pastor that I truly enjoy.  It is a blessing to spend one on one time with someone, talking about life’s blessings and challenges, and considering the help and the grace of God for our lives.


Kathy thinks that since my children learned such valuable lessons, at least according to Mary and Tim, my students could also learn some of the same lessons from visiting elderly Christians who have trouble getting around in old age.  I do believe Kathy is right.  But, she has asked me at times to slow down, and then she comes up with ideas for more work!  Nevertheless, I believe this truly IS a good idea.


I know I am rambling.  However, there are two lessons I learned from this conversation.  First of all, faith is best taught, and discipleship is best grown, not in classrooms but in relationships.  Consider those Jesus discipled.  16 These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder); 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.  (Mark 3:16-19)  While Jesus came to save the world, he spent most of His time with these twelve individuals.  These disciples then spread the good news of Jesus to others, who spread it to others, etc.


Secondly, love is the exercise of our faith that best grows a disciple.  The night He was betrayed, Jesus told His disciples, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34) Jesus showed His love for us by dying on the cross to forgive us and to save us.  Love is patient.  Love is kind.  Love does listen, does forgive, and does protect. These behaviors are easy to talk about, but difficult to do well.  Therefore, we need the undeserved forgiveness and love of Jesus so that we can show His love to others.  You see, faith grows when God’s people reach out in love.


Taking Confirmation Students on a visit to my shut in members might just give these students an opportunity to learn and to experience the faith of another Christian in a one on one relationship which shows love.  I do believe this practice of taking students with me on shut in visits will indeed grow faith.  And growing faith in students is the goal of confirmation.


Kathy had the good idea.  Now, I get to figure out how to make it happen.  But, I do love my elderly members, and I do love our middle school students.  With God’s help we’ll figure something out.


A Child of God, Learning that God Grows Faith through Individual Relationships of Love,

Pastor Jonathan          


P.S.  Family Camp!  I am told by DCE Intern, Ethan Mirly, that during this past weekend of camping, about 75 people attended Family Camp, even though not everyone stayed the whole time.  THANK YOU to all who helped plan this family event!  I hope to have some pictures of family camp in some future e-mails.


P.P.S.  I took Ethan’s family fishing on Monday, June 25.  With king fishing shut down we went to Long Lake on the Glenn Highway.  However, it was cold and windy, and some rain drops added to the fun.  Nevertheless, here is a picture of the result of  fishing with the Mirly’s.


P.P.P.S.  The Northwest District Convention was held in Portland, June 21-23.  Dave Nufer, Kathy Rockey, Michael Moore, and Pastor Rockey attended for St. John.  Here is a picture of Pastor Jake Dickerhoff and his lay delegate, Tracy Mears (Tracy’s mom, Sharon, attends St. John.)





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.




Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Thankful for Unity and Cooperation Instead of Division

Dear Members and Friends of St. John, 


This past week I wrote “thank you notes” following our 12th Annual St. John Colony Day’s Picnic.  You may know that we estimate that we fed a free picnic lunch to about 1450 people again this year.  The lunch, held on June 9 after the Colony Days Parade, consisted of a hamburger or hot dog, potato salad, beans, slaw, chips, and ice cream!  This picnic is a big event that takes a lot of planning and volunteer labor.  There is also some cost involved in feeding this many people.  If the job of offering this picnic fell to just one person, or if just a few people handled this responsibility, the task would be overwhelming and unmanageable.  But, when many chip in, then St. John and the members of our community are able to join hands and serve the people of Palmer.  


So, I wrote “thank you notes” to the committee that planned the picnic and the parade entry.  These notes went out by e-mail to the thirteen members of our Evangelism and Fellowship Boards, as well as to the 6 others who voluntarily and regularly attended planning meetings.  Thank you Picnic and Parade Committee members!


I sent 50 “thank you messages” to people who provided food or helped serve.  I first sent messages to those who signed up to bring food, to set up and take down, and to those who volunteered to serve.  In addition, I looked at pictures of those who marched in the parade and I looked at pictures of those who helped at the picnic and then sent messages to thank them as well.  Please know that in some cases I sent one “thank you” to a whole family who volunteered.  But, we thanked 50 people or families at St. John who helped in one way or another.  Some of these committed volunteers showed up on Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m. and did not leave until 4:00 p.m. that afternoon!  Thank you, volunteers!


I also sent thank you letters to the 16 businesses and organizations who donated so that St. John can offer the picnic.  The cost of parade decorations and candy was $350.00 this year.  The picnic supplies cost $2046.68, for a total cost of  $2396.68.  (My wife, Kathy, commented that we fed 1450 people for less than $1.50 each!)  However, local businesses and organizations made cash donations and in-kind donations for the picnic and parade entry.  These donations totaled $2370.00!  An anonymous individual who knew that figure then wrote a check for $26.68 so that this event broke even!  Along with the thank you letters, I also sent pictures of people eating and enjoying themselves at the picnic in order to show those who donated how their money and donations were used to serve the people of Palmer.  Thank you Palmer Community!!


I am thankful for the people of God at St. John who worked together on this event.  In 1 Corinthians 12 God inspired Paul to describe His church as a body, where each part has a different job or function, but they all work together.  Paul summarizes this section of Scripture by saying of God’s church, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”  (1 Corinthians 12:27) Personally, I get tired of seeing people disagree and fight so much in our culture today.  Partisan politics, and even divisions in churches, cause people to work against one another.  What a blessing to see so many of God’s people working diligently on a single task.  I believe over 100 people at St. John were actively involved in one way or another.  Thank you, Lord!


However, in our divided time, it is perhaps even more amazing to see so much community support and unity in one event.  Members of the Picnic and Parade Committee did solicit donations from the local community.  But, a number of businesses actually came to us and asked if we needed help for this effort.  In Psalm 133 the King David writes, How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!”  I understand and appreciate the sentiments of David.


It is important for God’s people to know that, while God primarily sent Jesus to save the world, Jesus also brings God’s blessings to our lives in this world.  By Jesus’ suffering and death and resurrection, through Jesus’ forgiveness and love and the sure hope of eternal life, the sins and barriers that divide us have been overcome and broken down.  Or, as Paul also writes, “13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,”  (Ephesians 2:12-14)  On the Saturday of Colony Days I believe I saw barriers broken down and “brothers living in unity!”


As we watch the news, as we peruse social media, and even as we talk with friends, we hear much disagreement and division.  I personally hear shouting and even hate from people who have differing opinions from one another.  What a blessing to see such unity in this large and diverse Group!  Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you are our Peace!


A Child of God, Thankful for Unity and Cooperation, Instead of Division!

Pastor Jonathan          


P.S.  I have included a list below of those businesses and organizations who have supported the picnic with donations this year.


P.P.S.  If you did not receive a “thank-you e-mail”, I’m not sure that everyone got the e-mail messages I sent.  The spam blocker that MTA now uses indicated it stopped the sending of many of my messages.  These messages did include a link to pictures.  I was told that including that link may have caused the messages to be rejected for sending.


P.P.P.S.  I thought about it, but I did not go fishing this past Monday.  On a day of wind and rain, I stayed home and played “Mr. Fix-it!”





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.





Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Thankful for my "Dad", Especially Thankful for my HEAVENLY Father1"

Dear Members and Friends of St. John, 


During the Memorial Day weekend our 6 grandchildren spent the night at our home.  It was a noisy time of family fun.  That Sunday, May 27, our grandson Jake hurt his ankle playing with the others in the sprinkler when he slipped and fell.  For quite a while Jake limped around. In fact, Jake limped Sunday afternoon and even on Monday.  I had trouble believing a little slip caused such on-going pain, so I encouraged him to stop limping.  Yet, when Jake’s mom and dad took him to the doctor, after an examination and an x-ray, the doctor put Jake’s ankle in a cast and is treating him for a broken bone. Boy, do I feel like a bad grandpa!


That’s not the first time I have had trouble believing one of my offspring was feeling badly.  When Andy was about 5, and playing with Josh on the same T-Ball team, he claimed he did not feel well didn’t want to play one day.  I thought Andy was making excuses, so I encouraged him to “be tough” and play.  But Andy kept saying he felt sick.  I finally relented and drove Andy home.  In the car, on the way home, Andy threw up in the back seat.  I realized my lack of compassion for my son.  I felt guilty, without understanding, like I wasn’t the best dad.


Overall I think of myself as a good father.  I have come to believe from Scripture that the first job of parents is to teach their children about their Lord.  I have sought to teach my children about Jesus, with my words, and even more with my life.  But, there are still many examples of my failure.  My children have a list of times that “Dad” acted in ways that are less than stellar.  They now remember and remind me of my failures and inconsistencies as they tease me.


I believe that fathers are also to love and care for their children.  Kathy and I have made many decisions in life that were specifically intended so that we could be good parents to our children.  These decisions extend from decisions about our work and our jobs, to what kind of gifts we gave at Christmas and birthdays.  Kathy and I did not always agree about what was the best way to parent our children as Christian children.  But, when we disagreed we discussed our differing opinions as to what was the best way to parent.  We decided how we would act and, as much as possible, we did so accordingly.  Nevertheless, there were many times we felt we had made mistakes as parents.

There is one Father, however, who is always wise, always loving, and always compassionate, who always does what is best for His children, even if His children do not always appreciate His love.  Listen to these words about our heavenly Father from Psalm 103.  8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. 9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; 10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; 14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.”  (Psalm 103:8-14)  What a blessing to have the Almighty Creator of all as our loving heavenly Father! 


Jesus points out in the New Testament that, even though earthly parents try to love their children, our heavenly Father loves us even more wisely and fully.  Listen to Jesus’ words in Matthew 7 from the Sermon on the Mount.  9 "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”  (Matthew 7:9-11) God gives good in response to the requests of His children.


Yet, the most loving act of our heavenly Father is that He sent Jesus to save us.  We are God’s created children.  Jesus is the “one and only” Son of God, or as more directly translated from the original Greek in the King James Version, the “only-begotten Son” of God.  Imagine, the heavenly Father sent His “one and only” Son to save His “created children,” to save you and me!  16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”  (John 3:16-17)


America observes Fathers’ Day this Sunday.  In many places of worship we will give God thanks for our earthly fathers.  I know my own father is God’s gift who has helped me begin my life in faith, and has helped me to grow in my understanding of God’s gracious love in Jesus.  Thank you, Dad!  But, we can especially be thankful for our all-loving, all-compassionate, all-sacrificing, and all-wise heavenly Father.  When our earthly fathers fail, as we all do in this sinful world, we can be sure of the eternal, saving love of God our heavenly Father.


A Child of God, Thankful for my dad, and especially for my Heavenly Father!

Pastor Jonathan          


P.S.  Colony Days events at St. John went especially well this year.  The weather was great!  Our parade entry was one of our best.  The food lasted, and one of our largest groups ever was fed without long waits.  (We figure we fed about 1450 people!)  The youth had a good Rummage Sale.  I sent out “Thank You E-mails” to 50 people, and I’m sure I should have sent more.  THANK YOU to all who gave of their time and efforts!


·         Here are some pictures from the St. John Colony Days Parade entry.

·         Here are some pictures from the St. John 2018 Youth Colony Days Rummage Sale -

·         Here are some pictures from the St. John Lutheran 2018 Colony Days Picnic -

·         Here are pictures of the Palmer Kiwanis Moose Poop Palooza” fund raiser -


P.P.S.  I took Ethan Mirly and Galen Swigart fishing on Monday.  We did not have any bites.  But, at least this week we saw other people get bites.  Here are a couple of pictures.






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.