Dear Fellow Children of God,
Last week in writing about Easter I intentionally neglected to mention a very important event that occurred at St. John on April 13. On Palm Sunday 2014, twelve Confirmation students shared their faith in Jesus and their plans to live for Him. Yes, the students wrote essays because they were expected to do so. But, these students had experienced as much as 3 years of learning about God’s love for them in Jesus, and learning about God’s call to live as His children. These essays were written willingly and personally. As in other years, there were tears in many eyes as these young people responded to the grace and mercy God has given them in Jesus.
So, how about you? We have just celebrated the undeserved sacrificial love of God in the Good Friday death of Jesus, and in worship surrounding this gift. We have just rejoiced in Jesus’ Easter victory over Satan and sin and death. We celebrated the victory Jesus won when He rose from the dead. How are you responding to this divine miracle of love?
Let me share with you another story that brought tears to my eyes. On Good Friday Kathy and I were in worship at St. John. Our youth wrote and led the service as they have for many years. This year instead of sitting in our seats and meditating, people were also asked to participate and experience what Jesus’ crucifixion means to us individually. So there were 5 stations which worshipers visited. Two stations asked questions about our faith life and our struggle to believe. These stations gave Bible verses to read. These verses were then placed on two of 5 points on the cross. Another station asked what our greatest personal failure or sin was. People wrote a response and this was placed on the cross. But one station simply said, “Christ died for your sins.” We wrote our names on a piece of paper and placed our names on the cross.
Kathy and I expected our daughter, Mary, to join us for Good Friday worship. But Mary was baby-sitting for our son Josh and his wife Erin’s children. Taking care of 4 children aged 6 and under can be a daunting task, even for a loving aunt. So Mary and the kids were late, really late! Actually, they got to the service about 10 or 15 minutes before it ended.
When Mary and the children arrived they moved around in the seats and said “Hi” to everyone, making some noise in a service of silence. Then Emma pushed a piece of paper into my hand. I later learned that while Mary was getting the kids ready to leave for church she had a conversation with them about what Good Friday is, and what Jesus did. The older children were moved by what Mary said and they wanted to write letters to God! I unfolded Emma’s piece of paper and it said in her handwriting, “I love God. Emma”. I asked Emma if she wanted to put her name on the cross. So we went forward again and stuck her letter to God on the cross. We placed it where people put their names in response to the words, “Christ died for your sins.”
When I returned to my seat Jake then gave me a folded piece of paper. His letter said, “I love Jesus. Jacob”. I asked Jake if he wanted to put his letter on the cross too. Henry also wanted to go forward. So in the middle of the songs Jake and Henry and I went up and stuck this letter to the cross.
So, how are you responding to Jesus’ loving sacrifice and His victorious resurrection? It brings tears to my eyes to say that my grandchildren responded to God’s love with love letters of their own. I pray we all have such child-like faith.
Congratulations and God’s richest blessing to Kyle Anderson, Kamerin Ewart, Grace Miller, Tess McDowell, Dalton Peltier, Micah Richards, Sidney Richards, Forrest Rose, Jenna Sutton, Travis Tardiff, Jason Watkins, and Rebekah Watkins, who professed their faith in Jesus as their Savior on Confirmation Day 2014. May God continue to bless each of you to grow in faith and love, because Jesus died for you and rose again.
A Child of God, Thankful to be able to respond to God’s Amazing Love,
P.S. Here are some pictures from Confirmation Day, 2014. These pictures have been on our church Facebook page for a while. Please “Like” St. John on Facebook. https://plus.google.com/photos/114993745799525883148/albums/6001932051329168145?banner=pwa
P.P.S. THANK YOU Jamie and St. John youth for the meaningful Good Friday Worship service.
P.P.P.S Here are some pictures from my last ice fishing day of 2014. I was leading a church meeting in Funny River, so these pictures were taken from Sport Lake in Soldotna. https://plus.google.com/photos/114993745799525883148/albums/6006294507410343889?banner=pwa
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 always adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.) However, if you don’t want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message. . . Or, if you know someone who would like to receive one of these e-mails, please send me their e-mail address.