Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Please Pray for our Young People

Dear Members and Friends of St. John, 


On April 8, eleven young teenagers confirmed their faith in God at St. John.  They shared with others that they believe in Jesus as their Savior.  They shared that they affirm the covenant God made with them in their baptisms.  They shared with others that they want to serve God with their lives, that they want to serve God in His church, even to the point of death!  They received God’s blessings and were sent to live their lives for Him.  Confirmation Day is a joyful day for Christian young people.


But, today I ask you to pray for these young people who were confirmed.  Please pray for Amber, for Regina, for Kai, for John and Thomas, for Jack, for Jacob, for Luke, for Cooper.  Please pray for Dezzy and for Julia.  In fact, please pray for all young people that they may know the Lord and continue in faith.


On the day I was confirmed my pastor gave me a confirmation verse, just as I gave verses to our young people this year.  It turns out that the verse my pastor gave me was his own confirmation verse, and was also his father’s confirmation verse as well.  I was given the following verse from God’s Word to help guide my life, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”  (Revelation 2:10)  Being faithful to our Lord, continuing in faith and in love and in obedience, has never been easy.  We constantly fight a battle against our selfishness, our fleshly desires.  As children of God we fight against the temptations of this world.  This struggle has been true since the first sin.


But, being faithful to our Lord, keeping vows made to the Lord, faces greater opposition today than when I was confirmed 51 years ago.  The world around our young people uses advertisements and social media to lure them to self-indulgence and calls this selfishness “natural” or “normal.”  Please pray for our young people.


The world around our young people tells them to find truth in their own hearts and that they get to determine what is true.  There is actually partial truth in telling someone to trust themself.  After all, God has created us as His unique and blessed people.  But, often this self-trust is encouraged at the expense of knowing that ultimate truth comes from God and is found in His Word.  Many times I have heard someone say, “I know what God’s word says.  But, this feels so right.  It must be okay with God.”  When we think we determine what is true, even when our “personal truth” contradicts God’s Word, then we make ourselves god.  In reality, however, God calls for us to listen to Him, to listen to His truth, to listen to His Word, and to follow Him.  But, our young people are constantly being called away from trusting God. Please pray for our young people.


Today’s church can seem old and worn out.  After all people have followed Jesus for over 2000 years.  A majority of people today believe that God is a choice, not the truth.  Being part of a minority of those who believe in Jesus as our Savior can be difficult.  In early days of the Christian Church faith in Jesus seemed new and vibrant.  Today, because many want a change from the traditional values of our culture, a culture in which many values came from God and from Scripture, Christianity seems old fashioned.  It seems old fashioned to our young people who are just beginning their lives.  Please pray for our young people.


You see, we face a constant battle.  We read in Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  This battle is not only fought on a large scale, but is fought even more in the heart and soul of every individual Christian, and in the lives each of these young people.  This battle is fought in daily temptations about whether I live for myself, or live for God.  It is fought in daily decisions about whether to believe God and His Word, or to find a different truth in myself.  These are battles which our new “confirmands,” and all our young people face.  Please pray for all our young people.


Our opponent in this battle, and the opponent of the faith of our young people, is an enemy that is much stronger than we are.  In honesty, Satan is too strong, and possibly worse, too crafty and deceitful, for us to win this war on our own.  But, thankfully, the battle has already been won.  Jesus says in John 16:33, " . . .  In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."


Jesus overcame our enemy when He lived a perfect life.  Jesus overcame the enemy of our faith when He died for sin, and even more when He rose from the dead.  As He Jesus tells His disciples and all people in this verse, He has overcome the world.  But . . . the battle still goes on!  Please pray for our newly confirmed young people, and for all children of God.


A Child of God, Praying for My Own Children, and for All Young Christians!

Pastor Jonathan          




P.S.      Here are some pictures I was sent of the pot luck taco bar before the St. John outing to see the VPA production of Mary Poppins.  Thank you to our Fellowship Board!


P.P.S.  Here are some pictures from our vacation.  I’ll be adding more pictures over time.


P.P.P.S.  Martin Luther described Christian victory in this battle even more succinctly in His famous hymn, A Mighty Fortress.


A mighty fortress is our God, A sword and shield victorious;
He breaks the cruel oppressor’s rod And wins salvation glorious.
The old satanic foe Has sworn to work us woe.

With craft and dreadful might He arms himself to fight.
On earth he has no equal.


No strength of ours can match his might. We would be lost, rejected.
            But now a champion comes to fight, Whom God Himself elected.
            You ask who this may be? The Lord of hosts is He,

            Christ Jesus, mighty Lord, God’s only Son, adored.
            He holds the field victorious.


Though hordes of devils fill the land All threat’ning to devour us,
            We tremble not, unmoved we stand; They cannot overpow’r us.
            Let this world’s tyrant rage; In battle we’ll engage.

His might is doomed to fail; God’s judgment must prevail!
One little word subdues him.


            God’s Word forever shall abide, No thanks to foes, who fear it;
            For God Himself fights by our side With weapons of the Spirit.
            Were they to take our house, Goods, honor, child, or spouse,

Though life be wrenched away, They cannot win the day.
            The Kingdom’s ours forever!






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.










·       SUNDAY SCHOOL FOR ALL AGES is held on Sundays between worship services.  Regular Sunday School ends with the school year.  THE LAST SUNDAY OF REGULAR SUNDAY SCHOOL IS MAY 13, since school is out May 15.


o   There are SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASSES for those age 3-high school from 9:45-10:45 a.m.


o   “WOOLY LAMBS,” for those who are just born through age 3, is held from 10:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. taught by Carol Gustafson and helpers.


o   There are various adult classes being offered.

§  Selected Psalms is being taught by Hunter Richards.


§  Culture Shock is a Chip Ingram video Series being taught by Dave Nufer.


§  Basic Teachings of the Bible will be taught by Pastor Jonathan Rockey beginning Sunday, May 6.  This class will build a foundation of knowledge and hopefully faith for those who wish to grow, and for those who wish to join St. John.


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.




·       A Spring Work Day will be held at St. John one of the first Saturdays in May.


·       Time and Talent Surveys – The 2018 Time and Talent Surveys will be handed out in worship the first three weeks in May.  Please fill a survey out.  These help us to do the work God has given us.  You can also fill out your surveys online.


·       Lutheran Church Extension Fund Presentation and Wills Seminar.  Susan Olson and Mike Madsen will make presentations at St. John on June 3.


o   Susan is Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) Vice President for the Northwest District.  The LCEF is a bank run by our church body.  It loans out its funds to build churches.  St. John’s building loan is with LCEF.  LCEF offers many attractive options for saving and investment.  Also, all money deposited with LCEF helps build churches.  Susan will share information about LCEF on June 3.


o   Mike Madsen, from Concordia University Portland, will present a wills seminar in a luncheon meeting after worship on June 3.  It is wise stewardship to have a will.  Mike will give tips on writing a will that helps protect assets and makes a Christian witness.


·       Community Picnic – St. John will again host a Colony Days’ Picnic on our grounds on Saturday, June 9.  Plans are being made for a parade entry and for the picnic meal.  There are MANY opportunities to volunteer and help share God’s love in Jesus with the people of Palmer.


·       St. John Family Camp – Family Camp will be held at Eklutna State Park again this year from June 22-24.  Plan now to attend.


·       Alaska Mission for Christ Vacation Bible School Possibility – A group of 8 individuals and families are exploring the opportunity to serve the Lord by sharing Jesus in a VBS at a place requesting help.  We are awaiting word on a possible location.  If you are interested, but it looks like we are going to Akiak.


·       Vacation Bible School – Vacation Bible School is scheduled for July 23-27.  Registration forms are already available on the counter in the narthex, and online.  There are also sign-up sheets for those who wish to help teach or lead.






Sleeping Ladye Waites

Early Music Ensemble

S​unday, April 29th


A​nchorage Lutheran Church

​1420 N St​


Come enjoy a​n afternoon

Of ​joyful ​early renaissance music!

Sleeping Ladye Waites, along with local recorder groups will take you on a tour of early music from the 13th - 17th centuries using replicas of some of the instruments

including a sackbut, recorders, viola da gamba and more! The concert is free. Donations are gratefully accepted.





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!!




Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Thankful for the Privilege of Sharing God's Love

Dear Members and Friends of St. John, 


Life at St. John has been extremely busy, in a good way, since the beginning of Lent.  Since, Ash Wednesday, February 14 this year, God has worked to grow His people through mid-week Lenten worship and fellowship meals, through a Confirmation Retreat and a marriage retreat, through a ski outing and a congregational ice fishing outing.  We learned through a presentation by Jews for Jesus followed by a Passover meal.  Seventh grade students received first communion. Our high school youth group led Good Friday worship, and families enjoyed the Easter festival.  On Easter morning we celebrated Jesus’ rising from the dead with 3 worship services, and with our Easter breakfast.  In addition, the week after Easter we celebrated Confirmation Day for 11 students.  At the same time we have been working on plans for a congregational outing to see Mary Poppins, on plans for the upcoming community picnic, and we are planning for a congregational trip to possibly lead Vacation Bible School in Akiak.  Whew!!  I’m ready for a vacation!


But, during the day on Tuesday, before Kathy and I left for vacation that evening, I visited a family who had lost a son.  I also visited with a member who will have brain surgery next week.  I was also called to the hospital for a member who is in critical condition.  In some ways, even though I’m ready for a vacation, it is hard to leave.  It is hard to leave when people need God’s care, and when, as a pastor, that is what I am called to do, to care for God’s sheep.


In the back of my mind are God’s words spoken by the Old Testament prophet, Ezekiel, against the self-serving priests of Ezekiel’s time.


2 "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? 3 You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. 4 You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. 5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals.


I don’t want to neglect the sheep and lambs of God.  Actually, I find that it is an honor and a privilege, not just a job, to bring God’s love to His people. Yet, because of work travel, or vacations, in the past I have missed weddings, anniversaries, funerals, and other important events in the lives of God’s people.  I care for the people of St. John and regret having missed these occasions.


However, I have a book of pastoral theology on my shelf that is entitled, “The Under-shepherd Under Christ.”  David reminds people of all ages who the real Shepherd is.  You know the first line of Psalm 23.  The LORD is my shepherd,”  God is THE shepherd.  A pastor is an “under-shepherd,”


In John 10 Jesus gives more insight into the relationship of God as shepherd for His people.  Jesus taught about Himself, 11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. . . . 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand.   (John 10:11, 27-28)  Only God is the real Shepherd, the real care-giver of His sheep.  Only God can forgive, can heal, and give eternal life.  The job of a pastor, in fact the job of God’s church, is to point to Jesus as the source of love and life which God’s people need.


So, on Tuesday I read from Psalm 23 to our member in the hospital.  I shared the John 10 verse above with our member facing surgery.  I also contacted some others who will help provide care for those facing these issues of life while I am gone.


It is good to get away, to rest, to refresh, to re-create, to be renewed.  But, it is also a blessing to share the Good Shepherd and all His blessings with the people of God and the sheep of God.  Thank you for giving me that joy and that privilege.


A Child of God, Thankful for the Privilege of Caring for God’s Sheep,

Pastor Jonathan          


P.S.      Confirmation Day was celebrated on Sunday, April 8, at St. John.  This year those confirmed included Amber Alexander, Regina Carlson, Kai Kastar, John Merritt, Thomas Merritt, Jack Nance, Jacob Osterkamp, Luke Peltier, Cooper Singleton, Dezzy Watkins, and Julia Watkins.  Here are pictures from Confirmation Day.


P.P.S.  While on a trip to Portland I got to visit with David Grosz on April 6.  David is doing well in his recovery from cancer, and will travel to Mongolia and Hong Kong for the World Mission Prayer League at the end of May.  Here is a picture of David.


P.P.P.S.  Because of leaving on vacation, these are probably pictures of my last (I think) ice fishing outing of Spring 2018.  Kym Miller and I both kept a limit of rainbow trout.





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, April 4, 2018

Thankful and Humbled by the Easter Faith of Children

Dear Members and Friends of St. John, 


I have two precious pieces of paper on my desk at this time.  These pieces of paper are attendance cards from Holy Week worship services at St. John.  Both attendance cards have prayer requests on the back.  However, I hope to soon return these written prayer requests to the families involved.


One of these cards is from Sarah Svedin.  The ushers brought this piece of paper to me at the altar for prayer on Palm Sunday, March 25.  Sarah asks, “Can you please prayer for my brother Levi today to heal his heart!”  Actually, we have been praying for Levi Svedin since before he was born.  Levi’s grandparents, Ron and Ann Marie Svedin, have asked prayers for their grandson when doctors discovered problems before birth.  Levi had one set of major surgeries before he left the hospital.  Recently, Levi came home, recovering from heart surgery.  Levi has at least one major surgery ahead of him.  Oh, by the way, Sarah is 6 years old!  (I confess that I broke up a little as I read Sarah’s request in her 6 year old hand-writing at the altar on that day.)


The other prayer request card I have is from Tatum Thomas.  I received this card at the altar in 9:00 a.m. worship on Easter Sunday.  Tatum wrote in her 7 year old hand-writing about her dad, Clint Thomas.  “Pray for my dad because he has a brane tumor.”  (Actually, I received 2 cards at the altar asking prayers for Clint.  One prayer request was from Tatum, and one was from her mom, Carly Thomas.)  We have known for a little over a month that Clint has a small brain tumor.  He will have surgery on April 17.  Tatum is asking for the people of St. John to pray for her dad.


Even as I write today’s devotion, my heart is full as I consider the faith and the love in these two young girls.  These prayer requests bring to mind the account of Jesus and the little children.  13 People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." 16 And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.”  (Mark 10:13-16)


I am thankful that these two young girls have such love for their family that, even at such a young age, they want to do something to help.  I am in awe at the faith of Sarah and Tatum that they go to Jesus for the help which they need.  I am humbled by their request for the people of God to join them in their prayers.  The words of Jesus speak even more truth to me, “15 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."


Would you please join me in praying with these two young girls for their family members that God would act in love and in mercy and in power in answer to their prayers?  Also, please pray for these young girls that, as they grow to be teenagers and young adults, their faith may continue and may grow.


What a great way to celebrate Jesus’ Easter victory, to go to Him asking His resurrection power and love in this world, and trusting the risen Jesus to act with power and mercy for those we love!


A Child of God, Thankful and Humbled by the Easter Faith of Children,

Pastor Jonathan          

P.S.      Here are pictures of the prayer requests from Sarah and Tatum.


P.P.S.  Last week was another BUSY Lenten week at St. John.  Here are some more pictures from Holy Week activities.

·       Here are pictures from the 2018 St. John Passover Meal.


·       Here are pictures the 2018 Easter Festival.


·       Here are pictures from this year’s Easter Breakfast.


P. P.P.S.  Monday’s fishing?  On the day after Easter I had my bait thawed, my truck loaded, and my dog along as I went to the gas station.  However, the wind was blowing.  When I had to use my full weight and the strength of my arms to be able to shut the door of my truck in the wind, I decided, “I’m not sure I want to fish in this wind.”  There was no ice fishing on April 2.





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, March 28, 2018

Easter Joy - Rejoicing that Jesus Won the Battle I Cannot Win

Dear Members and Friends of St. John, 


Throughout America we are hearing about an “opioid epidemic.”  But, for at least two generations the lure of illegal drugs has affected our culture so that many willingly place health and life in danger for the hope of the ultimate high.  Others are willing to break the law to gain large sums of money by selling these drugs illegally, placing their freedom, their identity, and their very souls in danger.  Unfortunately, this battle does not just play out in far away New York City, or Los Angeles.  This “epidemic” hits our own back yard, our own community, and often hurts people we know personally and love dearly. 


How does a culture fight against such strong desires in those who use drugs?  How do we fight against the lure of such large profits for those who pedal this slavery and death?  Our country has at times imposed stiff prison sentences.  We have heard campaigns that tell us, “Say ‘No’ to Drugs.”  We have even seen some substances legalized.  But, still loved ones end up with lives enslaved, and they even end up dead.  When the reality of this battle hits us personally, when we lose a loved one, our hopes and plans can face devastation, and we can experience despair.


This war on drugs may seem like a powerful enemy that we cannot defeat, at least not for the last 50 years.  But, the reality is that each one of us faces a much greater enemy.  Our bodies, our souls, and our minds are infected by a rebellion against our Lord and Creator.  In pride we don’t want anyone to tell us what to do, not even the one who made us.  In selfishness we want to indulge ourselves and accumulate to our own harm.  In a lack of love for others, we look away from those in need.  The battle against this sinful nature found within each one of us is not imagined, it is the sad reality.  As Paul writes, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. . . Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:19, 24).  Much larger than the war on drugs is the battle of our sinful nature against our relationship with God and against our relationships with one another.  Sin is a verifiable spiritual truth.  As Paul laments, “Who WILL deliver us?” 


This Sunday God gives His loving and powerful answer to this question.  HE will deliver us!  God sent His only Son to deliver us.  Jesus, the perfect Son of God took on the battle against sin and won that battle with a life of love and perfect obedience.  Jesus, the eternal Lord of the universe, died on a cross, sacrificing His life in love to save our lives.  If Jesus had stayed dead in the tomb then sin and death and Satan are stronger.  But, this Sunday we remember that Jesus, the Savior of the world, has defeated the enemies of sin and death which we cannot defeat.  With His rising from the dead Jesus has won the battle we cannot win.  He has paid for our sin.  Jesus defeated death.  Listen to the inspired words of God spoken through Paul in 1 Corinthians 15.


54 . . . “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”h 55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”i 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:54 b – 57)


Sometimes when we face the trials of life and know we are powerless, we can wonder why we should try any more, why we should care.  If life is so brutal, why try to live like there is hope. But, this Sunday we are reminded again that Jesus won the battle we cannot win.  Now we can face the losses, the betrayals, and the tragedies of life and go forward with faith and courage to live in hope and love.  As Paul wrote, 58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.  (1 Corinthians 15: 58)


The ancient church shouted Jesus’ victory, and we proclaim that victory to one another today, rejoicing in the truth of Jesus’ rising from the dead which gives us freedom and life.  “He is risen!  He is risen, indeed!!  Alleluia!!


A Child of God, Rejoicing that Jesus won the battle I could not win!

Pastor Jonathan          


P.S.  Remember to celebrate Jesus’ Easter victory by worshiping this week.  Services at St. John are held at 7:00, 9:00, and 11:00 a.m.


P.P.S.  Here are just a couple of other Easter verses to consider,


·       John 11:25-26  25 Jesus said to her [Martha], “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”


·       John 14:19 b Because I live, you also will live.


·       Romans 8:38-39  38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,k neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


P.P.P.S.  Last week was another BUSY Lenten week at St. John.  Here are some pictures from last week.

·       Here are pictures from our final Wednesday Lenten Meal, served by the Lawtons and some of our Stephen Ministers.


·       Here are pictures from Regina Carlson’s baptism, last Friday, March 23.


·       Here is a picture from the St. John Koinonia group last Friday evening, March 23.


·       Here are some pictures from the 2018 Shane Woods Ice Fishing outing on Sunday, March 25.


·       Here are a couple of pictures from Monday’s fishing trip to Point McKenzie.




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, March 21, 2018

Remembering the Price God Paid to Save Me from my Sin

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,

Pastor Jonathan                                                                                            


P.S.  Last week was a BUSY Lenten week.  Here are some pictures from LAST WEEK

·       Here are pictures from last Wednesday’s Lenten Meal -

·       Here are pictures from last Thursday’s Alyeska Ski Day

·       Here are pictures from last Sunday’s New Member Potluck


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.

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.






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.