Dear Members and Friends of St. John,
Have you taken down your Christmas decorations yet? Or are your decorations and lights still up, still decorating your home in the New Year? Is the job of taking down these decorations also a somewhat dreaded task you face in the future? I know that on Monday, when Kathy and I were taking down our decorations, the ladies of St. John and their helpers were also “de-decorating”.
However, this year when we took down our decorations at the Rockey house, we also made another, rather large, decision. We donated at least some of our excess Christmas regalia to Bishops Attic so they could sell it. That was a large donation including 6 boxes loaded with Christmas decorations collected over the years. We donated a Santa collection, Christmas towels, runners, and table cloths. There was a box of garlands and lights, an unopened package of angels, and a trash bag full of Christmas boxes. (Kathy looked for the snowman collection, but she now thinks we gave that away a few years ago.) This year’s donation did not include the collection of angels we set aside for our daughter, nor the collection of nutcrackers set aside for one of our sons. And, since I have bought Kathy a Christmas ornament for our tree with the date on it for each of the 41 Christmases of our married life, we still have more than enough decorations for our tree, along with our still growing collection of manger scenes.
Forty-one Christmases is a long time! But, after a while these decorations, which are intended to help celebrate the birth of our Savior, can and do get in the way of that celebration.
Life can be like that. For example, after being pastor in one location for almost 27 years, I have said “Yes” to a lot of servant roles and volunteer causes. But, I seldom say “No.” After a while the activities and responsibilities add up and can overwhelm a person.
All of that is why, a number of years ago, I gave up making “New Year’s resolutions.” But, I became serious about life values and goals. Resolutions can be a similar kind of trap. I can work on them for a while, and maybe fail. Or, I can decide what is really important and keep working on these goals from year to year. Ultimately, having life goals can also help me set priorities for making decisions about where I spend my time.
Christians have an advantage, I believe, when it comes to setting life goals. First we can look to God to tell us what is really important. This week our Confirmation Class will learn Mark 12:30-31. You get the whole context if you also read verses 28-29. “28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" 29 "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31 The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."
So, loving God and loving others are our Lord’s priorities for our life. Over 20 years ago, in a time of learning and introspection, I realized that I am first of all a child of God, and need to focus on that identity. So, I begin each day in devotional Bible reading and prayer. I take God’s church seriously. I work on my relationship with my Lord and loving Him. Secondly, I am a husband, a father, and a son. I am not perfect at these jobs, but I seek to do my best to love my family, and then others as God has taught me. Finally, I know if I am not healthy, in spirit and body and mind, I cannot love God and others as I should. So, I seek to take care of myself. It has been a struggle. But these are life goals I have for myself, because I believe they are God’s goals for my life.
There is also another way that Christians have an advantage in setting life goals. When we fail, and as weak sinful people we will fail, we don’t have to give up. Because of the forgiveness God gives in Jesus, if that goal was worthwhile, we can re-start our efforts in the grace and forgiveness of our Lord. Because of God’s love and forgiveness we can admit our weaknesses and failures to ourselves and to others. We can ask forgiveness and forgive, and start again to live as the child of God we are made to be.
On Monday, as we were “de-cluttering”, we got rid of table decorations and garlands, we got rid of Santas and angels and nutcrackers. But, you may have noticed we kept the mangers to help us celebrate the reason for the Christmas season. I am sure, some day we will get rid of many of those too. After all, we have a Savior, Jesus. What is really important in life is that we want to love God and love other, because in Jesus God has loved us and saved us.
A Child of God, Seeking God’s Life Goals Instead of Making Yearly Resolutions,
P.S. We are still basking in the joy the wedding of our daughter Mary to Aaron Smith at St. John on December 30!! In addition to the pictures we took ourselves, we received an early group of pictures from the photographer.
Here are some new wedding pictures you might enjoy seeing (along with those shared last week). - https://photos.app.goo.gl/bX2g4HFaRHxyxJAk2
P.P.S. I intended to go fishing on Monday but, taking down the decorations TOOK A LONG TIME!
P.P.P.S. My 90 year old dad has sold his home and is moving into a senior living complex a mile from his old home. I will be in FL next week trying to help with the move. Kathy will be in AK working. Hunter will lead worship on January 21.
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.
NEW DCE INTERN ARRIVED LAST FRIDAY!– Ethan Mirly, new DCE intern for St. John, arrived in Alaska on Friday, January 5, and was in worship Sunday, January 7. His first official day in the office was Tuesday, January 9. We pray God blesses Ethan through his time at St. John, and that God works through Ethan to bring God’s love to His family in this place.
· Sunday School Classes for children started up again in the New Year LAST Sunday JANUARY 7.
· HOWEVER, Wooly Lambs will begin again THIS SUNDAY, January 14
ADULT SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASSES!
· Ephesians – This study of the book of Ephesians is led by Hunter Richards in the Fellowship Hall each Sunday. This is a continuation of a class begun at the first of November.
· Jonah – Jim Summers is teaching a class on Jonah. This class began on Sunday morning, January 7, and meets in the South Fellowship Hall outside the kitchen.
NEW 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 on Sunday, January 7, at 9:30 a.m. Two of our Elders, Donita Odland and Jackie Kolberg, will be in Pastor Allen’s former office to spend time in prayer. 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.
Please feel free to join Donita and Jackie in prayer, or to share your requests with them.
COMMISSIONING AND INSTALLATION OF OFFICERS AND BOARD MEMBERS will take place in worship on Sunday, January 14!
Officers and Board Members of St. John are asked to please be in worship that day for this Installation and Commissioning. This gives leaders a chance to commit themselves to serving the Lord in the strength of His help. It also gives the congregation a chance to support its leaders in prayer as they serve.
DAVE RAMSEY FINANCIAL PEACE UNIVERSITY AT ST. JOHN – Starting Sunday Afternoon, January 14 at 1:00 p.m.
Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University will begin classes at St. John on Sunday, January 14, at 1:00 p.m. St. John member, Sarah Brettrager Downing, will lead these sessions. Sarah has been to the class and used the guidance from this Christian financial stewardship plan.
The sixteen families who have signed up have received a phone call or e-mail reminding them of this class. For those who have not signed up, please talk to Sarah, or Stewardship Board member, Josh Nance, to discuss possibly attending.
THE JANUARY ALL-BOARD MEETING will be held on Sunday, January 14 at 6:00 p.m.
Twice a year St. John holds an ‘All Board Meeting’ in place of a regular Church Council meeting. Instead of just the chair people of each board attending the council meeting, ALL officers AND all board members of each board attend this working meeting. There is time allotted so that each board gets to meet and discuss their responsibilities at St. John, and to discuss their plans and opportunities for serving our Lord in the coming year. This January meeting is usually a low-key time for new Board members to understand what we are doing to serve the Lord, and a time to begin making plans for the coming year.
IF YOU ARE AN OFFICER OR SERVE ON A BOARD AT ST. JOHN, please plan now to attend this important meeting. This really helps us to start the New Year right. We want to do a good job serving our Lord!
OPPORTUNITIES TO HELP OTHERS
DO YOU HAVE A PLOW YOU CAN USE TO PLOW AT CHURCH?
We need people who can plow the parking lot at church. At the current time we have one member who is plowing. If you can help please contact Peter Probasco, 351-0085, Judy in the church office 745-3338, or Pastor Rockey 841-4066 so we can grow our list of those who can plow as winter arrives.
Summer Housing/Vehicle Needed - AMC - The Servant Event Coordinator for Alaska Mission for Christ, Jan Bruick, is seeking housing and a vehicle for June, July and August 2018. Jan Bruick will be assisting AMC teams with mission and service deployment throughout the state this coming summer. She is seeking a 1- or 2-bedroom apartment with a kitchen for rent, as well as a vehicle. Please contact her directly at: email@example.com or 402-641-9691.
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!!