Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Lenten Observance - Thankful for the Patient Love of my Merciful Heavenly Father

Dear Members and Friends of St. John, 


The church season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, this year on February 14*.  For a number of reasons Lent has become one of my favorite seasons of the church year.  Some may be surprised at such a statement.  Lent is the time before the Easter season that the Christian Church has traditionally focused on the opposition to the ministry of Jesus, opposition which led to Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross.  Bible readings during Lent portray the sinful behavior of the people of Jesus’ day, including His own followers and the religious leaders of His time.  Such focus gives us a chance to consider our own failings in the face of God’s righteous love.  Lent gives a time for humble confession, and for a heart of repentance.  This time of repentance has become important for my relationship with God.


But, as I wrote above, some may be surprised that Lent would be a favorite season of mine.  Who, after all, wants to spend time in repentance?  But, a heart that admits our own failings, our sin, and our rebellion, can then see more clearly the patient love of God.


Let me see if I can illustrate this point.  My wife and I had a chuckle recently, at my expense.  Our son, Tim, has faced some vehicle frustrations and challenges in recent times.  I confess to being frustrated along-side him.  A recent trip to Hatcher Pass to ski caused another such problem.  After a day of skiing, Tim could not find his keys.  The keys were later turned in to his gym by someone who found them on the slopes.  But, there were some anxious moments as he searched for his keys in my vehicle, and also in the dark up in Hatcher Pass.


I shared those moments of anxious frustration with Tim, but then I mentioned to my wife.  “Who was it that lost his cell phone on the upper mountain of Alyeska years ago?”  That wasn’t Tim, that was me.  In order to find my phone Trenton Berberich skied with me back to the place I had fallen, and we called my phone.  We could hear it ringing under the snow, so we found my phone. 


“Who was it that drove the school bus of another church (only for one week of a youth event) until the bus stopped running on the way back to that church . . . because there was no oil in the engine?”  That wasn’t Tim, that was me.  Thankfully, the owner of the bus was very understanding.


”Who was it whose car broke down about 200 miles from home on a trip home from college for Christmas vacation?”    That wasn’t Tim, that was me.  The drive shaft in my 62 Volkswagon had broken.  The car would not drive another mile.


“Who was it whose first 62 VW burnt up inside the garage of their home causing the fire department to rush to put out the fire?”    That wasn’t Tim, that was me, when I was 16 years old.


I try to be patient with my children.  I’m not sure I am always successful in my patience.  But, as I recounted some of these events with my wife, I came to realize just how many times my own dad showed patience to me.  Then, thinking of my own father’s patience, I began wondering just how many times my Heavenly Father has shaken his head wondering, “When will he learn that I love Him?  When will he learn to trust me?”  Our Heavenly Father is incredibly patient!


2 Peter 3 talks about the patience of God, “9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.


Lent has become a time that I intentionally take time to reflect on my failures, and on God’s patient love.  It is easy to read the Scripture and see the failures of Jesus disciples or the religious leaders of His day.  But, when I stop and reflect, I see my own failures too.  I am thankful for God’s merciful saving love in Jesus.  I am thankful for God’s patience with my rebellious sin.  My heart is led to repentance, to admitting my failure to God again and led to turn to Him for forgiveness and love and strength.  The season of Lent helps my attitude of repentance.


People observe the Lenten season in many ways including worship and fasting.  All of these ways to observe Lent are intended to point us to our waywardness, and are intended to point us to the patient saving love of God in Jesus, so that we repent.  The intent of Lent is that we turn from our sin and turn, in faith, to God’s patient love.  I pray a blessed Lent for you.


A Child of God, Thankful for the Patient Love of My Merciful Heavenly Father,

Pastor Jonathan



P.S.  I went skiing at Alyeska for the first time in a couple of years this past Monday.  DCE Intern, Ethan Mirly, and St. John member Cameron Christiansen went with me.  The visibility was not great because it was snowing.  But we still got to ski.  We all had a great time.  Here are some pictures.


*The date of Easter is moveable, so Ash Wednesday has a changeable date as well.  Easter occurs the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox.  Therefore, some years Easter is in March.  Some years Easter is celebrated in April.  This year western Christians celebrate Easter on Sunday, April 1.




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.




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