Dear Members and Friends of St. John,
During the Lenten season this year, as in most years at St. John, we are offering special mid-week worship services to help people in their Lenten journey to the cross with Jesus. So, how is your Lent going? Are you growing to understand the sacrifice of Jesus, that He willingly faced rejection, violence, and death at the hands of those He came to save? Are you growing in understanding of how your own sin helped cause Jesus’ suffering and death? Is the love of God shining through the darkness of this sinful world, that He lovingly gave of Himself . . . FOR US?!
Each week in our mid-week Lenten worship this year we have been singing the hymn, “Jesus I will Ponder Now” as we prepare our hearts to hear God’s Word read. I saved a devotion from my friend, Dr. Dale Meyer, that helps us think of our Lenten journey, and suggests some other thoughts about the Christian walk of faith in our modern technological world. This devotion also considers the prayer of this hymn we are singing. I share these thoughts with you now.
“Jesus, I will ponder now / On Your holy passion.” Many Christians sing that hymn today . . . How deeply will we ponder?
I’m enjoying a book by Bernard Bull, a professor at Concordia University Wisconsin. “Digitized: Spiritual Implications of Technology,” from Concordia Publishing House, suggests deeper Lenten questions than “shall I give up chocolate?”
“People today are seeking love and answers to their greatest problems not only from other people; we are also turning to technology. We may come to rely on it as our source of hope and comfort, setting God aside. We see technology as the beacon of light and hope for a better future for us and for the rest of the world, believing that it will deliver us from the darkness of disease, disaster, poverty, war, and other troubles in our world and lives. When we seek love, security, healing, solutions to society’s most pressing problems, safety, or any other basic need from technologies or the people who wield them, we are tempted to act as if they play the role of messiah—a role that only Jesus properly fills.” (p. 87)
“Jesus, I will ponder now”? Technology can address the symptoms of sin but cannot forgive sin. Technology can busy our lives but cannot calm our hearts. Technology can eavesdrop on our conversations but cannot answer prayers with fatherly love. Technology can improve our health and prolong our lives but cannot lead body and soul to heaven. Technology crashes, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, God’s Word alone endures into eternity.
“Jesus, I will ponder now / On Your holy passion;
With Your Sprit me endow / For such meditation.
Grant that I in love and faith / May the image cherish
Of Your suff’ring, pain, and death / That I may not perish.”
(Meyer Minute, February 14, 2018)
So, are we pursuing hope and life in Jesus, in His cross? Or do we look elsewhere, sometimes even to technology, and “set God aside”? In Romans 5 God inspired Paul to share with the Romans Christians the surprise of Jesus’ sacrifice, and the depths of God’s love.
“6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8)
How is your Lent going? I pray that the special disciplines of the journey of Lent are helping you to focus on Jesus’ sacrificial love, and turning your hearts from the false wisdom and idols of this world, to God’s love for us in Jesus.
A Child of God, Pondering Jesus’ Passion-Seeking to Grow in Faith and Love,
P.S. Here are some pictures from Lenten Fellowship meal served by the Young Adults of St. John on February 28. https://photos.app.goo.gl/vpmqZUcMVW9pb5qF3
P.P.S. This past weekend 9 couples went on a Marriage Retreat. I meant to take pictures, but . . . the only pictures I have are of an ice-fishing outing at the retreat. https://photos.app.goo.gl/9itaIFOYzA7rusWj1
P.P.P.S. Pastor Todd Roeske came to town for an Alaska Mission for Christ meeting. Todd and I joined St. John member, Gerry Zellar, to go ice fishing near Gerry’s house. We caught 6 fish after a number of hours of hard work. Here are pictures of the largest fish, which Todd caught. https://photos.app.goo.gl/HNDGQpaed8sCTmdo2
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.