Dear Members and Friends of St. John,
In 1984 I was sitting in a meeting between two church members who had some issues with each other. In reality, both had serious complaints . . . about the other. I was in this meeting with another pastor as both parties shared their hurts. Finally, the other pastor, Pastor Chuck Bichel, said to those involved. “We can go on and on about the hurts you have received, and you have both been hurt. Or, we can trust that Jesus forgives us and we can forgive one another. We can put the past behind us and build a new future, based on Jesus.”
That was an important moment in the lives of these two fellow Christians. They both chose to forgive and actually built up their relationship again. I watched them rebuild their friendship.
I remember this story as I look out the window and see that it is snowing . . . again! (My computer weather says it will keep snowing at least through midnight. That is over 20 hours of snow . . . again.) Actually, I like snow. But, I know that for many, when March rolls around, they are ready for spring to bud. However, we do live in Alaska. Spring is a couple of months away. Nevertheless, the snow reminds me of the verse from Isaiah about forgiveness.
In Isaiah chapter 1 we are told that Isaiah has a vision from God. In this vision, God recounts the many sins of Israel, of which Isaiah is part. But, then the voice from heaven says to Isaiah, "Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. (Isaiah 1:18)
I don’t even know all my sins before God, but I am ashamed of those I do know. What a comfort to hear these words of forgiveness. What a comfort to look out the window and see the snow covering all the dirt. What a blessing during this Lenten season to consider that the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)
Last Sunday, March 11, we were blessed at St. John to witness two baptisms. Caleb Walters and Emryn Remele were called as God’s children, were given the gift of God’s Spirit, and . . . were forgiven of their sins. (Acts 2:38-39) God reached out and granted His grace which He promises to His children in baptism. Many of us are baptized, and God continues to work in our lives by His Spirit to create and to strengthen our faith in Jesus, and to forgive our sins. Or, as God speaks to us through Isaiah, "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” When God forgives we have a new start. When God forgives we are born again to new life.
As pastor for almost 39 years, I have watched the forgiveness of God change lives. I have seen people who had been slaves to alcohol or drugs as God surprised them with His love and forgiveness. This forgiveness gave these people a new start and gave them new lives. I have watched some marriages heal as the real forgiveness of Jesus was shared from spouse to spouse. I have witnessed Christians who literally hated one another find reconciliation, and work together for the Lord. I have been amazed to see families put the past behind them because of Jesus and build new relationships of love.
Actually, I have personally been blessed by the forgiveness of God, and the forgiveness of others. What a blessing God’s forgiveness is, because all of us are stained crimson by our sin.
So, South Central Alaska had very little snow this year, through January. But February was a near record month of snow days, and March is continuing the trend. This large amount of snow may dampen the spirits of some. But, I choose to remember the words of Isaiah and find comfort in the gift of forgiveness from my Heavenly Father through His Son, Jesus. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”
A Child of God, Thankful for New Starts in Jesus,
P.S. As mentioned above, we had two baptisms in worship on Sunday, March 11.
· Caleb Walters, infant son of Philip and Jamie Walters was baptized in early worship. https://photos.app.goo.gl/35O74gXGyznBdHtz1
· Emryn Remele, infant daughter of Brett and Hadley Remele was baptized in late worship. https://photos.app.goo.gl/I8TLQHDPQhGkIzj72
P.P.S. I took my daughter ice fishing on Monday, since school was on recess for Spring Break. Here are a couple of pictures. https://photos.app.goo.gl/s3645SuBKITonEyB3. What a BEAUTIFUL winter day!
P.P.P.S. Here are some pictures from last week’s Lenten Fellowship Meal served by the Schurmans, the Jacobsons, and the Brettragers. https://photos.app.goo.gl/FO4kiUPkzLAjM76l1
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.