Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Finding Strength in the Un-Failing Presence of Jesus

Dear Members and Friends of St. John, 


There is something exciting going on in the world of professional sports, specifically in the National Hockey League.  The Las Vegas Golden Knights are a first year expansion team.  Their players are those that other teams deemed expendable in an expansion draft.  I have heard the Golden Knights called a team of “cast-offs.”  Usually such first year teams try to be “respectable.”  They try not to have the most losses in the league.  I heard the coach of the Golden Knights say in an interview that their goal was “to give the fans their money’s worth, to give a good effort.”  Expectations for a first year team are not a great or winning season.


Yet, even though this team began the year with low expectations, they have earned one of the best records during the regular season of play.  The Vegas Golden Knights have advanced to the final round of playoffs and are playing for the championship!  No one expected this level of success.  It seems unprecedented!


I heard the Las Vegas coach, Gerard Gallant, interviewed. He explained their year with a cliché that, nevertheless, seemed to be true for this team when he said it.  “We just play one game at a time.  At the beginning of the year we just wanted to give a good effort in each game.  As we started with an 8-1 record, and then played some of the better teams, we just played each game for what it was.  As we entered the playoffs, we just played one game at a time.” (This is not a word for word quote, but my memory and understanding of what I heard him say. )  Sometimes a life goal seems too big, or unreachable.  So, wisdom says to focus on the present and let the future take care of itself.


There are times where it seems to me that life can be overwhelming.  This isn’t even about tragedy, or loss, or severe trial.  Sometimes the day-to-day tasks are so big that to look at what needs doing in the future can be daunting.  Ask someone what the future looks like as they enter college, or begin an advanced degree, or even some who enter the military,  In some ways it is hard to imagine graduating, or finishing military service.  At that point, where the future seems so far away, we need to take one day at a time.


I can understand such feelings.  Life has been especially busy since . . . October.  At times the demands of being a pastor, the responsibility of being a husband and dad, the call to live as a child of God, along with my own weaknesses and limitations and sin, can seem overwhelming.  I find I need to take not just one day at a time, but to work on one task at a time.


But, during these times when I am looking at the trees, and not the forest, I find comfort in the words Jesus spoke to His disciples as He physically left this world.  “18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20)


The One who is not only our Savior, but who has all authority, is with us . . . always!  The One who loved us enough to die and rise to save us, is with us . . . always!  Jesus, who sends us into all nations to teach and to baptize and to make disciples, is with us . . . always!  When the tasks of life seem overwhelming, Jesus is with us . . . always!


Sometimes the words of hymns, taken from the words of Scripture, speak to my heart.  One of my favorite songs, which strengthen me with the assurance that Jesus is always with us is “Lord of All Hopefulness.  This song reminds us that Jesus is with us at break of day.  This hymn assures us that Jesus is with us at noon, in the heat of labor.  This poem set to music strengthen us to know that God is with us as life, hopefully, slows down in the evening.  This song reminds us that our Lord is with us at the end of the day, or also at the end of our life.  In other words, as Jesus says, “surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."


Perhaps you would like to ponder and pray with me.


Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy,

Whose trust, ever childlike, no cares could destroy:
            Be there at our waking, and give us, we pray,

Your bliss in our hearts, Lord, at the break of the day.


Lord of all eagerness, Lord of all faith,

Whose strong hands were skilled at the plane and the lathe:

Be there at our labors, and give us, we pray,

Your strength in our hearts, Lord, at the noon of the day.


Lord of all kindliness, Lord of all grace,

Your hands swift to welcome, Your arms to embrace:

Be there at our homing, and give us, we pray,

Your love in our hearts, Lord, at the eve of the day.


Lord of all gentleness, Lord of all calm,

Whose voice is contentment, whose presence is balm:

Be there at our sleeping, and give us, we pray,

Your peace in our hearts, Lord, at the end of the day.

© Oxford University Press. Used by permission: LSB Hymn License .NET, no. 100012581.


Or, as Our Lord and Savior, Jesus, tells us, surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."


A Child of God, Finding Strength in the Un-failing Presence of Jesus,

Pastor Jonathan          


P.S.  No pictures this week.  I was asked by a friend to golf, so I did not fish.






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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