Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Learning that God Grows Faith Through Individual Relationships of Love

Dear Members and Friends of St. John, 


My wife recently told me that she has an idea for me as pastor.  Now, Kathy has had a number of ideas for me over the years.  Actually, they are usually pretty good ideas.  But, and this is a big “but”, Kathy’s ideas usually lead to quite a bit of work.  Kathy once shared with me, “We have such a good time at our congregational picnics, we ought to invite our neighbors.”  Now look at our Colony Days Picnic!  I like to tell Kathy that she has the ideas, and I get the work.  However, I also believe in what Psalm 100 says about “serving the Lord with gladness.”  So, I’ll share my wife’s new idea with you.


Kathy’s idea came from a conversation with our daughter, Mary.  Mary recently commented to Kathy how I used to bring her, and my other children, with me on shut in calls.  Mary related to Kathy how much she and Tim learned on these visits.  For one thing, Mary says they learned to behave.  According to Mary I taught my children to politely greet the folks we were visiting.  In addition, while I was talking with our elderly members, my children had to be quiet so I could talk with the adults.  Mary says that she and Tim had to find constructive ways to keep themselves occupied.  According to Mary, this also helped her, and helped Tim, to learn to relate to adults, even as a child. So, Mary learned a lot about faith and life on shut in calls with dad.


Actually, I also remember such shut in visits with my older children.  One lady I visited in a nursing home in St. Louis was failing and had not spoken to me in months . . . until I brought my infant son, Joshua, along.  Then she had all sorts of questions.  I also used to lead worship at a nursing home in St. Louis and would hold either Josh or Andrew in my arms as I led worship.  One day, however, I didn’t bring them with me.  I did not just hear disappointment.  I heard complaints about me not bringing my children!  (I even remember bringing Josh with me to jail in St. Louis, and bringing Mary on a prison visit in Jacksonville. I guess they got quite an education!)


So, Kathy’s idea is that I should take each of my confirmation students with me, one at a time, when I visit our elderly shut in members.  Or I could also take the students with me when I visit people in the hospital.  My normal plan is to visit members in the afternoons, 1-3 days a week.  Sometimes visits don’t happen when other demands take my time.  But, this is one of the parts of being a pastor that I truly enjoy.  It is a blessing to spend one on one time with someone, talking about life’s blessings and challenges, and considering the help and the grace of God for our lives.


Kathy thinks that since my children learned such valuable lessons, at least according to Mary and Tim, my students could also learn some of the same lessons from visiting elderly Christians who have trouble getting around in old age.  I do believe Kathy is right.  But, she has asked me at times to slow down, and then she comes up with ideas for more work!  Nevertheless, I believe this truly IS a good idea.


I know I am rambling.  However, there are two lessons I learned from this conversation.  First of all, faith is best taught, and discipleship is best grown, not in classrooms but in relationships.  Consider those Jesus discipled.  16 These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder); 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.  (Mark 3:16-19)  While Jesus came to save the world, he spent most of His time with these twelve individuals.  These disciples then spread the good news of Jesus to others, who spread it to others, etc.


Secondly, love is the exercise of our faith that best grows a disciple.  The night He was betrayed, Jesus told His disciples, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34) Jesus showed His love for us by dying on the cross to forgive us and to save us.  Love is patient.  Love is kind.  Love does listen, does forgive, and does protect. These behaviors are easy to talk about, but difficult to do well.  Therefore, we need the undeserved forgiveness and love of Jesus so that we can show His love to others.  You see, faith grows when God’s people reach out in love.


Taking Confirmation Students on a visit to my shut in members might just give these students an opportunity to learn and to experience the faith of another Christian in a one on one relationship which shows love.  I do believe this practice of taking students with me on shut in visits will indeed grow faith.  And growing faith in students is the goal of confirmation.


Kathy had the good idea.  Now, I get to figure out how to make it happen.  But, I do love my elderly members, and I do love our middle school students.  With God’s help we’ll figure something out.


A Child of God, Learning that God Grows Faith through Individual Relationships of Love,

Pastor Jonathan          


P.S.  Family Camp!  I am told by DCE Intern, Ethan Mirly, that during this past weekend of camping, about 75 people attended Family Camp, even though not everyone stayed the whole time.  THANK YOU to all who helped plan this family event!  I hope to have some pictures of family camp in some future e-mails.


P.P.S.  I took Ethan’s family fishing on Monday, June 25.  With king fishing shut down we went to Long Lake on the Glenn Highway.  However, it was cold and windy, and some rain drops added to the fun.  Nevertheless, here is a picture of the result of  fishing with the Mirly’s.


P.P.P.S.  The Northwest District Convention was held in Portland, June 21-23.  Dave Nufer, Kathy Rockey, Michael Moore, and Pastor Rockey attended for St. John.  Here is a picture of Pastor Jake Dickerhoff and his lay delegate, Tracy Mears (Tracy’s mom, Sharon, attends St. John.)





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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