Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Seeking God's Grace to Witness to His Love through a Humble, Forgiven, and Forgiving Life

Dear Members and Friends of St. John,


In our Promise Keepers men’s gathering on Tuesday night at St. John, we got into a complicated discussion about living in forgiveness.  Actually, this wide-ranging attempt to understand God’s word came from our Bible study.  In 1 Peter 2:9 we are told that God calls us as His “chosen people” for the purpose of witnessing to Him, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”   


But, according to this section of Scripture, our witness is done more so from holy lives, than from well-aimed words.  In 1 Peter 2:12, just 3 verses later, Peter describes this witness. “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”  The point of this verse is that, on Judgement Day, people will praise and glorify God because they were led to faith and to salvation by the witness of the lives of God’s people.  That is quite a witness!


But, while talking in this wide-ranging discussion about this high standard of Christian living, one man asked a question about marriage and divorce.  Our assigned Gospel reading last Sunday stated what can be considered another hard saying of Jesus.  11 He [Jesus] answered, "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. 12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery."  (Mark 10)  That seems like a pretty high standard, especially in today’s world. 


Ultimately, we all fall short of the demands of God’s law.  (See Matthew 5)  All Christians ultimately live in the grace of God found in the forgiveness Jesus won on the cross.  We need Jesus and His forgiveness for our lives.  Therefore, rather than living “Better than Thou” lives that speak judgement on others, Christians are called to live humble lives as sinners who are holy because we are forgiven by God.  We are called to live as forgiven sinners whose hearts are changed so that we want to serve God in faith and with holy lives.  We had quite a discussion on Tuesday night!


Rev. Dr. Dale Meyer is president of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis and writes a regular devotion.  He wrote about forgiveness in his Wednesday devotion, following our Tuesday evening discussion.  After the contentious and divisive confirmation Supreme Court hearings last week in Washington, Dr. Meyer wrote that God calls Christians to live as people who are forgiven, and who are ready to forgive others.  Speaking from that attitude of humility and grace would be a real witness in today’s divided world.


As our Tuesday night discussion rolled around in my mind and heart, Dr. Meyer’s “thoughts” seemed to add to our conversation.  I share these deep thoughts with you, hopefully not to confuse you, but to point us all to our real hope, to Jesus!


Dr. Meyer writes:

“I’m sorry, but now that you’ve told me how you saw things, I understand where you were coming from. Do you see where I was coming from?”

Have you ever been in a conversation like that? I’ve been wrestling with the legacy of Christopher Columbus. Traditionally we’ve honored him on Columbus Day for discovering America, although there’s doubt he was the first. Italians use the day to celebrate their ethnic heritage, although Columbus sailed under the Spanish flag. But today more and more cities and states have replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day. I see where they’re coming from. In his journal for October 11, 1492, Columbus wrote, “They should be good and intelligent servants, for I see that they say very quickly everything that is said to them. And I believe that they would become Christians very easily, for it seemed to me that they had no religion.” (Online, “Fortune” on “Smart News,” October 7). Columbus took six natives of Haiti as his slaves. He’d tell you his words and actions were common conduct for the time, but if you asked the slaves how they saw things… I presume the two sides never talked. Power won.

More and more we see demonstrations against this, that or whatever. Some are peaceful, others not. Public officials are harassed at restaurants and at home. Protesters block roads. Personal phone numbers made public. If you’d ask the protesters, they’d say they’re totally justified in their disruptive behavior, but if you ask the persons and families harassed… Intimidation is a power-play but doesn’t make for civil conversation. It’s symptomatic of our “me-first” culture, not unlike Columbus taking slaves. It was acceptable in his circles.

It’s different when true followers of Jesus have conflicts. They talk about it in a context of forgiveness. “You know I’ve come predisposed to forgive you, and I talk knowing that you’re ready to forgive me.”  Being ready to forgive makes those conversations much easier than the power play “You’re wrong and have to apologize.” That’s law, not Gospel. “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” The constant question for a follower of Jesus: Am I predisposed to forgive?


My question from all this is, “Does my life witness to God’s grace and forgiveness for me, as I seek to live ‘predisposed to forgive’ others?”  Christian life is not easy.  But, living in the grace of Jesus is just the witness our world needs today.


A Child of God, Seeking God’s Grace To Witness to God's Love Through A Humble, Forgiven, and Forgiving Life,

Pastor Jonathan   


P.S.  Here are some pictures from our beautiful fall sunsets.


P.P.S.  Here are pictures of the first day of confirmation.  We had 26 students! (And 5 students couldn’t make it!)




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.





FAMILY PROMISE!!! – St. John is again hosting families in our St. John facility from Family Promise, October 7-14 (THIS WEEK).  With this Christian ministry we work with other Christians to help homeless families in the valley get on their feet.  THANK YOU to all who have stepped up to help in this ministry of love and grace.  Please pray for our efforts this week for the 2 families staying at St. John this week.


PASTOR TODD ROESKE, Coordinator of Ministry for Alaska Mission for Christ, will preach at St. John this Sunday, October 14.  Pastor Roeske is in town for the AMC “Face to Face Meeting” on Friday and Saturday at St. John. 

There is also an opportunity to consider a difficult topic.  Bill Pagaran, of “Carry the Cure Ministries” in Alaska will speak to AMC on the suicide epidemic in bush communities.  St. John members are also welcome to attend this presentation and discussion on Friday night at 7:00 p.m. at St. John!


ST. JOHN YOUTH DINNER AUCTION -  The St. John Youth are offering a dinner auction at St. John on Saturday evening, October 20.  Doors open at 5:00 p.m.  Dinner begins at 6:00 p.m.  This event raises money for the St. John youth, especially for the coming National Youth Gathering in Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN, next July.


·       Donate items (new or gently used) or services for auction to Ethan’s Office.

·       Attend and enjoy the evening of fellowship and supporting our St. John Youth.



FALL FESTIVAL – An afternoon of family fun will be held at St. John on Saturday, October 27, from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m.  There will be hay rides, snacks, games, and costumes (as people wear them to this event.  The Family Ministry Board asks you to “come and enjoy!”







·       Wooly Lambs – This class taught by Carol Gustafson is for children beginning at birth, with their parents, until 3 years old.


·       Sunday School For Elementary Aged Children – There are classes for children beginning with nursery (aged 3) through 5th grade.


·       Middle School and High School Classes – There are separate classes for Middle School (grades 6-8) and High School.


·       NEW ADULT SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASSES – Two new classes started on Sunday, October 7.

o   Elijah –  Hunter Richards is teaching a class looking at the important old Testament prophet, Elijah.  The Class will meet in the South Fellowship Hall.


o   Christian Stewardship – is offered by the Stewardship Board.  This class, taught by Eric Wyatt and Pastor Rockey will look at all areas of Christian faith and service as part of our stewardship / management of God’s gifts to us.  This class from Synod will be taught in the north Fellowship Hall.


PRAYER MINISTRY OPPORTUNITY!! – There are Elders in Pastor Allen’s former office between worship who are available for prayer each Sunday between services.


WEDNESDAY WORSHIP continues to meet each week on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. and continues weekly until Advent services start in December.  This weekly evening worship service provides an opportunity for those who cannot worship on Sunday, or for those who enjoy an extra time to worship God.  (The sermons on Wednesdays are not the same as Sunday, so you can attend both services if you wish.)


THE LUTHERAN CHURCH EXTESION FUND (LCEF) is a bank run by our denomination that exists for the purpose of growing God’s Church.  This bank takes deposits from church members and then makes loans to churches for buildings, and to church workers for homes.  The rates paid to member investors, and the rates charged churches and church workers are usually better than commercial rates.

St. John’s loan is with LCEF.  Our current rate of interest is 3.75%.  However, we could lower the rate by 1/8 % if we have 15% of communicant members as investors.  We would need 90 new investors for this break.  We can lower our rate by ¼% if we have 25% of our communicant members, or 167 individuals as investors.

On Sunday, August 12, the Church Council voted to try to at least reach the goal of 100 investors in LCEF.  This doesn’t have to be 100 families, but 100 individual accounts.  So, for example, grandparents can start accounts for grandchildren.  We will hear more about this opportunity in worship in the coming weeks.

Information and applications are on a table in the narthex.











·       High School Youth meet at St. John on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m.


·       Promise Keepers Men’s Group – Promise Keepers will meet on Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. beginning on Tuesday, October 2.  This year we will study the book “Gospel DNA”.  Come and join us.



·       Quilting – The St. John Ladies Quilt from 9:30 to 11:30 each Wednesday morning.  These quilts are distributed to those in need to share Jesus love in our local community, our state, and around the world.


·       Lifelight – Lifelight Bible Classes are held at noon.  We share a pot luck lunch of leftovers.  Classes will start on October 3.  This year we will study Genesis.


·       WEDNESDAY CONFIRMATION – Wednesday Confirmation classes for those in grades 6-8 will begin on Wednesday, October 3, at 2:45 p.m.


·       WEDNESDAY WORSHIP – Wednesday worship is offered each week at 6:30 p.m. at St. John.  This service gives another worship opportunity to God’s family in addition to Sunday worship services.  If a person cannot worship on Sunday, the same readings from Sunday are used on Wednesdays, with a different sermon from the Sunday morning sermon.  In addition, if someone wants an additional opportunity for growth and fellowship and praise, Wednesday worship can provide that opportunity.  Come and join us on Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m.


·       CHOIR – We are hoping to start soon.



         NEW ORIGINAL BIBLE STUDY (Young Adults) – Twenty and thirty something’s meet at the home of Hunter and Elizabeth Richard, 340 North Bonanza, on Friday nights for Food, Fellowship, and Bible Study.


         KOINONIA Senior Fellowship meets at St. John for supper on the 4th Friday of many months.  Koinonia will meet Friday, October 26, at 6:00 p.m. for pot-luck supper and sharing at the Rockey residence, 10645 East Ali Circle.



         ST. JOHN MEN’S BREAKFAST - The St. John men’s group, Promise Keepers, is meeting on Saturday mornings this summer at the Noisy Goose at 7:30 a.m. for food and fellowship.  ALL MEN are invited to join us.  “Fathers, feel free to bring your sons too!  This group meets even when the pastor is out of town.


         SATURDAY Confirmation – Saturday Confirmation will meet 10 or 11 times during the school year on Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. This is for students who cannot make it to the Wednesday classes.






Pastor Jonathan and Kathy Rockey will be leading a trip to Germany November 26-December 10, 2019.  We will start in Vienna and end in Berlin.  The focus of this trip will be Christmas markets, music, and Martin Luther.  Information about the itinerary, cost, and registration can be found at this link from Luther Tours. -

Already, about 25  people have indicated an interest in attending.  If you want to know more about this trip talk to Pastor Rockey or Kathy.






John Damberg Latin Jazz Quintet

with Marimba & Steel Pan


Anchorage Lutheran Church

October 14th at 4:30pm

1420 N St

Admission is Free ~ Donations gratefully accepted






OCTOBER 21st at 4:30pm

1420 N St

Concert is free ~ Donations gratefully accepted




DID YOU KNOW THAT MUCH INFORMATION ABOUT ST. JOHN is available on our church website?  On our web page you can find sermons, newsletters, and these weekly devotions.  The link is:

In fact, IF YOU WANT TO RECEIVE YOUR MONTHLY CHURCH NEWSLETTER BY E-MAIL please e-mail Judy Stahancyk and let her know.  You can call at 745-3338, or e-mail Judy at If you receive the newsletter by e-mail it saves printing, postage, and time compiling the newsletter.  Also, you receive the monthly newsletter more quickly!!


Jonathan Rockey, Child of God, Husband, Father, Son, Grandfather

Senior Pastor, St. John Lutheran Church


907-745-3338 - church

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