Dear Members and Friends of St. John,
So, do you fellow Alaskans roll out of bed as easily in January as you do in June? Maybe I’m getting older. Maybe I’m getting lazier. (I hope not!) But, I think that this year especially I have found it a little easier to open my eyes in the morning, and to see the dark, and to then stay in bed “just for a few more minutes.” That is not my normal reaction to morning. I have often fled sleeping so that I would not miss some opportunity to work or play. My mother used to say that I “fought sleep.” My wife, Kathy, says that I get along on much less sleep than she does, and she sometimes worries that I don’t get enough sleep to be healthy. But, this year I’ve just found it a little easier to “hibernate.”
I am convinced that light plays a big difference in our energy level and activity level. Alaskans know that light also affects our mood. In the summer, when the sunlight hits my closed eyelids very early in the morning, I often get up before any alarm. But, in the winter, when it’s time to get up, but there are still stars in the dark sky, it always seems easier to sleep. This year just more so.
Actually, the effect of light and darkness has been one of the reasons I like to get outdoors in the winter. If you can rise and go to work in the dark, and if you can then leave work and come home in the dark, those hours of light can be a precious, energy-giving time. So, on my days off I make sure I go fishing, or skiing, or simply get outside. Light gives energy and life, perhaps even more so when the world around us is dark.
Do you know that one of the names given to Jesus is “Morning Star?” The light of that star which shines in darkness has perhaps more meaning to Alaskans who understand times of physical darkness.
In Peter's second epistle, as Peter is sharing his experience at the Transfiguration and re-affirming that Jesus is indeed the long-awaited Messiah, promised in the Old Testament, he writes to his congregation, “And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” (2 Peter 1:19) Jesus is The Morning Star.
In the last chapter of the Bible, as Jesus appears to John in a Revelation, promising that He is indeed coming again, Jesus assures John, "I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star." Jesus calls himself, “The Morning Star.”
But, it is not just a lack of sunlight that brings darkness to our world. The sinful nature which lurks within each of us brings disappointment, sorrow, pain and death. The inability of our elected officials to be able to act in a way that is good for all people brings darkness. The scourge of substance abuse that ruins lives and families, and which often causes death, brings darkness. The forces within that tear apart families and households, bring darkness. The emptiness and grief of missing a loved one who has died, bring darkness.
But, in the dark sky of a sinful world we have the “Morning Star.” We have the promise of God’s love and favor, even when our world is full of hatred and fighting. We have the assurance of God’s forgiveness, even when we have failed to live in obedience and love. We have the sure hope of eternal life for all who believe in Jesus, because the Morning Star died and rose. Jesus is that Morning Star whose light even shines through the darkness of deepest night.
There are many hymns which offer prayers, and praise God, because Jesus brings the light of the righteousness and love of God into our dark world. Perhaps you know the traditional hymn “O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright,” (Lutheran Service Book 395) or the Epiphany hymn, “Brightest and Best of the Stars of the Morning” (Lutheran Service Book 400) But, I believe that a new hymn best speaks a prayer that is on my heart. Perhaps your heart echos the words of the hymn, “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light.” (Lutheran Service Book 411)
I want to walk as a child of the light, I want to follow Jesus.
God set the stars to give light to the world. The star of my life is Jesus.
In Him there is no darkness at all. The night and the day are both alike.
The Lamb is the Light of the city of God. I want to follow Jesus.
Yes, in our dark world of sin, this hymn speaks well the prayer of my heart. “I want to walk as a child of the light, I want to follow Jesus.”
A Child of God, Desiring to Walk in the Light of Jesus, the Morning Star,
P.S. I went ice fishing for the first time in 2019 this past Monday. I went to a favorite, non-stocked lake, but did not even have a bite. Yet, the sun was out. Temperatures were in the high 20’s. There was no wind. It was peaceful to sit on the ice and consider the love of God in my life. Here is a photo of my companions.
P.P.S. My wife is a GREAT cook. After a meal of salmon on Friday evening, Kathy made quiche for Monday evening with the leftover salmon. Take a look!
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.
BIM’S BIRTHDAY PARTY – St. John member, James “Bim” Hoylman will celebrate his 69th birthday on Saturday, January 19, at Pizza Ria Delphi in Palmer at noon. Bim is asking everyone to come and join him. If you want to send Bim a card you can send it to:
190 Edinborough Drive
Palmer, AK 99645
NEWSIES – Fellowship Trip to see the Disney Play, “The Newsies” -
FOUR people from the St. John family are participating in the local musical play, Newsies. That includes Collin Christiansen, Kyndle Kirby, Gaelen Swigart, and Sara Guhl. The Fellowship Board is planning a trip to this play on Saturday afternoon, January 26, for the 2:00 p.m. show. There will be a soup and salad bar at church at noon, and then we’ll leave for the play.
Cost of tickets is $25.00 a person. Sign up on the counter in the narthex THIS WEEK if you wish to join in this fellowship opportunity THE FOLLOWING SATURDAY.
GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES AT ST. JOHN
SUNDAY SCHOOL FOR THE 2018-2019 SCHOOL YEAR IS OFFERED EACH SUNDAY MORNING FROM 9:45-10:45 a.m. –COME AND GROW!
CLASSES ARE OFFERED FOR CHILDREN OF ALL AGES from birth through High School.
WOOLY LAMBS – Age birth to 3 years old – 10:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Sundays
ADULT SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASSES
Jim Summers will teach a class on the Old Testament books of Esther, January 6 through February 3.
Dave Nufer will teach a class on The Holy Spirit, entitled “Spiritual Simplicity – Doing Less, Loving More.” This class will start January 13 when Sunday School for all ages starts up again.
Pastor Rockey will start another Basic Teachings of the Bible / Adult Member Class. This is not only a basic class for those who might want to join St. John, but also a good refresher for long time members. This class will start January 13 when Sunday School for all ages starts up again.
PRAYER MINISTRY OPPORTUNITY!! – There are Elders in Pastor Allen’s former office between worship who are available for prayer each Sunday between services. Prayer is one of the greatest gifts God gives His people. Come bring your prayer requests. Come join in praying for God’s work, and for others.
WEDNESDAY WORSHIP - Wednesday Worship services are offered each week at 6:30 p.m. at St. John. These services are offered as an alternative opportunity for worship. If someone cannot make worship on Sunday, Wednesday worship is an option. If someone wishes to worship our Lord in addition to Sunday, Wednesday worship is an option.
These Wednesday services primarily use the same readings as will be read on the following Sunday, but the sermon is different on Wednesday than the sermon on Sunday.
During Advent and Lent, Wednesday worship includes a meal and sermons with a theme appropriate to the season.
Come and join us in growing closer to our Lord and closer to our fellow Christians.
OPPORTUNITIES TO HELP OTHERS
SHUT IN VISITATIONS – If you would like to reach out to one of our elderly members there is a list on the counter in the narthex of the 24 shut ins that pastor visits, mostly monthly. If you would like to make monthly contact with one of these folks, please sign up and then talk with Pastor Rockey.
AMC VBS IN EEK - Members of St. John are planning again to go to the village of Eek, AK, to conduct VBS for the children there. If you are interested please speak to Rod or Temple Christiansen, Marilee Nufer, Sara Guhl, or Pastor Rockey.
DO YOU HAVE A PLOW YOU CAN USE TO PLOW AT CHURCH? - We need people who can plow the parking lot at church. At the current time we have one member who is plowing. If you can help please contact Peter Probasco, 351-0085, Judy in the church office 745-3338, or Pastor Rockey 841-4066 so we can grow our list of those who can plow as winter arrives.
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!!
Child of God
Husband, Father, Son, Grandfather
Senior Pastor, St. John Lutheran Church
907-745-3338 - church
907-746-6117 - fax