Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Gardening and Thinking

Dear Members and Friends of St. John,


Kathy and I have worked quite a number of hours together on our yard and garden this year.  Thankfully, the time spent shows.  Our lawn looks green and lush.  In fact, because I worked in past years on dandelions, when the lawn came in this year, there were very few of those yellow weeds in my front lawn.


Our flower gardens are beautiful.  The rose tree of China has bloomed and gone.  The daffodils and tulips graced the early spring, but all that is left now are the green plants.  However, the daisies, the columbine, the lilacs, and the irises are blooming now and are beautiful.  The peonies are ready to burst.  Years ago we paid Taylor Berberich to design and plant our front flower bed.  Her work is still evident.  In addition I have planted some hanging baskets for the front porch and some planters in the back yard.  These flowers are all ahead of last year’s crop, and are displaying beautiful blooms.


And my vegetable garden is doing well.  Jackson and Kendall, two of my grandchildren, helped me plant on Memorial Day.  Everything is up now and looking healthy (though I’m still waiting for most of my carrots to show).  I have used the roto-tiller and weeded the garden about 3 times, watered regularly, and it appears we’ll have a good crop of vegetables, even if they do all come in at once.  My peas and strawberries look especially good compared to past years.  And, the plants in my little greenhouse are also growing.


One nice thing about gardening is a person can see the fruit of their labor.  In our world of chaos, gardens and yards can at least give a sense of order in a world of disorder.


For, while my yard and gardens look beautiful and orderly, what horrible chaos is the going on in the world around us!  As politicians discuss important issues for our times, where is the civility to be able to listen and hear ideas another person might have?  As our nation has dealt with major drug issues for over 50 years, why does the heroin problem seem so difficult to change for good?  When the Lord created the world he declared, “It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a helper suitable for him.”  (Genesis 2:18)  So God created families as part of His plan for the healthy way people live.  Why, therefore, is there such turmoil in families?  And why do faithful children of God, people seeking to live for Him, come down with horrible, life-threatening diseases, illness which threatens to cut short lives of service and love and faith?  On a personal note, as a sports fisherman, my sense is that for many years the salmon returned to Alaska streams on a somewhat predictable schedule.  Why has that schedule changed?  When I look for order in the world around me, I find disorder and chaos, pain and death.


God tells us the reason and the cause for the disorder, the anguish, the pain, the corruption, and the death that turns our world and our lives upside down.  The rebellion and the sin of people against the Lord and Creator of all things has resulted in a world of disorder and death.  Read Genesis 3.  After the rebellion and the sin of Adam and Eve, we are told of God’s explanation to them of what they will now face. 17 To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." (Genesis 3:17-19)  Unfortunately, we are still seeing the results of their sin.  Unfortunately, we continue to pursue our selfish thoughts and desires, and our own sin and rebellion has an effect on us, and on others.  The healthiest way to live is still to follow our Creator and Lord.  But, even children of God, confessing sin and seeking to follow Him, live in a world that at times seems like chaos.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could create an orderly beautiful place, like our gardens?


Thankfully, God has created the ultimate place of life and love.  Our Lord has defeated sin and it’s consequences by sending His Son.  We sin, but Jesus lived an obedient and righteous life.  We deserve punishment, but Jesus paid the price for our willfulness on the cross and in the grave.  We face death and judgement, but Jesus rose from the dead and He offers eternal life in heaven to all who turn to Him in faith.  Listen to the words of God from the book of Revelation about the new world He has waiting for us. 


“1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’" (Revelation 21:1-4)  We now live in a world of disappointment, heartbreak, pain, and death.  But God promises a new world.  God promises a life where He lives with us, fully.  Our Lord and Savior promises a world where He has “weeded out” sin and it’s results, “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."  What a beautiful garden and paradise, what a beautiful life that will be!


This year our family has done something different.  Kathy and Mary and I subscribed to boxes of vegetables from Pyrah’s Pioneer Peak Farms.  I don’t have to get down on my knees to have fresh cabbage and swiss chard.  So Kathy asked me, “Why did you plant your garden this year?”  That’s a good question.  But, the truth is, I like getting my hands dirty as I plant the seeds and the vegetable starts.  I enjoy creating an appearance of order when the weeds are pulled and the plants are all in a row.  And, I find joy in planting the flowers and seeing the beauty of God in the midst of an ugly world of pain.  However, I know my garden is not the reality of the world around me.  I am thankful God has the order, and beauty, and love of eternity in heaven waiting for all who trust Jesus.


A Child of God, Gardening and Thinking,

Pastor Jonathan   


P.S.  Here are some pictures of our yard and garden so far in 2019.


P.P.S. Vacation Bible School was held last week.  Here are some pictures.



P.P.P.S.  I went to the Kenai to work on our cabin in Sterling.  I worked with others to get electric connected, propane connected, to clear brush, and stain the cabin.  Here are a couple of pictures.






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.





Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Asking God to Transform My Heart

Dear Members and Friends of St. John,


I was watching a baseball broadcast the other day and heard the announcers ask a question which stuck me.  They asked, “Who was your favorite baseball player when you were growing up?”  My memory went back to my early childhood, to the 1960’s, to Boston Red Sox players Carl Yastrzemski and Carlton Fisk.  Later in life in the 1980’s and 90’s I watched Ozzie Smith play many games in person for the St. Louis Cardinals.  I enjoyed thinking of the answer to that question.  I also enjoyed remembering the great plays of these gifted athletes.


I began to think about a Christian corollary to that sports question.  “Who is your favorite person in the Bible?”  In the New Testament I’ve grown to appreciate the struggles and the faith of the apostle Peter.  He was impetuous, bold, and flawed.  But he lived by the grace of God which he found in Jesus.  However, in my daily devotions right now I am reading in the Old Testament, in 1 Samuel.  I have recently read God’s word about King David.  Like Peter, David was a flawed and sinful follower of God.  But, like Peter, David also sought, by God’s grace, to follow God faithfully.  I choose both Peter and David as people whose mistakes and whose faith instruct me.


So, in 1 Samuel 16, when King Saul had failed to follow the Lord in obedience, God directs Samuel to find a replacement for Saul.  The Lord sends Samuel to the home of Jesse in Bethlehem.  Samuel at first wants to anoint Jesse’s oldest son, Eliab, as the new king.  But God prevents Samuel.  We are told in verse 7, “But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." Listen to this wisdom from God!  The Lord is primarily concerned about the heart of His people.  Ultimately, God directs Samuel to anoint Jesse’s youngest son, David, as the next king of Israel. 


Then, in chapter 17 we get a look at this heart of David which God saw.  The Israelite army has  gathered for battle against their enemies, the Philistines.  But, when David visits his brothers in the army, the soldiers of Israel are, somewhat understandably, paralyzed in fear because of the Philistine giant, Goliath.  David, in contrast to the soldiers, trusts the Lord to give victory to the people of God.  When others shrink in fear, David speaks words of faith and courage.  “David said to Saul, ‘Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.’" (1 Samuel 17:32)  David trusts God, and the Lord gives him courage.


The youth, David, does face the Philistine giant.  Only, David does not trust in his own strength or skill.  David points to and trusts in God.  We read later in chapter 17, “45 David said to the Philistine, ‘You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD's, and he will give all of you into our hands.’" (1 Samuel 17:45-47)  David does not trust himself.  In his heart David trusts the strength and the faithfulness of God to win the battle.


This week St. John children are attending Vacation Bible School.  Daily VBS lessons focus on Daniel, on Esther, on Jesus telling the parable of the Good Samaritan, on Jesus healing the 10 lepers, and on Jesus speaking promises of hope to disciples on the road to Emmaus.  The lessons use these accounts from Scripture to teach “heart lessons.”  The children are encouraged to develop faith, to grow in boldness, to put on kindness, to live in thankfulness, and to have hope.  But these are not traits any of us develop by ourselves.  When these fruits of God’s Spirit are found in our hearts, they are grown through the power, the love, and the faithfulness, which God shows to His people.  So, the VBS children are taught about God’s love, and THEN called to faith, boldness, kindness, thankfulness, and hope.  It is God who grows these qualities in us.


Amazingly, God still shows His power, and love and faithfulness even to and through sinners like us.  We are children of God by creation.  But, we each have our warts and our struggles.  Like Peter and David, we are sinners.  So, God the Father sent His Son, Jesus.  We may be sinful, but Jesus lived a righteous life.  We deserve punishment, but God forgives us in the sacrificial death of His Son on the cross.  We all face death, but God gives eternal life in heaven through the resurrection of Jesus.  We are called to live for God, therefore Jesus sends us His Spirit to give us faith and boldness, kindness and thankfulness and hope.  It is God Who works His righteous purposes in sinners like us, through His grace in Jesus.


So, who is your favorite Bible character?  Do you find encouragement from stories about David or Peter, Daniel, or Esther, Abraham or Moses?  In the Biblical accounts of all these people, the real hero the Bible is God.  The Lord took sinful people like David and Peter, and worked His grace in their lives.  Thankfully, God also works in us, through Jesus.


A Child of God, Asking God to Transform My Heart,

Pastor Jonathan   


P.S.  Vacation Bible School is happening this week.  Here are some pictures.


P.P.S.  I had TWO fishing trips this past week. 

·       On Friday, June 14, Mary and I flipped some flies on the Kenai River below Skilak Lake for reds.  Here is a picture of Mary fishing.


·       On Monday, June 17, I took two grandchildren, Jackson and Emma this time, fishing with me in a canoe.  They both caught a limit of trout!  Here are some pictures.





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.








VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL - Vacation Bible School is held this week, June 17-21 from 9:00-noon.  There is still room if people want to attend!


HIKING FELLOWSHIP -- I was asked to remind you that St. John members and friends have had a tradition of a weekly hike during the summer months when school is out.  This year, with Sara out of town much of the summer, Dawn Brettrager and Dorothy Jacobson are leading this hiking ministry.

            THIS Wednesday, June 19, the group will hike the Butte after VBS.  Meet at church at 1:00 p.m. to go hiking.

Also, I am told, as always, bring children and dogs.  J


BLOOD MOBILE – JUNE 23 The Alaska Blood Bank will have their Blood Mobile present on Sunday, June 23.  They will take donations on that day from Palmer United Protestant – Presbyterian, St. John, and St. Michael Roman Catholic Church, all located beside one another.  Sign up sheets will be available soon.

            There is a signup sheet on the BULLETIN BOARDS at both entrances in the narthex.  PLEASE CALL THE OFFICE IF YOU CAN VOLUNTEER.  NO ONE HAS SIGNED UP YET!






Maintaining the Church property grounds is a task which the Trustees need your help with. Our goal is to mow once a week. This results in a work task larger then the Trustees can handle by themselves. It takes approximately 4+ hours to mow these lawns. We do have a John Deere riding lawnmower for the task and your enjoyment. If you can volunteer to help out with this job, a sign up sheet is posted in Narthex. If you do sign up, please contact either Cliff Proetz (907-715-6780) or Peter J. Probasco (907-351-0085) for instructions. Thank you!!


SUNDAY SCHOOL FOR THE 2018-2019 SCHOOL YEAR IS FINISHED!  Our last day was May 12.  However  . . .


·       There are Adult Sunday School Classes. 

o   Jim Summers is teaching a class on the book of Luke, which began June 2 with 28 people in attendance!  Come and grow!


o   Pastor Rockey is teaching a “Basic Teachings of the Bible / Adult Membership Class” in his office on Sundays at 9:45 a.m.  This class reviews the basic teachings of who God is, what He does, and His call of grace to us.  It is the class someone would take if they want to join St. John (though it is not necessary to join the congregation just because one attends the class). You are invited to attend, even if you just want to refresh your knowledge of Scripture.


·       Classes for the Youth are also being held in the portable building on Sunday mornings!


WEDNESDAY WORSHIP is offered at St. John each week at 6:30 p.m.   Wednesday worship is a both a replacement opportunity for worship for those who cannot attend worship on Sundays, and also an additional opportunity for worship for those who would like extra time for worshiping our Lord.  Wednesday worship uses the Bible Readings for the following Sunday, but has a different sermon than Sunday’s sermon.  Communion is also offered the Wednesday before The Lord’s Supper is served on Sundays,  Communion is served the Wednesdays before the 1st and 3rd Sundays.

            Come and join us for worship on Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m.!


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.  Our tentative dates are July 23-29. 

Please pray for God’s blessings on this mission trip.  If you want more information, please speak to Rod or Temple Christiansen, Marilee Nufer, Sara Guhl, or Pastor Rockey.  (New participants this year are Aaron Christiansen and Margaret Runser.)


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.


PRAYER CHAIN – St. John has an e-mail prayer chain administered by St. John member, Jacki Rose.  Jacki lives in Anchorage and cannot always get to Palmer on Sundays.  However, she serves God at St. John in this way.  If you want to share and receive prayer requests you can ask Jacki to be part of her distribution list.  E-mail your request to


STEWARDSHIP NEWS – MISSION OFFERINGS - As part of our regular budget St. John plans to reach out with the good news of Jesus to the world around us.  Some of that is done through our regular budget.  Last year we sent

·       $6011 to Alaska Mission for Christ.

·       $6011 to the Northwest District, and

·       $3000 to local missions.  Most of that went to Family Promise.  Some went to the St. John Mission trip to Eek.


HOWEVER, we also plan to have various special offerings to give members of the St. John

Family an opportunity to support God’s work in other places.  This year’s schedule is like last years.  However, here is our schedule of MISSION offerings for 2019

·       January – April-          Heartreach Crisis Pregnancy Center baby bottles.  (Those are on the counter in the narthex.

·       May                            Alaska Mission for Christ – Eek AMC VBS (May 19 and 26!)

·       June                             St. John Youth National Gathering and Mission Trip

(cannisters are on the sound booth.)

·       July                             Military Bible Sticks

·       August                        Family Promise

·       October                       LWML

·       November                   Canned goods for Thanksgiving Blessing / Christmas shoeboxes

·       December                   Special offering for community ministry at the Community Advent


            The Stewardship Board wants to inform you ahead of time about these opportunities to spread the love of God in Jesus.  Our hope and plan is that through the regular budgeted offerings, and through the designated special offerings we can be faithful stewards and share the love of Jesus.


JUDY IS BACK IN THE OFFICEOur administrative assistant, Judy Stahancyk is back in the office part time.  She does still have active cancer, and is on a treatment schedule.  So we have multiple people serving in the office.  Libby Brock (Peter) is in the office from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day.  Ophie Hart is working on our Shepherd’s Staff data base and helping with administrative duties.

THANK YOU to those who filled in for Judy Stahancyk in the St. John office while she has been battling her cancer.  Thank you, also, to those who continue serving and volunteering.


UPDATING THE ST. JOHN DATABASE – For quite a few years, St. John has owned a member data base produced by our church body for the purpose of keeping our congregational records.  However, our “Shepherd’s Staff” database is not up to date at this time.  The Elders and Church Council have hired Ophie Hart to update this data base.  (Libby Brock Peter may also help Ophie.) 

St. John members will have an opportunity to update their information either by filling out forms or through phone calls to get the information.  Church records can actually be used for legal purposes.  Please respond when asked to share this information.





AMC VBS VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR OTHER SITES - We are still in need of a couple of volunteers to fill summer teams:

·       Pilot Station: July 20-27.  Consider joining this team of 3 to serve in this southwest Alaska village sharing Jesus through VBS ministry.

·       Chitina: July 15-19. We are in need of 4-5 volunteers to plan a VBS program in this small village located on the road system. 

Above all, please keep these needs in your prayers.

Trusting in Him to provide,

Jan Bruick, Servant Event Coordinator, Alaska Mission for Christ



AMC JOB OPPORTUNITIES - Alaska Mission for Christ is searching for several mission-hearted individuals to fill vacant staff positions.  Please refer to our website link to learn more:

Any questions can be directed back to Jan Buick.  Please keep these needs in your prayers and share with those who might have an interest, as well.

            May God continue to bless our efforts to boldly share Jesus' love in every community in Alaska. 

Jan Bruick, Servant Event Coordinator

Alaska Mission for Christ



SEEKING AMC COORDINATOR OF MINISTRY – AMC Coordinator of Ministry, Todd Roeske, has accepted a call to be pastor in Monroe, WA.  AMC is therefore seeking a new leader.  Below is our publicity as we seek a new leader.


Alaska Mission for Christ is seeking a visionary LCMS pastor/lay person with a missionary heart to serve as Coordinator of Ministry. This person will, prayerfully, lead Alaska Mission for Christ to make a bold culturally-appropriate witness in Alaska. He/she will work in partnership with local LCMS congregations, full-time missionaries, and a wide LCMS volunteer network. He/she will be responsible for maintaining a Christ-centered atmosphere as he/she leads and equips staff and volunteers. He/she will raise prayer and financial support to help Alaska Mission for Christ work toward making a bold witness for Christ in every community in Alaska. For a complete position description please go to: If you or someone you know may be interested please contact: Gerry Zellar, Board Chairman at or 907-841-8495





to a Christian exchange student from Spain
for the coming 2019-2020 school year



Good afternoon,


We are a small non-profit, foreign-exchange student organization looking for caring host families in your community, and we need your help!  We have 2 Christian students from Spain  who would like to come for the 2019-2020 school year and are waiting for their match with a volunteer host family.  Many school districts in the United States  limit the number of exchange students they are willing to accept to just a few. This is why it is important for host families to apply as soon as possible. I do believe that sharing the life of an American host family and going to school contributes to a better world understanding and is an unforgettable experience for both the student and the host family. American students benefit from meeting  foreign students.  In the past,  churches have been very helpful in assisting us in finding volunteer host families.  We would appreciate it if you could help us by making an announcement at church, forwarding my e-mail to families in your church community, or printing the following information in your church newsletter as often as possible until school starts. 


Volunteer host families (with or without children) as well as single parents are needed to provide food, a bed and a loving home for the coming school year, one or two semesters, starting in August.  EMF students have medical insurance, spending money for their personal expenses and expect to share their host family’s daily life including household responsibilities.  They speak English, are well-screened and eager to experience life in America.  Their stay here is sponsored and supervised by EMF (Educational Merit Foundation), a non-profit, educational exchange organization.  For more information on EMF students, please call Marie-Claude Dijoud now at 1-800-467-8363 or visit our web site at


Thank you very much for your help! I have attached our students mini profiles to this email and you are welcome to forward them to any family who might be interested. These four students are eager to learn that a home has been found for them.  Your contribution to this cause is most appreciated.


Kind regards,


Marie-Claude Dijoud
Program Director
6526 Lakecrest Drive
Sachse, TX 75048





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

907-841-4066 - cell

907-746-5131 - home

907-745-3338 - church

907-746-6117 – fax



Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Thankful to See Teamwork in the Body of Christ!

Dear Members and Friends of St. John,


Those who know me know that, among other hobbies, I like to follow baseball.  I was born in Massachusetts so I have followed the Red Sox since the early 1960’s, over 50 years!  (Though, having lived in St. Louis I also follow the Cardinals.)  Last year was a dream season for Red Sox fans.  The Sox started out the season hot, and continued in first place all year long.  Their pitching was good.  Team hitting was great.  Their defense was above average, especially in the outfield.  The Red Sox set a team record for wins in 2018. When playoff time arrived, many experts did not expect the Sox to do well.  But, they won all their series convincingly and took home a World Series title! 


This year, however, even though the Red Sox have pretty much the same team, they are having trouble winning. They had a losing record in April.  Their hitting and pitching are not as good as last year’s team, and in some cases it has been just plain bad.  The team barely has a .500 record for 2019.  It is a joy to see a team where all its parts are working well.  But, it is frustrating to see talent go unused.  I guess, I have learned to be thankful when things do work together well.


With all that in mind I am thankful for the teamwork I saw last Saturday at the St. John Colony Days’ Picnic.  We had plenty of volunteers, even though many of our regular volunteers from years past were out of town this year.  Members donated plenty of food, and we even had beans left over.  And, in spite of the fact that our big food order did not contain everything we ordered, we had folks running to the store and our food supply was sufficient all day long.  Community and church members were generous, and donations covered all expenses.  It is a joy to see God’s Church work as a team where all parts are working together well.  I do know teamwork does not always happen.  So, I have learned to be thankful when things do work well.


God speaks through St. Paul to describe the way His Church is supposed to work.  Instead of calling the church a team, Paul calls the church a “body.”  Each part or person in the church has different abilities.  And each part does its work.  Listen to what God inspired Paul to write.  4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” (Romans 12:4-7)


Churches are supposed to work together to spread God’s saving love in Jesus.  But, we all know this doesn’t always happen – sort of like baseball teams.  Sometimes, even when people want to work together, it is unclear what God would have us do.  And sometimes, people and personalities can get in disagreements and conflict.  We see many instances of such disagreement in Scripture.  So we should not be too surprised when conflict occurs today. 


We do need to remember, we are not God.  He is the only one who is “all-wise.”  We are not perfectly righteous in our actions.  God is the only one who is totally merciful and holy.  So sometimes things don’t work the way we hope.  Sometimes things don’t work the way we think God wants them to work.  That is why we need Jesus.  He is our SAVIOR, who forgives our sins and who leads us in the wisdom of God.  But, when God’s church does work as HE intends, like a body; when each person uses their gifts for the good of the whole, it is a beautiful thing to behold such teamwork in this world of disagreement and conflict. 


This week after we fed about 1200 people, I am thankful for all who contributed their time, their donations of food, and their resources.  I am thankful for the joy I saw as God’s people worked together to serve our community.  I am thankful for all the words of appreciation I heard from those who ate the food, listened to the music, and enjoyed a day “on the grounds.”  I am especially thankful that our Lord worked in our midst and brought honor to His name.  5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.


It is a joy to see God’s church function as team where all its parts are working well.    Thank you, Lord!


A Child of God, Thankful to See Teamwork in the Body of Christ!

Pastor Jonathan   





·       P.S.  On Thursday the AMC held a farewell dinner for Pastor Todd Roeske who is taking a call to Monroe, WA.  St. John members served the meal.  Here are some pictures from that event. -


·       St. John had an entry in the Colony Days Parade.  Over 30 people handed out leaflets that invited people to the picnic.  (At the picnic we handed out other leaflets that invited people to VBS and to worship.)  THANK YOU TO ALL who marched in the parade.  Here are some pictures from the parade.  -


·       The St. John Youth held a Yard Sale on Saturday, June 8, during the picnic.  They made about $1500 toward costs for the National Youth Gathering.  Here are pictures from the Yard Sale.  THANK YOU TO ALL who helped with the yard sale.  Here are some pictures of the Youth fund raiser. -


·       Here are some pictures from the St. John Colony Days Picnic.  We figure we fed about 1200 people.  We had many compliments and expressions of thanks for offering the picnic for the community.   THANK YOU TO ALL who contributed, served, and worked at this year’s picnic.  Here are some pictures of the picnic.  -


·       On Sunday, June 9, we had a baptism for Jessie (mom) and Mallory (daughter) Ford.  Here is a picture from the baptism. -


·       I had TWO fishing trips with grandkids this past week. 

·       On Thursday evening, June 6, I took grandkids to a local lake and fished from shore. -


·       On Monday, June 10, I took two grandchildren in a canoe with me.  They both caught a limit of trout!  -




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.




Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Thankful that God Gives Rest for Busy and Hectic Lives - In Jesus!

Dear Members and Friends of St. John,


In our culture, people look to summer as a time for rest, recreation, and renewal.  School is out and many school year activities are completed.  Families often take vacation during the summer months because children are free.  I do think that in generations past, summer actually did seem to be less busy.  At least that is my impression.


But, in our current times of instant information, and a desire for instant gratification, it just seems that, while the summer months have less regular daily events scheduled, there are more of those special events - big activities that need a lot of planning.  Any families that are involved in sports knows that schedules ramp up during summer.  I also have a sports event to plan this summer as well.  I am the coordinator for the annual Palmer Kiwanis Golf Tournament on August 9.


At St. John, during June, we will host the Colony Days picnic this Saturday, and march in the Colony Days parade.  Then we will offer Vacation Bible School June 17-21.  Both of these events are outreach-minded ministry that require a lot of volunteers and a lot of coordination.  Just because summer has arrived does not mean that life becomes less hectic.


In July, St. John has 18 people attending the National Youth Gathering.  In addition to the youth and adult chaperones participating in the actual gathering, they will also volunteer for a servant event on a native American reservation.  Also, St. John members Jenny Carlson, Jonathan and Kathy Rockey, and Jamie Walters will all be working as volunteer leaders for the Gathering.  Do you know what it takes to coordinate between 20,000-30,000 youth and adults for 5 days?


Oh, and in addition to that large event at the beginning of July, 8 St. John members will also be heading to the native village of Eek, to conduct Vacation Bible School, July 24-28.  Last year a total of 70 children attended VBS at one time or another.  This labor of love includes the work of planning lessons, transporting craft and snack supplies, transporting food, and the daily efforts to gain the attention of the children with the love of Jesus.


August also has a number of large events planned.  The Board of Directors for the Northwest District of the Lutheran Church (Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington) will be visiting the state July 31-August 4.  I’ll be helping to lead a tour of many of the congregations of our denomination in the state, and St. John will host the Board of Directors for a meal on Saturday, August 3.  And then, there is the retirement worship service and celebration planned for Sunday afternoon, August 25.  I’m not supposed to have anything to do with this other than to attend.  However, I hear lots of conversation about plans and meetings.


Even in times when life is supposed to slow down, we still have much that keeps us busy, perhaps overly busy!  All the events listed above are worthwhile activities that contribute to the work of the Lord and the welfare of our families and community.  So, we all grow weary and tired.  We all need rest. It is good to consider God’s wisdom about the rest we need and desire.


First, please remember God has given the Sabbath as a day of rest.  We read in Exodus 20. 

8 "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exodus 20:8-11)  When people of Jesus’ time used the Sabbath more as a law than as a gift of God, Jesus re-instructed the religious leaders of His time.  27 “Then he said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.’" (Mark 2:27-28) The Sabbath, the regular day of worship, in intended by God to bless people with a weekly opportunity for rest and renewal.


But there is another story from the life and ministry of Jesus which teaches lessons we need as summer approaches.  Please listen to these words from Mark 6.   “30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." 32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.” (Mark 6:30-32)


First, it is good to go away, away from the demands of daily life and work.  Jesus took His disciples to “a quiet place,” away from the press of all the people crowding around Him, so that they could get some rest.


However, rest is not just found in “getting away.”  Jesus tells His disciples, "Come with ME by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest."  Real rest is found in time with Jesus.  We don’t have to earn His love.  We receive rest from the struggles of life through the grace and forgiveness of God.  God gives rest in Jesus’ life and death and resurrection, in Jesus Himself.  So Jesus says, "Come with ME . . .  and get some rest."


This summer as you seek rest from the weariness of work and life, don’t leave Jesus behind.  If you travel to another location, perhaps you can worship there.  If you go camping, perhaps you can have family devotions.  When life is busy it is not time to stay away from worship, but to spend time with God and His people so the He can give us rest in His love and forgiveness. 


May God give you rest in Jesus, this summer, and throughout the year.


A Child of God, Thankful that God Gives Rest for Busy and Hectic Lives - in Jesus,

Pastor Jonathan   


P.S.  Here are some baptism pictures from the baptism of Charlie and Robin-Tatem Larsen, last Sunday, June 2.


P.P.S.  Last winter we took offerings for a fire-suppression vent hood in the kitchen. It is still being installed.  Here are some MORE NEW pictures from the new vent hood installation. (Word is that the workmen are now waiting on a city inspection before they can proceed.)


P.P.P.S.  Halibut fishing did not work last Friday in Seward.  The weather knocked us off the ocean.  So Friday evening I went trout fishing in Palmer.  Here is a picture of the fish I kept.







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.