Pastor Stephanie Stark

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From the Desk of Pastor Stephanie Stark:

As I was reading and doing my studying for this coming Sunday’s sermon, I ran across a    sentence that sparked my imagination. “Acts, like Easter, urges you to put cautious rationality on the shelf and follow an unrestrained God into the world, wondering as you go what else might be possible.” This sentence, written by Dr. Matthew Skinner, engaged my sense of  wonder…what is possible?

Through the stories of Easter and Pentecost, we know that God is unrestrained and loosed out in the world. Death cannot contain him. God is as unbound as the wind that gently blows its breeze across a field, or the gale force winds that come from a tornado so strong they pull trees from their roots. God is powerful and mysterious, and has forged a pathway out into the world for us to follow. Where is God leading you? Where is God leading St. John’s?

This last question  have been thinking about quite often lately, and especially now that Covid restrictions are loosening. What mission is God calling us to engage in? As I told the Call Committee mission is one of the most important pieces of the church, however, St. John’s  mission cannot be centered on my passions, but on your passions. As ELCA Lutherans, we are called to stand up for the oppressed and work towards justice for those on the margins of     society. Martin Luther was quoted having said, “God does not need your good works, but your neighbor does.” Meaning God’s grace through our faith, no longer having to earn our          salvation, has freed us so that we can do wonderful works for our neighbors and our planet.

Are we bold enough to follow our unrestrained God? Will we allow ourselves to put cautious rationality on the shelf? Can we say that we welcome all people of all ethnicities and backgrounds; of all levels of immigration status; of all sexual orientations? Can we stand up before all and renounce hatred of any kind? The answer is yes, with God’s help, because with our God that took away that sting of death everything is possible.

Pastor’s Pen:    “Thy Will Be Done” 
This year, February 26 is Ash Wednesday, the annual kick-off to the church season of Lent.  During the six weeks of Lent, Christians all over the world will be observing a time of repentance and reflection on God’s saving work through Jesus Christ’s death for our sins and his return to life at Easter.   
At St. John Lutheran, you are invited to come and observe the season of Lent with Wednesday evening suppers and services.   
On Ash Wednesday, we will begin a series of services under the theme, “Thy Will Be Done”.  Jesus prayed to his Father the night before he went to the cross for our salvation, “Not as I will, but as you will,”. And that is our prayer as well as we seek to do God’s will in our lives, as we draw near this Lent with remembrance of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection during Holy Week. Each service in the series focuses on a different aspect of God’s will at work among us. Biblical characters will be used as insightful reference points each week to guide us in following our Lord more nearly day by day. 
The series will look like this: 
Ash Wednesday:  God’s Will and God’s Promise • Abraham and Isaac 
Week 1 God’s Will and My Inadequacy • Moses 
Week 2 God’s Will and My Dreams • David 
Week 3 God’s Will and My Identity • Mary 
Week 4 God’s Will and My Worldview • Paul 
Week 5 God’s Will and My Response • Lydia 
Each week our Wednesday evenings will feature supper at 6:00 p.m. and Lent service at 7:00 p.m.  I look forward to seeing you there. 
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