A Message from Pastor Matt

March 6, 2018

Church News

Dear St. Paul’s Family,

Following Jesus

Each year Lent brings with it the invitation to follow Jesus.  The season begins with Jesus’ baptism, and his departure for 40 days in the desert where he prays, fasts, and is tempted.  It’s not long on this journey before we witness Jesus clashing with the religious leaders, and eventually bearing the full brunt of the most dehumanizing kind of Roman power in his arrest, trial, and crucifixion.

The invitation to join Jesus on this journey should not be taken lightly.  It’s a journey that is full of self-reflection, repentance, and for some, denial as they seek to follow Jesus.  We meet others along this journey of faith.  Most, like us, are living fairly ordinary lives, full of good things, but also with their own challenges.  And then there are those disciples who are struggling in the desert, trying to make sense of life’s challenges.

These dear ones live with demons of deep doubt, disease, addiction, and pain.  Others find themselves clashing with the movers and shakers in churches and denominations around the world.  Some of them prod the church to move forward into a fuller realization of God’s kingdom here on Earth as it is in Heaven.  Yet others, find themselves pleading for a church that welcomes the least of these to Christ’s table, regardless of race, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, or age.

And then there are the intrepid souls who faithfully take on the rulers of this world.  They carry out the same type of ministry that got Jesus killed—declaring that the true ruler of all creation is God.  In their quest to carry out Jesus’ great commandment to love God, neighbor, and self, these disciples speak for the poor, the stranger, young and old, for the interest of peace, unity, and a just world.  These men and women believe that following Christ means changing the world to look more like the peaceable kingdom that God intends as told through the prophet Isaiah.

Whether you are leading a fairly calm life,  are stuck in some personal desert, or are agitating the powers and principalities of the church and world, when you follow Jesus your life will be changed.  The Holy Sprit did not allow Jesus to soak in the waters of Baptism, but drove him out to the desert.  Nor did God permit Jesus and the disciples to bask in the Transfiguration glow.  When you are a follower of God your life is not your own.  God has plans and a purpose for the world and for each of us.  So it was with Jesus and so it is for his disciples.

What is God calling you to do?  How will your neighbor benefit from your kind words or actions?  How will your passion for changing this world to look more like the kingdom of God bring you a certain measure of trouble and joy?  Are you ready to follow Jesus into the deserts of hopelessness, pain, anger, and injustice?  Are you even prepared to suffer for Jesus’ healing work?

I know this is some gloomy stuff.  Following Jesus isn’t always easy.  The good news is we don’t have to save the world.  Christ has already done that.  In simple terms, we are called to follow him and do the best we can.  One of the great miracles of the life of faith is transformation.  Through following Jesus we are transformed to be more complete and more whole.  The great promise of our faith is that in the end we are resurrected with Jesus Christ to an eternal life free of hardship, fear, and suffering.

My prayer for you is that you may follow faithfully.


Pastor Matt

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