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A Message from Pastor Matt

April 2, 2019

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Dear St. Paul’s Family,

In early January we celebrated the Baptism of Christ.  Jesus’ baptism takes place just three weeks after we celebrate Christmas.  He’s grown fast in those three weeks of gospel readings.  No longer an infant, but a man in his late twenties, Jesus joins his cousin John in the Jordan River and is baptized.  The story quickly shifts from the safe confines of the newly baptized crowds on the river bank to the harsh surroundings of the desert.  The Spirit drives Jesus from his home into a forty day mystical retreat in the wilderness.  Jesus is not alone in the desert; the Holy Spirit is there as a companion, but so is the Tempter, Satan, relentlessly trying to sway Jesus from the path to which he is called.

Our own spiritual journey now leads us back to the wilderness as we continue through the season of Lent.  Lent begins with Jesus once again in the wilderness, facing temptation, and even facing his own mortality.  The scriptures lead us to believe that even when he is with his disciples, Jesus sometimes wonders if he is up to the challenges, the difficulties that lay just around the corner.

Life changes quickly.  Just as Jesus tasted the sweet love of the baptismal waters and was driven out into harsh nothingness, we too have known the bitter and sweet tastes of life.  Each of us has our own challenges to deal with and sometimes the things life brings us can cause great struggle and stress.  There are countless events that put us in a state of desolate loneliness, a place where both hope and God seem far away. I don’t know how Jesus must have felt in the wilderness of the desert, but I’d like to think that he has some sympathy for our plight.   

What is your wilderness?  What things in your life have you feeling alone, beaten, frustrated?  Do you ever find yourself tempted?  Are you tempted to give up on your convictions, on hope, on the people in your life?  Are you even tempted to throw in the towel on life itself, to end your life and your suffering?

Things like depression, illness, damaged relationships, joblessness, and others, are not solitary experiences.  We all have tasted the frustrations of life.  Jesus knew what it was like to be betrayed by those he loved.  He knew what fear and frustration felt like as things seldom went his way.  

God has given each of us a life and a calling.  We are not beings created for solitude, but called to discover our salvation in the life-giving community that is the church, the Body of Christ.  During these forty days of Lent, may you reconnect with the life giving Spirit of our Savior—and remember you are never alone.  The Body of Christ, your church family, is by your side throughout the wildernesses of life.  Connect with us, and let us know how we may help you on your journey.

Blessings on your journey,

Pastor Matt

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