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A MESSAGE FROM PASTOR HOWARD

As I am writing this, we are entering Holy Week – a very busy season for me and others, but also a time for reflection. We are coming to the end of our Lenten journey and the cross looms large before us. For many the sacrifice of Christ on the cross invokes sadness, sorrow and a feeling of unworthiness. The truth is we should be sad and sorrowful – but we should not feel unworthy. For if God felt we were worth sacrificing his son on the cross for us, who are we to say different? As Paul says in Romans 8:31, 32 “What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also five us everything else?” Indeed! Who are we to question God’s love? That is what is so beautiful about God. In spite of the negatives we see or feel about ourselves – God sees the positive. God wants us to be filled with his love and joy. Jesus tells us in John 15:9-12 “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” Our Easter celebration is about God’s love that has come into the world and conquered all sin. We are now free from sin if we abide in him. That is truly a beautiful thing and something to celebrate. As the body of Christ, we are called to work together to share this joy and love with everyone. We do it working together, eating together, and praying together. We do it when we help one another and care for one another. And we do it when we forgive ourselves and one another. Forgiveness is a tough thing. It is hard to do for others and often times even harder to do for ourselves. But we must remind ourselves that God loves us (see above), and God still loves us. To make that love complete we are commanded to love one another as Jesus loved us. It is not a suggestion or a good idea; it is a commandment from our Lord himself. In all that we do we should show the love of Jesus. This is the great calling of Christ Church – to show his love to others. I have seen that love in this congregation. I have seen people step up when things need to be done and help to make it happen. We can see this in the work being done around our church. We now have a new full-size ramp at the double doors from our Lounge into the courtyard. Through the love and generosity of another there are plans underway to spruce up our entryway (facing the parking area at Human Services). Renovations are being done in the basement and we have upgraded our lights and are improving our electric. This will help prevent possible fire from substandard electrical system. Even in death the love for this church and us continues. We have received a wonderful gift from Lynn Bauers. Lynn’s love for this congregation has made it possible to put a new “pitched roof” over our education wing. Prior to her passing she and Bob discussed this and Lynn wanted to see it done. Soon you will start seeing construction begin to fulfill her wishes, thanks to her love of her church and her Lord. It is so very moving to see this love in action. In doing these things we are preserving our church property for future generations – that they may show God’s love from this place too. This my friends, is being good stewards; Stewardship of God’s gift of the church to our world. Your support of this ministry is what makes this happen. Your financial contributions show your love and trust of God in your life. We use them to help further the ministry here, whether improving our physical plant or providing support to the various ministries of the church, but financial giving is not the only part of stewardship. Caring for what we have is stewardship as well. Cleaning the church and maintaining the property is important. Caring for and supporting our community and world is an important part of stewardship as well. Concern for how much waste we generate and its impact on our planet is part of being good stewards, and concern and care for ourselves is part of being good stewards. After all, how can we love others when we don’t care for what we have, care for what we have been given or love ourselves? As Jesus said in the parable of the unjust steward (Luke 16:12) “…if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own?” God is willing to give us all that we need and even our hearts desire – The question we need to ask ourselves is: Are we willing to care for it, love it, and love as he has loved us? “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” Peace, Pastor Howard