From the Pastor's Pen


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Pastor W

March:  Pastor's Message


        Just a few blocks from my house is a small cemetery with very old tombstones.  One of them belongs to our community’s premier settler, Jacob Coy.  Miriam Allen documented, in her history of our church, Faith of Our Fathers, that Coy is Americanized – his original German name was probably Cow, Caw, or Cau (pp. 14-15).


     For the record, I also come from a family with an Americanized heritage. My mother’s grandparents, father, his brother, and his sister, emigrated from Germany in the second half of the 19th century. Sometime in the early 1900s (presumably after my great-grandparents had died and their sister had married) my grandfather and his brother invented a new last name for themselves. My mom didn’t discover her father’s original last name until her mother died in 1981. I didn’t learn of it until my mother died in 2003.

 

     My mother’s mother was not German, however – she was a first-generation American of Irish descent. And today, I want to talk to you about a man who’s associated with Ireland: Saint Patrick.

 

     Patrick was not Irish. He was born in England (or possibly Wales) sometime around the year 400. At age 16, he was kidnapped by Irish pirates and sold to one of the Irish tribal leaders as a slave. He served, mostly as a shepherd, for six years. In despair, he turned to the faith of his father (a deacon) and his grandfather (a priest), and gave his life to Christ, using his time in the fields for prayer and reflection. One day, God told him that there was a ship awaiting him and he could go home. He fled his master, walked a meandering route (to avoid capture) to the coast, and was indeed welcomed aboard a ship which took him back to England.

 

     The young man threw himself into study and preparation for the ministry, and was ordained. But after a short time serving churches in England, he returned to Ireland as a missionary. He converted many people, including his former master and many other chieftains, baptized thousands, ordained men to build and lead churches, and so much more. You can read his story in his own words – Patrick’s Confessio is online – and there are many churches and institutions named in his honor throughout the world.

 

     Why do you and your family need to know about the real Saint Patrick? Because this man who undoubtedly experienced great trauma and great hardship as a young man recognized that the Gospel of Jesus was such great news that he had to share it, even with the people who had oppressed him!

 

     You and I live in a time that’s very much like Patrick’s day. Most of the folks around us are not Christian. Only about a third of all Americans attend worship on an average weekend. And studies tell us that less than half of all children under the age of 12 have ever set foot in a church. They don’t know the Good News about how much God loves them (John 3:16). They don’t know about the forgiveness and new life that’s available for FREE (Ephesians 2:5) if they’ll put their faith in Jesus Christ. They don’t know how to receive the gifts of peace (Romans 5:1) and righteousness (Colossians 3:12-17) and everlasting life (2nd Corinthians 4:14-15).

 

     But you do know all these things! And Jesus wants you to be His ambassadors (2nd Corinthians 5:16-6:2) in sharing the Good News, just as Patrick did so long ago. He wants you to tell your family members, your neighbors, your coworkers, and your classmates about Him … and about His church. And He promises that if you do, the Holy Spirit will tell you what to say (Luke 12:11-12). It doesn’t get any better than that.

 

     A lot of folks think the season of Lent is very sad and somber. In one sense, that’s true, as we recognize our sinful nature and our inability to be “good enough” to merit a place in heaven (Ephesians 2:1-9). But Lent is also a hopeful time, as we remember that “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him” (John 3:17).   In a world filled with anger and fear, let’s use this month to spread good news – in words and deeds – to all the people we love.

                                                         Yours in Christ,

                                                           Pastor David J. Williamson      

 

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