Grace and Peace, Bethesda!

A blessed Lent and Easter season to you! Thus far we have heard from two of our Wednesday evening faith speakers. Ardelle Howell and Sarah Peterson shared how Jesus brought them through storms in life. Steve Hammerquist, Paul Jorgensen, and Nancy Haight will offer their own storm stories this month.

It’s incredible how the Lord makes stormy seasons the crucible of faith transformation in us. No one passes through a storm unchanged. No congregation passes through a storm unchanged.

We are familiar with Jesus calming a storm at sea with but a word. Let’s not overlook how the terror of the disciples moved from a fixation on the storm to a fascination with the storm calmer! “Who is this?!” Jesus is the “I” of the storm, the great “I AM” of divine, creative power.

On February 18 I shared briefly from my hike around Silver Falls State Park, the first step of a private retreat to Mt. Angel Abbey. Here’s a picture of that crow before the North Falls. Crows are often omens of death, but many cultures consider crows to be signs of impending transformation. From death comes new life. For me, the crow in front of the storming waterfall served as a sign of baptism. We have been baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection, in a flood of mercy!

Friends, I don’t know whether your current circumstances are more Ashes than Easter. What I do know is that Jesus has made you his own. As Martin Luther’s small catechism teaches us to confess, “[Jesus] has redeemed me, a lost and condemned human being. He has purchased and freed me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver but with his holy, precious blood and with his innocent suffering and death. He has done all this in order that I may belong to him, live under him in his kingdom, and serve him in eternal righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as he is risen from the dead and lives and rules eternally.”

Praying that your season, and the Holy Week we will share together, strengthens your faith in our Lord of winds and waves!

Shalom, Pastor Tom