Dear Church Family,

Ever use the expression, “my heart skipped a beat”? If you have, you know it is just a figure of speech. If your heart actually skipped a beat, that would be a serious problem! Our heart is designed to provide a consistent flow of blood to the rest of the body. At best, any variance to its God-given rhythm can leave us tired and lethargic. At worst, we won’t survive.

In Biblical times, it was understood (according to Leviticus 17:14), “For the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life.” Just as our physical heart performs a life-giving task for our bodies, we each have a spiritual heart that is at the center of our relationship with God. It is this heart that King David pleaded to God in Psalm 51:10 for when he said, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Are you feeling tired or lethargic, spiritually speaking? Is your relationship with God on life support? Or do you simply know there are ways your walk with God can be stronger?

Like our physical hearts, it is always a good idea to set time aside to take care of our spiritual hearts. That, my friends, is the purpose behind Lent. Lent is a season, 40 days (plus Sundays) between Ash Wednesday and Easter, when Christians take a spiritual pilgrimage with Jesus to the cross, and beyond. This journey is intended to realign your heart to the rhythm of God’s heart. Here are some of the steps we are taking on this journey at St. John’s:

Evaluate Your Heart – On Ash Wednesday (February 14 at 6:30pm), we will take a spiritual inventory of our current state by writing down our sins and literally burning them under the shadow of the cross. We remember the prophet Joel, through whom God said, “Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.”

Strengthen Your Heart Daily – Renewed by God’s forgiveness and grace, we will then join together as a church to read the entire Gospel of Matthew through short devotional sections each day, walking in the footsteps of our Savior. These will be available online through the Bible App, Facebook, and e-mail. (Limited printed copies will also be available.)

Exercise Your Heart in Community – On Wednesday nights (February 14 – March 21), all of our small groups are “coming home”, and we invite you to join us as we all gather at the church for a special series titled, “He Chose the Nails” by Max Lucado. Our evenings will begin with an optional soup dinner at 5:00pm, followed by a brief time of song and teaching in the sanctuary, and then dismissal to small groups throughout the building. New this year, we will have both nursery and children’s ministry available to allow all generations to fully participate.

Use Your Heart to Serve and Worship – We are preparing a “Stations of the Cross” Good Friday event, inviting the entire community to walk through the final moments of Jesus’ life as he was led to death. Then on Easter Saturday/Sunday, we will celebrate the reality that while our physical hearts will eventually cease, in Christ, our spiritual hearts will carry us into eternal life forever with Him!

I hope you will join us as God strengthens our spiritual hearts during Lent 2018 at St. John’s.

Love in Christ,
Pastor Tom