Hello Friends,

On March 2nd (Ash Wednesday) we begin the season of Lent. Lent is for a time of personal in- trospection concerning the meaning of our part in making the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross necessary. The observance of Lent is not intended to be a joyful time, for that is reserved for the observance of Resurrection Sunday when God demonstrated love unparalleled. In our time few people welcome the opportunity to engage in a “Lenten Discipline” which causes them to recognize not only their own sinfulness, but their desperate need for redemption. Desperate, in that without redemption in accordance with the teachings of Jesus we all will stand in the judg- ment of God based on our own merit alone, regarding which the testimony of Scriptures is that such accounts nothing in our defense, and the result is the just judgment of guilty. Ok, I know that the concepts of sin and judgement are not popular topics in our post-modern world, howev- er they are very much at the center of the teachings of Jesus. If we hope to understand why the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is an occasion for celebration but becomes the very reason we can have hope that extends beyond this life, then we must be confronted with the question of why Jesus needed to die as he did? If we want to see this life we live as being more than just a biological function, then we must have some clarity concerning our answer to the question tak- en-up during the season of Lent. We must understand why the life of each human being was deemed worth the sacrifice by God. If we think human life as being like all other physical as- pects of the universe, beginning, ending, and having no intrinsic value in-and-of-itself then we have bought into a philosophy regarding human existence that leads to Nihilism and despair. For me, what is even worse and truly evil is that those who would embrace such a notion de- clare intentionally or not that Jesus’ life had no meaning, and that his act of sacrifice was need- less suffering which created a delusion of hope for countless billions of human beings over the last two thousand years.

During the season of Lent my son Christopher (a United Methodist pastor in Minnesota) and I will be having a Lenten Conversation based on a study titled “Savior” and developed by Rev. Magrey Devega. We both will be using this study in its full sense in Lent of 2023 for in-person study at our respective churches. These conversations will be available via Facebook, YouTube, and our website. The Holy Week schedule will be available shortly for in-person ser- vices here at Sturgeon Bay UMC. As always, all recorded services will be available on all the platforms we currently utilize, as well as on WDOR 93.9 FM on Sunday mornings at 9:30 a.m. On March 13th I will begin a series of Forum programs that will offer information and discussion on the current situation of the United Methodist Church regarding the on-going dispute concern- ing what our stance will be on some of the most controversial issues of our times. Other topics will include the “Great Unraveling” of the structures that have formed western culture; the work I am doing with the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary and the role it will play in how our churches go forward into the next three or four years; the idea of “Dismantling Racism” (a current concentration within the UMC); and any other issues you might like to talk about. I look forward to seeing those of you who can be in-person at our worship services and Forum. For those of you who use our other various methods of participation in the worship and programing I am grateful for your place in our church as well. We are a congregation that no longer exists in a particular place. Neither are we limited to meeting on a certain day at a certain time. As such our ability to reach others for Christ has expanded beyond our walls into the world in ways nev- er imagined outside the minds of science fiction writers of past generations. Look for one of the ways you can be a part of the ministry of SBUMC and JPUMC today, this is our time and our work to do. May God bless you and the ministry we do together.

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Blessings, Pastor Dave