March 2018  
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February Messages


The earthquake disaster in Haiti and the destruction of the New York towers on 9/11 provide powerful reminders of how vulnerable we are. The flood of images of what could happen reverberates within us. We could be trapped in the rubble, hoping desperately for some kind of deliverance. Although we try to learn from disasters how better to protect ourselves against them, even insurance, always powerless to prevent them, serves only in the aftermath of damage to body or property.
John, a friend from North Dakota served in Germany during WWII, where he and seven buddies were trapped for a week in a building for that collapsed during a bombing raid. Buried under the rubble, with each passing day, hope slipped away. Some of his buddies went mad during that time. For John to witness friends succumbing one at a time to madness must have been heartrending when he himself was struggling with the same feeling of hopelessness. The nightmare of those days entombed in a bombed-out building haunted him the rest of his life. Forty years after his release from that grave, he continued to be plagued by nightmares, waking up in the wee hours drenched in sweat.
“What kept you from going mad along with your buddies?” I asked him. John said that during that time of diminishing hope he remembered the statue of Christ, which stood above the altar in the church of his youth near Max, North Dakota. In his mind’s eye he learned to focus on that image. Somehow it connected him to the Christ, giving him the strength to hold on in faith and also to retain his sanity. 
During Lent we confront our vulnerability, where death is inevitable, not from natural causes but from the inescapable judgment on our faithlessness, a judgment meted out on the innocent Jesus. There, looking at Jesus, we see the one who became human for us to suffer our judgment and its verdict of death.   We remember, ”There but for the grace of Christ, go I.”
-          Rex
True Love     1 John 4:7-8
There is something special every month of the year. February is special for being the second month and the shortest month on our calendar. Notable days commemorated in February are President’s Day, Ash Wednesday, and St. Valentine’s Day.
The most popular day is St. Valentine’s Day – the Day of Lovers or Cupid. How much do we know about this day that married couples, sweethearts, school children and friends celebrate with such enthusiasm?
There are divers theories about the origin of this Day of Lovers. In Nordic countries it is during this time that the birds are mating. From that we can see the time as a symbol of love and creation.
Some believe the festival was Christianized out of paganism, when ancient Rome worshipped the god of love whose Greek name was Eros and who the Romans called Cupid. In this celebration they asked favors of the gods by offering gifts in order to find the ideal lover. Other sources center the origin around St. Valentine in third-century Rome, a time when Christianity was persecuted. During that time soldiers were prohibited from marrying because it was believed they would be better soldiers in battle if they didn’t have emotional ties to their family. It is in these circumstances that the figure of St. Valentine appears as a Christian priest who, faced with such injustice, decided to perform secret Christian marriage rites, hidden from Roman eyes.
We look for the reason to celebrate the day and this is good. But the one who really planted this love in the heart of man and woman is our Almighty God. To him we should give thanks for having left in our deepest heart the sentiment that moves us to love. Adam, when he saw Eve, the first woman on the planet, said, “This is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” (Genesis 2:23-24) According to God, we should love not only our loved ones, but also our neighbor. In his Word he says, “beloved, let us love one another” and “He who does not love, does not know God, because God is love.” (1John 4:7-8)

                                                                                                                                             - Pastor Miguel Luna

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