A Note from Pastor

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And he [Jesus] took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them” (Mark 10:16 ESV). We all need a hug, maybe somedays more than others. Today at International Lutheran Church, Jesus’ action to embrace the children and bless them is exactly what we need to hear at a time when our relationships are becoming “socially distant.” Jesus reminds His disciples and us just why He needed to come and even more importantly how our brokenness is restored in Him!

Some of us may by now be feeling a little burdened by our seemingly endless restrictions or mandates around Covid. And while there is talk of a “live with Covid” strategy, still we are facing more rules and restrictions. I hope I don’t sound like I am complaining. In fact, I do appreciate the effort we are all putting into keeping not only ourselves safe but also our neighbor through the extremes of controlling our interactions. There isn’t a higher or more important thing that we could do for our neighbor or ourselves. But maybe like you, I am just feeling the need for us to give each other a bit of “slack” in our lives. Sometimes a little slack and allowances can go a long way in making us, well, happier and maybe a little more willing to go along with the ups and downs of everyday life.

But slack isn’t always helpful. Growing up in Iowa, our family loved the weekend trip to the lake. Many a beautiful summer evening was spent skiing on the smooth water. My sisters and I all learned to ski and taught many other people to ski as well. The hardest part though was to make sure there was no slack in the tow rope that trailed behind the boat. If there was any slack, even the smallest amount, it would invariably snap the moment the boat would start to power up and take off. The rope would then rip right out of the person’s hands and mean that the boat would need to circle around and set up all over again. It could take many tries with an inexperienced or first-time skier. My dad was patient though and always accommodated us or our friends even when we didn’t understand all the things to keep straight while we floated in the water. Slack was definitely not something that was helpful. 

I don't know if the Pharisees were feeling they personally needed a bit of “slack” when they asked Jesus about whether it was right for a man and woman who had been joined together as husband and wife to divorce at the beginning of Mark 10. Mark does tell us that they were trying to test Jesus, so maybe they already knew or thought they knew what was the correct answer. Jesus doesn’t miss the opportunity to show them or us the true nature and design of God from the beginning and how He had planned to bless us and His creation in giving the man and woman to become one with Him in His care for all. In this case Jesus sees the “slack” we think might help as actually becoming a danger to us and something that would rip us apart from one another and from Him.If we didn’t get the point, the events of what happened next surely help. When the crowds were bringing the little children to be blessed by Jesus and the disciples weren’t going to cut any one any slack, Jesus was indignant! He came to hold those children in His arms and hold them tight! His embrace is a blessing. Marriage is meant to be a blessing. Children are a blessing from the Lord. I know many of us struggle and have already been hurt by the brokenness of our fallen world and our own sinfulness, but this is why Jesus came. This is why He was “cut no slack” and was ripped from the heart of God on the cross so that we would “come out of the water” in the power of His Spirit to be pulled by His grace through life sharing His loving embrace with all.

While we may feel we need a bit of slack, Jesus is here to hold you and me tight to Himself. Our broken relationships, our unrealized dreams, our failures to care for our neighbor, our spouse, our children cannot rip us from His grip. We are covered and forgiven by what He has done for you and me. In Him we can hold on tight to one another and share His love with all in a mixed up and crazy time.

Hold on tight! Jesus has come to embrace you and will never let you go!