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Evalgelical Lutheran Church in America Northeastern Ohio Synod
Letters from Pastor Alan Smearsoll

January 2021

Welcome 2021! Our lives were disrupted beyond testing in 2020 weren’t they? The only positive thing  to come out of 2020 is that the Cleveland Browns have a genuine football team and a winning season to show for it! Well, I’m sure you can find other positives that happened in 2020, but for Browns fans, that one is the ultimate. J 

I’ve learned a lot about human nature in 2020. I suppose my “pastor sense” has caused me to be more aware of such in the last year than ever before. You ever wonder how Adam and Eve could have been so convinced that they ate of the forbidden fruit? Deceitful words can become very believable and misinformation in today’s age can spread like wildfire.

There were many times in 2020 that I wanted to borrow Pontius Pilate’s words to Jesus from John 18:38 “What is truth?” when trying to make sense of nonsense.

What is truth? A compass keeps a person from getting lost because the needle always points to true north. Knowing what direction north is will help hikers find their way home safely. Ever since Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, humankind has become lost. 2020 is nothing more than a microcosm of what life has been on a grander scale from that time on. It has made clear that sin abounds, even in those who would consider themselves to be most faithful.

2020 has shown that indeed, while salvation has been won for us through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, sin still lurks inside. The old self (pre-baptismal self) continues to fight for power within and can sometimes win.

This is why we begin each and every worship with confession and forgiveness. We need to be reminded that, while we are saved by God’s grace, we still are prone to sin. Confession lays bare our true selves before God. Then we hear the words of absolution. A reminder from the pastor that all sin has been wiped out, we have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus and are free from captivity to the old self to be a people God intended us to be.

Instead of wandering around lost, Jesus is the compass that points to the truth that sets us free. His is the truth that we measure all other supposed “truths.” Jesus did say very plainly “I am the way, the truth and the life.”

Maybe we can look at 2020 as God pulling the plug, like you would do if your electronic device was frozen, to “reboot” us. If so, and if we listened to the lessons of 2020, perhaps 2021 will be a better year for all.

Pastor Alan 

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