Easter Sunrise Service

Just as the women had gone to Jesus’ tomb that Sunday Morning out of a deep love for their Teacher, so we traditionally meet the “rising of sun” near the Neva river to remember the resurrection of our Lord and Savior. Way back in the old days, we used to meet at 6 am and there would be scores of people from our 3 churches. But gradually we started meeting later and later and when we started our time of worship the sun had been up for quite a few hours already. Not that we’d notice a real difference had we come earlier, since it was a very cloudy day.

Sadly enough less and less people started coming to this meetings. Honestly, I’ve skipped a few years too. Mostly because so few people from our church would show up and because I believed I had enough on my plate as it were on Sundays… Are we all loosing our joy in the resurrection? Can we get accustomed to such an unmerited gift? We were saved by the GOSPEL, so let us HOLD FAST to the Word, unless we believed in vain (1 Cor. 15: 2)

In the words of Nathan Tasker: “I was made by Your Hand, bought by Your blood; twice over I am yours.” Lord let that truth settle in. Don’t let our hearts grow cold! Thank you for your sacrifice!

Natasha’s baptism

About a year ago Natasha asked the Lord to come into her heart and ever since she’s been eager to get baptised. Over the last few months she’d asked me several times. “Can I get baptised now, Bart?” “Well, Natasha, the lakes are still frozen”. “Oh yeah, that’s true…” Perhaps I should mention Natasha’s originally from Salekhard, that city “up north” were they have very long and cold winters… So as soon as the ice on the lakes in St. Pete had melted, Natasha was ready. She was more than ready, she was determined and excited. Which is awesome! She really is on fire for Jesus. At first, I wasn’t at all that excited about having the baptism today. The weather forecast came true – it was only 12 degrees Celsius (53F). It was sunny but very cold today and the wind cut like a knife. People in church actually wrote me yesterday asking: “Isn’t it a little too cold for a baptism?”. Well, yes, it’s very cold, but we’re not going to cancel.”

There wasn’t a single cloud in the sky. And we found an excellent spot in the park where there was less wind. And Natasha’s friends came and were all so happy for her. And once I got my feet wet, I realised it wasn’t as bad as I had feared. Yes, I put on a sweater over my t-shirt just in case.

Jesus touched Natasha’s heart and saved her. Her testimony was encouraging and a reminder of God’s goodness.

Miracle – not just another baby in the church!

Not so long ago some girls from our church organised a baby shower for Sveta Darling. Oh she sure is a darling, but that really is her last name, no pun intended. Will and Sveta have been looking forward to their “little bundle of joy” and now she’s here. They called her Mira(cle). Thank you Lord for blessing this wonderful couple, and the whole church, with another baby. They are all miracles, but this one is a miracle with a capital M.

Dedication of Ilya Yarigin

On Sunday April 23rd, Ira came up to me right before the service and asked me if I could dedicate their two week old giant. Oh yea, Ilya for sure is a big boy. A sweet and precious gift from the Lord. “Of course, I’ll dedicate him”. And with great joy in my heart I prayed for Misha and Ira and their new addition to the family. May the Lord give them love, wisdom and lots of strength so both their sons Vanya and Ilya can actually taste and see that the Lord is good!

 

Just Learn to Worship Jake

That was the name of the book I used to prepare for our recent church retreat. It wasn’t the only one I read (besides the Bible), but that one just stuck out thanks to it’s depth and great study questions.

Not many people signed up and there were at least as many children as adults. I’m glad we had decided beforehand that their would be no child care and that our kids would study the life of Jacob with us. That turned out to be a good decision. The kids did great!

The more I study the life of Jacob, the more like the fact that it has great depth to it. It’s the real deal, a life with lot’s of problems, ups and downs. God shows us he had a plan even before Jacob was born, and even though Jacob is a schemer and oftentimes has an “unchristian” approach to life, God blesses him just as planned.

Terry Young, the author summarises it well: “Jacob was overshadowed by his grandfather, Abraham, and eclipsed by his son Joseph. And yet Jacob’s story stretches over half the book of Genesis, enabling us to understand him as a real person. From Jacob’s perspective we can look at the struggle for success, the pressure of work, the stress of the family, risk, and uncertainty. This may seem a far cry from the blessing he was promised, but this book encourages us to follow Jacob through the wreckage of his relationships until he has to stop running. And when he stops running, he starts to find time for worship.

Would to God we’d also learn that lesson early on in life!