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United Church of Christ
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285 West National Drive
Newark, Ohio 43055
(740) 323-2407


Pastor's message

2019 May message

Dear members and friends of St. John’s:

A golfer asked his caddy, "What do you think I should do about my game?"

The caddy replied, "Well, sir, first I'd relax, then stop playing for six months, then give it up entirely."

The month of May is one of my favorite times of the year. The weather starts to get warm and stay warm and the flowers are in full bloom.

This is the time of year when fairways and greens turn really green. It was in May that my father and I would get out our golf clubs and play at our favorite course, Willow Creek, in Vermilion, Ohio. For a little guy, I made some really big shots. I hit the ball far, but not always straight.

When my shots found the water or the woods, I would feel discouraged and want to give up the game. But, dad wouldn’t let me quit. Instead of feeling down, he encouraged me to keep my head down and my eyes on the ball.

After his resurrection, one of Jesus’s first appearances was to two of his followers, Cleopas and another disciple, on the road to Emmaus. Their faces were downcast. (Luke 24:17) “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem, who does not know the things that have happened?” they asked. (Luke 24:18)

Having their “prophet, powerful in word and deed, handed over to be sentenced to death and crucified,” (Luke 24:19-20) had gotten them discouraged. For they “had hoped that he was going to be the one to redeem Israel.” (Luke 24:21)

So, Jesus, walked and talked and stayed with them. Encouraging them to keep their heads up and their eyes on the promise that “the Messiah had to suffer these things and enter into glory.” (Luke 24:26) And then, “He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him” (Luke 24:30-31) as their Lord and Savior.

When I get down and discouraged, I consider these words that Bob Hope used to say: "Many of you have asked if I am a golfer. Yes. I shoot in the 70s. If it gets any colder, I quit." And then I smile and remember it’s May.

Then I write down in my prayer journal what Tiger Woods said after winning this year’s Masters Tournament: “To hang in there and persevere” and “to never give up.”

And then, I look at that big beautiful painting of Jesus with Cleopas and the other disciple in my office. And my eyes are opened and I recognize that whether we are walking on the 18th fairway or on the Road to Emmaus, we will never walk alone.

In Christ’s love,

Rev. Mark

Rev. Mark Katrick