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TheUpDate Weekly Newsletter - February 14, 2018

Happy Wednesday, FCC! Here comes the Update.


And out of pity for him,
the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.
Matthew 18.27

This is one of my favorite parables. It clarifies for me the importance of forgiveness (Jesus gives a warning in v 35, that if we are unforgiving, God will give us over to unforgiveness). And this parable puts into perspective the sins that I will be asked to forgive. In the parable, two servants owe a debt. The second servant owes a debt of 100 denarii. This equals to roughly one-third of a year's income for a day laborer. This is a significant debt. The first servant is put into a position, where he will need to forgive a debt equaling one-third of a year’s income.  This is important to see, because this is not an insignificant amount of money. This is helpful to my heart, because in the parable, Jesus assumes that we will need to forgive others their costly sins committed against us. There are some sins that will be hard to forgive, and Jesus knows that.

But Jesus also puts the 100 denarii into perspective, when he tells us that the first servant was forgiven a debt of 10,000 talents. This debt is enormous. Factoring in inflation and shifting changes in the precious metals values, 10,000 talents is equivalent to one billion dollars. The first servant was forgiven an enormous debt by the compassionate king, yet refused to forgive a significantly lesser debt from a fellow servant. Immediately, we can see why the other servants reacted to the unmerciful servant’s unforgiveness. They saw his harsh treatment of the second servant, and it was ghastly, especially in light of the great debt the first servant was forgiven. There was injustice in how the first servant didn't forgive, as he was forgiven.

It is the perspective that Jesus gives in this parable that helps us forgive. We are like the first servant. In Jesus, God has paid our debt. Our debt before God is astronomical. We could have never paid it off on our own. The debt was forgiven because of God's compassion, and Jesus did all the work to secure our forgiveness, by living for us and dying for us. When we focus on the great debt we have been forgiven, rather than the significant debt we need to forgive, we find the power to forgive.

This is why it is so very important for us to be reminding ourselves of the gospel, and of the forgiveness of the great debt we owed, and how Jesus paid it all for us. When others confess their sins, the lavish compassion of God towards us empowers us to forgive.


This Sunday we will be looking at Galatians 5.25-6.5 in the Just Like Me series. The sermon is called Restore. In this sermon, we will be called to love our neighbors and one another by carrying each other's burdens. We will also marvel at how Jesus has done this for us, so we can do this for others. May the St. Croix Valley be renewed as we are empowered to fulfill the Law of Christ.


Child care is available for children through age 4.
We will not have Awana Clubs or The Refuge this evening.

Ash Wednesday is an opportunity for us to specifically remember our mortality as a penalty for our rebellion against God. Remembering our mortality helps us to be wise, to number our days, and to increase our humility. But it is also an opportunity to remember God's gospel and let the gospel shape our identity. Because we are in Christ, we will be raised from the dead.

It might seem odd, that although this is an Ash Wednesday service, our elders have determined that it is not wise or helpful to administer ashes on the foreheads of the attendees.  Over the year, we considered this topic together, and one of the reasons for this decision is gospel identity. One of our elders wrote the following important biblical argument:

The highlight of the Ash Wednesday service is the administration of the ashes on the forehead of the participants in a smudge or cross with the officiant repeating an admonition to “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” The phrase comes from God’s words of judgment on Adam in Genesis 3, following his disobedience and fall. In contrast, 1 Corinthians 15:21-23, 45-49 develops the metaphor differently. We aren’t the “man of dust” any longer, Paul says. We belong to the “man from heaven” instead. The first man/second man distinction emphasizes that everyone born in Adam is more or less a clone: natural, earthy/of the dust, and destined for death. Christ breaks the mold. Everyone in Christ is spiritual, is of heaven, and is destined to life. Why would we want people to leave a church gathering marked with a symbol of their old nature?

Because we want to build our identities on the gospel and the finished work of Christ, we believe that it is wise for us to not administer ashes.  We do believe it is good and beneficial to set aside a time to remember our mortality together on Ash Wednesday, but it is also very good and beneficial to remember that we belong to the new Adam, Christ Jesus, who conquered the grave.



Did you know that you can now watch the sermons online at We hope this will help as a discipleship tool, if you’d like to watch a sermon again or share it with a friend. We also offer an audio recording of the sermon. Watch or listen to last week’s sermon at this link.


Along with the Just Like Me series, we are asking that everyone read “The Art of Neighboring” during the first quarter of the year. I am hearing some encouraging reports that this book is reshaping how we view and care for our neighbors. Have you had a chance to read it? What are your thoughts about what you’re reading? Please send your stories to We have copies for purchase in our café area, or you can order your own following the link above.


Because of some of the unique challenges of pastoral ministry and for leadership development, Faith Community has a Sabbatical Policy for our pastors. So periodically a pastor will go on Sabbatical to rest, refresh and recharge. This year Pastor Larry Szyman will be going on Sabbatical starting March 1. He will be on Sabbatical for three months. During that time, he will be resting and recharging. He will also be investing focused time on some extension ministry opportunities. Please pray for him during this time. We are very grateful for his ministry!

LEARN ABOUT more FCC events and registrations at



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