East Side Presbyterian Church Blog
July 9, 2018, 12:00 AM

Rescuing the Wild Boars

A remarkable gathering of divers, medical personnel, logistics specialists, mental health specialists, engineers, providers of food and more have been working at the entrance to the cave system in Thailand where four boys and the coach of their soccer team - the Wild Boars - are still stranded.

Eight of the boys have been rescued as of this writing. These rescue efforts have been complex and dangerous because of water levels and topography, and one former Thai Navy Seal has died in those efforts.

I wonder if we would feel the weight of the world's dangers and sin if we focused on statistics about children in various events. Currently, our country is facing our government's separation of parents from children, even very young children, at our border. These boys in Thailand remain in danger, even the ones already rescued, because of ten days without food and only water dropping down the wall of the cave. One third of children in Ashtabula County live below the poverty line.

In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus tries to teach the disciples about children not once, but twice. The kingdom of heaven belongs to little children, Jesus tells us, and earlier in Mark we read this:

“Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

It makes all the difference how we treat children. Our behavior in this regard is not a formula, as though if we do such-and-such for children we are meeting requirements God has set down. Rather, in Mark, these words of Jesus exhort us to a way of orienting ourselves to children, of understanding that our relationships with them are directly tied, not just to welcoming Jesus, but to the very kingdom of God. Directly tied even to welcoming God!

Let us celebrate the rescue of the Wild Boars as an event where we see God and Jesus welcomed. These children, going through a terrible experience, will be welcomed back to their parents arms with the same tenderness that God welcomes us, and because of that, these are welcoming God.

May we understand the depth of this welcome, and our call to welcome God by welcoming children!

July 2, 2018, 12:00 AM

Monday Afternoon, July 2nd

If you could plop yourself down in whatever place you wanted, where would that be?

And who would you want to be plopping down with you? Friends? Family?

Would there be a meal? What kind? Maybe a picnic?

Would there be a lake? Mountains? River? Walking trail? Boat?

Would there be a plane or a car? Or a motorcycle?

Would there be books? Knitting supplies? A place to bake? A workshop? Museums? Concerts?

Would there be a hammock and a gentle breeze? A bed by a fireplace with cozy covers?

Sunshine? Rain?


If you can take a deep breath and sit for a couple of moments, go ahead and envision the fullest, richest life you can imagine. The kind of momemt when your heart and mind say, "my goodness, life is good" before you even think the words. The moment when your heart is settled and full to the brim and everything is joy.

"So Jesus spoke again, “I assure you that I am the gate of the sheep.  All who came before me were thieves and outlaws, but the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief enters only to steal, kill, and destroy. I came so that they could have life—indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest." John 10:7-10, CEB

Jesus came to us so that we could have life--indeed, so that we could live life to the fullest.

So that all of us and each of us could life life to the fullest. And, given that earlier in the gospel of John we read that God so loved the world, we also understand that Jesus came so that all people could have life--indeed, that all people could live life to the fullest.

As you consider your dream day - wherever that is, with whoever it is with, whatever you are doing - let all the good feeling of it sink deep down inside you. Because that is reminder for you of what God wants for you.

And, as you consider your dream day, and as you let that feeling sink into you, remember that this is what Jesus came to provide for all of us.

Any time you make life fuller and better for someone else, you are contributing to the life Jesus came to give us all.


Grace and peace,

Pastor Michelle

June 27, 2018, 9:25 AM

East Side Presbyterian Church Blog Coming Soon!

We here at East Sde Presbyterian Church in Ashtabula, Ohio are beginning the expansion of our social media presence. On this blog you will find updates, news items, important announcements, reflections from the pastor, and other items of interest. In addition, we continue to update and tweak our website so that we can connect with our internet community as much as possible.

Please check in from time to time, and, as we go forward following God's call, pray for us as fellow disciples of Jesus Christ.

Grace and peace,



Rev. Michelle J. Bartel, PhD.

Pastor, East Side Presbyterian Church