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Pastor's childhood tale, scar key to Easter message

| Saturday, April 19, 2014, 12:06 a.m.
Jim Ference | The Valley Indpendent
Joan Lucas of Monessen, prays at The Epiphany of Our Lord Catholic Church in Monessen on Good Friday, April 18, 2014, in front of the tomb of Jesus.

Pastor Brad Sickler laughed as he recalled the scars he bears from a lifetime of accidents.

They define the life experiences he has had.

On Good Friday, people think about “the marks of the crucifixion,” for they symbolize that Jesus died for the sins of man, he said.

Sickler, pastor of the Gospel Alliance Church in Rostraver Township, made his comments as a speaker Friday at the Mon Valley YMCA's 52nd annual Good Friday Breakfast.

Leaning back slightly, Sickler pointed to a scar under his chin that has faded over the years. The scar tells a story of his boyhood, but only after he shares the tale with people he meets.

“People who do not know me ask ‘where did you get that scar?'” Sickler said. “They ask because they do not know.”

Likewise, scars Jesus received during his suffering at Calvary are revealed to believers, Sickler said.

Sickler recalled once overhearing a conversation between a jewelry store clerk and a customer who was looking to buy a cross on a chain.

The clerk asked the customer if he wanted a plain cross or “one with that little guy on it.” The person in the store did not know it was Jesus on the cross, Sickler said, noting that was a sign of the state of society.

Then Sickler revealed the story behind his boyhood scar.

He was in first grade when he and an older friend, identified only as George, devised a plan to use a seesaw to propel a girl's doll. Sickler placed the doll on one end of the seesaw, but George jumped on the opposite end before Sickler had a chance to step back. Sickler was struck under the chin.

His friend still occasionally comments about the lifelong scar under Sickler's chin.

“George comments about the scar because he felt guilty,” Sickler said.

“Seeing the marks (of the crucifixion) brings guilt to us, because He was nailed to the cross for our sins.

“If Jesus were to stand before us, we would see marks on his hands and we would feel guilt because we sent him to that cross.

“The gift of Jesus is eternal life. He went to that cross so he could give us eternal life.”

Sickler said that while growing up, his older sister often tried to mother him. The day of his seesaw accident, he went to her first.

“The scar reminds me that I grew closer to her,” Sickler said.

“For those of us who turn to Jesus, our sins are forgiven and we grow closer to Him.”

Sickler said he empathizes with the apostle Thomas. The Bible says Thomas was not present when Jesus first appeared to the other apostles after the resurrection.

Thomas told the other apostles, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

When Jesus appeared to the apostles a week later, he had a message for Thomas.

Sickler said Jesus told Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or cbuckley@tribweb.com.

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