October 2017

“For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law.” Romans 3:28

 

Dear Redeemer Family:

This is it! This is the month! We will be celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation. Inspired by the verse above, and other verses is St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, an obscure German monk of the Order of Augustinian Minors, Martin Luther, will begin a new way of viewing our salvation. Well, actually, it was the oldest way, but one that had become lost. Namely, in what will become the Lutheran Slogan, or Banner (they literally sewed this onto banners); “We are saved by God’s grace through our faith in Jesus Christ.”

 

It will begin innocently enough. Luther will nail his “95 Theses” to the door of the Castle Church at Wittenberg. This Spring, while on vacation, we got to see these doors. Well not the original doors. They burned down in the early 1800’s. But in a way, something better. When they replaced the original doors, the people had bronze casts of the 95 Theses in the form of six tablets, mounted on the new doors. Don and Ann Linhorst, Ruth and I, got to stand at these doors (indeed, they were right across the street from our hotel room). As I looked at them in wonder, all that I could think of was, “It started here.” And literally, the world changed from that point on.

 

The “95 Theses” weren’t what most people think. They were really just 95 points that Luther wanted to debate, publicly. They are concerned with salvation, and against the selling of the famous Letters of Indulgence (which I call get out of Purgatory free cards – see the game Monopoly). That is all that Luther wanted, a debate. That isn’t unusual. Besides being a monk, Luther was a University professor. Professors like debates. However, Luther got a very unexpected result. The Christian Church was turned upside down, and took Western Civilization with it. But the most important result was that the understanding of the Gospel itself was changed. God’s Law was pushed back, and God’s Grace was pushed to the fore, as it should be. With that, everything ultimately changed.

 

To celebrate this we are doing a couple of things. We are making new banners for the sanctuary, carrying slogans from the Reformation. We are hosting the Singspiration Service for the De Soto Ministerial Alliance on Oct. 29th at 6pm (just two days shy of the actual 500th Anniversary). We have invited people from all of the different Christian communities in our area to join with us in song to the praise of God. Singspirations are always inspiring celebrations. But to make this one special, we have invited all attend to come at 4pm on that Sunday. And in a show of hospitality, we are feeding them a special, and free, meal reflecting our German heritage, with dessert following the service, and a couple of surprises. I invite all of you attend. I also ask you to volunteer to assist in this event. We will need help. There will be work to do with the meal and with the service. But, all things worth celebrating also require some effort. I hope to see all of you there.

 

In Christ,

Pastor Rose

July 2017

“And he said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.” Mark 6:31

 

Dear Redeemer Family:

We are officially in Summer. Although I think that the heat and humidity arrived a couple of weeks early. It is a time when many of us decide that it is time to go on vacation, to kick back and enjoy life a bit differently. There is nothing wrong with that. From the text above, you can see that even Jesus took the apostles off on a vacation to refresh themselves. Leisure is not a bad thing at all. Ironically, Jesus took them to a place called by the locals as “The Gates of Hades.” Seems like an interesting place to choose to vacation.

 

Often we go off and visit friends and relatives. It is a time to renew our relationships and reforge old bonds. It can be refreshing and recreating.

This year, partially in honor of the 500th Anniversary of the beginning of the Lutheran Reformation, we went to Europe. It was a very good, and at the same time, very tiring vacation. But, as one of our tour guides put it, “Many of us were there to scratch things off of our bucket list.” Indeed, she even showed us the movie, “The Bucket List,” on the bus’ video. It was also partially true.

 

We got to stand in front of the doors at Castle Church in Wittenberg where Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses, and kicked off the Reformation. Inside the church, while trying to take a picture of Luther’s pulpit, I knocked at a stone with my foot. I looked down and read the words, “Here Lie the Mortal Remains of Martin Luther.” I was standing at his grave. I didn’t know that he was buried in that church. Across the way, I saw the grave of Luther’s best friend, and fellow reformer, Phillip Melanchthon, also buried at the front of the church. Later that day, we toured both of their houses. And in honor of the 500th, there was a special exhibition on Luther. In it, I saw Luther’s robe that he wore as a monk. It was a stunning day, and a very fulfilling one.

 

Days later, we were walking through downtown Hamburg, where I took a picture of a McDonald’s – you know, hamburgers in Hamburg. We walked in St. James Church, which has been Lutheran since 1520. They have a magnificent pipe organ. It is simply beautiful. Later, we learned that the pipe organ is world famous. And, that it used to be played by a guy named Johann Sebastian Bach. That was also awe inspiring.

There are many other things that we did on vacation. I will tell you about them later. And don’t worry, I took lots of pictures. May your vacations be just as re-creating.

 

In Christ,

Pastor Rose