July 2021

“Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised.” Ps. 48:1a

Dear Redeemer Family: As we begin to “reopen,” and so, after a long hard year of being “shut down” and “cooped up,”we also plan some sort of vacation time to recover.It will also be refreshing to look at some of our ancestors in the faith who are commemorated this month.Plus, a number of you have told me that you enjoy these.

To begin, on July 3rd we commemorate Thomas, Apostle. Most people refer to him as Doubting Thomas. Most of you know that I feel that this is an unfair moniker for Thomas. Among other reasons,here is another reason why. John’s Gospel shows Thomas as fiercely loyal: “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” John 11:16. And John’s Gospel alsos hows Thomas moving from doubt to deep faith.Indeed, Thomas makes one of the strongest confessions of faith in the whole New Testament, “My Lord and my God!” in John 20:28. From this confession of faith, ancient stories tell of Thomas’ missionary work in India, where Christian communities were flourishing a thousand years before the arrival of sixteenth century missionaries. In fact, those sixteenth century missionaries were quite shocked to find out that there were already Christian Churches in parts of India when they arrived!

On July 22nd, we commemorate Mary Magdalene, Apostle. That title may surprise many. The gospels tell us that Mary was one of the women of Galilee who followed Jesus. She was present at Jesus’ crucifixion and his burial. When she went to the tomb on the first day of the week to anoint Jesus’ body(probably with others), she was the first person to whom the risen Lord appeared. She returned to the disciples with the news and has been called “the apostle to the apostles” for her proclamation of the resurrection, hence her title. Indeed, she is often referred to as the first proclaimer of the resurrection!Because John’s gospel describes Mary as weeping at the tomb, she is often portrayed in art with red eyes. This helps distinguish her in art from the Virgin Mary. Icons depict her standing by the tomb and holding a bright red egg, a symbol of the resurrection,and one of the most common resurrection symbols in the Orthodox Church. By tradition, Mary Magdalene, Joseph of Arimathea and an Egyptian slave named Sarah boarded a ship and sailed to what is now Marseilles, France. Marseilles already was the home of an ancient Jewish community. Where, also by tradition, she died. There is an ancient shrine to Mary in Marseilles.

That is just two ancestors in the faith to consider this month.

In Christ, Pastor Rose

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