May 2021

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

Dear Redeemer Family:
We are indeed surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. And that fits with the themes and declarations during this season of Easter. And, as in May we shall celebrate the Day of Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit. I thought that it is important that we consider some of the witnesses that ever surround us whom we shall remember during the month of May. Although, their remembrance may not fall on a Sunday.

May 1st, “May Day,” we remember the Apostles Philip and James. Philip was one of the first disciples of Jesus, who after following Jesus invited Nathanael to “come and see.” He is considered one of the first evangelists because of this. According to tradition, Philip preached in Asia Minor and died as a martyr in Phrygia. He was originally buried in Ephesus, as were his four daughters. James, the son of Alphaeus, is called James the Less; meaning “short” or “younger,” to distinguish him from the other apostle James, who is commemorated in July. We remember Philip and James on May 1st, but not for the usual reason. This is not the day of their deaths. Rather, they are commemorated together on this day because the remains of these two saints were placed in the Church of the Apostles in Rome on May 1st in the year 561.

On May 2nd, we remember St. Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, who died on this date in 373. Athanasius attended the Council of Nicea in 325 as a deacon and secretary to the then bishop of Alexandria. At the council, and when he himself served as bishop of Alexandria, he defended the full divinity of Christ against the position of Arius, the leader of the early heresy of Arianism, which believed that Jesus was only human, and for his obedience, God basically adopted Jesus. The Arian position was held by the emperor, some of the magistrates and other theologians. In fact, Arius was a very close friend of the emperor. Because of Athanasius’ defense of the divinity of Christ, he was considered a troublemaker, and was banished from Alexandria five times. I read somewhere that he only actually served in Alexandria as bishop for a couple of months total. The rest of the time he was in banishment. But, it is for his defense of Christ’s divinity that the Athanasian Creed is named after him, for it reflects his understanding of the faith, and our own. In addition, as bishop, one of his paschal letters to surrounding bishops gives a list of books that should be considered scripture. He lists all twenty-seven books that are now included in the New Testament.
These are just three of the great witnesses that surround us. Enjoy their company!
Pastor Rose

April 2021

“He is risen! He is risen, indeed!”

Dear Redeemer Family:
We didn’t really get to celebrate Easter together last year. The pandemic closed down all of the in person worship services. We did manage to start streaming our worship services, which was a learning process in itself. Thank you to Charles and Stephanie Roop for diving into that process for us, and sometimes, it was a painful process. And, we continue to stream our services, which is good for many people who are still unable to attend services in the building. But, we didn’t really get to celebrate Easter today. Well, we did get to celebrate the tail end of it together when we briefly were able to reopen the church services during the end of Spring and beginning of Summer. You see, Easter isn’t a day. It is a season. Easter this is year is April 4th through May 22nd. Easter, as a season, is fifty days long. And it ends, on the Church calendar, in the Church itself raised up by the Spirit at Pentecost. And if you want to even further, every day is a celebration of Easter. Why? Because every day is a declaration of the Resurrection of Christ for us.

The Easter season starts out with dwelling on the resurrection appearances, and then moves back in the gospels to Jesus’ farewell speeches while simultaneously moving forward in the book of Acts as the gospel spreads. During the Season of Easter, there are no Old Testament lessons. Rather, we get a “First Lesson” from the book of Acts. Each week we are called not only to look for the risen Christ’s presence deeper and deeper in our own lives, but also to ponder where the Spirit of the risen Christ might be pushing us deeper into the world.

The time after Pentecost will offer us plenty of opportunity to sink back into the story of Jesus and his earthly ministry, but in the Easter season, the ministry of Christ is the ministry of the church. The bodies that proclaim the resurrection are our bodies – baptized, fed at the table, and sent out to embrace a changing world. There is no gap between the first-century church and our twenty-first-century joys and concerns, because we are one with that church in the communion of saints.

No, Easter is not a one day celebration. It is a celebration which began on the morning of the Resurrection of Our Lord in 30AD, and has continued to the present time. And it will continue into the future. The celebration of Christ’s being raised from the dead is the turning point of all of world history. And it is the date from which we count the world and ourselves being made new creations in Christ, to the glory of God the Father. Thanks be to God!

In Christ,
Pastor Rose