February 2023

“Happy are they who follow the teaching of the Lord.” Psalm 119:1

Dear Redeemer Family:

For this month I picked the above text for a couple of reasons. First, I thought it would be ironic. It is the first verse of the longest psalm. Psalm 119 has 176 verses. I thought that it would be good for the shortest month; February. Second, it can also be translated, “Happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord.” I liked the above translation better. It’s shorter. And third, as we finish January and move into February, the Gospel lessons are mostly going to be from St. Matthew’s account of the Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon on the Mount is the greatest “teaching sermon” that Jesus gave us.

The Bible is filled with teachings and lessons. In the Old Testament, everyone thinks of the Ten Commandments as an example, if not the main example. As far as the laws of God, during the time of the Babylonian Captivity, the Jews added up all of the laws in the Old Testament, and came to a sum total of 613. Most Jewish groups still maintain that number. But Jesus sums them all up into one (and a second that is like it), which is in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 6:4-5): In the NRSV, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone (not a particularly good translation of “The Lord your God is One.”)” You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” In that, all of the laws of Moses and the teachings of the prophets are summed up. And, of course, the one that is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I like it better. It’s shorter. You don’t have to remember 613, nor 10, nor even 2, just one really.

I’ve always thought that if we could just hold that one commandment in front of our eyes at all times, there would really be no need to teach the 10 Commandments anymore, let alone the 613. And then reinforce it with the one that is “like it,” “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I believe that if we could just pull that off, human society would be a whole lot better. But, on the occasions when I have brought this idea up, I get shot down. A pity.

So, let us this February (and end of January) look to how Jesus explains and expounds of his understanding of the Commands of God. Let’s pay attention to what he says in the Sermon on the Mount, for that is what the Sermon on the Mount is, and explanation of what God wants of us. Or, if you wish a shorter explanation, read Micah 6:8. It sums up all of the prophets. “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Those are words to live by.

In Christ,
Pastor Rose

December 2021

“In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.” Genesis 1:1-2

Dear Redeemer Family:
Believe it or not, we are entering the Season of Advent. I find it hard to believe that it is here already. One of the emphases for the Wednesday evening services this year is a little remembered theme of Advent, namely, darkness. I find that interesting, especially as the days are growing dark so early this time of year. We tend to think of darkness as bad, and light as good. But that is not always the case. Rather they often complement each other. In the case of Advent, the darkness anticipates the coming light. That is a different view of things. And it is often a good thing to look at things differently.

One of the hymns in the Red hymnal that is suggested for use at this time is hymn #245, “Creator of the Stars of Night.” It is a new hymn, for us. But, the words date from the 9th century, and were originally in Latin. The tune is also old. It is what is called a plainsong. I liked the words, which I now share.

“Creator of the stars of night, your people’s everlasting light, O Christ, redeemer of us all, we pray you hear us when we call.

When this old world drew on toward night, you came; but not in splendor bright, not as a monarch, but the child of Mary, blessed mother mild.

At your great name, O Jesus, now all knees must bend, all hearts must bow; all things on earth with one accord, like those in heav’n, shall call you Lord.

Come in your holy might, we pray, redeem us for eternal day; defend us while we dwell below from all assaults of our dread foe.

To God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit, Three in One, praise, honor, might, and glory be from age to age eternally. Amen.”

For a hymn that I had never knew, and is only about 1,300 years old or so, I think that the words are beautiful, and sum up Advent perfectly. I home that read these words over, and cherish them this Advent Season.

In Christ,

Pastor Rose