November 2023

“Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.” 1 John 3:2

Dear Redeemer Family:
Wow! It is November already! The Church is drawing to a close. It will officially end this year on November 26th with Christ the King Sunday. But before then, we have a couple of festivals that greet us.

The first is on November 1st, All Saints’ Day. It is unfortunate that most people will celebrate the night before and be done. Halloween is just what it says, “All Hallow’s Evening.” Or to update the language a bit, “The night before All Saints’.” Originally, October 31st for the Celts was just a harvest festival before everyone celebrated the New Year (the Celtic New Year was Nov. 1st) and then went home to their farms. When the Church moved All Saints’ Day to November 1st, things got blended and added to, and confused.

The real point of All Saints’ Day was, and is, to celebrate all the Saints; past, present and future. It includes in particular a remembrance of the saints who have died in the course of the year, namely since the last All Saints Day. We celebrate them passing from the Church Militant (the Church on earth) to the Church Triumphant (the Church in heaven). To look at the quote from St. John above, “we are God’s children now.” That never ends. Not even death can take us from God’s hand. And we celebrate that fact on All Saints’ Day. Because of that, to bring up another scriptural quote, we celebrate that “we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.” The saints are with us still.

November 2nd is similar, but different. It is the celebration of All Souls’ Day. It is a remembrance of all people who have lived and died. They may not have been members of the Church, but they are important too. Hence, between the two days, we remember, literally, everyone.

Interestingly, the next celebration in November is the National Day of Thanksgiving. It isn’t per se a Church holiday, but the Church goes along with it. After all, every day is a day of Thanksgiving. As we remember its history, it too was originally a harvest festival. It is also a time to give thanks to God for all blessings received.

Yes, November is a time for giving thanks: thanks for all the saints, for all the souls, for the blessings which God has bestowed upon us, and for the greatest blessing, Christ our King. So, have a blessed, celebratory November!

In Christ,
Pastor Rose

October 2023

“For the beauty of the earth, for the beauty of the skies, for the love which from our birth over and around us lies.” ELW Hymn #879, verse 1, lines 1 & 2.

Dear Redeemer Family,
October in Missouri is my favorite month. The weather cools and becomes enjoyable. The heat of summer has finally ended. We hope. The leaves on the trees change color in wonderful displays. One of my neighbors has a maple tree which turns into the most beautiful shade of red. Some of the late blooming wildflowers begin their show. I noticed that the Ox Eyes have begun to flower (although I write this in the end of September). Thoughts of coming winter may begin. People begin their preparations for the holidays in a few months. My wife is already ordering Christmas presents. I will think about it around Christmas Eve. It is really a lovely time.

For Lutherans, October is also a special time. At the end of the month, we celebrate Reformation Day. While the rest of the world celebrates Halloween, we remember Martin Luther going trick or treating at the Castle Church in Wittenberg on the evening of October 31, 1517. We remember Luther’s nailing of his “95 Theses” on the church doors. Actually, he probably pasted them up, nailing them up would have marred the doors. It was really a fairly innocent act. The “95 Theses” were really a call to debate the practice of selling “Letters of Indulgence.” All 95 of the theses are aimed against the practice, which Luther saw as a selling of the gospel. He wanted a scholarly debate on the subject. He was a university professor. That’s what they do. He got an unexpected response. We call it the Reformation.

Events quickly got beyond Luther’s control. But he was prepared. Although we say that the Reformation started with the 95 Theses, I believe that Luther’s thoughts on the matter really started forming earlier. I have stood at Luther’s study in Wittenberg. I think that it was while Luther was preparing his lecture notes for a class on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, reading Romans in the monastery garden that the light bulbs started flashing above Luther’s head. “For the beauty of the earth, for the beauty of the skies, for the love which from our birth over and around us lies.” Many of Luther’s reformation insights are found written centuries earlier by St. Paul in that “book.” And because of that, Luther’s vengeful God was turned into Luther’s gracious God. That brings us to the refrain of the above hymn, #879, “Christ, our God, to thee we raise this our sacrifice of praise.”

That’s a slightly different take on the events of the beginning of the Reformation, but ones which are highly probable. We can even celebrate them with song in the setting of the month of October. Yes, October is a beautiful month. There are all the beautiful things going on around us, as well as the things to be remembered. Enjoy it! And praise God for it.

In Christ,
Pastor Rose