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

January 2023

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all.” Titus 2:11

Dear Redeemer Family:
Merry Christmas! And joy to all as we celebrate the birth of our Lord. As we celebrate Christmas, let us also remember that Christmas is not just a day, but a season of the Church. It is made up of 12 days. That of course, brings to mind the most confusing of all Christmas carols, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” And, every year someone spends a lot of time to figure out how much all of the gifts listed in the song would cost if a person were to go out and purchase them for their “true love.” They have completely missed the point of the song, and its history. But it is a confusing song. So, I enclose this little fact sheet, which I have already given to some of you this season. So now, you will know what is going on in the carol:

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.

-The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.
-Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.
-Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.
-Four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.
-Five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.
-Six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.
-Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit–Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.
-Eight maids a-milking were the eight Beatitudes.
-Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit–Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.
-Ten lords a-leaping were the Ten Commandments.
-Eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
-Twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles’ Creed.

So, the carol is more than a hymn, it is a devotional and a catechism. Enjoy! And Merry Christmas to all!
In Christ,
Pastor Rose