May 2023

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

Dear Redeemer Family:
A while back, I did a blurb on Hildegard of Bingen, a remarkable woman. And several of you expressed interest in her and thanked me for it. So, this month I thought I would share some more remarkable Christian women who dedicated their lives to Christ we commemorate this month.

On May 4th, we commemorate Monica, mother of Augustine, who died on this date in 387. St. Monica, as she is more commonly known can be seen as the longsuffering mother of that playboy Augustine. She was always praying for her family’s souls, in particular, her playboy son’s. We know this from Augustine’s own writings, namely his book Confessions. She was successful. Her mother, husband, and son Augustine became Christians. She was an acquaintance of St. Ambrose, who would have a tremendous influence on Augustine. I kind of believe that it was Monica who arranged for them to meet. Because of her, the Church received one of its greatest theologians, and one of my favorites.

On May 8th, we commemorate a probably lesser-known Christian woman, Julian of Norwich, Renewer of the Church. She died on this date around the year 1416. Julian was probably a Benedictine nun living in an isolated cell in Norwich, England. She was a Christian mystic and recorded her visions in a book; Sixteen Revelations of Divine Love, a classic mystic work. In her visions, it is declared that “love was the meaning of religious experience, provided by Christ who is love, for the purpose of love.” I didn’t know it, but we have a prayer and hymn (at least the text of it) of hers in the hymnal. The prayer is found on page 87. The hymn is number 735. Like Hildegard, she was very talented.

And finally, on May 21st, we commemorate St. Helena, mother of St. Constantine (the first Christian Roman Emperor). She died about 330. I’ve always found her fascinating for a couple of reasons. First, she was the wife of the Roman Emperor. But she was British by birth. Second, Christianity was an illegal religion in the Roman Empire in her time, yet both she and her son (the future Emperor) were both Christians, and members of the royal family. How? She is known for her generosity to the poor. She is also known for taking a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, scriptures in hand. She decided where a number of the Holy Sites were located in the Holy Land, and had churches built on their locations.

I hope the faith of these three women inspire you this month and encourage you to learn more about them!
He is risen!
Pastor Rose

April 2023

“But God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses.” Acts 10:40-41a

Dear Redeemer Family:
Easter! He is risen! He is risen indeed! That is the traditional Easter greeting. And frankly, it says it all. Easter is the high point, the main item, in Christianity. And its central message. Sorry, it is not Christmas. Most good modern Christians don’t realize that. Christmas has only ever been a minor festival of the Church, an important one, but minor. Easter is the highest of the major festivals.

Although, there are some links between the two, if you stretch the images a bit. At Bethlehem, there is Mary and Joseph. At the tomb, there is Mary Magdalene, a very different Mary. And the tomb belongs to a Joseph, Joseph of Arimathea, who places Jesus’ body in that tomb. There are angels in both. At Bethlehem, the angels are out singing “Glory to God” in the fields of the shepherds. At the tomb, the angels have rolled away the stone door of the tomb. And then sit and wait to see who comes by (that would be Mary Magdalene and the other women). It is the angels who really are the first proclaimers of the Resurrection, “He is not here. He is raised.” Many people miss that part.

And there is a subtle, or not so subtle if you think about it, link to life. At Christmas, we celebrate a new life, the birth of a baby in a stable. At the open tomb, there is also new life, but very different. Christ is alive and made a new creation as he is raised from the dead. In a strange way there is a deeper correlation. At Bethlehem, Jesus emerges from Mary’s womb. On Easter, Jesus emerges from the tomb, which has been a womb of new life for Jesus for three days. It sounds a bit strange, but I think that I like that image.

Christmas is really nothing more than the beginning of Jesus life amongst us. Easter is where it was all heading, the completion. It is Easter, and its gift of new life, which we have all been waiting for. Easter is much more wonderous and beautiful than Christmas. You expect a new life at a birth. You do not expect new life at a tomb. That is the important part of Easter. God demonstrates at the tomb on Easter morning that He is the victor. Jesus is raised victorious of sin, death and the devil. And we will be raised victorious with him! This is the gift of Christmas come to fruition. It is the center of our faith. It is what we cry out in our faith. Christ is raised victorious from the grave. And through our faith in Jesus, we share in the hope of the resurrection to eternal life. This is the full Christmas gift which God intended for us and all of creation. It is the gift beyond and above all gifts from God. Praise be to God!

In Christ,
Pastor Rose