December 2017

“Let you face shine upon us, and we shall be saved.” Ps. 80:7


Dear Redeemer Family:

In two days, it will be Thanksgiving. Three days later, it will be Christ the King Sunday, and the completion of yet another Church Year. For the following Sunday will be the First Sunday in Advent. My how the time has flown by! But, a year is a cycle. Each season has its own themes and emphases. Advent is both a wonderful and a challenging season. We begin a new Church Year while the world is busy finishing a calendar year – and the month is filled with shopping, pageants, and parties beyond what our energy and time can handle. But while society urges us to hurry and spend; scripture and tradition beckon us to slow down and wait. The hard part of this time of year is to focus and wait.


Enter the wheel. Author, theologian, and artist Gertrud Mueller Nelson doesn’t tire in her enthusiasm for the Advent wreath as the season’s most powerful symbol. She wrote about its significance in her book, To Dance with God, and now in her eighties speaks of it with the same passion. The wreath can be traced to the Romans’ ancient rite of waiting in the darkness for the return of the sun, and for the Feast of the Sun on December 25. The ancients, Nelson says, took a wheel off their wagons and fastened torches to it to see them through the darkness. The only thing alive in the winter, evergreen, was brought inside and fastened to the wheel. To those huddled in darkness, it was a sign of vegetation and springtime. More than three hundred years ago, German Christians fashioned the same elements into the Advent wreath – the greens a sign of hoper and eternity. What was once a Feast of the Sun has become for us the Feast of the Son.


Today our Advent wreaths are often purchased, as are Advent calendars. Even the local secular bookstores have those (sometimes filled with chocolate). Both are symbols and tools of what Advent urges us to do: mark the passage of time as we wait. Despite all evidence to the contrary, Advent is about the art of waiting. But holiday decorations have been on some store shelves since well before Halloween (I can think of one place that had them up in August!), and the world declares virtually everything after Thanksgiving Day the “Christmas season.”


Thou all of us are tempted to ace otherwise, now is the time for slowing down and leaning together. As with the ancients, we gather in darkness to wait for the light. If our ancestors removed a wagon wheel for torchlight, consider what it would be like for us to take a wheel off our car, truck, or minivan. Instead of rushing to the stores or a mall, we would stay home but also gather with friends to sing ancient hymns and hear readings of prophecy and promise.


This season of Advent, slow down and wait. Slow down, or you may miss the importance of the season. Wait, wait for the coming of the light. For it comes to us shining in the face of the child in Bethlehem.

In Christ,

Pastor Rose

May 2017

“In your presence there is fullness of joy.” Psalm 16:11


Dear Redeemer Family:
We are now in the Season of Easter, and should be filled with Easter joy, especially after the forty long days of Lent. But in the world there is much that isn’t joyful. The nightly news is filled with a lot of less than joyful events. Should we be concerned about them? Yes, of course. Are they to be our ultimate concerns. No. They are just signs that the world carries on with its business as usual. We are to be concerned, and as Christians to reach out to help those in need as best that we can be it famine or flood, war or pestilence. We are commanded to reach out in love to help those in need. More than that, we are to spread that Easter joy with us as we go.


Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in a letter to his former students dated November 29, 1942, after listing some of their former classmates who had been killed recently during World War II, writes about his and their feelings in the midst of such tragedy, ””With everlasting joy upon their heads…” (Isaiah 35:10). We do not grudge it them; indeed, should we say that sometimes we envy them in the stillness? Since ancient times, acidia – sorrowfulness of the heart, “resignation” – has been one of the deadly sins. “Serve the Lord with gladness” (Psalm 100:2) summons us to the Scriptures. This is what our life has been given to us for; what it has been preserved for up till now. Joy belongs, not only to those who have been called home, but also to the living, and no one shall take it from us. We are one with them in this joy, but never in sorrow. How shall we be able to help those who have become joyless and fearful unless we ourselves are supported by courage and joy? I don’t mean by this something fabricated, compelled, but something given, free.


Joy dwells with God; it descends from God and seizes spirit, soul and body, and where this joy has grasped us it grows greater, carries us away, opens closed doors. There is a joy which knows nothing of sorrow, need, and anxiety of the heart; it has no duration, and it can only drug one for the moment. The joy of God has been through the poverty of the crib and the distress of the cross; therefore it is insuperable, irrefutable. It does not deny the distress where it is, but finds God in the midst of it, indeed precisely there; it does not contest the most grievous sin, but finds forgiveness in just this way; it looks death in the face, yet finds life in death itself. We are concerned with this joy which has overcome. It alone is worth believing; it alone helps and heals.”


We are to share that same joy, the Easter joy, wherever we go. The glory of the resurrected Christ and His work, that joy is what we share. This is what we are to be about. “We are concerned with this joy which has overcome. It alone is worth believing; it alone helps and heals.” Let us share that witness to all who are in need or injured. Let us be our Lord’s agents of aid and healing to those in suffering; joyless and fearful, in whatever forms we find them.


In Christ, Pastor Rose