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Worship at Sugar Hollow Park, Sunday, August 20

We will have a Lutheran gathering along with St. John of Abingdon at Sugar Hollow Park on Sunday, August 20, at 10:30am. We will come together to worship God, share in the Lord’s Supper, and sing praises to our Creator. Please bring a covered dish to share as we will have a meal together after worship to enjoy time in fellowship. We will gather at Lion’s Shelter (see map for details). The shelter is located at the back of the park, so we will have signs to guide the way.

Redeemer CURRENTS Plants Garden to Feed the Hungry

Continuing our church’s mission to provide food for the hungry, the CURRENTS group at Redeemer recently planted a community garden on the church grounds in order to provide fresh produce for the Bristol Emergency Food Pantry.  Redeemer Church has long supported the food pantry, supplying volunteers to staff the pantry on the first Friday of every month.

CURRENTS is the church’s fellowship group for 20- and 30-somethings.  This is the second year CURRENTS has planted a garden, and this year’s garden is even bigger than before.  Anyone is welcome to pitch in and lend a hand, weeding, watering, or harvesting our goodies to take to the pantry.

For more information on the Bristol Emergency Food Pantry, see Patsy Tauscher.  For more information on CURRENTS, see Pastor Austin.

Join Us for Holy Week Services

This Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week — the pinnacle of the church year.  The week begins with Jesus’ triumphant return to Jerusalem which was celebrated on Palm Sunday (April 9) at the 10:30 service of worship.  This time of triumph is then juxtaposed with the solemnity of Maundy Thursday and the sorrow of Good Friday.  The Easter Vigil on Saturday night before Easter morning is a beautiful service of darkness and light, symbolic of the return of the “light of the world.”

On the night before his crucifixion, Jesus’ dined with his disciples before assuming the role of servant by washing his disciples’ feet.  He did this to demonstrate his love for them and his willingness to be their servant.  He enjoins them (and us) to do the same by washing each other’s feet and, furthermore, he issues “a new commandment, that you love one another … as I have loved you.”  This command (mandatum in Latin) may be the origin of the Maundy in Maundy Thursday.  At Redeemer, we will celebrate the Maundy Thursday liturgy with Holy Communion and an optional rite of foot washing on Thursday April 13 at 7:00 p.m. At the conclusion of the Maundy Thursday liturgy, we leave in silence — no sending song, no blessing — only the rustle of clothes, the soft sound of footsteps, feet freshly washed and covered again, moving into the night.

We return to continue the service of Tenebrae (shadows) on Good Friday (April 14) at 7:00 p.m. A distinctive aspect of this service is the use of what is called the Tenebrae “hearse,” the holder of lit candles which are extinguished, one by one, within the reading of the Passion according to John, the ancient gospel narrative for the day.  The Passion chronicles the events of Holy Week.  The descent into darkness and gloom is a representation of Jesus’ increasing sorrow as the events of Holy Week unfold.  Toward the end of the service worshipers may be a loud noise (strepitus) which symbolizes the closing of Christ’s tomb. The procession of the cross and adoration of the crucified Christ become the primary symbolic actions of this day.  The procession has an important connection to the procession of the paschal candle during the Easter Vigil.  The intercessory prayers extend intentionally and fully to all of humanity and all of creation, including prayers for those who do not believe in God, and everyone, everywhere, in any kind of need.   The liturgy ends with Christ exalted on the cross, an image from John’s gospel. Again we depart in contemplative silence, knowing the service continues at the Easter Vigil.

We begin the Great Vigil of Easter (April 15 at 7:00 p.m.) by lighting a new fire, visible from the church, the lawn and the highway.  The light is carried in procession into the church, lighting the way for those who follow.  With scriptures, psalms, and singing, as the light slowly increases, we recount our history in both Old and New Testament readings.   Through these readings and dramatic presentations we recount the significant events for all Christianity.  Important parts of the service are our reaffirmation of Baptism and the celebration of Holy Communion.

 

 

 

Palm Sunday Worship             Sunday April 9 at 10:30 a.m.

Maundy Thursday Worship     Thursday April 13 at 7:00 p.m.

Good Friday Worship               Friday April 14 at 7:00 p.m.

Great Vigil of Easter                 Saturday April 15 at 7:00 p.m.

Easter Breakfast                       Sunday April 16 at 9:00 a.m.

Easter Morning Worship         Sunday April 16 at 10:30 a.m.

Come, join us.  All are welcome!

Children’s Message with Pastor Austin

“Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them! For the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”                   -Matthew 19:14

An Ash Wednesday Letter to God

Dear God,

I remember that in the beginning you created the heavens and the earth, you created everything, all that there is, seen and unseen.  You even created me, for which I feel eternally special; that you would get down on your knees and formed me from the dust of the earth.  I know I live because you breathed into me your breath of life.  I cannot thank you enough for not only making me, but creating me in your image.  Do you know that means I have seen your face?  In my neighbors, sisters, brothers, and even in a stranger, I have seen you, God.  Apart from you I am simply dust, but in you I am alive with life.

You would think I would do a better job following you, worshipping you, and being your child.  I am sorry for the times that I think I know what’s best for me.  The times I think I know what’s best for others.  I know I should always turn to you because you are the source of life for all living creatures.  I am sorry for the times, again and again, that I fall short of who you created me to be in this world.  I sure give thanks for your patience, because sometimes I am better at being worthless dust, than actually your child.

I apologize for not talking to you more.  You would think that I would want to talk to you every moment of every day, but I don’t, and I forget to pray and give you thanks for all that you do for me and your world.  There are so many things I need to thank you for, but I’m just dust, and not a very good child.

Here’s the thing, God, why do you love me so much?  You created me in your image, but I abuse this body with terrible habits.  You give me life, but I squander nearly every breath I inhale.  You guide me with your Holy Spirit, but I inevitably will take my own path, probably on the low road.  You loved me so much you gave me Jesus, but I nailed him to a cross to get him off my back and leave me alone.  Really, you need to know, I am better at being insignificant dust, than actually acting like the child you created me to be.

All the time, I come to you and confess that I messed up, again. I’m telling you, I am captive to sin and I cannot free myself.  I sin against you all the time in thought, word, and deed.  And it’s not just the things I have done, but also the things I have left undone.  I don’t love you with my whole heart, I certainly don’t love my neighbor as much as I love myself.  I’m selfish, a hypocrite, hatful, judgmental, and cruel.  I’m serious, God, leave me to just be useless dust, it’s easier than being your child, you surely don’t want me.

You’ve got to believe me, I’m a screw-up.  How many times have you caught me in the act?  Every time!  So why do you stick around?  Why keep forgiving me?  Why do you love me?  What’s in it for you?  My heart is telling me, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”  That is what I want to be, dust, but I’m your child.

I guess tonight is my chance to openly acknowledge how weak I am, to admit my sinfulness, and that I’ll never clean up perfectly. In a world that often expects me to be perfect, tonight I want to freely confess that I fall short, all the time, and I’m going to do it again. I stand guilty before you God. Even though you created me, I am mortal and will someday take my last breath and experience death. In the end, what I am saying is, I need a Savior.

Your Dusty Child,

-Austin

Ash Wednesday

 

Service of Holy Communion & Imposition of Ashes 

Wednesday, March 1 at 7pm

All Are Welcome to join us as we begin our Lenten journey to the Cross.

Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber in Bristol, VA

Founding pastor of House of All Sinner and Saints in Denver CO, will be speaking at Central Presbyterian at 7pm on February 16.  She is a gifted speaker whose theology is grounded in the Lutheran tradition.  She will not disappoint.  This is a free event put on by King University’s Institute for Faith & Culture. Hope to see you all there!

A letter from Bishop Elizabeth Eaton

Lutheran_Immigration_and_Refugee_Service_Logo_-_vertical_orientationELCA presiding bishop addresses President Trump’s refugee executive order

CHICAGO (Jan. 30, 2017) – The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), has issued a pastoral message addressing President Trump’s executive order to restrict entry by refugees and visitors into the United States from seven predominately Muslim countries.

 

Eaton’s message follows.

January 30, 2017

Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Yesterday, we heard these words in the Gospel reading from Matthew 5:1-12, the beginning of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. In the Beatitudes, Jesus lays out a vision for life in God’s realm, characterized by seeing those who are often most disregarded, including the meek, the mourning and the peacemaker, as bearers of God’s blessing. Over the coming weeks, we will continue to hear this Gospel, including Jesus’ call for his disciples to be carriers of God’s light and hope and reconciliation to a world deeply in need of them.

In this spirit, earlier last week I communicated with the Trump administration asking that it not stop the U.S. refugee admissions program or stop resettlement from any country for any period of time. The Bible calls us to welcome the stranger and treat the sojourner as we would our own citizens. I agree with the importance of keeping our country secure as the administration stated in its executive order last Friday, but I am convinced that temporarily banning vulnerable refugees will not enhance our safety nor does it reflect our values as Christians. Instead, it will cause immediate harm by separating families, disrupting lives, and denying safety and hope to brothers and sisters who are already suffering.

Refugees being resettled in the United States have fled persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, political views and/or associations. They wait for years for the chance to go home. But sometimes, there is no home for them to go back to. We know from our partners at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) that only 1 percent of all refugees are chosen for resettlement.

People of faith helped start and still sustain the refugee resettlement program in the United States following World War II. As Lutherans, many of our ancestors faced the pain of having to flee their homes and the joy of being welcomed in new communities across the United States. As we have done throughout history, millions of Lutherans across the country honor our shared biblical values as well as the best of our nation’s traditions by offering refuge to those most in need. We are committed to continuing ministries of welcome that support and build communities around the country and stand firmly against any policies that result in scaling back the refugee resettlement program.

We must offer safety to people fleeing religious persecution regardless of their faith tradition. Christians and other religious minorities suffer persecution and rightly deserve protection, but including additional criteria based on religion could have discriminatory effects that would go against our nation’s fundamental values related to freedom of religion.

I invite ELCA congregations into learning, prayer and action on behalf of those who seek refuge on our shores. The ELCA “Social Message on Immigration,” AMMPARO strategy and LIRS resources are good places to start. Those who have been part of resettling refugees or have their own immigration experience have important stories to share with their communities and testimony to make. I also encourage you to consider adding your voice by calling your members of Congress to share your support for refugees and using online advocacy opportunities through current alerts atELCA Advocacy and LIRS.

In Matthew 25:35, Jesus said, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Our Lord not only commanded us to welcome the stranger, Jesus made it clear that when we welcome the stranger into our homes and our hearts – we welcome him.

God’s peace,

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Presiding Bishop

Remember Your Baptism

I received a letter from someone that was a member here at Redeemer beginning in the 1940’s until her family left the area many years later.  In her letter, she was interested in finding out her baptismal date.  It turns out that she was baptized on March 29, 1942.  Amazingly, this was the same date on which I was baptized just a few years later in 1981. 

Baptism is a gift — an eternal endowment given by God and initiated by the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit that opened the heavens and descended onto Jesus to proclaim the reign of God is near.  In the gospels, the accounts of Luke and Mark record the voice as addressing Jesus by saying “You are beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Mark 1:9–11; Luke 3:21–23).   In the Gospel of Matthew, the divine voice addresses all those who were gathered on the banks of the River Jordan, saying “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:13–17).  Consequently, who knows if this voice was only heard by Jesus, or if all the onlookers heard God’s declaration?  Either way, I believe that the same Spirit descended upon us in each of our own baptisms.  The same hallowed voice proclaimed to you and me, “This is my child, in whom I am well pleased.”  And this, sisters and brothers, is something to celebrate!  This is the gift we should recognize and rejoice in every year when our baptism anniversaries come around. 

So, when were you baptized?

God’s Peace,
Pastor Austin

 

Advent Vespers Begin Wednesday November 30

advent-wreathThe season of Advent begins this Sunday, November 27, and our traditional Advent Vespers Services will be held on Wednesdays November 30, December 7, 14, and 21.

A soup and sandwich meal will be served at 6:00 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall, and the Vespers Service will begin at 6:45 in the sanctuary.  You can sign up to bring soup or sandwiches on the table in the narthex.

If you don’t drive at night, transportation will be provided.  Call the church office or sign up in the Narthex.  We hope to see you there.