Join Us This Sunday for Ecumenical Service Celebrating Family Promise!

You are invited! This Sunday, October 13, at 4pm to the Ecumenical Celebration Worship Service and 5th Birthday Party for Family Promise of Bristol.

Family Promise of Bristol opened in June 2012 as the twin city’s chapter of Interfaith Hospitality Network, a ministry of housing for homeless families.  Participant families are provided housing in FPOB3ten area churches.  During the day, the children attend local schools while the parents receive access to services at the Family Promise Day Center, located at Redeemer Lutheran Church.

About once per quarter, our downstairs Sunday School rooms get made up with beds, tables, and other accessories.  Each family has a private bedroom, and they share a common lounge area.  Meals are served family-style by church volunteers.  Friends at Faith Lutheran also support our ministry here at Redeemer by providing food and volunteers.

Come, join us!

Special Events Planned for Sunday October 16

You won’t want to miss worship at Redeemer on Sunday October 16 at 10:30!

We will be celebrating the ministry of Marcia Cooper, Director of Music, on her 10th anniversary here at Redeemer.  A special piece of music has been commissioned by renowned Lutheran composer and hymnwriter Carl Schalk, and he will be joining us for worship.  The King University Symphonic Choir will also be our guests that day, and a covered dish luncheon will follow the service!

A small team from the Music Department began planning for this event last summer.  When we were trying to determine the best way to honor Marcia’s anniversary here at Redeemer as well as her lifetime of service to the Lutheran Church, the idea occurred to commission a special piece of music in her honor.  “Lord, Thou Hast Been Our Refuge” was composed this summer by Dr. Schalk, and it was presented to Marcia as a surprise at the choir rehearsal on Wednesday September 21.  The text of the anthem is excerpted from Psalm 90:

Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayt, Return, you children of men…12 So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.

For members of the congregation and friends who would like to contribute to this occasion, the council has authorized the collection of a love offering that will be presented to Marcia as a gift in recognition of her service to the church.  If you would like to participate, please mark your check “love offering – Cooper” and place in the offering plate or send to the church office.

About Marcia

marciaMarcia Cooper has served as Director of Music at Redeemer Church since 2006.  Her primary duties at Redeemer include oversight of all aspects of the music program at Redeemer, including the adult choir, handbell choir, soloists, and instrumentalists.  Additionally, she is the principal organist for all services and the director of the adult choir.

Marcia earned a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts – Organ from Roanoke College in Roanoke, Virginia, and a Master of Music in Ethnomusicology from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.  She is a member of the American Guild of Organists and the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians.  She has served Lutheran parishes in Tennessee and Virginia and also served with her husband, the late Rev. John J. Cooper, as a Lutheran missionary to Thailand from 1976-1982.

Marcia lives in Blountville, Tennessee, on her family’s farm where she enjoys cooking and summer gardening.

About Dr. Schalk

Dr. Carl Flentge Schalk (born 1929) is a noted Lutheran composer, author, and lecturer. Between 1965 and 2004 he taught church music at Concordia University Chicago.   During this time he guided the development of the university’s Master of Church Music degree, which has since graduated more than 140 students.  Schalk was a member of the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship, which produced Lutheran Book of Worship in 1978.   Continue reading Special Events Planned for Sunday October 16

Lutheran Day of Service

God’s Work – Our Hands at the Bristol Minnick School

Continue reading Lutheran Day of Service

“God’s Work. Our Hands.” Day of Service 2016

“God’s work. Our hands.” day is an opportunity to celebrate who we are as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) – one church, freed in Christ to serve and love our neighbor.

Gods Work Our HandsOn Saturday October 1, volunteers from Redeemer Lutheran Church will join with 4 million other Lutherans from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America for the second annual “God’s Work. Our Hands.” – a dedicated day of service which began in 2015 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the denomination.

Our day of service will benefit the Minnick School, a new school in Bristol, Virginia which is run by Lutheran Family Services of Virginia. This school serves students who, for one reason or another, have had difficulty in the mainstream public school system. Continue reading “God’s Work. Our Hands.” Day of Service 2016

The Battle at (Redeemer) Bristol

The Battle at (Redeemer) Bristol!BattleAtBristol2016-Horizontal-Logo-jpg-3

Who’s going to win in giving to those in need by representing your team: the Tennessee Volunteers or the Virginia Tech Hokies? Here’s how to support your team:

Donate canned and non-perishable goods to the Bristol Emergency Food Pantry. Bring them to the church and deposit them in the bin that corresponds to your team.

May the best team win and may all God’s children be fed. The last Sunday to donate for your team will be September 4.

Fear Not…Sunday’s Sermon From Pastor Austin

7287_10151356428378085_1795696319_nThere’s a lot of fear in our world.  I fear things in my own life: will Tanya get home safely today from her Grandmaw’s; I fear that if I start running again my planter faucitis will act up; I fear will an act of terror take the life of someone I love; who will be our next president; will that stray dog attack me; I fear trying something new because it might fail; I fear the unknown.  Our French sisters and brothers live in a new fear brought on by a man in semi-truck who feared the freedom found in democracy.   What do you fear?  There’s a lot of fear in our world.

As Lutheran’s we believe that the Bible, our Holy Scriptures, is the living word, and are continually contextual in today’s societies.   Additionally, meaning the words on paper come alive in our lives; these ancient stories continue to unleash new meaning for our lives and faith.  It’s like that favorite book of yours, every time you read it again there is something new to discover.  I have read The Education of Little Tree over-and-over again, and never have the words on their worn out pages failed me in sparking a new thought, or given me a new relationship with an old character.  A favorite quote from the book: “Grandma said when you come on something good, first thing to do is share is with whoever you can find; that way, the good spreads out where no telling it will go. Which is right.”  Scripture is the same, every time we reread a text, passage, or story, a new understanding comes to us. It’s the living word!  And when we come across something new from it, we should share it with whoever we can find, because it’ll spread out where no telling it well go. Which is right. Continue reading Fear Not…Sunday’s Sermon From Pastor Austin

Join Us for Corn Roast

2015-08-02 17.51.33

The annual Highlands Conference Corn Roast will be Sunday August 7 at 4:00 p.m. at Hungry Mother Lutheran Retreat Center in Marion, Virginia. We will gather at 4:00 p.m. for a brief worship service and conference meeting. We will have the meal around 5:00 p.m. Redeemer parish has been assigned to bring desserts. For directions to Hungry Mother: Take Interstate 81 North to Marion. Proceed on Route 16 north out of Marion which leads into Hungry Mother State Park. Continue through the park until you reach the Lutheran camp. For a ride, or to carpool, contact the church office.

A fun time will be had by all, and the corn will be delicious!  We hope to see you there!



From the Pastor…Pondering Pentecost

The Season of Pentecost, Ordinary Time, the time in the Church year we are adorned with the liturgical color of green for months and months, and when summer has once again greeted us in creation. This is a time of year when we wait for the harvest and enjoy the long evenings, hikes in the mountains, and, of course, meals from the grill. In worship we will gather each Sunday to hear and study the stories from Jesus’ ministry here on earth. We will hear parables, grand stories of healing and miracles, as well as learn the lessons Jesus taught the disciples of past and present.

IMG_0015We call it ordinary time, but I find more joy in calling this the Season of Pentecost. Pentecost reminds me that the Holy Spirit has, is, and will continue to be at work in our lives; whether it is in the work of a new birth, the reuniting of an old friend, or just finding peace in God’s creation while enjoying the nice shade under a tree. The Spirit comes to us, and we will visit and revisit the ways in which our Triune God is revealed in Christ Jesus in our worship during the Season of Pentecost. Martin Luther wrote many hymns to God for worship, many of which can be offered as a prayer of thanksgiving. Here is a prayer, I believe, for giving thanks and praise for the gift of the Holy Spirit’s work in gracing us with the beautiful uniting power of the Church of Christ:

Come, Holy Spirit, God and Lord, with all your graces now outpoured on each believer’s mind and heart; your fervent love to them impart. Lord, by the brightness of your light in holy faith your church unite; From every land and every tongue, this to your praise, O Lord, our God, be sung. Alleluia! Alleluia! -ELW 395

Our Church Garden

“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; 32it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” -Matthew 13:31-32

We didn’t plant mustard seeds but we have faith our garden will grow!  Thanks to all who helped make our dream a reality.  When the time comes our harvest will be given to the Bristol Food Pantry for those in need.  In the meantime, anyone who is willing and able can help water, pull weeds, and nurture the garden are welcome.

20160513_183811 20160513_193432

20160513_193423 20160513_185521


Pastor Austin’s Sermon from May 1st, 2016

23Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me. 25”I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. 28You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 29And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe.  –John 14:23-29

Photo Credit: Chelsea Bock

Photo Credit: Chelsea Bock

The last few weeks we’ve really focused a lot on love.  Our texts from John have showed us the love God has for the world, we’ve been invited to show and share love, even when it is a challenging command from Jesus.  Love is in the air, and there is good reason.  Our faith tells us that God not only showers us with love, not only shares love, and not only shows us how to love, but God is fundamentally wrapped up into the simple statement: God is Love.

Let me tell you what love looks, smells, tastes, and feels like.  Love is God humbling coming to you by walking this harsh world in the flesh of Jesus.  God was doing just fine being our God that transcends everything.  God was fine being our Divine Creator and author of human life before having to constrict Godself and be bound to the limitations of skin like mine and yours.  God was doing just fine not being restricted by flesh, but God is love and therefore God entered into the very fabric God created, and took on the image you and I were created, that is to say in God’s own image.

Now we don’t really know what that looks like, we have ideas like the pictures we have within our windows in the sanctuary, but we really don’t know what God, in Jesus, looked like so as far as I am concerned being created in the image God means that God looks like you. That is love, to love you so much, that God came to literally be in and among you.

Though God did not stop there. When the going got tough for Jesus, God could have easily been beamed right back to be with the Heavenly hosts.  But no, when the going got tough, real tough, God in Jesus pressed on in the flesh.  When God in Jesus was losing friends and followers left and right because of fearful denial, God didn’t even stop there.  God is love, remember.  When all those that once praised Jesus by chanting, “Praise to the One who comes in the name of Lord,” changed their tone entirely to shouting, “crucify him, crucify him,” God in Jesus did not toss in the hat, give up, or take the easy road.

Jesus’ road led to only one place, the cross.  But that cross was not neat and tidy, the cross was not something people wore around their necks, or anything that represented one’s faithNo, the cross was disgusting, tortuous, and just plain awful.  The cross was death, but, God didn’t stop Jesus when God knew that in Jesus God would prove once and for all that God is love.  So God, by the work on the Cross in Jesus, God felt the sting of deathGod entered into the depths of hate, injustice, prejudice, darkness, and sinNot because it was enjoyable for God’s gain, but for you.  God in Jesus entered into death and the body of Jesus was laid in a tomb.  But God is love so that was not the end.  The tomb is not the end of the story because that is not love, that would have only been heroic to die just for youKeep in mind not only did Jesus die for you, Jesus made certain, for you that hate, injustice, prejudice, darkness, and sin are not the winners of our faith: Love wins! And justice for our neighbor wins, and equality, and light over darkness wins, and forgiveness…wins.  You see, love wins.

Our text today continues on our theme that God loves you, and if we enter into that love with God, God will make a home in you.  That’s beautiful, isn’t it?  God simply says, Home Sweet Home is with you.  In Madagascar they have a similar saying to Home Sweet Home: mamy ny mody.  But it’s a better translation not to say home sweet home but rather: It is sweet to return home. That’s what you say when you come back from a trip: Mamy ny mody – it’s sweet to return home and people will say it to you when you return, too.  I think that is the love God has for us, that God loves us, you, so much, that God is at home in you.  Therefore God’s says: mamy ny mody…it’s sweet to return home.

Home is an interesting concept for me – or at least in my recent years.  Where is home people ask me? Hmm, where is home?  Some say it’s where you are born, But I haven’t lived in Arizona since I was 7 years old, since 1989, that can’t be home.  Some say it’s where you grew up.  Ok, that’s easy, North Carolina but I haven’t lived in NC for a decade.  Some say it’s where your heart is.  Now, that confuses me even more.  My heart is drawn to many places because I had a heart for the cornfields when I lived in Iowa, it was heard not to fall in love with East Bay of San Francisco when I lived there briefly, I spent a summer in Colorado and that was lovely.  When I lived in Madagascar that was most certainly home.  But I think that confused people because friends and family from the States would ask “when are you coming home?”  And I would equally confuse them when we were back in the States visiting I would say, “we are going back home (to Madagascar that is) soon.”

Ever wonder if God feels that, you know, where is home for God?   Is God at home in Heaven?  Or in the flesh of Jesus on earth?  Or is God at home woven into the Holy Spirit?  Or maybe God knows the lyrics to the song Home where it says: “Home is wherever I am with you.” That is love.  God promises to make a home in you.  God is not distant. God is home wherever God is with you.  God is home in your neighbor.  God is home in a stranger.  God is home, in you, if you believe.

So how do we prepare a home?  Well, we have to make a space, get ready, maybe even straighten up, be inviting and open because God desires a relationship, a relationship built on love, to be at home.  “Home is wherever I am with you,” God says.  I never prepare my home, wherever I might find it, without…you said it…love.

There’s no room for hospitality, conversation, forgiveness, or love if I’m too busy with discrepancy, or hate, or seeking differences.  In a home that is more concerned about closing doors, keeping others out, and pushing people out, where’s the idea of home in that?  It’s an intimate thing to believe that God could actually be at home in me.  It’s intimate and special to believe that God has made a home in you.  It is a beautiful thing to believe that God makes a home in here.  And that is only made possible by God’s unwavering, unconditional, and radical divine love.

Yep, the last few weeks we’ve really focused a lot on love.  Our texts from John have showed us the love God has for the world.  We’ve been invited to show and share love, even when it is a challenging command from Jesus.  Love is in the air, and there is good reason.  Our faith tells us that God not only showers us with love, not only shares love, and not only shows us how to love, but God is fundamentally wrapped up into the simple statement: God is Love.

And so one must believe: Love Wins!