March 2, 2021

Dear Family of Our Redeemer's,

We continue on our journey through Lent, looking for hope, renewal of trust in God's mercy rather than our own works, and a renewal of vitality and excitement about our daily walk with the living Jesus. God's purpose in sending Jesus is to "make all things new". Each new day is a new gift. Each new day is an opportunity to experience this abundant life in Christ. It is guaranteed in the resurrection of Jesus..

In our Gospel reading for this coming Sunday, March 7, (John 2:13-22, printed on the back of this bulletin), we encounter an angry Jesus. It is not the typical picture that we expect from the kind, compassionate, merciful Savior. The house of prayer has become a marketplace, and the access to forgiveness is limited to those who can afford it. The angry Jesus overturns the tables and spills the money all over the place by driving the people and the animals out of the temple with the words: "Stop making my Father's house a marketplace!"

Obviously, those who think they are providing a service to temple customers, are confused. They are assuming that "Jesus has lost his mind". When he states that if they "destroy this temple, in three days I will raise it up", they do not make the connection that Jesus is not talking about a building, but about his death and resurrection. The writer of the Gospel of John does indicate that the disciples do make the connection after Jesus was raised from the dead.

Most of us have difficulty getting past the idea that our faith in God is not about a transaction. It is a relationship of grace that is offered to us free, paid for with a high price by this Son of God. Perhaps we can understand why Jesus became so furious when he saw that people were still thinking that their sacrificial animals would satisfy the demands of justice and give them a clean slate in the eyes of the Almighty. Sin creates damage that no sacrifices can repair. The suffering and pain that we cause by our thoughts, words, and deeds cannot be healed by scapegoats or substitutes, only God, in the person of Jesus, could do that. Jesus knew there was no other way than his own death and resurrection to bring new life to a dying world.

This is a lot of foolishness according to the normal way of thinking. In our Second Reading for this coming Sunday, I Corinthians 1:18 (see back of bulletin), it states: "The message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." The temptation to trust in our "sacrifices of transactions" is not a winning ticket, it is a bad idea, a dead end. So each day, we respond to the invitation: "Return to the Lord your God. For He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love".

Blessings on your grace-filled return,

Interim Supply Pastor, Fred Mai

February 23, 2021

Dear Family of Our Redeemer's

I have called attention to the fact that the first verse of our Gospel reading for this next Sunday (Mark 8:31 see back of this bulletin) is the turning point in the story of Jesus in Mark.  In the first half of the Gospel, Mark records many activities in Jesus public ministry that demonstrate "the good news of the Kingdom".  Mark 8:31 is the first public statement by Jesus that He "must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again."  That doesn't make any sense to Peter.  The whole world still struggles to understand and believe it as well.

During the Season of Lent we spend a lot of time thinking about "the foolishness of God".  In the end, we will never really understand it but, by the Holy Spirit, we can be led to believe it and even to find LIFE from its truth.  From our human perspective, much of what God has done and is doing does not make sense.  The examples in the Bible are too numerous to count.

For instance, in today's First Reading from Genesis: Abraham and Sarai are shocked in their old age when God Almighty announces to them: “of You shall be the ancestor of a multitude nations".  In our Second Reading from Romans 4, Abraham's faith in God's promise guided him and his wife, Sarah, to believe what seemed almost impossible.  It was faith in God, rather than their own ideas, that empowered them to walk by faith and not by sight until the promise was fulfilled.  Our Redeemer's Lutheran Church has chosen to "walk by faith, and not by sight" as our mission statement and to use that truth to be the guiding star in our life together.

Continuing further in our Gospel Reading for Sunday, Jesus makes another statement that doesn't seem to make sense to us or to the world: "For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it." (v.35).  That kind of thinking is not the pattern that we usually operate within our day to day living.  But the Bible, from beginning to end, insists that it is the way God operated in sending His Son to die for us and it is the way we are called to use the life that God has given to us.

I suspect that many of us have been inspired and would like to follow the famous words of what is often called, THE PRAYER OF ST. FRANCIS, which begins: "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.  “It is the last lines of the prayer that echo our Gospel reading for this week: "For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life."

Blessings on your journey of walking by faith and not by sight,

Interim Supply Pastor, Fred Mai

February 16, 2021

Dear Family of Our Redeemer's

By the time you get this bulletin and letter in the mail, we will have experienced Ash Wednesday and moved into the season of Lent.  Our Gospel reading for the First Sunday in Lent, Mark 1:9-15 (see back of bulletin), tells us that immediately after Jesus had been baptized, "the Spirit drove him out into the wilderness.  He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him" (Mark 1:12).  Our forty days of Lent (not counting Sundays) are meant to help us feel and understand what Jesus experienced on our behalf when he offered himself to His mission of redeeming us from sin, death and the power of the devil.  Life for Jesus in the wilderness, and life for us in the wilderness is a battle with the wild beasts and it lasts for more than "forty days".

"What is life like for you in your wilderness?  Are you able to identify and name the wild beasts that you deal with?  Are they inside of you or outside of you?  Are there angels waiting on you to help you make it through each day?  I do not think it is helpful for us to deny that we are in the wilderness.  Even though we live in what is often called the richest country in the world and live in the "land of the free and the home of the brave", the "wild beasts" find their way into our daily lives.  And, for me, it seems that most of them are inside of me rather than outside of me.  "We confess that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves. We have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart.  We have not loved our neighbor as ourselves".  The "wild beasts" show up every day.

I encourage you to read and re-read the Gospel Message, "Secure Even When It's Not Safe", included on the inside cover of this bulletin.  While the season of Lent is a helpful reminder of our life in the wilderness, there is a "rest and renewal" Sabbath in every week of Lent even as that Sabbath is offered each week throughout the whole year.  It is a good discipline to experience the Lenten wilderness but it is a tremendous sigh of relief, with the help of the angels, to arrive safely at Easter.

During the journey, it is essential that we stay connected to each other. We cannot make it alone.  The Body of Christ does not survive when we dismember the parts.  Pray, encourage, reach out, bring life to one another.  Together, with the angels, and the Spirit, we will make it to Easter and the joy of life RENEWED.

Blessings and thank you for walking the road together,

Interim Supply Pastor, Fred Mai

February 9, 2021

Dear Family of Our Redeemer's

This coming Sunday, February 14, will likely get more attention in the world as "Saint Valentine’s Day" than "Transfiguration of our Lord" Sunday. Both are significant. In the Church Year Calendar, "Transfiguration of our Lord" is the last Sunday in Epiphany before we move to Ash Wednesday, February 17, and the Season of Lent. We have been unwrapping our Christmas Gift, Jesus, asking the question: "Are you the One who is to come or should we look for another?" On the Mount of Transfiguration, three of the disciples are dazzled by a bright light and hear a voice saying: "This is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him!" With that assurance, we are ready to move to Ash Wednesday and Lent.

As the ashes from the previous Palm Sunday branches are imprinted on our foreheads with the proclamation, "Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return", we acknowledge the truth of our mortality and wait for God's intervention to bring new life from our own ashes. During the weeks between Ash Wednesday and Easter, the Church tries to understand the depth of God's love that God would be willing to pay the high price of redeeming us mortals through the suffering and death of His Son Jesus. 

"We rise again from ashes", a powerful message in song from the Our Redeemer's choir during the Lenten season, points us to the hope and light that leads us through these dark days to Easter. Our church will gather on Ash Wednesday and Maundy Thursday for worship with our current choices of in-church presence, parking lot radio participation, or the live stream website service. There will also be a message from the Pastor that can be heard and seen each week on the church Facebook focusing on the theme, "From ashes to new Life".

The Covid 19 pandemic has held us hostage for more than a year. These powers of sin and death, along with other aspects of the fallen creation, have made the past months a challenge. While there are signs of hope on the horizon through the vaccinations, at this time it continues to require patience, caution, wisdom, and much prayer to free us from these demons. 

"Our hope is in God" as it always has been. "In Him we live and move and have our being". The God who created and redeemed us has promised to sustain and be present with us no matter how hard the journey.  And, the Gospel is clear and strong in emphasizing that Jesus was focused on helping those who carry heavy loads. Whatever your load, hear the voice of Jesus: "Come to me...I will give you rest...Peace be with you".

Blessings on your journey to new life,

Interim Supply Pastor, Fred Mai

February 2, 2021

Dear Family of Our Redeemer's

There were two statements from the sermon resources I use that caught my attention while I was preparing to write this letter: 1) "The forces that diminish human life are rendered powerless by Jesus" 2) "Good news draws a crowd; the gospel is found in Jesus!".

We heard from last Sundays Gospel reading that Jesus first public act recorded in Mark was the exorcism of a demon in the synagogue.  This coming Sunday, the Gospel (Mark 1:29-39, see back of this bulletin) tells us that the mother-in-law of the disciple Simon was sick in bed with a fever:  "He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up.  Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them."

There are many forces in this world that diminish human life.  Each of us can make a list from our own experiences: physical illnesses or handicaps, family crises, economic struggles, relationship breakdowns, threats to national and international security, political chaos, the pandemic, etc.  Even though "Jesus came that we might have life and have it in all its fullness", the destructive forces are still at work in our lives and in this world.

Where do you find strength and help as you struggle with the problems in your life?  Where do you "discover hope"?  There are messiahs of every kind claiming to have the answers.  Many of the acclaimed solutions are "do-it-yourself" fixes that we are still trying to make work but with little success.  We win some and lose some.  We confess our failures and try again.

"The forces that diminish human life are rendered powerless by Jesus"  "Good news draws a crowd: the gospel is found in Jesus!"  The Christian faith is revolutionary and transformational. In our baptism, we are united with Christ.  The Word has given us LIFE!  We are empowered each day by the Spirit of God.  The Word is made flesh within our bodies. Luther described our existence after Baptism as "Little Christs" , the presence of God still living and active in and through us in this world.

Have we caught the thrill and excitement of the Gospel?  Of being disciples of Jesus?  Of being called to bring Good News to hurting people?  Of being connected with each other in this glorious mission?  Of being the Communion of Saints?  Of having the power and authority to change the world for the better?

Remember: "Good news draws a crowd: the gospel is found in Jesus!"  You are a living Jesus!

Blessings on your "Jesus" journey,

Interim Supply Pastor, Fred Mai

January 26, 2021

Dear Family of Our Redeemer's

"Words Matter!" This phrase has been heard often in the past few weeks. "Jesus Words Matter Even More!" is a phrase that should be heard over and over again. In our Gospel reading (Mark 1:21-28) for this coming Sunday (see back of bulletin) we hear that Jesus spoke with "authority". The words of wisdom from the scribes, learned teachers of the law, certainly were spoken from years of diligent study of the scriptures. But even the understanding of human beings who had studied for many years, was and still is limited. There are always more questions than answers in our search for ultimate truth.

It is likely that I have shared my understanding of "truth" and "authority" in sermons and written words before. Our words are "descriptive", that is we can describe our understanding of reality. Jesus words are "creative" or "causative", they bring into being the very thing that is being spoken. Where this strikes me so powerfully and clearly is in the worship service through the absolution or word of forgiveness: "Through the power and promise of Christ Jesus, our sins are washed away and we are claimed as God's own beloved. Indeed, we are forgiven". The truth and authority of what is being spoken from the word of Jesus actually happens!

In spite of all the emphasis on "grace" in our Lutheran understanding of the scripture, we are often accused of wallowing in "guilt". Perhaps it is our human nature wanting to be our own "savior" that we often choose to focus on our failures and inflict self-suffering so that we can deserve forgiveness. "Grace" can seem too cheap and too easy. Yet we also confess, "We are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves".

Jesus words do change the world! Jesus words do change us! The scribes in our Gospel reading and all human beings from all times and places find that to be so revolutionary and "too good to be true" that we have difficulty embracing and celebrating the authority of Jesus words. In spite of all the "bad news" and "ugly words" that we hear every day, we are convinced that the words of Jesus are true and are spoken with authority.  Every day can be a celebration! "YOU ARE FORGIVEN!"


Blessings on your journey of celebration,

Interim Supply Pastor, Fred Mai

January 19, 2021

 Dear Family of Our Redeemer's

 When Jesus says: "REPENT!" what does that mean to you?  For many, the word means: "stop having fun and get to work!”  The basic meaning of the word is, "turn around": stop running away from God, turn toward God.

 I suspect that some of us may recall times in our younger years when we wanted to run away from home.  We may have even packed a small suitcase with a few clothes and headed out the door with the intent to be free from the restrictions of living under our parents rule.  It was our understanding that if we could be "free", we would be happy.  Unfortunately, there have been too many "runaways" that have experienced a sad and tragic life as a result of that way of thinking.

 We are all "runaways".  It is part of our sinful condition that we want to be free from any restrictions so that we can do what we want to do.  That does not make us free at all, instead, it makes us slaves of our own desires.  In our Gospel reading for this coming Sunday, January 24, (see back of this bulletin) we discover that Jesus is inviting us to stop running away from the rule of God and turn around so that we can hear Jesus invitation to live under the "good news".  The kingdom of God (the rule of God) is intended to give us life in all its fullness, not to take away our fun.

 Why do we have so much trouble believing that Jesus really wants us to have a rich and happy life?  Why do we believe that Jesus is a "kill-joy"?  Why do so many people stay away from the church because they see it as a "downer" rather than an "upper"?  Is it our own guilt that colors the picture?  Is our thinking shaped by what we see on TV rather than the "good news of Jesus"?  Most of us hear too much "bad news" from the media and not enough Gospel (good news) from God.  If we spent less time hearing/reading the news from the media and more time in hearing/reading the Bible, would we have a different view of life?  I encountered a lady in our community recently who told me she gave away her TV.  That is a radically different way to live.  She says she gets all the news she needs and does not want her life to be dominated by what is being said on TV.

 Jesus says in our Gospel reading: "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news"!  Turn around!  HEAR THE GOOD NEWS!  BELIEVE THE GOOD NEWS!  The invitation from Jesus to "follow me" also beings the invitation to "fish for people”. We swim in troubled waters.  These are very hard times for many, many people.  As disciples of Jesus, we can join in God's mission to bring "good news" to our neighbors.

 Blessings on your "good news" journey,

Interim Supply Pastor, Fred Mai

January 12, 2021
Dear Family of Our Redeemer's
"FOLLOW ME"!  It was late summer in 1965.  I had just completed my Clinical Pastoral Education at Lutheran Deaconess Hospital in Chicago.  Juanita was to drive from Minneapolis, meet me at the bus station in Chicago and we would proceed together to Cincinnati to work on plans and arrangements for our wedding there in October.  Even though she was familiar with city driving in Cincinnati and Minneapolis, she got lost in Chicago trying to get to the bus station.  Ending up in a "not so good" area of the Windy City, she pulled over to the curb and stopped her car to try to figure things out.  A big fancy car pulled up behind her and a man in a white suit, smoking a cigar, who saw that she was likely confused and out of her comfort zone, got out of his car and came to her driver’s side window to ask if she was lost and where she needed to go.  After she explained it to him, he simply said: "FOLLOW ME"! He led her to the bus station, waved goodbye, and went on his way.  We have often referred to him as "the angel in a white suit with a cigar".  Juanita and I did connect at the bus station and proceeded on our way to Cincinnati.
In our Gospel reading for this coming Sunday, (John 1: 43-51 see back of bulletin), Jesus begins his ministry by calling his first disciples with the invitation: "FOLLOW ME"!  There have been and will continue to be many people, now and then, who invite us to follow them in this cause or that cause. It is always important to know who is calling us to join them.
The invitation from Jesus, "FOLLOW ME"!, is different from all other invitations.  Jesus calls us to join Him in a mission that is scary, uncharted, dangerous, challenging, and costly and is focused on the needs of others.  It may cost us our lives, even as it cost Jesus His life.  I have been humbled by some of my seminary classmates who answered the call of Jesus to be missionaries in unreached parts of the globe or in poverty ridden, high crime neighborhoods of our cities.  Significant progress has been made throughout the world in bringing hope, education, food security, clean water, peace, faith, and improved living conditions by those who have had the courage to follow Jesus into these areas of great need.
Where will the call of Jesus lead you?  Where will the call of Jesus lead Our Redeemer's?  Do we know who is calling?  Do we have enough faith to trust this "stranger from Galilee" who got himself killed because he loved the world so much?
Every day we ask ourselves: "What does it mean for me this day when Jesus says, "FOLLOW ME?"  Every new day is an unknown.  "We walk by faith and not by sight".  We do know who Jesus is, Son of God, Savior of the world.  We pray that we may have the courage and faith to respond like those first disciples and gladly follow Jesus wherever He leads us.
Blessings on your journey as a disciple of Jesus,
Interim Supply Pastor, Fred Mai

January 5, 2021

Dear Family of Our Redeemer's

Recently, we received a letter from the Internal Revenue Service requesting "identity verification".  They were planning to process our 2019 Form 1040 Tax Return and needed to verify that we were legitimate, that we were not "robots", that we actually were the persons named on the return, and that we were responsible for the information on the return. There was a telephone number that we were instructed to call. Each time we tried to fulfill that request, their phones were so busy that we were told to try later or try the next day. The "please hold" time was usually significant. As we came near to the deadline indicated in the letter, our anxiety climbed higher. Finally, we connected with a person and were assured that we had done nothing wrong but that the random sampling had selected us as part of the process to assure "truth and accuracy" in the IRS records.

Ever since Christmas, we have been asking the question: "Are you the One who is to come or should we look for another?"  The Gospel for this coming Sunday, the Baptism of our Lord, concludes with the answer, "And a voice came from heaven, 'You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.  Because our "sin problem" is so serious, leading to death, it is very important that we have a Savior who is genuine, adequate, legitimate, and committed to the task of freeing us from sin, death, and the power of evil. History records a long list of "false messiah's", so the need for identity verification is very real.

In the baptism of Jesus, the voice from heaven announced His identity. In your baptism and in mine, our identity has been announced and verified with the words, "Child of God, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever". God's Word has declared "who we are, and whose we are". As we move into the year 2021, this clear statement about us fills us with hope and confidence, even as we live in a world filled with turmoil and pain.

On January 9, @ 1pm, Bishop elect Rev. Anne Edison-Albright will be installed as Bishop of the East Central Synod of the ELCA. You can view that service on Facebook Live or join the Synod zoom at It is interesting and significant that his event is titled: Service of Welcome, celebrating the gift of baptism and the beginning of ministry with Bishop Anne Edison-Albright. It is also significant that your daily life of ministry and my daily life of ministry is grounded in the truth that in our baptism God claimed and named us "Child of God". Our identity has been verified. We can continue our ministry in confidence.

Blessings on your baptismal journey,

Interim Supply Pastor, Fred Mai

December 29, 2020

Dear Family of Our Redeemer's

We are living in the "Twelve Days of Christmas"! We are living in the Light! The Light is shining in the darkness and the darkness will not be able to overcome it!

The days after Christmas may be a good time for some reflection about whether the Christmas message was allowed to do its renewing and energizing work in our lives or whether the season left us exhausted, relieved that it is over, or made no difference at all. Although this Christmas was "like no other" because of the pandemic, with restrictions on family, church, and social gatherings, the message of God coming into this broken world with His presence, grace, truth, peace, and love is the "One Message" that can "Light up our lives!". The message of Christmas is transformational! God's coming into our world and into our lives is able to "make all things new"!

There is also something very exciting about the promise of a new calendar year. We will all look back at 2020 with different feelings and perspectives. For some of us, it has been a "very bad year". For some of us, it has been a "very good year". For all of us, it has been a "different kind of year". The Covid 19 virus has "ruled the world". And yet, for all of us, "He (Jesus) rules the world with Truth and Grace!” Far too much and far too often, we allow the circumstances or situations in our lives to be more determinative than the "Joy to the world" that we have just sung about.

So, what is your perspective about The New Year? How are you feeling about your future? There is truth in some of the oft-quoted phrases: "What you see is what you get!" or "Your perception is your reality".  Looking at the future through the Christmas message can indeed transform each day of The New Year.

I keep learning that some of our greatest hymns of praise have been written during times in history when terrible things were happening. In times of various plagues, drought, persecution, suffering, mass deaths, and other tragedies, people of faith have been able to see through their tears the ultimate redeeming truth of Jesus. The Baby born in a manger was put to death on the Cross. But His death was turned into Resurrection! That Light is for all of us "The Light shining in the darkness" and "The darkness will not be able to overcome it".

When the Sundays of Christmas come to an end, we are lead to Epiphany (The Season of Light). The Light of the world is in our midst!

Blessings on your journey of Light,

Interim Supply Pastor, Fred Mai

December 15, 2020

Dear Family of Our Redeemer's

This coming Sunday, December 20, is the last Sunday of Advent, the last Sunday before Christmas. Does it really seem like Christmas this year? Many of the activities that we ordinarily do or take part in during the month of December did not happen this year. With the isolation and separation required to try to keep the virus from invading our lives, it has not been a "normal" season of preparation for Christmas.

Is it possible that there might be some "positives" in this enforced change in our schedules and activities?  How would you describe a "good Christmas"? The focus in two of the readings for this week center on the announcement to Mary that she was to "birth the Messiah" (The Gospel: Luke 1:26-38) and her response (Psalm: Luke 1:46b-55). The angel Gabriel came to Mary with an unusual message: "Greetings, favored one!  The Lord is with you." Mary's life would never be the same again, even as pregnancy in any family changes the picture forever.

Regardless of what our Christmas preparations and activities look like this year, if we hear the message of the angel: "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you", it will be a good Christmas for us. If we do not hear that announcement that the Lord is with us, the season and the future could be frightening and bleak. The best Christmas for all of us is wrapped up in the words: "The Lord is with you!". The worst Christmas is when we feel isolated and alone.

When Mary hears the words, "The Lord is with you!”, she is willing to accept the unusual assignment given to her to be the "Christ Bearer". She is able to break forth in a song of joy: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior". There will be challenges, hardships, heartache, questions, and pain in this journey but her song is still being sung around the world twenty centuries later.

When we greet each other in worship before prayer with the words, "The Lord be with you!" and receive the response, "And also with you", we are conveying to each other the heart of the Christmas message. In the birth of Jesus, God is with us. That makes it a good Christmas and that "good news" can carry us into the New Year and the rest of our lives.

Blessings on your Christ-bearing journey,

Interim Supply Pastor, Fred Mai

December 8, 2020

Dear Family of Our Redeemer's

 We are entering the darkest days of the year. According to the Weather Channel, the sun will set at 4:10 P. M. for the next several days before the days lengthen and we begin the movement toward more light. The early sunset and the early darkness can have an impact on our mood, outlook, and spirit. It becomes especially important that we look to the “Light of the World" to shatter our darkness.

 In the beautiful liturgy of Evening Prayer (Vespers) in our hymnal, the worship leader and the congregation call to each other in proclamation and prayer for the Light to enter our darkness:

 L: "Jesus Christ is the Light of the world.

C: the light no darkness can overcome.

L: "Stay with us, Lord, for it is evening,

C: and the day is almost over.

L: "Let your light scatter the darkness,

C: and illumine your church.

 The very first verses in our Bible, when God created the heavens and the earth, God spoke Light into the darkness: "And God said, 'Let there be light': and there was light". All living things are in need of light. When the first humans turned away from God in the garden of Eden to pursue independence and selfishness, the light of God was dimmed and darkness invaded their existence. Immediately, God promised that a Savior would come to restore and redeem the fallen creation.

 We are well into the season of Advent. In our Gospel reading for this coming Sunday, December 13, (John 1:6-8, 19-28--see back cover of this bulletin), John the Baptist has come upon the scene to announce that God was about to enter the darkness in the world with the light of His own presence. After centuries of waiting, people were obviously excited about what they heard from John and mistakenly thought he was the fulfillment of the promise. John quickly turned the spotlight away from himself and pointed to Jesus, the Light of the world.

 In these longest, darkest days of the year, it is obvious that we need the Light of the World as desperately as did those who had waited so long when Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Our Advent scriptures encourage us not to give up hope.  God has come, continues to come to us each day, comes to us in bread and wine at His table, and will come again to fulfill His plan. In the darkest days of the year and in the dark days of human history, we wait with hope, joy, peace, and confidence. God does what God has promised to do. God will come to save us! Rejoice! Celebrate!

Blessings on your expectant journey,

Interim Supply Pastor, Fred Mai

November 17, 2020

Dear Family of Our Redeemer’s,

I was looking forward to CHRIST THE KING SUNDAY (this Sunday), instead, it is giving me “fits”.  For the most of 55 years of my pastoral ministry, I have not preached a sermon or had to prepare a letter to the congregation for CHRIST THE KING SUNDAY because I was always at “deer camp” on this weekend and, of course, you don’t prepare “sermons” for deer camp.

NOW, I don’t know how to deal with the Gospel assigned to this day from Matthew 25:31-46.   (see back cover of the bulletin).  The KING sitting on His judgement throne is using different criteria in separating the “sheep“ from the “goats”, and it is messing with my comfort zone.  Does my response “to the least of thee” determine my eternal destiny?  Is the KING really a JUDGE?  I sincerely confess that the focus of my life has not been primarily focused on “the least of these”.  Am I doomed to spend eternity with the “goats”?

What I was really expecting from this coming Sunday was the words from the great oratorio of George Frederick Handel in the “THE MESSIAH”:

                King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, and He shall reign forever and ever;

                                Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.”

JESUS CHRIST is truly a different kind of KING! His entry into this world as the Son of God was always focused toward “the least of these”.  His mission of feeding the hungry, healing the sick, raising the dead, and lifting up the lowly demonstrated that the KINGDOM OF GOD is about LOVE!  Another great hymn that emphasizes the truth that THIS KING is different from all other kings invites us to sing: (LBW#456)

                “The king of love my shepherd is, whose goodness faileth ever,

                I nothing lack if I am his and he is mine forever.

                And so, through all the length of days, thy goodness faileth never,

                Good Shepherd, may I sing thy praise within thy house forever.”

We can see CHRIST THE KING SUNDAY as an invitation rather than a judgment.   The important work of ministry to the “least of these” is possible for us because God has provided all that we need in creation, redemption, and Spirit-empowerment.  What a joy to be partners, “God’s work, our hands”, and to anticipate the KING saying to us: “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you “.

Blessings on your servant journey,

Interim Supply Pastor

Fred Mai