Though we maintain a high level of activity within the mission and ministry of Redeemer during the summer, when autumn comes around, it is as though we add more ways for people to be engaged in what it means to be a follower of Jesus in our day.
At Redeemer the movement into autumn means we return to the seasons of having two liturgies every Sunday. Those who long for an early start find their way to our 8:30a.m. liturgy and those who want to wake up later or simply get stuff done before worship make their way to the 11:00a.m. liturgy. We also provide for those folks who – no matter what time they choose to worship – make time to attend Sunday school. We hold Sunday school at 9:45a.m.
This fall, we will start with a three-week series facilitated by Pastor Sally Pasgett from First English Lutheran Church. It is called Building Bridges out of Poverty. We must never let ourselves fall into the trap of building a world of us and them created out of the divide that can happen so quickly because of economics. For six to eight weeks, Pastor Al will lead us through new ways of looking at some old language and old images used in the life of the church. The complex notion of ‘atonement’ or blood sacrifice, an adventure into forgiveness, and creation in Christ will all create a time of conversation, disagreement, and new insights around old words.
Autumn is also the time of the year when we find out what small groups will continue on into a new year and what new groups may start up. The many and various small groups are open to both members and friends of Redeemer. We also use the month of September to see who wants to enter into a new adventure of activity in the life of Redeemer.
Our Tuesday afternoon Bible study starts up in September with a conversational look at the Book of Genesis. If you can only view the Bible through a literalistic lens, this may not be for you. Although, that view will find a place in the middle of all the various ways we come to this grand book of the Bible. Our study runs from 1 – 2:30p.m. In that time, we take a tea and treat break and let ourselves travel through and share a diverse set of interpretations that will make all of us see with new eyes.
We continue to engage ourselves in the community around us and us our talents and finances to support a variety of local endeavors to serve others. Autumn will see the beginning of a new book discussion that will look at the Holy Spirit through the writing of a prominent international theologian, Jurgen Moltmann. We find that a number of our members want to engage in fresh and challenging conversation about the meaning of following Jesus. We always invite people from the neighborhood to also join our study.
It is important to us to let everyone know that during any one month, we use four different setting to our liturgy. That means the musical style changes but the heart of the Good News that comes through our weekly liturgy is always at hand.
Welcome means welcome. All means all. Beloved means beloved. Forgiven means forgiven. In the world of American Christianity, those words are quite common, but each one can be dropped or burdened with conditions. When the love of God that knows no limit cannot be contained by the conditions humanity loves to place on all things, it is truly a love that will not let us go. This is a rare love . . . it is a costly love . . . it is a bold and upfront love for all.
When we hear about such a love, we must not let it go sour. That is, we must not let its character be changed into something it is not. When we hear about the Good News but it seems to be held back from some people, we must hold that kind of "news" suspect. Too often, popular religious movements put together some fine music, great organizational prowess, and dynamic oratory, yet they quickly drop or limit the expansive nature of God’s grace. Welcome becomes a word limited to some. All becomes merely all of us. Beloved becomes a label we must keep earning. Forgiveness becomes loaded with fine print.
Well-greased and dynamic organizations that appear to serve great numbers of people can be a wonderful sight. But when that service to others lacks an unbounded grace that boldly serves without condition, we must risk saying that such service is not "Good News" at all. It is simply the same old model of business and success that has been shaped by a culture of conditions, rewards, bias, and self-justification.
If we are afraid to trust this available character of our God, why should we say that we honor and love God and neighbor? It is important to be utterly upfront about the foundation upon which we stand when we say we are followers of Jesus. We serve the world well if we are bold and upfront about our welcome, love, and forgiveness for all—no conditions.