REDEEMER LUTHERAN CHURCH
REV. KURT VAN FOSSAN
1000 PIONEER ROAD, DELTA, CO 81416
874-3052 EMAIL: RLCLCMS@DELTALUTHERAN.ORG
”The CROSS alone is our theology.”
In light of our celebration of the Reformation this month, the following is an adaption of an article for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation a few years ago entitled “The CROSS alone is our theology.” As Luther spoke those words during his lectures on the Psalms which took place between 1519-1521, he spoke words which utterly summed up the battle he was experiencing. This was about the cross of Christ. It was about the total inability of man to earn any of his own merit before God. It was about Je-sus earning the salvation of all mankind as He was hanged, cursed on the bloody instrument of the tree of death.
Merely months earlier in 1518, Luther had introduced this general idea in his thesis discussed at Heidel-berg. In these Heidelberg Theses, he began to hash out the “Theology of the Cross,” and with it what it means to be a “Theologian of the Cross.” He began to explicate just what it means that the cross alone is our theology. As he did this, the two theses that perhaps capture his understanding the best are the 19th and 20th theses:
19. That person does not deserve to be called a theologian who looks upon the invisible things of God as though they were clearly perceptible in those things which have actually happened [Romans 1:20].
20. He deserves to be called a theologian, however, who comprehends the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross. [WA 5.176.32]
To our modern ears, we might hear this and think two things: 1) The Lutheran question, “What does this mean?” and 2) “What does this have to do with me?” To answer the first, Luther is making the point that as we look at the world, we often think we can understand who God is. In fact, we think that we can
know Him and even perhaps connect with Him in some way. Being the sinners that we are, of course, we focus on the things we estimate to be good. We can “feel” so close to God when we go hiking in the beauty of the Rocky Mountains, or when we experience the love of our children as we nuzzle them in their beds before kissing them good night. This is to “look upon the invisible things of God as though they were clearly perceptible in those things that have actually happened.” We look at these things we like and as-sume that must mean that we have earned God’s pleasure and so deserve to be in heaven with Him. To be sure, these are good things, but why do we assume God’s pleasure with us in these things? Why do we make these assumptions, all the while ignoring what would have to be said of the hikers who die in ava-lanches or the nights where our children cry themselves to sleep in the midst of selfish tantrums?
Why? Because we are by nature no theologians. We by nature have no real desire to see God for who He actually is. As Paul says, quoting the Psalms, “As it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one un-derstands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one’”
(Romans 3:10-12). No one understands. NO ONE. No one seeks God. NO ONE.
In light of this, we must turn and become theologians. We must understand God not only the things we like, but through the things we do not like. However, when things we do not like, we often turn tail from Him and run. Why? Because what we are confronted with terrifies us. We do not like confronting the evils of this world because it means that we have to consider the possibility that we ourselves are evil. When we think about the hikers who die or our children’s tantrums, it forces us to acknowledge that this world is no utopia.
How do we look at the troubling events taking place in our world and lives today? What do they seem to tell us about God? How can we trust that God loves us, that He is good?
The reality is, we do not know what times of trouble in the world and in our own lives says about God explicitly. We do not know just what God’s purpose is in these situations. To attempt to determine speci-fically why God has allowed a particular event to happen would be to try to understand the invisible things of God through visible things. Luther would call this being a theologian of glory. This is wanting to see God’s glory like Moses did, while God is telling us we cannot see His face and live.
So, what do we do as theologians of the cross? We comprehend “the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross.” What does that mean? We look at the cross of Jesus to understand God. We look at the bloodied God who was hanged on that tree of death and understand that He was hanged because God is angry about death. He is angry about millions of aborted children, about your death, about all death. He is angry about death because this is not what He wanted for the world. Death is not the end for which He created the world when He first looked upon it and called it “very good.” He made it for life because He is the God of life and of the living.
What then do we see on the cross? We see that this God loves this world. We see that this God has cho-sen to enter this world to suffer alongside those who suffer. Jesus, God in human flesh, knows what it means to be executed at the hands of sinful men. Jesus knows far more than any of us the trauma that all of us go through in the face of death. He is with us in our suffering. However, what we see even more clearly is that Jesus has not only suffered with us, He has suffered for us. He is the God who died for us. He is the God of love who made Himself nothing so that He could serve sinful men.
In other words, as we look at the cross, we see the glory and majesty of God in His love for us. Luther, in explaining the 20th thesis of the Heidelberg Disputation says, “It does [a person] no good to recog-nize God in his glory and majesty, unless he recognizes him in the humility and shame of the cross.” In other words, when we look at the cross, there we can truly understand who God is, and apply that un-derstanding to the rest of the world. We can look at the suffering of this world and see not only the sadness that comes with it, but we can see the God who has become a man of sorrows so that we would have the joy of eternity. To be sure, this does not mean that this life will always be easy. It will not, but it makes it a whole lot more bearable. Even still, this can only be comprehended in the cross of Je-sus. The cross alone is our theology.
"A Worthwhile Faith"
John 14:6-7 - Jesus said to him, "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him."
During the building of the Golden Gate Bridge over San Francisco Bay, construction fell badly behind schedule because several workers had accidentally fallen from the scaffolding to their deaths. Engineers and administrators could find no solution to the costly delays. Finally some-one suggested a gigantic net be hung under the bridge to catch any who fell. Finally, in spite of the enormous cost, the engineers opted for the net. After it was installed, progress was hardly interrupted. A worker or two fell into the net but all were saved. Ultimately, the time lost to fear was regained by replacing fear with faith in the net.
When it comes to faith, it doesn't matter how strong your faith is. It doesn't matter how intense-ly or passionately you believe in something; rather, the power of faith is the object. It's whether that person or thing in which you place your faith is worthy of faith, is capable of delivering on that faith, whether it has the capacity to hold on to you when your grip is about to perilously slip. On that Golden Gate Bridge, many very talented people did the very best to not fall, but fall they did. But when they fell into a net that could hold them—that could break their fall and even protect them—it changed the way they worked.
They now worked by faith, not fear.
So, let me say it about as clearly as I can say it. When it comes to life and salvation, truth and wisdom, there is no object of faith that can match Jesus Christ. And if you are seeking to know God, His blessing, His protection, His grace—there is only one way to be certain of that. Ready? Look to Jesus and Him alone.
That's a pretty bold statement, isn't it? But before trying to challenge it, or deny it, or setting that claim aside, please take a good, hard look at Jesus in the Bible. Listen to what He says of Himself today. He says He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one else is that for you. Please read the book of John for a clearer picture of Him; it's less than 50 pages long. That's it! You could come to grips with Jesus today. I guarantee you will not find anyone like Him. There may be other religious teachers, philosophers, leaders, gurus, but there is no Savior like Jesus. You can work on that bridge of life yourself, or you can put your faith in the safety net of Jesus, the power of the cross, and the resurrection of Jesus, and then live life now in the fearlessness of knowing Him as Savior. To that end, God bless you.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for Your willingness to be my Savior, to come into this life to give me Your eternal life as a gift of the cross and resurrection. Give me a fearless-ness then to live life boldly now for others because of the power of faith that rests in You. Amen.
From "Jesus Christ: a Savior Worthy of Faith!" a devotion from Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz, former Speaker of The Lutheran Hour
Your Calling in the Church
Hark, the voice of Jesus calling, “Who will go and work today?”
Fields are white and harvests waiting – Who will bear the sheaves away?
Loud and long the Master calleth; Rich reward He offers thee.
Who will answer, gladly saying, “Here am I, send me, send me?”
Have you ever stop to consider “your calling” or why you are here in this “time and place?”
To “call” someone literally means to address that person in human language, usually with a loud voice. To “be called” means to hear that voice.
John 10:27 - 27 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
As Christians, who have been called to faith by the Word of God we have:
- A “calling” in our family i.e. - Son, Sister, Brother, Husband, Mother, Father, Grandparent, etc.
- A “calling” in our work i.e. – Teacher, Manager, Employer, Employee, Student, Home Provider, etc.
- A “calling” in our community i.e. – City Boards, volunteer for various community programs.
These are your vocations in the world.
But we have a much greater “calling.” We, as Christians, have a calling in the church, both as a spir-itual kingdom and as a local institution. Because Christians are called by God’s Word, they are called out of the sinful world and into the Church. The word translated church in the Greek New Testa-ment is ekklesia, which literally means “the called out ones.”
• Romans 8:28 - 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
• Ephesians 2:8-10 - 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
• 2 Thess. 2:13-14 - 13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14 He called you to this through our gospel that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Once the Gospel transforms us, God calls us to a greater service. We serve the Lord as He enables us. Each member of the body of Christ serves with their particular gift or gifts.
An unfortunate concern that plagues many churches is that a handful of people usually end up doing much of the work. First, many people fail to recognize that God wants them to actively serve in the congregation. Second, pride and impatience on the part of some congregation members easily discour-ages others from serving. People stay at home because they feel that their service is neither needed nor appreciated. Third, most of us keep ourselves too busy. We fill our time with things that do not encourage us or anyone else in the faith. How easily we slip back into the ruts.
Focusing on Redeemer Lutheran Church, as fellow Christians we are “united” as “the Body of Christ”.
• 1 Cor. 12:12-13 - 12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
We as Christians are unified in Christ, but our differences from each other are the differences that are necessary within the living organism. This Body is made up of many different individuals from all walks of life, from every social class and profession, each with a unique personality. Each can take a part in love and service of the fellow members that make up the life of the church.
• 1 Cor. 12:26-27 - 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part
rejoices with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And in the
church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of mira-cles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.
Verse 26 is a prelude to the Apostle Paul’s breakdown of the different tasks and gifts – the different voca-tions or callings – within Christ’s Church. Early in the church a division of labor took place.
• Acts 6:1-4 - In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily
distribution of food. 2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
Here at Redeemer Lutheran church we too have division, or various positions, of labor. Those “positions,” other than the Pastor’s “called and ordained” position, are filled by Christ’s workers, the lay-people of the congregation. As you consider your pattern of life and the pattern here at Redeemer Lu-theran, remember the mercies of God rather than focusing on the Law. God’s Law, though it is holy, righteous, and true, will never properly motivate you or the people around you. God does not want you to conform. He wants to transform you in view of His mercies.
It’s that time of the year when members of Redeemer are asked to prayerfully consider serving as a Con-gregation Officer or serving on one of the various Boards.
So whatever board, committee, Sunday School teacher, trustee, elder, usher or the altar guild position you have been “called” to serve in always remember that you are doing your part, out of love for one an-other, to serve one another and your fellow members of the Body of Christ here at Redeemer Lutheran Church.
As a Christian, only the mercies of God can properly motivate you to genuine service. When discouraged, certainly remember what God says in His Law. But more important, look for His mercies in your Bible readings, in the services here at Redeemer Lutheran, and in your day-to-day life. You are God’s precious child. He has given the life of His Son, Jesus for your salvation. He continues to bless and sustain you each day. Even now, He prepares a place for you in His joyous presence. Therefore, serve willingly – in view of His mercies.
If you desire to serve in one of these Officer or Board member positions, whether vacant or not, please contact the Vice-President or the Chairperson of each Board. Your timely consideration would be greatly appreciated as we try to have the candidate slate available for approval at the upcoming October 11th General Assembly meeting.
Parish School Board
Redeemer Lutheran Church Tiny Treasures Preschool is committed to providing a nurturing, stimulat-ing Christian environment where active learning flourishes and the physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual and social development of individual children is promoted with the recognition that they are God’s precious gifts. We want to provide support to parents by supplementing and enhancing a child’s individual and appropriate development. However, during this pandemic too many parents are not able to provide for the education of their children and the Parish School Board is asking for your assis-tance with financial contributions directly to Tiny Treasures or to the TT Scholarship Fund.
Although we did receive Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) funds during the spring and are on budget in this area, Tiny Treasures has fallen behind in two sources of income: private pay tuition and donations. Please consider contributions to Tiny Treasures to help “balance” our budget, or to the Scholarship Fund. We use the Scholarship Fund to cover the difference in what CCCAP pays and what we would charge a private pay family (around $7 per day, per child). Tiny Treasures Pre-school continues to be a committed ministry of Redeemer Lutheran Church that shares the Law and Gospel with families in Delta.
Finally, as the end of the calendar year approaches please consider asking your business or place of employment to consider Tiny Treasures Preschool for a corporate donation. We do receive donations from local businesses each year, including one based in Durango. The worst thing that happens is that you ask for a donation, tell them about your church’s preschool ministry and give them a chance to an-swer. What an opportunity to witness!
Thank you for all your prayers, donations, volunteering and snack providing. It is a privilege to serve these tiny treasures on your behalf.
The Youth Group will be sponsoring Family Movie Nights once a month with the first one on Friday, October 9th at 7:00pm. Dinner will be served and they will also feature board games. Movie Night is open to the public so invite your friends.
• Saturday, October 31st will be our Reformation Celebration with a dinner at 5:00pm followed by the Divine Service with Communion at 6:30pm.
• Sunday, November 1st will be our All Saints Day/New Member recognition Service, with the Divine Service at 9:00am followed by the New Member Recognition Dinner following the service.
• Brats and drinks will be provided for the Saturday evening and Sunday lunch meals. Families are asked to bring a potluck dish to share for whichever service that you attend. Families whose last name begins with A—M are asked to bring a salad or side dish, families whose last names begin with N—Z are asked to bring a dessert.
• Our new members that we have received in the last year are: Austin Althaus, Ellie Oberheu, Bruce & Jeanne Nelson, Aaron & Mary Clubb and their daughters, Catherine & Elizabeth, John & Benda Moseman and Bob Holden.
Since our maximum capacity at the time is 78, to better help us plan we request that You RSVP to the Church office no later than October 26th at 1:00pm on which service(s) you will be attending.
Reformation/All Saint’s DayNew Member Dinner
THE LORD’S MINISTRY
Redeemer Lutherans attendance figures and financial blessings that were given for the month of September to further maintain the Lord’s ministry.
Date Attendance Communicants Offerings Received Needed Operating
Gen./Designated Funds Budget
9-5 & 6-2020 65 52 $3,090.00/$683.00 $4,455.06
9-12 & 13-2020 70 57 $2,217.00/$241.00 $4,455.06
9-19 & 20- 2020 76 56 $5,725.50/$1,130.00 $4,455.06
9-26 & 27-2020 81 62 $23,784.00/$42.00 $4,455.06
Sandy Holden—October 7
John Koppes—October 9
Kylee Wilbur—October 10th
Jacob Oberheu—October 17
Zach Weber—October 17
Phillip Dwyer—October 19
Eveli Strassle—October 23
Carissa Sidor—October 25
Nancy Seeley—October 26
Alisha Clubb—October 30
Pastor & Andrea Van Fossan—October 6
John & Brenda Moseman—October 8th
Gordon & Karen Wagner—October 11
Doug & Michelle Scarbrough—October 15
Aaron & Mary Clubb—October 24
Mary Miller—October 3
Nancy Hofman—October 10
Rachel Gilleece—October 11
Lucy Orros—October 12
Jan Polzin—October 13
John Moseman—October 18th
Doreen Dwyer—October 25
Devona Henderson—October 25
Amanda Bizer—October 27
Stephanie Nesbit—October 27
Carl Nesbit—October 27
Jacob Oberheu—October 31
Pentecost 18– In Christ God embraced and befriended hearts and bodies ruined by sin. He allowed neither disa-bilities nor disobedience to separate anyone from His love (Luke 14:1-4). This forgiveness heals us to share the same gracious kingdom with the ones right in front of us who struggle with impairment and iniquity (Luke 14:12-14). Prayer: Extend Your kingdom, Lord Jesus, through me to those who are broken like I am. Amen.
Pentecost 19 – Those who see abortion as just “another issue” and would support or encourage a woman to make such a choice fail to understand the scriptural concept of “neighbor” and have a false sense of what it means to love. Those who see both mother and unborn child as “neighbor” and take action to bring help and hope fulfill the second greatest commandment in the Law and reflect the love of Christ (Matthew 22:34-40).
Pentecost 20– The horror of abortion happening over 3,000 times each day in the U.S. should make Christians angry. The silence of the Church and the indifference of fellow congregational members should make Christians angry. But anger must not lead us to sin (Ephesians 4:26). Screaming and yelling and returning evil for evil is not the way of the body of Christ. The truth needs to be proclaimed but without “bitterness and wrath” (4:31).
Reformation Sunday / (Observed) – The Reformation truths Lutherans have celebrated for 500 years apply beautifully and powerfully to life issues. A human being’s identity and sanctity come from God’s grace in creat-ing, redeeming, and calling each one. Abilities or accomplishments, efforts or emotions cannot establish anyone’s value or invalidate anyone’s worth. Prayer: Gracious Savior, let us honor with You the preciousness of every hu-man person because of Your grace, forgiveness, and free salvation. Amen.
Life Thoughts in the Church Year