March 22, 2020

Throughout all of human history, people have faced hard, troubled times. Instead of just turning to the latest newsflash that brings more troubling news, we can gain confidence by turning to Holy Scripture to find solace, strength and some good news.

With this pandemic, we join a community of people throughout the ages who seek peace and trust in God when the world’s view is so uncertain. Leisure World is blessed with a view of the beautiful mountains east of the 405—join with people of multiple faiths praying from the Book of Psalms:

Psalm 121
I lift up my eyes to the hills-- where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip-- he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD watches over you-- the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm-- he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

Though we may not be able to “come and go” as easily under our state’s current stay at home orders (including needing to close our worship spaces) we can always be at home with the Lord. Turning and trusting God watches over us today in this troubled time gives us confidence and strength in facing the future with a sense of peace.

During this time of trial and tribulation, Pastor Lisa is trying to reach out to all, of any faith, in any situation, to give praise to God, strengthen those who are weak, and uplift us in community.
 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6
See our "DONATIONS" page for directions for using the "GIVE" button!
    The magnificent flowered cross, with beautiful flowers lovingly donated by Ruth Herman, will shine brightly in front of Redeemer Lutheran Church again this year. In a spirit of interfaith solidarity, Ms. Herman, who is Jewish, has donated flowers from her yard for the past few years — and this year with darkness surrounding us, their natural beauty will only shine brighter! (There are 3 pictures from previous years throughout the website for you to enjoy : )

    Alleluia! Easter Sunday will be celebrated in an innovative “social distancing” way this year at Redeemer Lutheran Church (13564 St. Andrew’s Drive).  Easter Communion & Easter Eggs will be distributed in front of the Church from 10 a.m. to 12 noon on April 12th. There will be 8-foot tables along the sidewalk with sterile baggies filled with communion, Easter eggs, and a leaflet of prayers. These are for you to pick up and take home for reflection and celebration. There will also be a basket for prayer requests. (Please write them at home and drop them in the basket for Pastor Lisa to read and pray in the church.)  

    For those who would like to stay in the comfort and security of your car, you may pull up on St. Andrew’s Drive, stay in your car, and roll down your window. We have a 6 foot wicker basket where we will put the baggie within your reach!  

    In this way, while not violating any order to gather, the people (who, by definition, are the church) will worship individually for a few moments on the most important Sundays of the church year.

    Please join us — one by one — as we pray and distribute holy elements of our faith. Alleluia & blessed Easter everyone!

~ Pastor Lisa

Christmas at Easter?  

        You may have noticed in the news that people around the country are re-hanging Christmas lights in this worldwide time of darkness. At Christmas, Christians celebrate “Emmanuel” - “God with us!” At Easter, we celebrate with “Alleluia! Christ is risen and we are given eternal life!"

        So if you drive down St. Andrew’s Drive after dark and look along the wall in front of Redeemer Lutheran Church, you will see the St. Theodore’s of Canterbury “Welcomes You” sign adorned with solar, festive Christmas lights. Powered by the sun, these lights remind us that God is welcome in your life, and with us ALWAYS, in ALL WAYS. Now and in eternal life.

        Let Jesus' love warm and power your acts of kindness to one another as we seek God’s light amongst the darkness. May your spirit be lifted knowing God is with us at ALL times. God’s presence always near. Do not fear. Celebrate the lights of Christmas at Easter and know God is with you, Christ enlightens you and God’s Holy Spirit upholds you now and forevermore.  

~ Reverend Lisa
April 23, 2020

“God’s Time"

“Time is of the essence” is a familiar saying. If you listen to everyone chatting at a social distance these days, the essence of those conversations revolve around time: When we will be able to resume daily life as we once knew it? No one except God knows.

I learned a great deal about time when conducting mission trips with the Paiute Native American community in Pyramid Lake, Nevada in the 90’s. While talking with some of the church elders, I learned that many Native American languages have no word for time as English does. Why? Because EVERYTHING is in God’s time. God created time and sets the parameters of the passing of moments. All of our time belongs to God.  

Humans are the ones who mark time by clocks and calendars. But God makes time, gives us time, asks us to spend time with our creator and our redeemer. While time is addressed is many places in our Holy Scriptures, it is in the books of Proverbs and Psalms that reminds us how to view time in these trying times. 

As we as humans like to plan and right now we are being challenged how we plan our time, Proverbs 16:9 reminds us: In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.

We also are reminded that even when we may make plans for tomorrow we need to be flexible: Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. (Proverbs 27:1)

But are Psalms are perhaps best to remind us we are in God’s hands: 
Our times are in your hands (Psalm 31:15) and Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)

So to be wise: STAY safe, STAY at a safe distance and STAY close with God. Because God is with us every moment, we can thank God for all the moments of time in our life, even when we are hunkered down and not counting time as we once did.

Spend time enjoying and embracing all past, present and future memories and moments…knowing we live forever in God’s time. 

— Pastor Lisa
April 30, 2020


The cross still stands! Thanks to our wonderful neighbors, Redeemer’s cross that is a symbol of our crucified and our risen Lord every Easter is getting an “encore”!

Usually, our darkened Good Friday cross stands from Good Friday through Easter Sunday, when it is turned around and gloriously-colorfully transformed by fresh flowers for Easter Sunday. The sun usually withers the flowers quickly and we take down the cross Easter Monday. This year, we had cloudy weather which allowed the flowers to last until Wednesday. So Redeemer’s dutiful crew took down the cross when the flowers wilted. But this year we received multiple requests to put the cross up as a sign of hope! The cross is now back up, and keep your eyes upon it as it transforms and changes into a colorful display as our Easter season — which is actually 50 days long! — continues. Thank you LW neighbors for your requests and support as we look to Christ to help us through. May our spirits be uplifted as Jesus was upon the cross…and may our lives rejoice in the eternal life given to us by the beautiful cross of life which never comes down.

If you would like a Sunday celebration packet — Holy communion & prayers — join us on Sunday, May 3rd from 10-Noon for a socially-distanced distribution. We’ll be by the cross distributing santized packets for your spiritual enrichment.

~ Pastor Lisa
April 30, 2020


The month of May in England is a time of many outdoor festivals as people emerge from rain-soaked winters to celebrate the green fields and flowering Spring! Let us join with all throughout the world — and especially in our Leisure World that has brightly colored potted gardens, bird feeders and green spaces — who seek comfort from God’s beauty. "All Things Bright and Beautiful” — a traditional English hymn written by Sunday School teacher Cecil Frances Alexander celebrates God’s beautiful creation at all times, but especially in the hope-filled month of May.

"All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The lord God made them all.

Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colours,
He made their little wings.

The purpleheaded mountain,
The river running by,
The sunset and the morning,
That brightens up the sky.

The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them every one.

The tall trees in the greenwood,
The meadows where we play,
The rushes by the water,
We gather every day."

Let us pray For Joy in God’s Creation: O heavenly Father, who has filled the world with beauty: Open our eyes to behold thy gracious hand in all thy works;that, rejoicing in thy whole creation, we may learn to serve thee with gladness; for the sake of him through who things were made, thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Rev. Lisa Rotchford
May 7, 2020

Did you know that the first Thursday of May is an American legally-mandated National Day of Prayer for people of all religions? It is celebrated by Americans of the various denominations of Christianity, Judaism, Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus and other religions that reflect the demographic make-up of these United States.

George Washington declared national days of prayer twice each year — once in the Spring and once in the Fall. Abraham Lincoln (who referenced God seven times and prayer three times in his 2nd Inaugural Address), declared Thanksgiving as our Fall national day of prayer to be the 4th Thursday of November. Since the 1950’s our president is legally required to declare a day of prayer for our country in May and beginning in the 1980’s it became the 1st Thursday of May — this year, the 7th.

In year’s past, Leisure World’s Inter-faith Council’s religious groups, like Americans across the country, have assembled together to pray for our country. Given the Corona-virus prohibitions that do not let us physically assemble this year, our Interfaith Council encourages everyone in their own space to take a moment and pray for the needs of our country.

Redeemer Lutheran’s and St. Theodore’s Episcopal combined mid-week worship (held each Wednesday at 11:30) uses the following official prayers to pray for our country. (Little did we know when we instituted this weekly service last summer we would so desperately need these prayers this year!) Pray as is your custom and join with one another in a spirit of prayer as together we face the challenges in the year of our Lord, 2020.

A Prayer for our Country
Almighty God, keep this nation under your care as you have given us this good land as our heritage. Make us always remember your generosity and constantly do your will. Bless our land with honest industry, truthful education, and an honorable way of life. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil course of action. Make us who came from many nations with many different languages a united people. Bless the government of our land, that we may be a people at peace among ourselves and a blessing to other nations of the earth. Help us elect trustworthy leaders, contribute to wise decisions for the general welfare, and thus serve you faithfully in our generation. When times are prosperous, let our hearts be thankful; and, in troubled times, do not let our trust in you fail. Amen.

A Prayer for 1st Responders
God of earth and air, water and fire, height and depth, we pray for those who work in danger, who rush in to bring hope and help and comfort when others flee to safety, whose mission is to seek and save, serve and protect, and whose presence embodies the protection of the Good Shepherd. Give them caution and concern for one another, so that in safety they may do what must be done, under your watchful eye. Support them in their courage and dedication that they may continue to save lives, ease pain and mend the torn fabric of lives and social order. Amen.

A Prayer for our Community
Gracious God, you know our prayers before we utter them, our desires before we admit them, our needs before we understand them. We beseech you to hear all prayers we utter today, silently or aloud. We commend especially our Leisure World community to your care, that it might be kept free from social strife and decay. Give us strength of purpose and concern for others, that we may create here a community of justice and peace where your will may be done. Amen.

May 21, 2020

My hometown of Arlington, Virginia is also the location of the first national celebration of Memorial Day (originally Decoration Day) that took place on May 30, 1868, at Arlington National Cemetery. Every year since, the national observance of Memorial Day still takes place there today, with the placing of a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the decoration of each grave with a small American flag.

On May 11, 1950, Congress issued a joint resolution requesting that the president proclaim a “Prayer for Peace” on each Memorial Day. In this 75th anniversary year of the end of WWII, I found President Truman’s declaration in 1950 helpful as we pray for peace (and healing from this pandemic) this year:

“A Memorial Day Proclamation Prayer for Peace, Memorial Day — Since war is the world’s most terrible scourge, we should do all in our power to prevent its recurrence. It was the hope of mankind that with the cessation of hostilities of World War II they would be open to founding a permanent peace. Instead, that war has left the world in a state of continued unrest. Accordingly, we feel the need of turning in humble suppliance to Almighty God for help and guidance. In recognition of this need, the Congress has fittingly provided, in a joint resolution which I approved on May 11, 1950, that Memorial Day, which has long been set aside for paying tribute to those who lost their lives in war, shall henceforth be dedicated also as a day for Nation-wide prayer for permanent peace. The Congress has also requested that the President issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe Memorial Day in that manner. NOW, THEREFORE, I, HARRY S. TRUMAN, President of the United States of America, pursuant to the aforementioned resolution, do hereby proclaim Memorial Day, Tuesday, May 30, 1950, and each succeeding Memorial Day, as a day of prayer for permanent peace. And I designate the hour beginning at eleven o’clock in the morning of that day, Eastern Daylight Saving Time, as a period in which all our people may unite in prayer, each in accordance with his own religious faith, for divine aid in bringing enduring peace to a troubled world. HARRY S. TRUMAN, President of the United States"

Prayers for Peace & In Times of National Distress

O Gracious and holy God, it is your will to hold both heaven and earth in a single peace. Let the design of your great love give peace to your church, peace among nations, peace in our homes, and peace in our hearts. Lead us from death to life, from falsehood to truth. Lead us from despair to hope, from fear to trust. Lead us from hate to love, from war to peace. Let peace fill our hearts, our world, our universe; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Eternal God, amid all the turmoil and changes of the world your love is steadfast and your strength never fails. In this time of danger and trouble, be to us a sure guardian and rock of defense. Guide the leaders of our nation with your wisdom, comfort those in distress, and grant us courage and hope to face the future; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen. (from LBW)

 May 21, 2020

Last week, I quoted C.S.Lewis’ encouragement to pray — whatever our situation in life. This week as Memorial Day is upon us, I would like to nominate the 2nd verse from 4th chapter of Paul’s letter to the Colossians to be our 2020 Pandemic Year bible verse:  Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

In the midst of being anxious during this worldwide pandemic, it is helpful to remember that when we pray we are not alone; our heartfelt thoughts are joined with others worldwide. We remember this month the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II and we are grateful.

This week especially remembering the military service members, first responders and others who have given their lives in pursuit of giving us the country we hold dear, we are called to be like the keepers of the watch — careful, caring for one another, and thankful. 

From our Book of Common Prayer:  

O Judge of the nations, we remember before you with grateful hearts the men and women of our country who in the day of decision ventured much for the liberties we now enjoy. Grant that we may not rest until all the people of this land share the benefits of true freedom and gladly accept its disciplines. Amen.

May 14, 2020

The Episcopal church is the American branch of the Anglican Communion. One of the most famous Anglicans, C.S. Lewis, came to the Christian faith in the later years of his life. His writings have inspired millions — from fiction written for children (that started as stories written for his niece) to theological books that bring hope in times of despair. In fact, he was called upon to deliver messages of faith and hope over the BBC in some of England’s darkest hours during World War II.

When asked “Why do you pray? What can prayer do in times of crises?” he responded, “I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God. It changes me.”

In these times of anxiousness and uncertainty, know that prayer can help change and strengthen us in many ways. By reaching out to God our creator in relationship and conversation (my personal definition of prayer) we reach beyond our present situation and can catch glimpses of God’s wide and eternal perspective. God is looking out over us and we communicate with God through prayer. We then can look out for one another as we are called to love one another as God first loved us.

People throughout the world and throughout Leisure World have reached out to one another in acts of kindness that lift us up as the news of the day may bring us down. Remember to reach out to God in prayer asking to be lifted up into God’s peaceful presence. Knowing prayer changes things, changes us and keeps us safe in God’s eternal perspective and care.

Join us by internet, phone or at our socially-distanced “pick-up” service (pick your spirits up and get communion to go). We will be having a “Pick-Up” Sunday, May 17, from 10 a.m.–noon outside our front doors. Drive (or walk) by the front of the church (13564 St. Andrew’s Drive) for a social distance-delivered packet of prayers and factory-sealed Holy Communion. You can also ask for prayer and/or leave a written prayer request for our pastor and eucharistic ministers, or call and leave a request at (562) 598-8697. For more information, inspiration, and prayers on our website, www.redeemerlutheransealbeach.com. Special prayers are offered on the first tab on the left titled “In These Trying Times: Click Here!”

May 28, 2020

It is with great thanksgiving that we welcome the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, May 31st, 2020. The 50th day following our Lord’s resurrection at Easter is the birthday of the church. You may have seen more about Pentecost in the media during this pandemic than any other year, as many churches want to open their doors on the “church’s birthday”.  

This year, we will be having a unique way of honoring the day — socially distanced with masks, please. With our new cross decorated for the coming of the Holy Spirit, we will gather for our bi-weekly “Pick Up your Spirit and Pick Up Communion” from 10 until noon. Beginning at 10 a.m., we will also gather in socially distanced small groups to say prayers and bless our cross that oversees our revitalized space that includes the cross, river rock garden and a planned bible plant garden.  

The new blessed garden is a gift from St. Theodore’s as a continuing remembrance to Ken Kneble, a longtime beloved member of St. Theodore’s Episcopal church and his extended Leisure World Family. As many of our Leisure World neighbors have commented how much they appreciate our new “refreshed” landscaping, its due to Ken’s generosity that a design team of Anne Walshe from St. Theo’s, and Sylvia Makus and Carmen Leslie from Redeemer designed and chose The Long Beach Plant Doctor to do the artful and tough physical work. They, along with the 12:24 church contractors, are bringing Redeemer’s outdoor spaces and indoor sanctuary back to restored glory. We hope that everyone in the community appreciates the new look and knows that it is by honoring God on the birthday of the church that we also honor the memory of Ken Knebel.

June 4, 2020

        Every day seems to be a national holiday.  If we celebrate our fallen American soldiers on Memorial Day, and we celebrate our red, white and blue flag on Flag Day (June 14th), its somehow appropriate that we celebrate National Donut Day right in between these two patriotic days!

        Since 1938, the first Friday in June–June 5 this year—is known as National Donut Day. People may celebrate with a tasty fried treat, not know that by doing so they are honoring women from The Salvation Army who served doughnuts to soldiers during WWI. These women went to the very front lines throughout Europe to serve home cooked foods to boost the morale of the soldiers. Some say that the American’s earned their “doughboys” nickname because some soldiers used their metal helmets to cook the oil for their doughnuts. And why was it established in 1938? It served as a fundraiser for those in.

          People can honor the brave women who boosted the morale of our soldiers by buying a donut on this day. Redeemer Lutheran and St. Theodore’s Episcopal churches will be have their bi-weekly “Pick up Your Spirits with Prayer and Communion” Sunday event out in front of the church (13564 Saint Andrew’s Drive) from 10
a.m.–noon. In honor of these women, stop by (with your mask) for a donut (sanitary gloves will be provided) and all money raised will need during this time of pandemic.

June 25, 2020

This week marks the 100th day since the pandemic “shut down” began. 100 days of waiting and watching, following numbers and news conferences. Hoping for good news. 

The Bible has more than 100 verses that center on hope. Our ancestors in the Holy Scriptures knew extremely difficult times. Their faith saw them through and our faith can see us through as we continue to wait. The prophet Isaiah reminds us that “those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.“ (Isaiah 40:30-31)

The word Gospel means “good news”. Martin Luther called Paul’s letter to the Romans “the heart of the Gospel”. Take some hope from this good news letter as we continue to be called to wait in this time of uncertainty.

In the 5th chapter of the letter he reminds us that “…we can rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (5:3-5) God’s love surrounds us as we hope and rest assured in God’s presence.

It is hard to see hope…”but if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (8:24-25) Perhaps best put succinctly: Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (12:12)

Paul wrote this letter while facing trial and in a Roman prison. He encourages us all with an undying faith, bound in hope, patience and prayer: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (15:13) 

We can face tomorrow (and however many 100 days of tomorrows) with hope, patience and prayer knowing that the joy, peace and love of God will be with us. (That’s very good news :).

June 18, 2020

Every Sunday is a day to honor our Father in Heaven. Redeemer Lutheran will host its “Pick up Your Spirits, with Prayer and Com-munion” Sunday out in front of the church (13564 Saint Andrew’s Drive) from 10 a.m.–noon on June 21. In celebration of the heavenly father and Father’s Day, Redeemer Lutheran will also have delicious doughnuts as a sweet treat for all who made someone a father — all of us!

June 18, 2020

St.Theodore’s Episcopal wants to share two prayers to pray to God the Father during this time.

“Keep us, God our Father, under the shadow of your mercy. Sustain and support the anxious, be with those who care for the sick, and lift up all who are brought low; that we may find comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The other prayer comes from the Book of Common Prayers.

“This is another day, O Lord. I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be. If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely. If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly. If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently. And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly. Make these words more than words, and give me the Spirit of Jesus.”

June 11, 2020

Jesus Christ’s message of “peace be with you” is delivered more than any other throughout his post-resurrection appearances as recorded in the Bible. Jesus’ teachings remind us that God’s peace can reign even as ways of this world seem to be the polar opposite of peace. Especially in this unique time of pandemic and national unrest, let us also be reminded of one of the central messages of Jesus: do not fear. Christ’s peace can reign in our spirits in any situation. God liter-ally came into this world to teach us how to settle our hearts, minds and souls with the message of God’s eternal love and peace. As people called to love one another, our hearts are empathetic to all who hurt. We are called to bear one another’s burdens. As people who are called to love one another as God loves us, we can embrace one another not physically at this time, but spiritually through prayer.
Our Scriptures remind us in multiple ways, nothing is impossible with God. Called to spend more “quiet” time at home, perhaps we are also called to pray for more peace and less strife. Pray for more hope and less despair. Seek more time to sit with the Lord, read the Holy Scriptures and listen for God’s presence in your life and worry less. Let our lives reflect peace in all that we pray, in all that we say, in all that we do.

July 2, 2020

St. Theodore’s Episcopal would like to share a prayer for the country this Fourth of July weekend from the Book of Common Prayer:

“Almighty God, who has given us this good land for our heritage:
We humbly ask that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of your favor and glad to do your will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners.
Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought from many lands and languages.
O Lord, our Governor, bless the leaders of our land, that we may be a people at peace among ourselves and a blessing to other nations on earth. May we have justice and peace at home, and through obedience to your law, may we show forth your praise.
In times of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in days of trouble, may our trust in you never fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

July 9, 2020

Out of abundance of caution, we regret to announce that our “Pick-up Communion” is unable to occur in July due to updated state and local closures due to the coronavirus.

Joining together in Communion and community is vital to all of our spirits, especially during times of trial. 

This pandemic has challenged all of us as we learn new ways of being, staying safe and taking care of ourselves and one another. The irony is that while we are called to stay home and stay safe, our spirits yearn to be with one another even more.

The safest way of truly letting our spirits be together is by prayer.

Prayer, often seen as an act between God and God’s creation, is also the binding force of our religious communities. And in this time when so many things in our world as we know have been closed, prayer is the one element that is still “open.” It still works to bind us in community and bind us to the Lord who “knows and keeps our coming out and going in, from this time forth forever more.” (Psalm 121:8)

So, stay connected to the One Lord God who loves you, to your community that shares that eternal love, and prayerfully we will be with one another always.
July 16, 2020

Per the Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, prayer is defined as “the relating of the self or soul to God in trust, penitence, praise, petition, and purpose, either individually or corporately.”

As we are called to be at home for the safety of ourselves and others, the Episcopal/Anglican church has “biddings” that remind us we can spiritually “go out” and be in communication with our Creator at all times. Prayer transcends all boundaries.

In this time of trial, let us remember God is with us always, and as close as a prayer.

“Let us pray for the world, and let us thank God for all God’s goodness. In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ, let us pray to God. “From the rising of the sun to its setting, let us pray to the Lord.”

July 30, 2020

A virus cannot be “seen” but we can see the effects of it on individuals and the community. How we respond to it is something we are all called to do. Social distancing, wearing masks, staying home…our response is the only thing we can control in a spiraling pandemic.

Faith, too, cannot be “seen”, but we can see the effects of it on ourselves and those around us. Our response is the only thing we can control. How we respond to life — by our faith — is the only thing we can do at anytime, especially times of uncertainty.

As a community we are called, like the people of ancient Corinth, to remember “we live by faith, hope and love, the greatest of these is love.”  St. Paul wrote these words of encouragement 2,000 years ago for us to remember and read now.  

Though our world has changed — and we’ve see the virus change our world these past few months — we have centuries of history to remind us that at all times we are called to share God’s love by our actions rooted in our faith and hope. Though faith and hope may be invisible, we live by faith, conduct our lives in hope, and know God’s love. Our loving, supportive responses to one another — especially in uncertain times — make the invisible, visible!

A strong “invisible” faith, hope in God who loves and cares for us, and our ability to care for one another in loving actions shows the world that no invisible virus can destroy our spirits. No virus can destroy our relationship with God.  

The daily prayer — the Shema from Deuteronomy in the Old Testament and Jesus’ Great Commandment from the New — is proclaimed on the lips of the faithful daily:  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.” (Deut 6; Mark 12, Matthew 22, and Luke 10.)  When challenged by an invisible virus, respond with a very visible faith of hope and love! — Pr. Lisa
August 13, 2020


Rev. Lisa Rotchford, Pastor Redeemer Lutheran and St. Theodore’s Episcopal Churches

Though many of us are called to be in our homes and feeling isolated during this quarantined time, remember you are never completely alone. Our Judaeo-Christian ancestors who lived through wars, famines, and plagues knew fear and isolation, but were reminded by their faith to know who is beside you to strengthen you and abide with you. God is with you.

In his farewell address to the Israelites before they entered the promised land without him, Moses reminds them (and us!):
“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6-8)

Joshua then picks up where Moses left off:  “Be brave. Be fearless. You are never alone." - (Joshua 1:9)

The prophet Isaiah strengthens the faithful when he proclaimed:  “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand” (Isaiah 41:10)

The apostle Matthew made sure that Jesus’ last words of Matthew’s Gospel would strengthen us in anything we face:  “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

And St. John makes sure he recorded some of the last words that Jesus’ left with his followers to strengthen us into our journeys:  
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27 NIV)

If you need pastoral care or would like to be added to our mailing list so you can keep up with the events and services both Redeemer and St. Theodore’s offers, please do not hesitate to call Pastor Lisa at 562- 598-8697. As a community, we offer prayer always. Come sit at the foot of our cross — in our newly landscaped front area, complete with resting bench — (13564 Saint Andrew’s Drive) and never feel alone as peace and hope reign always.  
August 6, 2020

A daily prayer known throughout the history of the Christian church is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.” It is known as the Shema from Deuteronomy in the Old Testament and Jesus’ Great Commandment from the New Testament (Deuteronomy 6:1-19; Mark 12:28-34, Matthew 22:34-40, and Luke 10:25-28).

When we are challenged by an invisible virus, our call is to respond with all of our being — our heart, our mind, our soul and our strength — and make our invisible faith visible through our faith,hope and love.

But sometimes our hearts grow weary and our spirits sag. The Psalmist reminds us, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).  

To strengthen our hearts and spirits, remember Jesus words from John 16:33: “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Sometimes our minds get overwhelmed. Look for clarity as Jesus told us “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27).

Sometimes our souls need to be reminded what Isaiah speaks to those of us of a certain age, “I will be your God throughout your lifetime — until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you” (Isaiah 46:4).  Though many of us are called to be isolated during this quarantined time, remember you are never alone. Love the Lord your God with all you heart, mind, soul and strength and “you will live!” (Luke 10:28).
Pastor Lisa
August 20, 2020

This pandemic has made us all focus on how we live day-to-day, sunrise to sunset. In the past three columns I’ve shown through How Scripture how we are to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, and when we do so, we are never alone. God has given us these tools to live in this world and, at the same time, to live — abide — with God.

When we abide in him, we Acknowledge first and foremost that God is God. There are many people today who try to talk themselves out of believing in the One who gave us life. We are no different than our ancestors who doubted and were given the 10 commandments with the very first one being "You will love the Lord your God." first and foremost we have a direction for our life -- to love God with all that we have, do and are.

Jesus reminds us to Believe in God, summing up all the commandments in the Great Commandment -- to love your God with all your heart, mind, soul and resources. We have a purpose, a direction in life, and that is to abide in the one who created us and loves us and to whom we will return. Its not just a resurrected life after we die, but we are given the tools to live a resurrected life now.  

The I of ABIDE is to invite the Holy Spirit to strengthen us in our journey. Without the spirit abiding in us and we in the Holy Spirit, we can get lost on our journey.  

We must Decide — make a commitment to living into God’s purpose for your life. In the 6th chapter of John’s gospel, you can almost hear the concern in Jesus voice when he asks Peter about what the disciples are thinking -- will they choose His way of life of love and peace and resurrected life for all -- and Peter reassures our Lord, with "where else would we go?" 

Because to abide in him by Acknowledging, Believing, Inviting the Spirit, Deciding…Everywhere we go we are abiding in God’s kingdom. We are not alone. God abides in us through every aspect of our life; wherever we find ourselves. 

As we are blessed to watch beautiful sunsets from Leisure World, we can remember the word’s of the Rev Henry Francis Lyte most famous hymn as he wrote watching the sun set in 1847. Highlighting the last line of each stanza, we can hear a man who knew how to sing, ask and live by abiding with God:

 1 Abide with me: fast falls the eventide; the darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,  Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

2 Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day; earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away.
Change and decay in all around I see.  O thou who changest not, abide with me.

3 I need thy presence every passing hour. What but thy grace can foil the tempter's power? Who like thyself my guide and strength can be?  Through cloud and sunshine, O abide with me.

4 I fear no foe with thee at hand to bless, ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death's sting? Where, grave, thy victory?  I triumph still, if thou abide with me.

5 Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes. Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven's morning breaks and earth's vain shadows flee;  in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me. 

From sunrise to sunset, we can always go to God for strength and comfort. We can make a concerted effort and outright decision to follow God through this life. And in so doing, we will be abiding in God no matter how many pandemics or sufferings befall us. Be assured and rest in the knowledge that God is with us, abiding with us, through it all.

~~Pastor Lisa

August 27, 2020

If you’ve driven by our church recently, you may have seen our newly landscaped front yard in full bloom. Planted a few months ago as this pandemic began, the small plants have taken root and are gorgeously bringing colors of deep reds and bright yellows in the bright Seal Beach sun. Even though they face the harshest heat of the year, they are planted well, tended with just the right amount of water, love and care. These mighty little plants are brilliantly responding and thriving.

On our newly revitalized sign, we’ve also posted a saying that encourages us living through harsh, heated times: MAY YOUR FAITH BE STRONGER THAN YOUR FEAR.

Think of your faith as those small plants that are now thriving. When we live by our faith, we are strong. When our faith is fed and watered, and we know we are cared for by our Almighty creator God, we too can thrive.  

The subject of "Faith" has been written about by the Scripture writers and theologians throughout the centuries. And those centuries — all of them -- have had multiple pandemics like the one we are living through. The key meaning of faith really comes through when we are faced by hardship, or when we face things that we are fearful of.

As John reminds us, we can face the hot desert sun of life, yet “whoever believes in Christ will be like rivers of living water that will flow from within them." (7:38) By faith, we are refreshed.  

In the Gospel Mark 5:36, Jesus overhears the disciples fearing the death of Jarius’ daughter. Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” They then watch the young girl literally come back to life.

Our faith gives us life,: "For we walk by faith, not by sight." (2 Corinthians 5:7) "And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith." (Matthew 21:22) "For nothing will be impossible with God." (Luke 1:37)

So like the mighty little plants that are thriving in the hottest part of the year, "Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.” (1 Cor 16:13) Bloom wherever God has planted you. Believe. Thrive. Let your faith be stronger than your fear(!)

September 3, 2020
Psalm 122:1 says, “I was glad when they said to me, Let us go to the house of the Lord.”

With the hard work everyone has accomplished by wearing masks and our county moving off the more restrictive state list, our outside worship services will resume on Sept. 6. The service will remain outside the sanctuary for individual and small group worship. Redeemer Lutheran can resume the“Pick up Your Spirits, with Prayer and Communion” program out in the front and northeast side of the church, 13564 Saint Andrew’s Drive, from 9:30–11 a.m. every Sunday in September. The musicians will play our organ with the church windows open so everyone outside the sanctuary can hear favorite hymns. Watch the outside message board for updated details.

September is our annual outreach effort called “God’s Work, Our Hands.” If you have a non-perishable food item on your shelf that you’d like to share with a hungry neighbor in need, we will be collecting food for the neediest in Orange County. The barrels out front of the church on Sunday mornings will collect food (or cash) donations, and will immediately be taken to Lutheran Social Services’ shelves that feed the increasing number of hungry people as this pandemic continues. 

If you have a pastoral care or questions, call the church at (562) 598-8697.

September 10, 2020

Redeemer’s “Pick up Your Spirits, with Prayer and Communion” continues every Sunday in September in the front and North-East side of the church (13564 Saint Andrew’s Drive) from 9:30 until 10:15 a.m. There WILL be music(!) as our musicians will be playing our organ with the church windows open so all outside our sanctuary can hear some favorite hymns. Please watch our outside message board for updated details. 

We will be having a Communion and Worship Service INSIDE the Sanctuary from 10:30 a.m. to about 11:00 a.m. If you would like to join us you MUST wear a mask. 
A reminder: There will be no late seating!

Also, September is our annual outreach effort called “God’s Work, Our Hands”. If you have non-perishable food items on your shelf that you’d like to share with a hungry neighbor in need, we will be collecting food for the neediest in Orange County. Our barrels out front of the church on Sunday mornings will collect your food (or cash) donations, and will immediately be taken to Lutheran Social Services’ shelves that feed the increasing number of hungry people as this pandemic continues. If you have a pastoral care or questions, please call the church at 562-598-8697.  
Pastor Lisa Rotchford

On the eve of 9/11/2020, let us remember that through terrorist attacks, wars and now pandemics, we are never alone and we call upon God for those that seek peace, healing and comfort.  

"Loving God of Peace: On this anniversary of unbelievable sorrow, comfort those who mourn, and guide our hearts toward healing and hope. Remind us of the love of Christ, love which leapt over cultural and ethnic boundaries to feed the hungry, seek the lost and care for the least. Make Your children one human family, bound together in the work of justice and peacemaking. Make us one with the Light that shines in the darkness and illumines a path toward understanding and reconciliation. Let love be our genuine call. Amen". (by Rev. Dr. Jacqueline Lewis, 9/11 Remembrance, NYC)
September 24, 2020

Sunday, October 4th is a special day to thank God for all creation. St. Francis’ Feast day gives us a chance to be reminded of the work and wisdom of this 12th century saint whose life and ministry embodied a connectedness to God through creation. There are many quotes attributed to a personable man like Francis, but his words on how to be faithful to God is my personal favorite: ‘Love Him totally, who gave himself totally for your love.’ 

Francis roamed the Italian countryside proclaiming God’s goodness in creation and Christ’s love for all in creation. He purportedly preached to the birds, to all the woodland creatures, and the human followers who heard God’s enduring message of love through Francis’ way of being united to God in all things, because God is united with us from the time of our creation — through life — and forever in eternity. He believed, and encourages us to remember in one of his 1st writings: ’Cast your cares upon the Lord, and your faith will sustain you.’
Come and cast your cares upon God in worship at Redeemer Lutheran & St.Theodore’s Episcopal churches (at 13564 St. Andrew’s Driive). In honor of St. Francis, this week at 9:00 a.m. there will also be a special opportunity to have your animals blessed. You may bring your pet with you, or, bring a picture of a beloved pet that is more comfortable at home (or has gone to be at home with the Lord). Our outside worship service and drive-up/walk-up communion out in front of the church will continue between 9:30 until 10:15 a.m. Then at 10:30 a.m., those who want to come inside our sanctuary, we will have a traditional 30-minute worship service with organ music, prayers and communion. 

God so loves God’s creation, that no matter what cares we have in this world — and our world seems to have a lot of cares at the moment — God will sustain us. By looking at creation — how God feeds the smallest of the animals, sustains our plants with refreshing rains, gives us warmth on cold winter days, and breezes that cool hot summer days — we can feel closest to God by simply looking and living in God’s world. I think Francis was a fan of the epistle of James: “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” Or to paraphrase: Live into Creation as you are a beloved, created being of God.  

September 17. 2020

Nothing can separate us from God

Redeemer Lutheran and St. Theodore’s Episcopal churches are meeting for worship inside and outside the house of the Lord. Join us on Sunday for “Pick up Your Spirits, with Prayer and Communion.” Those who want to worship outside can attend the drive-up/walk-up communion service out in front of the church on the northeast side of the church from 9:30 – 10:15 a.m. A traditional 30-minute worship service will start inside the sanctuary at 10:30 a.m.

We are officially six months into this difficult time when we are not called to be together physically but apart. However, as Christians, we are called together by our faith and love of our Lord, savior and redeemer Jesus Christ, nothing can separate us. Nothing separates us from our God, the love of God or God’s hands. Not even a pandemic can limit our relationship with God. It’s as if Paul were writing to us in Seal Beach instead of Rome when he gave us a direction to live under a time of stress (remember, he was writing from within prison walls, quite limiting like a pandemic). Whether we are allowed to worship together or apart, we are one with the Lord. We can “love each other genuinely; hate what is evil and hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection and honor one another, not lagging in zeal and being ardent in spirit. In all ways, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope. Hope that we can be together again soon. Let us be patient in any suffering we endure. Above all let us persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints by extending hospitality to strangers.” (Romans 12:9).

September is the time the national Lutheran church encourages to take on outreach projects that benefit the wider community and God’s kingdom under the moniker “God’s Work, Our Hands.” The annual food donation drive will be each Sunday of September. If you have a non-perishable food item on your shelf that you’d like to share with a hungry neighbor in need, we will be collecting food for the neediest in Orange County. The barrels in front of the church on Sunday mornings will collect your food or cash donations, which will be taken to Lutheran Social Services’ shelves to feed the hungry. The apostle Paul wrote that though our movements may be limited, we are not imprisoned but free in Christ. This year especially we can contemplate what it means to do God’s work with our hands as our hands are held by God’s as he walks us through this time. Let us go to God’s house and may the work we do be our worship to the one who is with us always. 
Pastor Lisa Rotchford

October 22, 2020

Reformation Day will be celebrated at a combined service of Redeemer Lutheran and St. Theodore’s Episcopal churches at Redeemer Lutheran Church on Sunday, October 25th. Wear red, if you like, as we celebrate!

There will be an outdoor service at 8:45-9:15 a.m. and from 9:30-10 at our “outside, side chapel”. (Look for the crosses on the wall and red patio umbrellas along the north side of our church building.)  

Our indoor service will be from 10:30-11 a.m. Pastor Lynda Elmer will be the congregational worship leader, Laura Dickey will be performing traditional Reformation hymns, and Pastor Lisa will preach “How the Reformation Sets Our Faith Free.”  

Look for Christ’s wooden cross and stained-glass sanctuary on St. Andrew’s Drive, next to the golf course/ swimming pool and across from the Administration building with ample parking. All of our worship services are held within the CDC-recommended 30 minute window; social distancing and masks are required.

October 1, 2020

Oct. 4 is a special day to thank God for all creation. St. Francis’ Feast day gives us a chance to be reminded of the work and wisdom of this 12th century saint whose life and ministry embodied a connectedness to God through creation. There are many quotes attributed to a personable man like Francis, but his words on how to be faithful to God is my personal favorite, “Love Him totally, who gave himself totally for your love.”

Francis roamed the Italian countryside proclaiming God’s goodness in creation and Christ’s love for all in creation. He purportedly preached to the birds, the woodland creatures, and the human followers who heard God’s enduring message of love through Francis’ way of being united to God in all things. God is united with us from our creation until eternity. He encourages us to remember this, “Cast your cares upon the Lord, and your faith will sustain you.”

Come and cast your cares upon God in worship at the Redeemer Lutheran and St. Theodore’s Episcopal churches (13564 St. Andrew’s Drive). In honor of St. Francis, this week at 9 a.m. there be a special opportunity to have your animals blessed. You may bring your pet with you. or bring a picture of a beloved pet if that pet is more comfortable at home (or has gone to be at home with the Lord). For those wanting to worship outside, there is drive-up/walk-up Communion out in front of the church on the northeast side of the church from 9:30–10:15 a.m. There will be a traditional 30-minute worship service with organ music, prayers and Communion for those who would like to attend service inside at 10:30 a.m.

God so loves his creation, that no matter what cares we have in this world — and our world seems to have a lot of cares at the moment — God will sustain us. By looking at creation — how God feeds the smallest of the animals, sustains our plants with refreshing rains, gives us warmth on cold winter days, and breezes that cool hot summer days — we can feel closest to God by simply looking and living in God’s world. I think Francis was a fan of the epistle of James: “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” Or to paraphrase: Live into creation as you are a beloved, created being of God.

October 8, 2020

The 23rd Psalm is scheduled to be the focus for our worship on Sunday, October 11. It is one we turn to for comfort and solace, especially in troubled times. You are invited to join Redeemer Lutheran and St. Theodore’s Episcopal churches (at 13564 St. Andrew’s Drive) to help find the peace and solace that this psalm brings.

Our two worship services include organ music, prayers and Communion. We have an outside chapel area for those who want to worship in the morning air under patio umbrellas at 9:30. The traditional service begins in our stained-glass sanctuary at 10:30 a.m. (Both services will follow CDC guidelines — masks and social distancing are required and services will be between 30-40 minutes).

We are grateful to the congregation’s task force, who have designed our new worship parameters to keep our community gatherings as safe as possible. Their names are Beverly Anderson, Sylvia Makus, Carl Keene, Jerry Brady, Margo Geesing, Kay Pushman, Dee Sessa, and Anne Walshe.

Pastor Lisa Rotchford’s sermon is titled “All are Invited to the Lord’s Banquet Table.” Emeritus pastor Gil Moore will be leading the congregation’s prayerful responses at the 10:30 service.

Psalm 23
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters.
He revives my soul and guides me along right pathways for his Name’s sake.
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil;
for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me;
you have anointed my head with oil, and my cup is running over.
Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

October 15, 2020

Redeemer Lutheran and St. Theodore’s Episcopal churches, 13564 St. Andrew’s Dr., offer two worship services that include organ music, prayers and Communion. We have an outside chapel area for those who want to worship in the morning air under patio umbrellas at 9:30. The traditional service begins in our stained-glass sanctuary at 10:30 a.m. (Both services will follow CDC guidelines — masks and social distancing are required, and services will be between 30-40 minutes).

A prayer for our times: “God, our peace and our strength, we pray for our nation and the world as we face new uncertainties around coronavirus. Protect the most vulnerable among us, especially all who are currently sick or in isolation. Grant wisdom, patience and clarity to health care workers, especially as their work caring for others puts them at great risk. Guide us as we consider how best to prepare and respond in our families, congregations, workplaces and communities. Give us courage to face these days not with fear, but with compassion, concern and acts of service, trusting that you abide with us always; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

November 12, 2020

        Veteran’s Day is an opportunity for all of us to give thanks to God for the veterans in our lives — those that are still with us and others gone before us. My favorite veteran is my father who went to heaven 3 years ago at age 98, and was a proud SeaBee in WWII.

        SeaBee’s are Navy sailors from the United States Naval Construction Battalions, (hence, “CB’s”) whose mission was to build the infrastructures necessary for the other divisions of the US armed forces. Adorning their memorial by the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery are both their official and unofficial mottos: Official: “With compassion for others we build — we fight for peace with freedom.” Unofficial: “With willing hearts and skilled hands, the difficult we do at once. The impossible takes a bit longer.”

        As we live in a pandemic-enforced time of waiting, it’s important to remember we are all called to help each other. Build each other up. And remember we are all part of the construction battalion that builds God’s kingdom here on earth. Following the SeaBee’s lead, we are to compassionately live with one another in peace. And with willing hearts and skilled hands we will get through these difficult times. We thank God for the skilled scientists, doctors and nurses called to do the impossible. But together, with patience and God’s grace, we will get through these difficult times. (Tackling the impossible is just taking a little longer.

        Blessed Veteran’s Day, all the veteran’s, spouses, parents and children of Veterans. Let’s keep constructing for God’s purposes.

November 19, 2020

        St. Paul writes in his first letter to the people in Thessalonica (who lived through their own extended plague in their history): Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances. (5:16-18).

        When we pick up the paper or turn on the news and are met with alarming pandemic numbers and other scary news, its hard feel like rejoicing. Yet we live at a point in history where science is making remarkably quick strides to bring an end to this precarious time. Looking throughout history, plagues and pandemics were not measured in months or even a few years, but often decades! If we truly have a number of scientists working on vaccines and antibodies that can more quickly get this pandemic under control, there is hope. And hope leads to rejoicing.

        As people with a relationship with God, praying without ceasing is a given. Our prayers over the last year may have been more asking (and perhaps pleading) than in some years past, but we are called to pray at all times in our lives. Pray when things are looking good as well as not-so-good. There is a comfort to having a frequent, comfortable prayer relationship with the divine.  

        As Thanksgiving approaches in our country, we are reminded to give thanks to God in all circumstances. Grateful to have our cupboards, refrigerators and plates stocked every day of the year, this year’s Thanksgiving gathering and feast may look and feel a little different, but the feeling of being grateful can be the same.  

        Rejoice in your circumstances, pray for your needs and those of your neighbors, and remember to give thanks at all times — especially this year. St. Paul reaches across the centuries and miles and joins us by encouraging our rejoicing, our praying and our Thanksgiving season.

        In an abundance of caution, we are closely monitoring the national, state and local guidelines to keep our congregation safe. As we are allowed to remain open, Redeemer Lutheran and St. Theodore’s Episcopal worship services — 8:45 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. outside, weather permitting — and 10:30 inside our sanctuary, are adhering to the CDC guidelines: masks, social distancing and under 40 minutes in length. Our organist Sharon Heck plays hymns throughout our worship gathering time. Bread and Wine Communion is hygienically sealed and distributed for all to take home and share with prayers. Please join us at 135654 Saint Andrews Drive (across from the administration building parking lot) and call us at 562-598-8697 for updated information.
November 26, 2020

One of my favorite Thanksgiving hymns is the anonymously written “We Gather Together to Ask the Lord’s Blessing.” The hymn reminds us to “Gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing… giving praises to his name; he forgets not his own. Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining. Thou, Lord, is at our side; all glory be thine! We pray that God still our defender wilt be… Thy name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!”

As the pandemic continues to throw us curve balls, we have to be a little more creative on what it means to gather together.

Redeemer Lutheran and St. Thedore’s Episcopal churches will continue to follow state and local guidelines to keep everyone safe . At the time of submission for publication, worship services have been reduced to 15 minutes and will be held outside (weather permitting) at 9, 9:30, 10 and 10:30 a.m.

The strong organ will play and can be heard outside as groups of 15 people in chairs will be assembled to worship in front of the church (13564 Saint Andrews Drive, across from the Administration Building). Communion packets will also be distributed between 9-11 a.m., those who would like to remain in their car can collect Communion and prayers through the curbside service.

May we always serve the Lord as we gather as we can–whether its in our cars, on the curb or inside a church-and seek the Lord’s blessing, healing and freedom.

December 10, 2020 

During this time of quarantines and stay-at-home orders, we can cherish our memories of holiday seasons past and dream of better times in a hope-filled future. As the darkness of winter draws near, we actively seek the light, love and life of the Holy-day season.

While the state’s orders have prevented us from worshipping together, Redeemer Lutheran Church’s front yard has been transformed into scenes of memories and promise. Looking at the front, (at 13564 Saint Andrew’s Drive), on the left is found encouragement for our future: a 4 candle Advent Wreath that is “lit” each week with cardboard candles as we seek the light of Christ coming at Christmas 2020. There is a magnificent painting of the historic wisemen who travelled far seeking the babe King who would change all of our futures.  

On the right, in front of Christ’s cross, is a scene from our past — Mary, Joseph and Jesus, with the wisemen and animals with them — reminding us that God came into the world and is always with us. (Yes, that’s why baby Jesus is already in his manger bed even though December 24th is a little ways off.) The light of the nativity scene throws a shadow of the cross on the front of the church building — foretelling Christ’s ultimate gift of eternal life given for each of us.  

So when walking or driving by in the daytime or in the darkness as the scenes are lit each evening, know: Wait upon the Lord, and God is with you: Christ came to give the ultimate gift of love of God to you; and the Holy Spirit brings you light, peace and the hope of a blessed life. Enjoy the beautiful landscape of the Christmas season — With special thanks to artists and landscapers: Sylvia Makus, Carmen Leslie, Carl Keene, Anne Walshe and Teresa Smith.  

December 3, 2020

December is the church’s season of Advent: the season of waiting for a special person or occasion to come. The Advent of this year, more than ever, finds us waiting for quarantine to be over and a vaccine to be delivered.

While we wait, we can embrace the Old Testament’s messages on waiting: “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord” (Lamentations 3:25-26).

Following the Scriptures and lighting Advent colored candles, we wait quietly in hope; seek peace; express joy and share the love of the season.

HOPE – “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” (Isaiah 40:31)

PEACE – God blessed us with peace through his son, “so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33).

JOY – “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, so that those who love your name may exult in you.” (Psalm 5:11).

LOVE – “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment.” (Matthew 22:36-40).

Each of these traits — hope, peace, joy and love — are associated with the four Sundays of Advent Nov. 29- Dec. 20 and the large Christ candle is lit on the 25th.

May Advent be Holy Spirit filled and may Christmas find the light of Christ beaming into all of our lives. By the love given to us by God, the prophet Isaiah reminds us, “For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

December 17, 2020

An anonymously-written poem first appeared in a Canadian senior community(!) newspaper back in 1994. Advice columnist Ann Landers then introduced it to a worldwide audience. A quarter of a century later, as we all are being affected by the threat of a debilitating virus, we can confront our fears by reflecting on the poem’s encouraging truths.

The original title is “What Cancer Cannot Do”. Replacing “Cancer” with “Covid”, remember:

Covid cannot cripple love.
It cannot shatter hope.
It cannot corrode faith.
It cannot destroy peace.
It cannot kill friendship.
It cannot suppress memories.
It cannot silence courage.
It cannot invade the soul.
It cannot steal eternal life.
It cannot conquer the spirit.

Especially during this season when sunsets come early and we’re encouraged to seek the light in the darkness, let the Holy Scriptures enlighten your Spirit. Remember that:

Covid cannot cripple love. You are loved.
“…neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans: 38-39)

Covid cannot shatter hope. There is reason to hope.
“Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

Covid cannot corrode faith. Put your Trust in a Faithful God.
“Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.” (Deuteronomy 7:9)

Covid cannot destroy peace. Seek Peace within your heart.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)

Covid cannot kill friendship. Know a Friendship with God.
“The Lord your God, who goes before you…The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” (Deut 1:30 & Exodus 14:14)

Covid cannot suppress memories. 
Engage in your cherished memories.
“The memory of the righteous is a blessing.” (Proverbs 10:7)

Covid cannot silence courage. Be encouraged for the future.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Covid cannot invade the soul.
Seek relationship with God through your Soul.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5)

Covid cannot steal eternal life. Know there is Eternal Life.
“..the Son of Man will be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:14-16)

Covid cannot conquer the spirit.
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

Covid may physically separate us, but you are never alone;
God is with you always.
“And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

— The Rev. Lisa Rotchford, Pastor of Redeemer Lutheran, Seal Beach, CA

December 24, 2020 

Often, simplest is best. This Christmas, when we are instructed to stay home, experiencing a simpler, quieter holy-day season than before, we can see the quiet as a gift. We might have more time to rest and reflect.

In the 19th century, Christini Rosetti wrote a poem that reminds us of the true gift of Christmas: God’s love.
“Love came down at Christmas,
love all lovely, Love divine;
Love was born at Christmas;
star and angels gave the sign.
Worship we the Godhead,
Love incarnate, Love divine;
worship we our Jesus,
but wherewith for sacred sign?
Love shall be our token;
love be yours and love be mine;
love to God and others,
love for plea and gift and sign.”

The poem is based on 1 John 4:7-11, a passage that mentions “love” 11 times: “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth, is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.”
May you feel love come down from heaven, share that love, and know you are loved this Christmas and always.

December 31, 2020 

Minnie Louise Haskins wrote a poem entitled “God Knows” in 1908. The poem is most famous for its preamble, read to the world by King George VI in his 1939 Christmas broadcast as the world faced the uncertainty of WWII. As we face uncertainty in our own time, the words ring true for us, and as we welcome the New Year, and the coming of the Christmas Star of Epiphany (January 6th), may we remember God goes with us, wherever we go. — Rev. Lisa

“God Knows” – Minnie Louise Haskins (1875-1957)

(preamble) “And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”  
And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.  
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So, I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. 
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

So heart be still:
What need our little life
Our human life to know,
If God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife
Of things both high and low,
God hideth His intention.

God knows. His will
Is best. The stretch of years
Which wind ahead, so dim
To our imperfect vision,
Are clear to God. Our fears 
Are premature; In Him,
All time hath full provision.

Then rest: until
God moves to lift the veil
From our impatient eyes,
When, as the sweeter features
Of Life’s stern face we hail,
Fair beyond all surmise
God’s thought around His creatures
Our mind shall fill.

January 7, 2021​

“Bible Verse by the Week” for 2021

These 2 verses of Lamentations covers the 1st two weeks.

As children, we might have been encouraged to memorize and recite Bible verses. As adults but still children of God, we might remember them (or not); but its never too late to hang on to the Word of God. As we get older, the deeper meaning of Bible verses take hold in our lives even more.  

So in honor of a new year that has us sequestered away from the outside world — and more time to read and reflect — I invite you to try to memorize different verses of Scripture each week. Then at the end of 2021, how much rich our Bible knowledge might be and our faith aided by simple, yet powerful sayings that can see us through anything.

The first two verses for the first two weeks of 2021 I propose is from the book of Lamentations, chapter 3, verses 22-23:

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
  the Lord’s mercies never come to an end;

23 they are new every morning;
  great is your faithfulness. 

It is a verse that reminds us that each and every day, we are loved by God, whose mercies and compassion never cease, and as each day awakens anew, God’s faith in us is sure. May our faith in God be returned to God by: the love we share with one another, the mercy and compassion we exhibit to each other, and the knowledge that we are faithfully loved by the one who created us, holds us, and strengthens us for each new day of 2021.  

January 21, 2021

A bible verse to remember:  “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

Living uneasily through a pandemic, and now through a period of national unrest, the words from Scripture help us to remember not to fear but to trust in the power of God. We are called, as God’s people to love one another in the midst of community. Out of that love, we can come to a place of peace.

The words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King ring across time to us especially this week when we honor his birth and we renew our democracy with an inauguration of a president.  

“Our motto must be, “Freedom and justice through love.” Not through violence; not through hate… but through love…. the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community. It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opposers into friends. …It is an overflowing love which seeks nothing in return. It is the love of God working in the lives of men. This is the love that may well be the salvation of our civilization.”
—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ("The Role of the Church in Facing the Nation’s Chief Moral Dilemma," 25 April 1957, Conference on Christian Faith and Human Relations in Nashville, TN)

This week especially, when we remember his legacy of non-violent response, we pray for peace. We know of the difficulty Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. faced, even among his own followers, as they resisted hatred and physical violence with prayer, song and marches for justice. We are called to not be fear-filled or fearful, but to reach out to one another, embracing loving, peaceful words and actions that are non-violent.

In our Christian Baptismal Covenant, we vow to “respect the dignity of every human being.” We remember that each person we meet is someone’s child, someone’s beloved, God’s creation. As the events of the week unfold, may we pause and pray not in fear, but knowing the power of God’s love and ways of peace as we practice mutual respect for one another in our beloved community.

March 4, 2021

As we continue to live through these most interesting times, my favorite psalm rises in my mind, heart and soul. The reason these condensed verses from Psalm 63 are held so closely is not because it is the best known psalm. Nor is it one we recite often in services. But it is a psalm that I carry in my heart whether I am at "a peak”, or "a valley” or somewhere in-between. 
O God, you are my God; eagerly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you…my soul is content…my soul clings to you; your right hand holds me fast. Psalm 63:1-8

God is with us wherever we are. God holds us, enabling our souls to be filled with peace even though the future may be unsure. So as we approach the coming days when “normal” life begins to poke its head out of the dark pandemic like a spring flower emerging from a dark slumber in the earth, I encourage you to hold onto God, whatever your circumstances. As nearby amusement parks schedule to reopen yet the roller coaster of pandemic life continues, hold onto God and God’s peace will hold you fast.  
February 18, 2021

God is with us, wherever we are.
God loves us, however we are.
God redeems us, whomever we are.

As we continue to be limited physically by our COVID-19 safety measures, we can spiritually journey toward Easter on Sunday, April 4. This year, Lent forces us to slow down and examine biblically what it means to be physically limited but free in God, through Christ and the strength of the Holy Spirit.

It is not how we worship, but who we worship. No matter our physical state, do we worship God in everything we do? Do we reflect his love for us in our love for one another? Do we face each day confidently, knowing our futures rests in our redeemer?

The first sentence — God is with us, wherever we are — reminds us the prophet Isaiah (7:14) foretold a messiah would be born called Emmanuel, which means “God with us.” God, who formed the world at creation and creates each and every one of us, remains with us always.

In the Christian tradition, we are called on Ash Wednesday to remember human life was formed as God breathed into the dust from the ground. We are called to remember as ashes mark our foreheads that “we are dust, and to dust we shall return.” From our very beginning through every step of our life and into eternal life, God is with us. Remember, you are never alone and know you are loved by the one who created you, loves you and redeems you forever.

February 11, 2021

Weary is a popular description of how we all are feeling at this point of the pandemic. Remember what Philippians 4:12-13 says: “In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Lean into God’s strength, and God will sustain you in peace and safety.

Safety is our utmost priority as the coronavirus continues to dictate how and when we are able to worship. Redeemer Lutheran and St. Theodore’s services will resume as soon as the COVID-19 case numbers move Orange County out of the most restrictive purple tier.

As of this newsletter’s publication (3/18/2021), we are keeping with GRF’s Pandemic recommendations and are opening with limits to numbers and times. Please see the President’s Article for Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday schedule. Good Friday plan is after Pastor Lisa’s message.  

Hold each other in prayer as we wait upon the Lord. We are in His Hands! 

PLEASE CALL 562-598-8697