Rev. Lisa Rotchford!!
May 2020


Dearest Friends in Christ:

        We rely on our Lord for strength and hope, and I hope this finds you well and allowing yourselves to be strengthened by the Lord and hopeful in your faith.

        As our stay-at-home safety orders continue, it is harder to stay up-beat and positive. But every day is a gift from the Lord and though we may not be able to spend it “out and about”, it is a day to be with the Lord in thought and prayer. (And what a glorious resurrection day it will be when we can gather as God’s people in our sanctuary again!)

        In some ways, this year’s Easter season is much more like the original weeks that followed our Lord’s resurrection on Easter. We were alone or with just another friend or family member on Easter; just like the few female disciples who came to tend to our Lord’s body and were first to see Jesus risen from the tomb. We were called to be “on lock down”, like the disciples who were gathered behind locked doors in fear after the crucifixion of our Lord. Not even locked doors could keep the risen Jesus away, and as He came to them, their belief was strengthened by the things that Jesus overcame. With God’s help, we will overcome this pandemic.

        With patience and faith, we can use this time to abide in the peace that he offers us again and again throughout his resurrection appearances: to the women at the tomb, to his disciples in the upper room, on the seashore of Galilee where Peter and others had resumed their former lives, and on the Road to Emmaus where he was known to them in the breaking of the bread. God’s peace can be found in all circumstances.

        So, until we can gather to break bread together as a small or large group again, please know:

1)We are being held in the palm of God’s hands, protected by Him like under the wings of an eagle, and he will lift us up and bring our souls a sense of abiding peace. (Psalm 91)

2)We are called to wait upon the Lord: from Psalm 38:15 But for you, O Lord, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.

3)We are recipients of his eternal love: Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you. (Psalm 33:22)

4)God will answer our prayers: In the day when I cried thou answered me, and strengthened me with strength in my soul. (Psalm 138:3)

5)We abide with God at all times, in all places, knowing we are forever at home in the Lord. God is our refuge and our fortress: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. (Psalm 91)

        My prayers continue with you all daily as we continue to be a part of the church in these times, even though we are apart!

        The work of the church has continued with worshiping — as we are able — through our drive-in communion services at Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. We hope to continue this legally approved and sanctioned way of distributing prayers and communion on Sunday, May 3rd (the 1st Sunday of the month is still a Redeemer Communion Sunday!) If we continue with the social distancing orders by the end of the month, May 31st is Pentecost and the “Birthday of the Church!” — your Council and I are working on ways this might work outside of our sanctuary or inside, as rules permit. We will let all of you know as Pentecost approaches.

        We have also been able to distribute multiple meals to congregants; our Leisure World neighbors and many of our interfaith partners. Lutheran Relief has provided hundreds of restaurant and store bought meals and we have been networking with our Lutheran colleagues to see that no one goes without some nourishing hot food. If you or anyone you know could benefit, please call me and I can arrange “drop off”. We’ve had multiple congregants take the boxes from me, go out and feed their neighborhood. This is an opportunity to make new friends and introduce them to the church that has been called to exhibit the heart of Christ in the Heart of Leisure World in these most interesting times.

        If you have internet access, please keep up-to-date at All of our communications, videos from the national ELCA, our synod (including a great sermon by Bishop Andy!), a video of the inside of our sanctuary with a Good Friday meditation, and a Hymn Margo shared with us all are all available.

        Please continue to pray for one another — as Paul taught us, pray unceasingly — and as I like to say, “Always in All Ways!”

        Enclosed in this newsletter is an envelope and form for you to include any prayers you would like prayed aloud in the church by your Pastor until we can all say them together again. 

        Many of you have asked about Lavona and Chris Moore. They both have had serious health challenges, including both having been hospitalized in the last few weeks. Chris is residing with her beloved sons in their Reno home and if you would like to send her a letter of encouragement, her address is: 3325 Barbara Circle, Reno, NV 89503. Lavona is back at Rowntree Gardens Senior Living, 12151 Dale St., Stanton, CA 90680.  

        I personally thank God for each and every one of you, and for Redeemer as a tremendous church of hope that is standing strong, encouraging one another and being with one another in spirit as this continuing pandemic challenges us individually and corporately. Know that God is forever and always in charge, and we will worship God, Son and Holy Spirit together again soon.

Blessings and prayers for health and peace,

Pastor Lisa

        This beautiful cross was lovingly made and anonymously dropped off at the church addressed to Pastor Lisa. Much thanks to this anonymous angel and which decorated our drive-in Easter Table for all to see!

June 2020
​“Peace be with you”

Dear Friends:

Throughout the 50 days of the Easter season that brings us to Pentecost, Christ’s Easter message of “Peace be with you” is delivered more than any other throughout his post-resurrection appearances with His faithful. Jesus’ teachings remind us that God’s peace reigns, through Christ and the Holy Spirit, 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 literally came into this world to teach us how to settle our hearts, our minds, our souls with the message of God’s presence with us always through eternal love and peace. As we celebrate Pentecost 2020 let us focus on the form that the spirit came in: the dove. The dove is a universal symbol of hope and peace that our world especially needs right now.

The dove brought hope and comfort and peace to Noah and his family as they were charged to help restore the world after the chaos of the flood. The dove came down and alighted on Jesus at his baptism as a sign that his life was anointed to bring God’s ways of peace to the world. On Pentecost Sunday we hung a red stole with a dove on our new cross as a way of reminding the world that God’s peace reigns, through Christ, by his resurrection and everlasting life given to each of us.

As people called to love one another, our hearts are empathetic to all who hurt. As people called to love one another, we are called to bear one another’s burdens. As people 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. Through the very active agent of the Holy Spirit, God is the author of our salvation and leads us into everlasting life in every moment of our humanity if we seek God’s face, seek Christ’s peace, and seek the Holy Spirit’s strength as we face each day. Called to spend more “quiet” time at home, perhaps we are 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.

For at his ascension returning to heaven Christ reminded us that he was not ever leaving us alone but we are given the powerful, healing, strengthening peace of Holy Spirit. Let our lives reflect that peace in all that we pray, in all that we say, in all that we do.

Blessings and prayers for health and peace,

Pastor Lisa

Everyone is asking “When do we re-open?” The short answer: By God’s grace, prayerful consideration and careful planning, as soon as it is safe.

The longer answer: To re-open, we have to have a formal plan — fulfilling all of the requirements of the CDC, state and local health agencies. This plan has to include: a detailed layout of our sanctuary — marking where everyone can sit and participate; how many services we will conduct and how long services can be; and all the cleaning and disinfecting procedures we must adhere to before and after any gathering in our church. To accommodate social distancing, we are proposing having 2 services instead of one. (Please see back page for a form to fill out to choose which time you might prefer.)

We have established a task force of 9 members of the congregation that are meeting and drawing up our plan and procedures. As soon as Orange County Covid-19 numbers (the curve) allow, the plan will be presented to our Church Council. If approved, it is then filed with the Bishop. If he approves and all governing bodies of our congregation agree, our in-person services can begin again.

Until then, know that we are all connected spiritually in prayer. Pray for all, holding each other close in prayer and know the good Lord has prepared His beautiful sanctuary and rooms for us to worship Him, celebrate communion and be back in physical community one day soon, in God’s time.

Matthew 28:16-20
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.  And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.  And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matthew 24:36
“However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.

July and August 2020

READY! … SET! … GO? No. … WAIT!

Dear Friends,

Summertime childhood memories of playtime outside during long sun-filled days might include games of tag, races and other pastimes that began with “Ready….Set…Go!” As the worldwide battle with a relentless coronavirus continues, our summer days may also be sun-filled, but now long and not always joy-filled. We are Ready to get back to a sense of “normalcy”. We are Set in our sanctuary to worship God together again. Yet we are called to Wait! As Christians we are called to remember that there is joy that can be found in waiting.

We at Redeemer can be buoyed by the joyful knowledge that after the winter rains damaged our sanctuary, this Summer finds our repairs complete! In fact, with the new carpeting, better lighting, improved sound system, organ repairs and structural American Disability Act updates, our sanctuary is “done” and in fact, improved(!). Our roof repairs have addressed the problem pipe that caused most of the damage in the first place. And thanks to good stewardship of funds, reliable and cost-conscious contractors, and the generosity of our members, even our additional “weeping wall problems” is currently being addressed. We are READY! We are SET! But instead of GO!, we are now told to “WAIT!”

When we turn to Scripture, we are often told to “Wait upon the Lord”. It is a consistent theme of both our Old and New Testaments. Human beings are naturally an impatient lot who don’t like to wait. So, we join with our biblical ancestors in trying to wrap our minds and our hearts about living through this time when our lifestyles are asked to slow down, hold on, and pause. We are all, worldwide, being called to be quiet. Can we use this time to listen to what the Lord may be saying?

As we sit and wait in this pandemic, we can turn to the prophet Isaiah’s well-known encouragement for solace and strength: “…but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (40:31)  All of us can use a little time to recharge our batteries and rest. What if God is using this time to strengthen us so we are prepared for whatever lies ahead? The Lord is with us, fighting for us, throughout.

One of my favorite promises of God is found in Isaiah’s writings 10 chapters earlier: “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore, he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” (30:18)  Isaiah reminds us in both of these passages that we get our strength from our Lord. In addition to his resolve which can get us through anything, we are shown God’s grace and compassion and we are called to know and demonstrate that same grace and compassion to one another. We who wait upon the Lord will be blessed.

As we are blessed. We have a God who came to save us and show us the way of salvation that leaves the current virus, pandemic and any other chaos we face in the summer dust. We are called — while sitting still — to travel with our Lord by faith. We join Paul as he waited behind the jail bars in Rome when he wrote: “we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (Romans 8:25)  And we are called to: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, and be constant in prayer.” (Rom 12:12)

Yet like our Scriptural ancestors, we love to ask “How long?” The apostle Peter reminded the earliest Christians who were waiting for the Lord to re-appear imminently, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:8-9)

So while we check the newspaper headlines for numbers of infections to decrease, and we check in with each other to make sure we’re bearing up under the strain of lock-downs, remember to sing in your heart the hymn of Psalm 27:14 – “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

Ironically, at this time of the pandemic our sit down, indoor restaurants are closed and we cannot be served by wait staff. This is also a way of understanding that to wait is to serve. Not just by doing, but by waiting, we can be serving the Lord!

We are instructed by the medical experts and our national and local Bishops, to not sing when we return to worship (as its been proven singing spreads the virus further and faster to those around us.) So, in the quiet of your space that you are reading this, reflect on the words by hymn writer James Wilson:

                        There's not a mountain too tall,
                        There’s not a problem so small
                        That Jesus can't resolve
                        He’s our God, He cares about us
                        So wait on the Lord,
                        Wait on the Lord, Wait on the Lord

                        And He’ll renew your strength
                        Wait on the Lord, For your own sake
                        Wait on the Lord 
                        And He’ll renew your strength
                        He knows what you're going through right now, 
                        You’ve got a way, 
                        You’ve got a way

                        Sing it again, He's here for you
                        He's ordering strength, 
                        You’re saved, you’ve got a way.
                        Wait upon the Lord.
 — James Wilson

We've got a way…our faith in the Lord. We’ve got a wait…a time to sit and rest, easy with our gracious, compassionate God. We’re Ready…We’re Set…and We’re Waiting on the Lord.

Blessings and peace,

Pastor Lisa

September and October 2020

Let Us Go TO the House of the Lord!

Dear Friends,

Let us join with the Psalmist and recite Psalm 122:1 
I was glad when they said to me,
Let us go to the house of the LORD!

        With everyone’s hard work, and our continued commitment to wearing masks and social distancing, our “Pick up Your Spirits, with Prayer and Communion” resumes every Sunday in September! We will be having drive-up/walk-up communion out in front of the church and a social-distanced small group mini-worship services on the North-East side of the church (by the purple office door) from 9:30 until 11 a.m. (As we gather, in a group of 6-8 we will spend 15 minutes in prayer together — come at whatever time is convenient for you.) There WILL be music(!) as our musicians will be playing our organ with the church windows and doors open so all outside our sanctuary can hear some favorite hymns. We will continue with this throughout the month of September. We will see what happens in October!

        Please note we are taking the psalmist literally and going TO the House of the Lord…just not IN quite yet! We pray that we can resume in-the-Lord’s-house worship as soon as state and local metrics are met…hopefully soon.
With an abundance of caution, we “closed down” our public worship services due to the pandemic on March 13th. We are now officially six months into this hard time when we are not called together physically but called apart. However, as Christians who are called together by our faith and love of our Lord, Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ, nothing calls us apart. Nothing separates us from our God, the love of God or God’s hands. Not even in a pandemic that limits us. 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).

        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….do not lag in zeal and be 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 12:9ff). We can do all of this by doing God’s work, with our hands.

        September is the time the national Lutheran church encourages us to take on outreach projects that benefit the wider community and God’s kingdom under the moniker “God’s Work. Our Hands”. Given that we must remain socially distanced and limit the time we interact, our annual food donation drive will not just be on one big Sunday but quickly receiving food contributions on all the Sundays of September. If you have a non-perishable food item (or 2) 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 be taken to Lutheran Social Services’ shelves that feed the increasing number of hungry people as this pandemic continues.

        Though this pandemic has affected all of us in very big and small ways, we are called to listen to our Lord as we wait upon his will for our lives individually and corporately. Remember, 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. Live your lives like every movement is worshiping God. Rejoice that God is with us now, forever and always. Let us go TO God’s house and with his work to do and our hands to do it, let us WORSHIP God in all we do.

Blessings and peace,
Pastor Lisa

November 2020

“Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart”

Dear Friends,

        The calendar turns to November and the Thanksgiving hymn “Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart” starts playing in my head…and heart…and soul. (Yes, even this November; maybe especially this November :)

Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, His Son

And now let the weak say, “I am strong”
Let the poor say, “I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us”
Give thanks. (Lyricist: Henry Smith)

        This year, especially, is one where we can look back and see God’s hands embracing us as we are called to give God thanks in ALL circumstances.  

        For we rejoice in the ability to face what comes our way and know that God is with us through it all. Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit, abides with us in any circumstance we face.

        Since last November, none of us could have predicted the church building’s troubles with more than 70 gallons of rainwater damaging our sanctuary. But we also could not have foreseen the blessings of tireless parishioners and contracted workers who have restored our damaged roof, walls, and ceilings. Thanks to the generosity of our church family, our stained-glass windows have been re-sealed and even our Fellowship Hall’s “weeping walls” no longer cry but rejoice with us. We can celebrate outside too: new paint and sealing of the sanctuary walls; drought-tolerant landscaping blossoming throughout the seasons; benches, patio umbrellas and a permanent large wooden Cross out front; and individually donated smaller crosses adorning our outside/side chapel. All these are tangible examples of the Spirit being alive and well and thriving as the rest of the world is called to “shut down.” We, too, had to creatively change how we do worship. But we stand up with Christ as our guide and the Holy Spirit as our strengthening aide.

        Like our building’s structural woes, no one could foresee a pandemic that has changed many aspects of our ways of life but has NOT changed the ultimate truth: Jesus Christ who is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8). And, no matter where we find ourselves — worshiping our Lord inside our sanctuary, outside in our “new” outside chapel, or worshiping at home knowing we are all still connected by prayer — remember: “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

        I want to especially thank ALL of you for your flexibility as we have adhered to the state, county and local guidelines changing how our worship looks…but the SPIRIT is the same. And that is truly an amazing thing to thank God, and all of you, for. Though numbers may change and our response may change with them, whether we worship outside or in our homes, this year has brought about rich and strengthening blessings. We give thanks.

Blessings and peace,
Pastor Lisa

December 2020

“Advent – Hope, Peace, Joy, Love”

Dear sweet people of Redeemer —

Advent 2020: the season of waiting for a special person or occasion to come. The Advent of this year, more than ever, finds us waiting for our quarantine to be over and Leisure World’s lockdown orders to be lifted, a vaccine to be delivered, and we will be able to come together as a congregation to worship again with handshakes and hugs. While we wait, we can embrace the Old Testament’s messages on waiting:
“Blessed are all those who wait for Him.” (Isaiah 30:18)
“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)

Because we are people of both the Old and New Testaments, we are God’s people who wait quietly for the Lord’s coming but know we already have salvation in Christ Jesus. We await his coming again.

Following the Scriptures and lighting Advent colored candles, we wait quietly in Hope; seeking Peace; expressing Joy and sharing the Love of the season — however we can.

By reading our Scriptures and following the life and teachings of our Lord Jesus, we truly can find the Hope, Peace, Joy and Love of this Advent and Christmas season:

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

PEACE - May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace! Psalm 29:11

Our Lord God did bless us with 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 - Deuteronomy (6:5) first gave us the direction of how to love and Jesus quotes it in Matthew 22:36-40: “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.”
Each of these traits — Hope, Peace, Joy and Love — are associated with the 4 Sundays of Advent (this year, 11/29, 12/6, 12/13 and 12/20) and the large Christ candle is lit on the 25th: the day of the one who we were waiting for! And at the time of the writing, it may be the first day we can gather together again — outside or inside — for worship!

Even though the pandemic and coronavirus has changed many aspects of our lives these last 9 months, these elements of our Christian life together have not. When we are connected by prayer, our connections to God and one another are not severed. Changed perhaps, but not gone. We are the same people as we were last year: filled with hope, desiring peace, wanting to express joy, and the love of Christ wherever we are. This year, wherever we may be — inside with our decorated tree or outside with the babe lying in the manger of our creche — we are waiting for, and present with, our Lord and redeeming Savior.

May our Advent be Holy Spirit-filled and may our Christmas find the light of Christ beaming into all of our lives. By the love given to us by God, our Old Testament 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.”

In thanksgiving for our one God — Sovereign, Savior, and Spirit — and for all of you.

Blessings and peace,
Pastor Lisa

January 2021

“New Year Blessings and Thanksgivings”

Dear sweet people of Redeemer —

I miss each and every one of you — so I’d like to begin this 2021st year of our Lord by writing my gratefulness to God for you! Your generosity of love and kindnesses throughout this most interesting of years has blessed and overwhelmed me. Thank you!

Frustration overflows when I am not being able to express my “thanks to God for you” in person. While expressing our love for one another’s safety by staying physically apart at this accelerating stage of the pandemic, I will try to follow St. Paul’s example at all times: thanking God, strengthened by Jesus and praying by the Holy Spirit for each and every one of you.

“First, I thank God through Jesus Christ for you all!” (Romans 1:8) …and “I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus,” (1 Corinthians 1:4) and…render to God for you in return for all the joy with which we rejoice before our God on your account, (1 Thess 3:9) “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you,” (Philippians 1:3)…“as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day,” (2 Timothy 1:3)…I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers, (Philemon 1:4)…giving thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, (Colossians 1:3)…and giving thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; (1 Thess 1:2) and always giving thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. (2 Thess 2:13)

The 1st of this unique New Year…the 1st chapter of Ephesians

If the pandemic safety restrictions were suddenly lifted, this month we would be gathering and hearing the powerful words of the Holy Spirit as found in the 1st chapter of the letter to the Ephesians. It is a powerful chapter that encourages us as we face the day-to-day fears and obstacles that the Coronavirus has put in our path. Its divided into two sections that reminds us of the Spiritual Blessings in Christ alone that no pandemic or illness can take away; and Paul’s Prayer for our strength in times of adversity. I encourage you to simply open up your Bible and let the words strengthen and guide you. Here are the “nuggets” to hold on to:

God “blesses us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (1:3); God “chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world” (1:4); God “destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will” (1:5); God “has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ” (1:9); in Christ, “we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us” (1:7-8a) and “we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will” (1:11)

God is greater than any obstacle we face — including a viral pandemic. As God sent a flood and a rainbow to Noah, God sends us rain but has also sent a huge rainbow over our community on the afternoon of Christmas Eve. God keeps His promises. God will see us through.

So, through it all, we are thankfully blessed, we are God’s, we are Christ’s, and by the Holy Spirit, we have God’s grace to face any obstacle in our path. So as 2021 brings us renewed hope and promises of new ways of living (pandemic or not!) we are called to be alive in the one who made us, loves us, and in whom we have eternal life.

Grateful blessings, love, peace and prayers for strong, good health in the New Year.

Pastor Lisa

P.S. - I also included a printing of  “What Cancer Cannot Do”. Replacing “Cancer” with “Covid”.  You can find it on the  "In These Trying Times" page of this website in the December 17, 2020 posting.

February/March 2021

“Give Up and Give”

Dear sweet people of Redeemer —

        One question that pastors are guaranteed to be asked at least a few times each Lent is, “Should we ‘give things up’ for Lent?” My protestant-theology response is that we are encouraged to give to one another as much as to give something up in a Lenten penitence practice.

        The ultimate sacrifice was given for us by Jesus on the cross. Many find giving small sacrifices during Lent as an exercise to offer thanksgiving for the ultimate sacrifice of resurrected life given to us at Easter. In this time of pandemic and quarantine when opportunities for giving up might be difficult, here are 40 Lenten ways to “Give up & Give” in new ways in our 40 days of Lent (Feb 17-April 3):

1. Give up worrying.            2. Give God your troubles.
1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 

3. Give up losing hope.            4. God is hope.
Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

5. Give up grumbling.         6. Give your time to positively talking with someone needing some uplifting words of life.
Philippians 2:14-16 Do everything without grumbling or arguing…. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.

7. Give up arguing.            8. Give an ear to listen.
2 Timothy 2:23-24 “the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone.

9. Give up negative thinking.        10. Give a positive spin to your thoughts.
Romans 14:19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

11. Give up speaking ill of someone.    12. Give a special effort to cheer someone.
Ephesians 4:29 - “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

13. Give up troubles of the heart.        14. Give your heart to dwelling on God’s love for you.
Ephesians 3: 16-19 I ask that out of the riches of His glory He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. Then you, being rooted and grounded in love, will have power, together with all the saints, to comprehend the length and width and height and depth of the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

15. Give up bitterness.    16. Give special thanksgivings for unexpected blessings.
James 3:17 - But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.

17. Give up fear.            18. Let God give you the courage to face anything.
Numbers 6:24-26 - “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace."

19. Give up frowning.                20. Give a smile.
Psalm 43:5: “O my soul, why be so gloomy and discouraged? Trust in God! I shall again praise him for his wondrous help; he will make me smile again, for he is my God!”

21. Give up saying or doing anything unkind.        22. Give kindness away freely.
Galatians 5:22-23 - But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

23. Give up wasting time on strife.     24. Give your time to actively seeking peace.
Romans 12:18 - If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

25. Give up gossip.            26. Give loving thoughts to one another freely.
Hebrews 12:14 - Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

27. Give up complaining.        28. Give God compliments on all of your blessings.
James 1:2-4 - “Count it all joy…when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

29. Give up feeling frustrated with yourself.        30. God will comfort you as we care for one another.
Matthew 11:28 - “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

31. Give up making excuses.            32. Give yourself the gift of time to accomplish a goal.
Philippians 4:12-13 - “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."

33. Give up whining.        34. Give your concerns to God who will lift you up.
Psalm 103:2-5 - “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's."

35. Give up procrastination.        36. Give your time to accomplishing tasks God’s put before you.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

37. Give up discouragement.    38. Give God the chance to lead you and encourage you on life’s journey.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 - “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

39. Give up time focused on worldly things.    40. Give God prayerful attention.
Matthew 6:9-13 (the Lord's model prayer) – "In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen."

        As the Coronavirus continues to dictate how and when we are able to worship — inside/outside, small group/25% capacity — we will resume as soon as the Covid numbers move Orange County out of the most restrictive purple tier.

        Our Feb/March Lenten-themed newsletter gives us a chance to concentrate on Lent 2021. In addition to this newsletter, you will be receiving a packet of ashes to administer to yourself on Ash Wednesday, February 17th. Social distancing regulations have dictated we cannot get within 6 feet of each other to administer ashes in-person safely, and the bishops have advised sending out packets instead. Prayers and instructions will be included.

Blessings to you this Lenten Season,
Pastor Lisa

April 2021

“Action Words of Easter”

Dear Redeemed People of Redeemer,

As we are people of both the passion of Holy Week and the glorious Resurrection, I hope this Holy Week/Easter special newsletter edition finds us spiritually centered not just on the passion of the last earthly days of Jesus’ life, but embracing our Lord’s 7 action words of Easter.

The strength of God, through Christ and the Holy Spirit comes alive (boldface type, my emphasis) in our Prayer for Easter Sunday:  

O God, you are the creator of the world,
the liberator of your people,
and the wisdom of the earth.
By the resurrection of your Son
free us from our fears,
restore us in your image, and
ignite us with your light,
through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
— Prayer for Easter Day 2021

This year, as we have lived the past year like no other, we have been called time and time again to remember that though we were called to a quieter life, God speaks loudly to and through each of us as we follow God Always, In All Ways.  Embrace an active God in every aspect of your life.

As earthly concerns of illness and quarantine have limited our physical movements, we must always remember that God, through Christ and the Holy Spirit, is our liberator from anything we may fear. No matter how we may be restricted, we are free in Christ. God’s wisdom is great as is God’s power over death which was revealed in the resurrection of Jesus.

Our God is a God of action whose Holy Spirit frees us from our fears, restores us in God’s image, and ignites us with eternal light.

Especially this Easter 2021 season, we thank God for being our God of action who saves us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, and who by the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns now and forever.

If there is one Bible verse that encapsulates the God of action that sees us through Holy Week, the glorious Easter resurrection and who has seen us through the last year of the pandemic(!), I encourage you to read and re-read the words of St. Paul from the 1st chapter of Colossians:

The Supremacy of the Son of God
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.
1 Colossians 15-23a

Especially Easter 2021: God reigns, ALWAYS, in ALL WAYS. ALLELUIA! ALLELUIA!

Blessings to you this Easter Season,
Pastor Lisa

The 7 Last Words of Christ on Good Friday

Good Friday usually finds us hosting Leisure World’s Interfaith gathering which centers on the 7 Last Words of Christ. This year, due to pandemic restrictions, our Interfaith group hopes to have the Ecumenical service outside at the amphitheater, where the expected-sized crowd can be socially distanced (Noon, April 2, 2021). If we are unable to gather, the pastors and rabbi’s will be printing their reflections in the LW News.