“O Lord, my Rock, and my Redeemer.” – Psalm 19:14
February 2020
One of the benefits of reading straight through the Bible is reading well-known but “lost” stories of the Bible. This month I read one of those well-known but “lost” Bible stories. I was able to read about Balaam (Numbers 22-24).

You might remember Balaam for his talking donkey. Balaam was on his way to see Balak, king of Moab. Balak wanted Balaam to put a curse on the Israelites. So, as Balaam went to Balak, the Lord placed an angel with a sword in his hand to block the way. Balaam did not see the angel, but the donkey did. The donkey turned off the road to avoid the angel the first time. The second time, the donkey pressed against a wall to avoid the angel. The third time the donkey could not go to the side and so the donkey just stopped and laid down. After Balaam hit his donkey a few times, the donkey asked why was he being beaten. Balaam was then able to see the angel and understood.

That section is probably what most people remember about Balaam. I want to focus on the rest of his story. The first time he was asked to curse the Israelites, Balaam answered, “Even if Balak would give to me his house full of silver and gold, I would not be able to go against the command of the LORD my God to do anything small or great.” (Nu 22:18)

Even so, Balaam was persuaded to see King Balak, and that is where the story of the talking donkey comes in. After Balaam met Balak, Balak would ask Balaam to curse the Israelites on four separate occasions. Each time, Balaam blessed the Israelites instead. Balak wasn’t too happy, but how could Balaam go against the command the Lord God?

We should keep that kind of attitude with us as we go and do anything. Whether it is to work extra and get ahead in your profession or to spend more time with your family or whatever it may be, “We cannot go against he command of the LORD my God to do anything small or great.” Our days are in his hand. We might try to do one thing, but if the Lord wants, he can guide us somewhere else. So, in whatever we do, we ask the Lord to bless us and be with us and for HIS will to be done in our lives.
The Imposition of Ashes and Ash Wednesday
For several years now it has been our practice to include the Imposition of Ashes as a part of our Ash Wednesday worship. If you are new to our congregation, or have been around for a life time, it is helpful to be clear about the Biblical and Historical background of such a practice. Please take a moment to peruse this brief explanation and feel free to ask any questions.

The application of ashes in the Bible reminded God’s people of their mortality because of our fall into sin. Consider Genesis 2: 4-8; Genesis 18: 27; Psalm 103: 14; Ecclesiastes 3:20; 12:7

The application of ashes in the Bible were an ancient symbol for repentance. Consider Job 42: 6; Jeremiah 6: 26; Daniel 9: 3; Jonah 3: 6

Our Savior in his death and burial became lifeless dust for us. Consider Psalm 22: 15; Luke 23: 50-56; John 19: 40-42

The use of ashes can serve as a visual reminder of our need for Christ’s Death and Resurrection. Consider Matthew 11: 21; 1 Corinthians 15:35-58 (esp. verse 47).

Ash Wednesday has Deep Historical Roots in the Christian Church
Tertullian - AD 160-215 was one of the earliest church fathers to introduce and write about the use of ashes on the first day of Lent. By then Lent was intended to be a 40 journey of quiet contemplation of the Passion History of our Lord. The Sundays during Lent remain a celebration of the Resurrected Christ, while the remaining day until Easter lead us to humbly bow in repentance and faith.  This concept of a 40 day Lent began in Western Europe in the first and second century of Christianity. Worship leaders in Rome received it from others, introduced the shaping of the cross, and passed it onto many generations.

When the Reformation went into full swing, Martin Luther held to a main measuring stick for what to “keep” and what to “throw away.” That measuring stick was the doctrine of Justification by Faith in Christ Jesus. If the practices of his mother church in Rome reflected false teachings they were dismissed. If they were supportive of teaching Christ and Grace they were ultimately held as heritages of the Church’s past. Church historians are not clear how the practice fell from Lutheran practices. It simply faded out of Liturgy Texts and was buried much deeper under the age of Lutheran Pietism in America.
Using ashes and referring to their Biblical symbolism continues to be more prevalent in our Liturgical culture than we tend to remember. It has been, and still is, called ASH Wednesday for a reason. When Lutheran Pastors hold Committal services they still refer to the passages above which speak of “ashes to ashes … dust to dust” as an appropriate reminder of our mortality. The sign of the cross (upon the head and heart) also call us to remember our Baptisms through which we were made children of God. Many Lutheran congregations, even in our WELS church body, have relearned the beauty that is there with careful study and teaching. Instructions for this service are included the Occasional Services Book, a worship leaders’ manual connected Christian Worship: a Lutheran Hymnal.

According to ancient customs the ashes are achieved by burning dried palm branches from the previous year’s Palm Sunday services. They are mixed with some olive oil and carefully applied to the forehead or hand in the shape of cross.

The Ash Wednesday Service
When we gather for Ash Wednesday, we will begin our 40 day journey to the cross and empty tomb. We will hear the first of six historical lessons that review the events of Holy Week and Jesus’ sufferings. The service will include the first of a series of 6 sermons based on sections from those reading. We will sing familiar hymns of the Lenten Season, pray familiar prayers and join in the fellowship of the history the Church.

At the close of that service those who are gathered will be invited, but not compelled to receive the ashes in the sign of the cross, upon their forehead or on the back of their hand. The pastor will repeat the words “Remember that you are dust; and to dust you will return.”

The worshippers will be invited to leave in quiet reflection: the Law reminding us of our sin and mortality; the Gospel reminding of our Savior’s death and resurrection for our salvation.

From the prophecy of the Psalms our Savior Jesus calls:“My Strength is dried up like a potsherd and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.” (Psalm 22: 15)

Another year and another successful Chili Cookoff.  I would like to thank everyone who brought chili, sides and participated this year.  We had seven different chilies to choose from this year, I believe that is the most we have had.  Good thing we had a full Fellowship Area of voters that were more than up to the challenge. 

The top three finishes are, in Third Place we had Danita Intorn. In Second Place we had Dexter Kolb.  And the Winner of the 2020 Redeemer Chili Cookoff is Neil Sogge.  Congratulations to you all.

Upcoming events to mark on your calendar are Ash Wednesday’s Simple Supper and Wednesday evening Snacks during Lent. 
Once again on Ash Wednesday, February 26, there will be a simple supper before service.  There is a sign up in the Fellowship Area for Soup, Sandwiches, and Desserts.  Please take the time to consider one of these items to bring. 

Also this year instead of a Simple Supper before each Midweek Lenten service, we  are asking to bring snacks or appetizers  instead.  That way we'll have a little something for Fellowship before and after Service. There is a signup sheet on the Church Activity board in the Fellowship Area.
Joshua D. Preboski—Vice President
Lent Begins: The beginning of Lents starts with Ash Wednesday on February 26th. Ash Wednesday service and all midweek services during Lent will be at 6pm.

Midweek Food: There will be a simple supper before the Ash Wednesday service. For the following five Wednesday services there will be a snack after service. Please sign up as you can under the How You Can Help bulletin board

Midweek Lenten Theme: Our theme for this Lent is “The Son of God Goes Forth to War”. We will be taking a closer look at Jesus our Savior being a Warrior who has won the victory for us.
Feb. 26th Your Enemy Ps. Schwartz
Mar. 4th Hidden Warrior Ps. Rawerts
Mar. 11th Skirmishes Ps. Laude
Mar. 18th The Promised Warrior Ps. Dauck
Mar. 25th The Warrior is Rejected Ps. Schwartz
Apr. 1st The Warrior Faces Satan Ps. Laude
Cleaning Sign-up: We are in need of members to clean the church during January-April. Please sign up for a week for you to clean the church on the How You Can Help Bulletin Board.
Pastor Serving Zion in Akaska, SD: Due to the vacancies in our area several WELS churches are not being served by a pastor including Zion in Akaska. Pastor Schwartz has been asked to serve as vacancy pastor there for the time being.

Forward in Christ: There are free Forward in Christ magazines by the coffee maker. If you enjoy the magazine and would like to receive it monthly, please let Pastor or Gene King know. If there is enough interest and Redeemer could get a monthly subscription for you.

Congregational Mission Statement:  The mission of Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church is to reach out with the saving gospel of Jesus Christ to call those who are lost, comfort those who mourn, rejoice with those who come to know and believe that Christ’s victory is their victory and to grow together in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ until the final victory is ours.