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St. Stephen

Born as Jacob, Reborn as Israel

Rev Dr. Fritz Ritsch

Baptism of the Lord Sunday

January 10, 2016

Isaiah 43: 1-7

“He who created you, O Jacob; He who formed you, O Israel.” That’s how our Isaiah passage begins; and it ends speaking of all people whom God will redeem: “Every one who is called by My name, whom I created for My glory, whom I formed and made.”

Now what the Lord means in context is that God created the nation of Israel and that God will save it from the trouble it’s in, specifically, the Babylonian exile, in which the nations of Israel and Judah were defeated by the Babylonians and sent into exile throughout the empire. God is promising to bring them back from exile to their homeland again. In Isaiah’s poetry, God’s people are called by turns Jacob and Israel. This is because of the story of the founder of Israel, Jacob. It’s a story worth repeating.Read More »Born as Jacob, Reborn as Israel

Be Opened

Be Opened

By Rev. Dr. Fritz Ritsch

James 2: 1-13

Mark 7: 24-37

“Only someone who is ready for everything, who doesn’t exclude any experience, even the most incomprehensible, will live the relationship with another person as something alive and will himself sound the depths of his own being.”

― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

The past year the nation has been torn over tension between African Americans who feel they are often unfairly targeted by police officers, and police officers feeling they are being publicly and unfairly punished and scrutinized for a crime that they as a group are not collectively guilty of. The past couple of weeks have seen a number of police officer deaths that in many cases seem to be the result of deliberate targeting, and a lot of officers believe that these killings are the direct result of overheated language on the part of the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Houston County Sheriff Ron Hickman, grieved and angry over the senseless shooting of Deputy Darren Goforth, said “Cops lives matter, too.”

There are debates back and forth about the propriety of saying “Black lives matter” versus “Cops’ lives matter,” versus, “All lives matter.” I’m not getting into a language debate. This isn’t about language. This is about human lives. On both sides of the issue. Read More »Be Opened