OUR SAVIOUR LUTHERAN CHURCH
in the City of Baltimore
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Here we are at the beginning of the year of our Lord 2017 which is both the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and the 125th anniversary of Our Saviour Church. I write these lines on December 28th which is the fourth day of the Twelve Days of Christmas and also the Festival of the Holy Innocents when the Church remembers the little boys of Bethlehem who perished in King Herod’s futile attempt to destroy the infant Savior (Matthew 2:13-18).
Our happiness on Christmas Eve was increased by the fact that Don Weber, our faithful organist, was able to play for the Holy Night Communion. He has served as organist in this Church since September 1959; this past September he had completed fifty-seven years here! In a day when commitments are hard to come by and people seem to move from one job to another, Our Saviour has been truly blessed to have Don Weber these many years. You realize how long Don has been here when you remember that when he began here Dwight Eisenhower was in the White House – and I had just graduated from City College High School! The Church Council and I truly wish that Don could go on for ever, but age with its infirmities has a way of catching up with us all. And so for reasons of health Don has announced his retirement. He will hold the title Organist Emeritus and he expects to play on occasion when he is able. I must say that as pastor I have been simply delighted with Don’s work: he is truly liturgical organist. He has a deep understanding of the worship of the Church in general and of its music in particular. We now face the challenge of choosing a successor. For the time being we have the services of several qualified organists. The Church Council has addressed all of these matters quite carefully and is certainly willing to receive input from our members. Don will be part of the committee which will look for his successor. We are of course going to have a grand recognition event for Don but that will take some time to put in place. In your prayers give thanks for Don and pray that our heavenly Father would continue to bless and keep him in all his ways.
We Christians celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas through January 5th. The following day is the Festival of the Epiphany of our Lord, one of the great festivals of the Church in which we remember the coming of the Gentile wise men (Matthew 2:1-12) to worship the infant Lord. Epiphany has been called the “Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles” and the “Christmas of the Gentiles.” On the evening of Friday, January 6th, there will be a Festival Divine Service at which we’ll sing beloved Christmas carols which speak of the wise men: “The First Nowell,” “What Child is This?” and “We Three Kings of Orient Are,” together with Epiphany hymns. The Rev. Aaron Bueltmann, Pastor of Advent Church in Forest Hill, will be the preacher. The other congregations of our Circuit have been invited and there will be a reception after Service. The Epiphany Festival brings our Christmas celebration to a bright and joyful conclusion.
Sunday, January 1st, is of course New Year’s Day. In the calendar of the Church Year it is the Festival of the Circumcision and the Name of Jesus (Luke 2:21) and also the Eighth of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Should not we Christians wish to begin the New Year in the Lord’s House at the Lord’s Altar? Divine Service will as usual be at 11:00 A.M. but Sunday School and Adult Class will not meet.
Jake Mokris has been studying for a doctorate in physics at Johns Hopkins University. His adviser at Hopkins recently took a new job at the University of Haifa in Israel. And so to complete his doctoral studies Jake must now follow his adviser to Haifa. On Sunday, January 8th, we’ll have a potluck luncheon to wish him well and thank him not least for his faithful carrying out of the duties of worship director following James Gray who served faithfully and well for so many years. Merton Masterson will be succeeding Jake in that capacity.
You may have noticed that the arch over the main door of the church facing The Alameda has recently been painted – thanks to the generosity of a member who prefers to remain anonymous. Such an arch is called a tympanum. It had been showing the wear of the 86 years since the Church’s dedication in 1930.
I must thank Joe Silver and William Hawkins for getting the Christmas trees and everyone who helped to decorate the Church. “Many hands make light work,” and so the whole task was finished in little more than an hour. Judy Volkman as usual took in hand the ordering of the poinsettias and their placement in the chancel. Our Church is always quite splendid in its Christmas finery. The decorations will be taken down on January 8th, the First Sunday after the Epiphany.
I have been remiss in not having thanked Paul Techau for serving as our cantor. He sings the variable parts of the liturgy which properly are sung: the Introit (entrance chant), the Gradual (between the Old Testament Lesson and the Epistle), the Alleluia Verse (before the Holy Gospel). These parts of the liturgy are largely taken from the Book of Psalms and have been in use in the Church for well over a thousand years. They compliment the Scripture readings of the Sunday or Festival. When the liturgy was revised at the Reformation these parts were retained.
I will be away from January 14th through January 20th attending the annual Symposium on the Lutheran Confessions at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana. On Sunday, January 15th, Pastor Thomas Foelber, until his retirement Pastor of Saint James’s Church in Overlea, and now our Circuit Visitor, will be with us. If you need a pastor while I am away, call my home phone (410.554.9994) and there will be a message to help you reach a pastor.
There will be a regular Voters Meeting on Sunday, January 22nd, following the Divine Service. Members of our congregation, 18 years and older, are eligible to participate in the Voters Meeting.
I suspect that as we enter the new year we are full of hopes and also misgivings. Those hopes and misgivings we place in the hands of Jesus our Savior in the confidence that His forgiving love will sustain us all our days. Pray for this congregation and for me your pastor and for the whole Christian Church on earth with all its pastors and ministers. Pray for our country and for all the nations of the earth that we may continue to serve our Lord and Savior with glad hearts and live quiet and peaceful lives in all godliness and honesty.
Affectionately in our Lord,