OUR SAVIOUR LUTHERAN CHURCH
in the City of Baltimore
Wednesday, March 6
Soup Supper, 6:30 PM
with imposition of ashes
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This coming Sunday is the last of the three Sundays of preparation for the coming of Lent. With these Sundays there begins the “Easter Cycle” of the Church Year which consists of these three pre-Lenten Sundays, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost. Every Lord’s Day in the year is of course a celebration of Christ’s resurrection – that is why we worship on Sunday and not some other day – but Easter Day is the Feast of Feasts, the Holy Day of Holy Days. In the English language we call the season of preparation for Easter “Lent.” The word Lent comes from an old English word, “lencten,” which means “spring” and refers to the lengthening days at this season of the year. Just as earth comes to life after the death of winter, so also the Lenten season is a time of spiritual renewal through reading and meditating on God’s Word, through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. In Christ’s Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:2-21) it is very clear that our Lord expects His followers to devote themselves to all three not because God needs our prayer, fasting, and almsgiving but because we do if we are to be ever more closely conformed to the image of the Savior, We pray in response to God’s command and His promise that our prayers are heard, we fast because our bodily appetites – though good in themselves – are disordered through sin, we give alms as a weapon against selfishness, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus how He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35) and also because of the enormous need that meets us on every hand. Following my letter you will find reports from Quilla Downs and Judy Volkman about our congregation’s support of the GEDCO food cupboard and the Helping Up Mission. Support of these fine works of mercy is indeed a form of “almsgiving.”
Lent has always been a time when Christians devote themselves to meditation on our Savior’s suffering and death. This year the theme of the sermons at the Wednesday Lenten Vespers will be “The Ten Commandments and the Passion.” We will meditate on how in His passion Jesus fulfilled the will of God and suffered for our disobedience to that will so that we might not perish but have eternal life.
The flowers that usually adorn the chancel are in a real sense a festive kind of thing. During Lent flowers will be omitted; you might say that we will “fast” from them. And the Church has from ancient times omitted the joyous “Alleluia” during Lent; we “fast” from that too. But we’ll not only “fast” in this way but we will have one additional item in the Sunday Divine Service. In the ancient Church Lent was the time for the intensive preparation of the catechumens for Baptism and Holy Communion. Lent continued to be a time for attention to the Catechism. And so on the Sundays in Lent we will – just before the Sermon – recite one of the Six Chief Parts of Luther’s Small Catechism. I am afraid that for so many of us the Catechism is something once learned in confirmation class and then more or less forgotten. That is not as it should be! Dr. Luther says:
I do as a child who is being taught the Catechism. Every morning, and whenever else I have time, I read and recite word for word the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Psalms, etc. I must still read and study the Catechism daily, yet I cannot master it as I wish, but must remain a child and pupil of the Catechism and I do it gladly.
By the way, we in fact review one of the Six Chief Parts of the Catechism every Sunday morning at the beginning of the adult Bible Class which meets at 9:45 A.M. The class is quite informal, questions and discussion being very much encouraged! We are at present studying Saint Mark’s Gospel. As we approach Easter we will be looking at the Old Testament lessons which are read at the Easter Vigil. Come join us! Adding this class to your Sunday morning might in fact be a useful Lenten discipline, Lent being a time for more intense meditation on the Holy Scriptures. I should also mention that on Sundays during Lent and throughout the Easter season the liturgy will be Divine Service I in the Lutheran Service Book. This is in fact the familiar service from the old blue hymnal. Throughout the Lenten season we will be singing a wonderful Communion hymn, “Now, My Tongue, the Mystery Telling, Of the Glorious Body Sing.” It is a hymn which expresses and also rejoices in the great mystery of the Real Presence of our Lord’s Body and Blood in the Sacrament of the Altar. The words are by Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). The tune comes from nineteenth century France. I believe that we will grow to love and treasure this hymn.
Our Saviour Church worshiped at 1723 East Fairmount Avenue (near Johns Hopkins Hospital) from its founding in 1892 until in 1919 the congregation moved to our present location. In 1919 Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church purchased the building and still worships there, this year celebrating its 100th anniversary. A visit to our old church has been planned for Saturday, March 9th we’ll gather at Our Saviour at 3:30 P.M. and “car pool” from here. Holy Trinity still possesses the painting of the risen Lord which hung over the altar at our old Church. I very much look forward to seeing it. Please phone (410.554.9994) or email me (Charles.McClean42@gmail.com) if you need a ride or wish to go on this visit.
I hope to see you every Lord’s Day and hope you will come to the Lenten services on Wednesday evening. Please remember me in your prayers; you are in mine.
LENTEN SOUP SUPPERS
Thank you to all who signed up. Please join us as we enjoy fellowship and a delicious meal at 6:30pm. Lenten service at 7:30pm.
3/6 Bernie/Julia Calico Bean Soup
3/13 Judy Chicken Corn Soup
3/20 Quilla Black Bean Soup
3/27 Merton Smoked Turkey and Black-eyed Pea Soup
4/3 The Ushers Chicken Noodle Soup
4/10 Denitta/Mary Crab Soup and Italian Wedding Soup
WORKS OF MERCY
CARES food contributions: Arrangements have been made with CARES to pick up our food contributions, thanks to the connection Quilla Downs made with them, We will continue to collect food items and Judy Volkman will inform them when we have enough items to go to them. The cupboard is bare right now, so donations are most welcome.
– Judy Volkman
As was reported earlier, we did not make a delivery to Helping Up Mission during Christmas because there were so few grooming items in the box. We will be making our regular spring delivery in March. In order to make the spring delivery, we really need more grooming gifts. The needs of the men remain the same, donations of tooth paste, tooth brushes, foot power, shaving cream, lotion, socks, underwear, deodorant, wash cloths, etc. In addition to your personal gifts, grooming items are purchased with loose change and monies collected from the churches’ two Poor Boxes. As we deliver these essential, yet inexpensive, items to the men at Helping Up Mission, we know that our efforts have a positive and restorative impact, and that we are truly giving to the least of these. Many thanks for your grooming gifts and for your compassion towards our recovering brothers at Helping up Mission.
– Quilla Downs