3301 The Alameda
Baltimore, MD 21218
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In several sermons during these past weeks I have found myself referring to the story of Cain and Abel. Cain kills his brother Abel, and when God then asks him, “Where is your brother?” Cain responds, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9). “Am I my brother’s keeper?” In these words we can read the whole sad tale of Adam’s lost and fallen race. So much of this world’s misery is reflected in these words! That we are “our brother’s keeper” is clear not least from the words of our Savior: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37–39).
Our Lord said to His disciples, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6). Because Christ is the Truth, wherever truth is found it belongs to Him: it is His truth. I am deeply moved by some words of truth spoken by Josef Ratzinger on the occasion of his installation as Bishop of Rome: “We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.” Surely these words express the same truth we learned in Dr. Luther’s explanation of the First Article of the Creed: “I believe that God has made me and all creatures.” So I urge you to ponder these words as you think about the current state of our country and the world.
I also urge you to read carefully and ponder the statement issued by the President of Synod, the Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, on June 2 in response to the killing of George Floyd and all that has followed. The statement is enclosed with this newsletter.
The altar cross which was given back in 1966 has now been refurbished and supplied with a hand-carved image of the crucified Savior. I have given this in memory of my parents, Charles Louis and Anna Eleanor (nee Moesta) McClean. My mother’s parents together with her brothers and sisters were in fact members of the old Jackson Square congregation in which my mother was baptized by Pastor Theodore Sorge in 1911, eight years before the congregation left the old building and relocated here as the Church of Our Saviour.
This coming Sunday, July 5th, will be the last Sunday that our summer vicar, Samuel Abliganz, will be with us. He will be preaching at Redeemer Church in Irvington on July 12th and will soon thereafter return to Germany. We heard him preach a splendid sermon this past Sunday and we have been fortunate to hear him chant the Sunday Gospels these past weeks. He is gifted among other things with a lovely singing voice. We have enjoyed and have been blessed by his presence among us. We pray God’s continued blessing on him as he returns to his homeland and continues his studies in preparation for the Holy Ministry. I am certain that he will be a blessing to many.
The Voters Meeting postponed from May will take place following Divine Service on Sunday, July 12th. Every member of Our Saviour Church, eighteen years old and older, is eligible to participate in the meeting. We need to approve the budget for the next fiscal year and elect the Church Council. Join us!
I trust you have all received the mailing about the reopening of the Church. Do review these materials and contact me either by phone (410.554.9994) or by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have questions and concerns. Although our church is open again, not everyone will feel ready to come to Divine Service and Holy Communion. So please contact me if you would like me to bring you the Sacrament at home. The Sunday service will continue to be livestreamed (Our Saviour Baltimore Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/oursaviourbaltimore/) and the sermon can be heard by calling 410.587.0979.
Dorothy Bell has recently undergone successful surgery and is now convalescing at the Autumn Lake Healthcare at 7 Sudbrook Lane, Pikesville, MD 21208. Although visits are not possible, one can still send cards or flowers. Dorothy’s husband Louis is now at the same facility. Remember them in your prayers.
It goes without saying that we must continue our prayers for all who are sick together with all who care for them and all who are bereaved. We must pray fervently that effective medications will be found and an effective vaccine. Remember that through this crisis God is calling us all to repentance.
I ask you to remember me in your prayers as you are in mine.
WORKS OF MERCY
Free Flea Market: We will not have a give-away in July. We do have many men’s large slacks and lots of household items. We are in need of ladies’ clothing (dresses, tops, pants, jeans, shoes) and men’s t-shirts, jeans, shoes. You can drop your donations off at the church and let Judy know what you have brought. Thank you for supporting our outreach to the community. It is even more important that we share our bounty in these trying times.
Statement on the death of George Floyd and the ensuing riots
June 2, 2020
Discriminatory treatment of human beings on the basis of race is irrational evil and results in evil. It is folly, which can produce only anger and hatred. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” America’s original sin of legal racism, the denial of human rights based on race, has reaped the whirlwind.
God’s Word rejects racism. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “No one is righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). All are equally created by God. All are equally accountable to God. The sins of all are equally atoned for by Christ. All are equally precious to God. Racial animosity is the result of sin and is sin in itself. Racism is not acceptable in the church. Jesus Himself bids us love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:31) and did so precisely while rejecting racial preference (cf. Good Samaritan, Luke 10:25–37).
Unity in the church according to the Augsburg Confession is defined by Article VII: “For it is sufficient for the true unity of the Christian church that the Gospel be preached … and that the sacraments be administered in accordance with the divine Word.” Christ and His gifts bring unity and equity in the church. Racial discrimination in or by the church is sin. Racial conflict in our nation calls every Christian to introspection. “It is time for judgment to begin at the household of God” (1 Peter 4:17). “Righteous indignation” without self-reflection and repentance is meaningless, or worse, hypocrisy.
The one who grievously and unjustly took the sacred gift of life from George Floyd — resulting in a charge of 3rd-degree murder — will, ironically, be given the very thing he denied his victim, due process of the law. Justice must be meted out according to the law. Others may be charged.
We weep for George Floyd, for his family and loved ones because he was robbed of life. We weep for our nation. We weep for those across our nation who believe their only recourse is destruction. We weep for police officers everywhere, who carry out their honorable vocations with courage and goodwill but find their task infinitely more challenging and dangerous in the wake of the sad events in Minneapolis. We pray for the safety of all and the welfare of those who have lost property and livelihood. We pray for the police who must stand against mayhem. We support the First Amendment rights of the peaceful protestors.
We deplore injustice. We deplore destruction, robbery and doing physical harm to others. That, too, is injustice. We plead to citizens and governments of this nation for communities beset by poverty, crime and injustice. We plead for rational and unifying policies that will end injustices and address social breakdown, lack of economic access, and other factors that fuel anger, hatred and dissension.
We shall pray, but we shall do even more. We shall follow the ancient mandate of the prophet of Yahweh: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8).
And we shall proclaim Christ, “in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2). “For one will scarcely die for a righteous person — though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die — but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:7–8).
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Colossians 3:1–17 ESV).
Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod