Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
From ancient times the first day of November has been kept by the Church as All Saints Day, that day when the Church struggling here on earth rejoices in her unity with the Church at rest in paradise. We keep this festival on the first Sunday in November. We especially remember those members of our own congregation whom Christ has taken to His nearer presence since the last All Saints Day. This year we will remember with love and thanksgiving these dear brothers and sisters in Christ: Myrna Curtis, James Gray, David West and Darlene Grant who fell asleep in the Lord on Sunday, October 1st, and whose funeral was held here at church on October 14th. May the Light perpetual ever shine upon them. As we sing in William Walsham How’s great hymn, For All the Saints:
O blest communion, fellowship divine,
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
Yet all are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
And it is in the Sacrament of the Altar, the Holy Communion, that we most fully realize this wonderful communion of the Church on earth and the Church in heaven. For here in the Sacrament the risen Lord is present under the outward forms of bread and wine and we worship Him even as the saints in heaven worship Him face to face. “With angels and archangels and all the company of heaven” we join in singing the Thrice Holy Hymn: “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth, Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory.” And let us pray that our Saviour would through His Holy Spirit keep us in faith and hope and love until that day when we with all who have gone before us with the sign of faith will come to that heavenly kingdom which in His love God prepared for us before the foundation of the world.
On Sunday, November 19th, at 4:00 P.M. there will be Choral Vespers and Hymn Festival in thanksgiving for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, the 125th Anniversary of Our Saviour congregation, and the birthday of Martin Luther. The guest organist will be Mr. Matthew Gerhardt who holds degrees in Parish Music from Concordia University Wisconsin and in organ performance from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. He spent a year studying in Germany and among other things played the organ at Saint Thomas Church in Leipzig where Johann Sebastian Bach was organist and choirmaster for many years. The Choral Vespers will feature the hymns of Martin Luther and of Paul Gerhardt. Following Vespers there will be a reception in the undercroft. Plan now on attending and invite your friends and neighbors
On Wednesday, November 22nd, there will be Divine Service at 7:30 P.M. in observance of Thanksgiving Day. One of the countless examples of the growing secularism of today’s world is the way in which worship has been crowded out of our national day of Thanksgiving. There is of course nothing wrong with our festive dinners nor with football but when these become the main focus of Thanksgiving – to the exclusion of the Church’s sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving – there is something very wrong indeed with our sense of priorities. There was a time within living memory when our churches were filled on Thanksgiving Day – but that is now a long time ago.
Looking forward a bit, there will be a Christmas Bazaar here at Our Saviour on Saturday, December 2nd, 10:00 A.M. – 2:00 P.M. Information about this is provided in the flyer enclosed with this newsletter.
Family Day on Sunday, October 1st, was a happy occasion. We had a very good attendance at the Divine Service and the meal which followed was simply delicious and as always there was more than enough for everyone! We were happy to welcome Pastor Minetree of Immanuel Church who preached an uplifting sermon for us all.
At the October 15th Voters Meeting it was agreed that we as a congregation are ready to consider the possibility of adopting our Synod’s new service book and hymnal, the Lutheran Service Book. There is general agreement that this book preserves the best both of The Lutheran Hymnal published in 1941 (the “red book”) and of Lutheran Worship published in 1982 (the “blue book”). We in fact have six copies of the Lutheran Service Book which members may borrow in order to examine the book. Copies are available on the piano together with a form for signing your name when borrowing the book. We are hoping that many people will examine the book so that there can be an informed conversation about adopting it as our own. It is hoped that a decision will be made at the next Voters Meeting on the third Sunday in January. If you have questions I am very glad to answer them. You may call me at 410.554.9994 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Progress continues to be made on the placement of our church building on the Baltimore City historic buildings register. Quilla Downs, Mary Techau and I attended a hearing at City Hall on October 26th which resulted in a unanimous vote to do this. Our City Council member, Mary Pat Clark, informs us that there are just two more steps toward finalizing the decision. She says we may expect the result by Christmas.
As we celebrate the anniversary of the Reformation and the Festival of All Saints we rejoice in the blessed reality of the one holy Church which includes all the redeemed in heaven and in earth. It is the Church of the Redeemer, the Savior, the Good Shepherd, the Friend of Sinners. It flows from the miracle of God’s infinite love. Here are some memorable words of Arthur Henry Stanton (1839-1913):
“This is what we call the Miracle of Calvary…We teach the miracle of Christ that He was born of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Ghost for us men and for our salvation. We teach the miracle that Christ died on Calvary for all men. For whom did Christ die? Christ died for sinners, and that is the miracle of Calvary. We teach the miracle of the Resurrection, that in Christ all shall rise again in His glorious Resurrection. We teach the miracle of the Ascension, that He who went up into Heaven shall so come again as we have seen Him go up. Our whole faith is miracle from the beginning to the end. It is all miracle. It is the miracle of God. And the greatest of all miracles to me is this: that I can say, ‘He loved me and died for me.’ You cannot get any greater miracle than that. And so death is swallowed up in victory, the sadness is swallowed up in the gladness of God, and the agony in the peace of God, and the misery in the happiness of God. The redemption of Christ is infinite.”
Let us continue to remember one another in prayer. God continues to bless us in so many ways. Is your life and is mine a grateful response to His goodness?