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The Circumcision and the Name of Jesus

OSLC 5The Circumcision and the Name of Jesus

January 1, 2018 AD

Old Testament: Numbers 6: 22-27
Epistle: Galatians 3: 23-29
Gospel: Luke 2: 21

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Our Saviour Parish News, January, 2018

Our Saviour Lutheran Church
3301 The Alameda
Baltimore, MD 21218

January, 2018


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am writing these lines on Monday, December 26th, the second day of Christmas and the day when the Church remembers Saint Stephen the First Martyr (Acts 7:54ff). Tomorrow is the day of Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist and on the day after that we remember the martyred Holy Innocents, the young boys of Bethlehem who perished in King Herod’s futile attempt to kill the infant Savior (Matthew 2:13-23). Christ came down to earth that we, like St Stephen and St John and the Holy Innocents, might go to heaven. As we keep this blessed Christmastide we remember the dear members of our church who fell asleep in the Lord during this past year and who now with all saints celebrate the heavenly Christmas: Myrna Curtis, James Gray, David West, and Darlene Grant. May the Light perpetual that is Christ ever shine upon them! And as we sing in that wonderful Christmas carol, Now Sing We Now Rejoice: 

Oh, where shall joy be found?
Where but on heavenly ground?
Where the angels singing
With all His saints unite.
Sweetest praises bringing
In heav’nly joy and light.
Oh, that we were there!
Oh, that we were there!

Because New Year’s Eve falls on Sunday this year we will not have an evening service but only the usual 11 o’clock Divine Service of the First Sunday after Christmas Day. But we will in fact have Divine Service on the morning of New Year’s Day, a day which from ancient times has been kept in remembrance of the Circumcision and the Name of Jesus (Luke 2:21). 

The last of the twelve days of Christmas, January 5th, is the Eve of the Epiphany of our Lord (Matthew 2:1-12). There will be a festival Divine Service at 7:30 in the evening. Vicar Matthew Schettler of Immanuel Church at Loch Raven and Belvedere will be our guest preacher.  We will sing familiar Christmas carols which speak of the coming of the Wise Men: The First Nowell, What Child is This, We Three Kings of Orient Are, and that truly marvelous Epiphany hymn, As With Gladness Men of Old. Although in recent years a sadly neglected festival, Epiphany is in fact “the Christmas of the Gentiles.” In the coming of the Gentile wise men to worship the infant Lord, Christ is manifested as being not only the Savior of the Jews but also of those Gentile nations of which you and I are members. Following the Divine Service there will be a simple reception in the undercroft. Do plan on attending the Epiphany celebration if you possibly can. It will bring your observance of the Twelve Days of Christmas to a truly joyful conclusion. If you need a ride, do not hesitate to phone or email me (410.554.9994 or and I will see to it that you get one.

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped decorate the church for Christmas and also to thank you for your Christmas cards and gifts. Thank you very much and may God bless you for your generosity.

Just before Christmas we received the very good news that the Mayor of Baltimore has signed the document placing our church building on the City’s register of historic buildings. And so this long process has finally come to a happy end! As soon as possible there will be an event to celebrate this outcome. Due and timely notice will be given.

Another project which has now come to completion is the restoration of the stone sign in front of the church. It now has an automatic device which brings the lights on every evening. This, too, has been a lengthy process. I must especially thank Paul Techau for his hard work which has made this happen.

On Thursday, January 4, there will be a Choral Vespers for Christmas and Epiphany at 7:00 P.M. at Martini Church, Sharp and Henrietta Streets. It will be sung by the Kantorei of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana. Martini Church has plenty of parking spaces. A reception will follow Vespers.

Our next Voters Meeting takes place after Divine Service on Sunday, January 21. We hope that at this meeting we can make a decision about acquiring our Synod’s new service book and hymnal, the Lutheran Service Book. It has the best of The Lutheran Hymnal published in 1941, the “red book,” and of Lutheran Worship, published in 1982, the “blue book.” Members who have borrowed copies of the Lutheran Service Book are reminded to bring them back so that others can examine them and so have an informed opinion about this publication.

The recently formed Maryland chapter of Lutherans for Life will participate in the annual March for Life in Washington on Friday, January 19. This is an important witness to the sanctity of life from conception until death. In an ancient prayer for Christmastide the Church speaks of God as having “wonderfully created and yet more wonderfully restored the dignity of human nature.” And so the Church has a solemn obligation to bear witness to “the dignity of human nature” and to oppose everything which opposes and degrades it especially in a time such as this when human life is seemingly very cheap indeed. If you are interested in going to the March do let me know. Arrangements are being made for getting there and back again.

Do remember that we have an adult class each Sunday morning at 9:45 A.M. Mary Techau teaches the little ones who come at that hour. In the adult class we have for a number of weeks been studying the Augsburg Confession, the principle statement of the Lutheran faith. In this era marked by indifference to truth, by what has been called “the dictatorship of relativism” – the notion that truth cannot be known and that every religion is more or less true – it is more than ever necessary to be firmly grounded in the truth revealed in Holy Scripture and confessed by the Church.

Affectionately in our Lord,

Pastor McClean

Our Saviour Parish News, December, 2017

Our Saviour Lutheran Church
3301 The Alameda
Baltimore, MD 21218

December, 2017


How the year has flown by! And now we come to Christmas. But before Christmas comes there is Advent, the four weeks of preparation for the Christmas festival. Advent means Coming, and during Advent we reflect on the three comings of our Lord: His coming in great humility as the Child of Mary, His coming to us now in His Word and in the holy Sacrament of His Body and Blood, His coming again in glory at the Last Day to judge the living and the dead. Although the world is already celebrating its version of Christmas, the Church keeps these four weeks as a time of repentance, of prayer, of quiet expectation.

This year we have a situation which occurs about once in every seven years. The Fourth Sunday in Advent falls on December 24th; the Divine Service on the morning of that day is an Advent service. Strictly speaking, the Church should not be decorated for Christmas until the Fourth Sunday in Advent has been kept. But the fact of the matter, whether we like it or not, is that few people will come to church on the morning of the 24th. And so for this year only the Church will be decorated for Christmas after the Divine Service on the previous Sunday, December 17th. Yet the service on the morning of the 24th is an Advent service. And so the lights on the trees and in the windows and at crèche will not be lit. The altar paraments and vestments will be the purple of Advent. Only after the service will the altar frontal be changed to white and the poinsettias put in place

Our celebration of Christmas begins with the Festival Divine Service of Christmas Eve which will be held at 7:30 P.M. Our celebration of Christmas then continues on the First Sunday after Christmas Day, New Year’s Day which is the Festival of the Circumcision and Name of Jesus, and Epiphany which this year will be kept on Epiphany Eve, January 5th. That service will be at 7:30 P.M. The New Year’s Day service will be held at 10:00 A.M. We live in a secular age so absorbed in its frenzied activities that the Lord Christ and His Church are crowded out or fitted in “if possible”! I hope and pray that many of you will seize the opportunity to celebrate this holy season with its message of hope that can never be put to shame and joy which has no end. This is after all the Birthday of the Lord Jesus! Apart from dire necessity no Christian should absent himself or herself from the Christ Mass, the worship which in fact gives this feast its name! The shepherds found the Lord Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. We find Him in the hallowed bread and cup that are the Body born of Mary and His precious Blood. In preparation for your Christmas Communion, examine your conscience in the light of the Ten Commandments and their meaning as given in the Catechism; review the Christian Questions with Their Answers also found in the Catechism. Then come with a penitent and joyful heart to the altar which is our Bethlehem. “Bethlehem” means “House of Bread,” for us the hallowed bread of the Sacrament. 

I am sure that everyone who attended the Choral Vespers on Sunday, November 19th, was truly uplifted by this wonderful service in celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, the 125th Anniversary of Our Saviour, and Dr. Luther’s birthday (November 10). Our guest organist, Matthew Gerhardt, showed himself to be a wonderfully talented musician not least in his thrilling accompaniment of the hymns. We were also fortunate to have three singers from the Peabody Conservatory – our own organist Marie Herrington, Emma van Zuyle, Adam Eydelson, together with our own cantor Paul Techau. We are truly blessed with Marie Herrington as our organist and occasional soloist. She is a truly gifted musician and we are fortunate indeed to have her. God gives us many blessings. I must also thank Mr. Hawkins, Mary Techau, and all who helped with the delightful reception following the service. 

Do remember in your prayers those whose names appear each Sunday in the bulletin. I ask your prayers especially for Marian Purviance who is beginning a new course of treatment, also for Judy Volkman who has had her elbow replaced after a fall. Helen Gray was briefly hospitalized but is at home again. 

Peter James Buchanan, the husband of Bertha Buchanan, fell asleep in the Lord on Tuesday, November 28th, at Union Memorial Hospital. There will be a visitation on Tuesday, December 5th, from 4:00 to 8:00 P.M. at the Chatman Harris Funeral Home West at 5240 Reisterstown Road. On Wednesday, December 6th, the funeral service will be held at 11:00 A.M. at the Edgewood United Methodist Church, 1434 Bellona Avenue, in Lutherville. A wake will be held at 10:30 A.M. May our risen Lord comfort all who mourn his departure with the sure and certain hope of the resurrection. May the Light perpetual ever shine upon him! 

We continue our works of mercy. On November 2 coats, hats, and scarves were distributed to needy families connected with the Waverly School. Elsewhere in this newsletter is information on other works of mercy.  

The Ednor Gardens/Lakeside Association had its meeting for elections and a delightful potluck supper on Tuesday, November 21st. The Association has for some years met here. 

The process of having our Church placed on the register of historic buildings should soon come to its happy conclusion – perhaps by Christmas. 

At the Choral Vespers on November 19th the meditation included some wonderful words from the sermon which Dr. Luther preached in Saint Mary’s Church in Wittenberg on the afternoon of Christmas Day 1530: 

“In my sin, in my death, I must take leave of all created things. Sun, moon, stars, all creatures…cannot help me. When I die I shall see nothing but thick darkness, and yet that light, ‘To you is born this day the Savior [Luke 2:11], remains in my eyes and fills all heaven and earth. The Savior will help me when all have forsaken me. And when the heavens and the stars and all creatures stare at me with terrible mien, I see nothing in heaven and earth but this Child…For, if it is true that the Child was born of the virgin and is mine, then I have no angry God and I must know and feel that there is nothing but laughter and joy in the heart of the Father and no sadness in my heart. For, if what the angel says is true, that He is our Lord and Savior, what can sin do against us? ‘If God is for us, who is against us?’ [Romans 8:31].” 

As we again approach Christmas we are painfully aware of the reality of human sin and the malice of Satan, and so more than ever we need to take to heart the good news of the Child in whom there is forgiveness of sins and deliverance from death and the devil. In faith we embrace Him. 

God bless us in this Advent season and bring us to a joyful Christmas!

Affectionately in our Lord,

Pastor McClean

Works of Mercy

On November 21, we delivered turkeys and thanksgiving provisions to seven families in our church community. We were prepared to deliver baskets to two additional families, but were unable to locate the families. Looking forward to our Christmas food drive, we have one turkey, and enough food for two families. In order to take care of our Christmas families we need the following items: canned yams, mac and cheese, string beans, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, etc. The bulk of the cost of Thanksgiving food came from donations from our soup supers. Many thanks to all of our food contributors, and to Mr. Hawkins for his invaluable assistance with packing and delivery.

We plan to deliver grooming items to the men at Helping Up Mission during the week of December 17. To the extent that you are able, please bring gift items, such as, socks (any size), underwear, t-shirts, washcloths, deodorant, soap, toothpaste, shaving cream, and lotion. These items are always needed and they will be greatly appreciated. In addition to new wearing apparel, the Mission will gladly accept clean, gently used men’s wear.

 – Quilla Downs

Our Saviour Parish News, November, 2017

Our Saviour Lutheran Church
3301 The Alameda
Baltimore, MD 21218

November 2017


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

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?

Affectionately in our Lord,

Pastor McClean