The First Sunday in Advent
December 3, 2017 AD
The First Sunday in Advent
The First Sunday in Advent
December 3, 2017 AD
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!
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
November 26, 2017 AD
November 22, 2017 AD
November 19, 2017 AD
Old Testament: Proverbs 8:11-22
Epistle: Philippians 3:17-21
Gospel: Matthew 22:15-22
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?
November 12, 2017 AD
November 5, 2017 AD
October 29, 2017 AD
First Reading: Revelation 14:6-7
Epistle: Romans 3:19-28
Gospel: Matthew 11:12-19
October 22, 2017 AD
October 15, 2017 AD
October 14, 2017 AD
October 8, 2017 AD
Guest Preacher: Rev. Charles Minetree, Immanuel Lutheran Church, Baltimore, MD
October 1, 2017 AD
September 24, 2017 AD
September 17, 2017 AD
September 10, 2017 AD
Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
From the Gospel for this Sunday, from the tenth chapter of St. Luke:
“Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed mercy on him.“
In the Gospel just read there are a number of questions, and I want to begin this morning by asking another question, “Where do you see yourself in this very familiar story?”
I suspect that all of us can remember times – perhaps lots of times! – when we’ve been just like the priest and the Levite: in the face of human need right there in front of us, we’ve chosen as they did to ignore the whole situation. There have also been times when, like the Good Samaritan, we’ve chosen to help. And there have been times when we’ve found ourselves beaten and robbed, perhaps not literally – but beaten up by life, defeated, put down, terribly discouraged, and unable to get up and go on without help – perhaps lots of help – from other people. So where do you see yourself in this story?
But there is another and far more important question, and that question is this: Where do you see Jesus in the story? For, as we know, in all the parables He told our Lord was pointing to what God was doing through Him.
Well the answer to that question is suggested in what Jesus says at the very end of the parable. He asks the teacher of the Law, “Which of these three – the priest, the Levite, the Samaritan – proved neighbor to the man who fell among robbers?” And of course the only possible answer to that question is, “The one who showed mercy him.” THE ONE WHO SHOWED MERCY ON HIM! Now those words of course apply to countless human beings all through the ages, but, in the deepest and most perfect sense the Lord Jesus Himself is “the one who showed mercy on him.” On whom? On Adam and Adman’s whole fallen race, on you and me.
There is also this. At least once during our Lord’s life His enemies in fact called Him a Samaritan, a name of utter contempt! For the Samaritans who were descendants of Jews who’d inter-married with Gentiles were despised by most Jews, viewed by them as truly beneath contempt. Now, this accusation of Jesus was of course cruel and not literally true, but the words of Jesus’ enemies do strangely point to the mystery of who Jesus in fact is. For although Himself the sinless eternal Son of God, Jesus was like a Samaritan, “despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and, as one from whom men hide their faces, He was despised and we esteemed Him not” – just as the prophet Isaiah said.
And there is also this. The Good Samaritan helped the robbed and beaten man at great cost to himself. For there was of course the danger that the bandits who’d attacked the man lying there beside the road might still be there, hiding and ready to attack the unwary traveler; and there was the expense of paying the innkeeper until the robbed and wounded man would be sufficiently recovered to go on his way.
And isn’t this exactly what God’s Son did for us? Like the Good Samaritan He came to our aid at great cost to Himself, He became like any Samaritan “despised and rejected.” He gave His life in exchange for ours. He went down into death and the grave and then rose from the dead, raising us with Him. Jesus pours the “wine and oil” of His forgiving love on our sin-stained souls. His holy Church is the “inn” where he nurses us back to health as we daily receive from Him forgiveness to begin again and are fed by Him with the Bread of eternal life and the Cup of everlasting salvation, His precious, life-giving Body and Blood. Yes, THE LORD JESUS IS THE TRUE GOOD SAMARITAN!
So, where do we see ourselves in this familiar and beautiful story? Surely the deepest truth is that you and I and all the whole world are that wounded and beaten man rescued by the Lord Jesus, the dear Savior who came to our aid, who does come to our aid, and who will in the end raise us up to the life everlasting the joy eternal.
And the peace that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting, Amen.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Sunday, October 1st, is Family Day. This year is the 125th anniversary of our congregation which was founded in 1892 by laymen who were members of Immanuel Church, then on Caroline Street in east Baltimore. And so the preacher for Family Day this year will the Rev. Charles Minetree who is the present Pastor of Immanuel Church, now at Loch Raven and Belvedere. We look forward to welcoming him and hearing him preach. After Divine Service there will as usual be a splendid meal in the undercroft. Fried chicken and roast pork will be served and everyone is invited to bring a side dish. Family Day is always one of the happiest events of the year and so I hope you will be present and bring friends and neighbors with you.
But this year marks not only the 125th anniversary of our congregation but also the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. It was on October 31st, 1517 that Martin Luther nailed to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg his ninety five theses. These theses or propositions were simply intended for debate among theologians but they quickly became known throughout Europe and were in a real sense the spark which ignited the Reformation. Dr. Luther’s theses were a clear call to repentance and faith in the Gospel: “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ says ‘Repent,’ he means that the whole life of Christians should be one repentance”(Thesis 1); “The true treasure of the Church is the most holy Gospel of the glory and grace of God”(Thesis 62). The Reformation was in essence a great movement of repentance, of turning away from everything that had come to obscure the blessed truth that sinners are justified – put right with God – by grace through faith in Christ Jesus who died for our sins and rose again for our justification. And so repentance is the keynote at every anniversary of the Reformation. We realize how we ourselves have sinned by coldness and indifference to these precious gifts of God and by our failure truly to love one another and all our fellow human beings as Christ has loved us. And so there is no place in our celebration for any kind of smug self-satisfaction but only for deep repentance, gratitude, and the ancient prayer: “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful people, and kindle in us the fire of Your love!”
As the life of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ when here in this world was such that His divine glory was hidden in “the form of a servant,” in all He suffered and endured for us sinners, just so the glory of the one holy Church which is His Body and Bride is hidden under the sufferings, sins, and divisions among us who profess and call ourselves Christians. Never in this age will the Church be free from the temptation of the world, our sinful nature, and the devil. And so we pray – in the words of Nicholas Selneccer (1532-1592) – that God would preserve us steadfast in faith to the end:
In these last days of sore distress,
Grant us, dear Lord, true steadfastness,
That we keep pure till life is spent
Thy holy Word and Sacrament.
Yes, “Thy holy Word and Sacrament“! It is a cause for deep sadness that so many nominal Lutherans have today abandoned the Sacrament according to Christ’s institution. We see this in those – nominally! – Lutheran churches which now invite to their altars members of churches which deny that the consecrated bread and wine are – as Christ says – His true body and blood, churches which have no objection to their people receiving Communion in churches which deny the Real Presence. As Dr. Luther so clearly saw, “this Sacrament is the Gospel” for here we truly receive that which Christ sacrificed for our salvation on the altar of the cross for forgiveness of sins, for life and for salvation. “This Sacrament is the Gospel” and so the beating heart and center of the Church’s life through all the ages. And so we pray – in the words of Samuel Kinner (1603-1668):
For Thy consoling Supper, Lord,
Be praised throughout the ages!
Preserve it for in every place
The world against it rages.
Grant that this Sacrament may be
A blessed comfort unto me
When living and when dying.
Sunday, October 29th is Reformation Sunday. There will be a Festival Divine Service at the usual time. At 4 o’clock in the afternoon there will be a Joint Reformation Service at Emmanuel Church in Catonsville. The Rev. Dr. Jon Vieker, senior assistant to the President of Synod, will preach. A dinner will follow the service.
Do remember that through October 29th there is an exhibit at the Walters Art Museum: Uncertain Times: Martin Luther’s Remedies for the Soul. If a number of us are interested in going, we can perhaps plan a visit for members and friends. The Walters Art Museum is one of Baltimore’s treasures. It is a place I have loved since I was a little boy.
And do remember that plans are underway for a musical celebration of the Reformation Anniversary here in our church on the afternoon of Sunday, November 19th. Mr. Matthew Gerhardt will be our guest organist. He comes highly recommended, has studied in Europe and has in fact played the organ at Saint Thomas Church in Leipzig where Johann Sebastian Bach was for many years organist and choirmaster. Bach was both a pious Lutheran Christian and one of the greatest musicians of all time. How he managed to do all that he did is beyond my comprehension! He was among other things a married man with a great many children yet still managed to compose a cantata for every Sunday and festival of the Church Year, music which still gives glory to God and enormous pleasure to all who hear it.
And speaking of music, one of the items to be considered at the Voters Meeting on October 15th is the possibility of acquiring our Synod’s new hymnal, the Lutheran Service Book published in 2007. About 85 percent of Synod’s congregations have adopted it for use in their worship. This new book combines what is best both in The Lutheran Hymnal– the “red book” – published in 1941 and Lutheran Worship – the “blue book” published in 1982. Several copies of the Lutheran Service Book will be available for members to borrow and examine. No decision will be made at the October Voters meeting. We hope to make a decision at the January Voters Meeting after there has been ample time to examine and discuss the book. I am more than willing to answer any questions you may have (Telephone: 410.554.9994; Email: email@example.com).
Darlene Grant is now a resident at Caton Manor Nursing Home, 3330 Wilkens Avenue in Baltimore. Peter Buchanan was in Good Samaritan Hospital for a few days but is again at home as of this writing. Remember them in your prayers and also all those whose names appear in the Sunday bulletin.
I am told that the lengthy process of placing our church building on the City of Baltimore’s register of historic buildings is coming to an end. We are especially grateful to Mary Pat Clark of the Baltimore City Council for her continuing support of this project. She is a true friend of our congregation.
Looking ahead to December, there will be a Christmas Bazaar here on Saturday, December 2nd, 10:00 A.M. – 2:00 P.M. The cost of a table will be $25.00 with any profits going to the person who pays for the table. There will also be a table with good things to eat and to drink. More information about this will be given in due course.
In last month’s newsletter I neglected to mention that our wonderful bells can again be played from the organ console. It took far too long to remedy the situation but we can now be thankful that we can again enjoy them and that they continue to be a witness to our Church’s presence here on the corner of 33rd Street and The Alameda.
As I think of all the blessings we enjoy in this congregation, my thoughts often turn to some words of the 16th Psalm (verse 6): “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.”
Remember me in your prayers as you are in mine.
The last Free Flea Market was held on September 9th. Many thanks to the loyal volunteers who assisted during these 5 months and to those who donated items to be distributed. Attendance was a little lower in September. 33 Attended and 309 items distributed (the day was sunny so I guess many were out enjoying it!) As a total, we assisted 215 individuals by distributing 1,750 items. I think that is pretty good for a small congregation! The Lord has given us bounty and this has been shared with those who need it.
Plans are being made to distribute coats in November at Waverly School. If you have coats, especially children’s, please drop them off at the church. A definite date will be announced later.
As in the past, it is our intention to provide Thanksgiving dinners for ten needy families from the Waverly Elementary/Middle School which is located here in our community. We have monies designated for the turkeys, thanks to our soup supper collections. We will be collecting dinner items, such as stuffing, cranberry sauce, boxed mashed potatoes, canned sweet potatoes, string beans, etc. The dinner boxes are packed according to family size; the families will pick up their boxes from the church on the week of Thanksgiving. We’re looking forward to another successful Thanksgiving food drive. Many thanks for your continued generosity in this annual food sharing project.
September 3, 2017 AD
August 27, 2017 AD
Old Testament: Genesis 4: 1-15
Epistle: I Corinthians 15: 1-10
Gospel: Luke 18:9-14