Tag Archives: Advent

Gaudete – The Third Sunday in Advent

gate-of-heaven-violet-1024x1024Gaudete

The Third Sunday in Advent
December 13, 2020 AD

Old Testament: Isaiah 40:1-8
Epistle: I Corinthians 4: 1-5
Gospel: Matthew 11: 2-10

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Populus Zion – The Second Sunday in Advent

Populus Ziongate-of-heaven-violet-1024x1024

The Second Sunday in Advent
December 6, 2020 AD

Old Testament: Malachi 4:1-6
Epistle: Romans 15: 4-13
Gospel: Luke 21: 25-36

Click here to listen and subscribe to Pastor McClean’s sermons on iTunes.

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Our Saviour Parish News, December, 2020



OUR SAVIOUR LUTHERAN CHURCH

3301 The Alameda
Baltimore, MD 21218
410.235.9553
DECEMBER, 2020

Christmas Eve – 7:30 pm
Christmas Day – 10:00 am
Saint John’s Day, December 27 – 11:00 am
New Year’s Eve – 7:30 pm
Second Sunday after Christmas, January 3 – 11:00 am
The Epiphany of Our Lord, January 6 – 7:30 pm

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Preaching in the City Church of Saint Mary in Wittenberg on the afternoon of Christmas Day in the year 1530, Dr. Luther had this to say:

“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]. Greater words than these I cannot speak, nor all the angels or even the Holy Spirit, as is sufficiently testified by the beautiful songs that have been made about it.”

From ancient times the Church has observed the three days immediately following Christmas Day as Saint Stephen’s Day, Saint John’s Day, and the Holy Innocents Day. Saint Stephen was the First Martyr (Acts 7:54-60) and the Holy Innocents were the young boys of Bethlehem killed by King Herod’s soldiers in his vain attempt to destroy the Christ Child (Matthew 2:13–18). Although Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist was not a martyr he suffered exile on the island of Patmos (Revelation 1:9). These three holy days serve to remind us that Christ and His Church have always suffered opposition and persecution. And so it will continue to be until the final triumph of Christ in His glorious Appearing at the Last Day. And so the Church’s prayer has ever remained, “Come Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20). Apart from a very brief blessing, these are in fact the very last words in all of Holy Scripture.

Do take careful note of the schedule of Christmas services as given above. We have restored the Divine Service of Christmas Day in part to provide opportunity for Christmas worship for those who are reluctant to venture out after dark. If anyone needs a ride to church for any of these services, please call me at (410) 554–9994 or email me at charlesmcclean42@gmail.com and I will make every effort to provide it. Also call or email me if you wish to receive the Holy Sacrament at home. Do remember that all of our services are livestreamed at Our Saviour Baltimore Facebook and that you can hear the sermons by calling (410) 587–0979.

Several months ago we received an email from the leader of a small group of Christians who had found us at our website and were eager to learn more. Their leader, Isaac Zachary Okemwa, wanted me to come to Africa and teach them! Although that was clearly not feasible for all kinds of reasons, we have been able with the help of the Lutheran Heritage Foundation and the Kenyan Lutheran Church to provide them with Bibles in their native language. And now, just this past week, I’ve had an email from Pastor George Ondieki of the Kenyan Church telling me that this group has decided to become Lutheran and that the local Bishop, Joseph Omwoyo Ombasa, has assigned Pastor Isaac Onderi Nyamora to be their pastor and prepare them for confirmation. These fellow Christians are praying for us and they ask our prayers for them. It is wonderful to see how God uses modern technology to further His good and gracious will!

And speaking of our website I here want to thank everyone who has had a hand in making it possible, including those who created the website long before I arrived at Our Saviour.

Elsewhere in this newsletter Quilla Downs tells us about our outreach to needy families connected with the Waverly Elementary/Middle School and Judy Volkman brings us up to date on the work of our free flea markets.

Judy Volkman reminds us that it is time to order poinsettias to decorate the church for Christmas. They are still ten dollars apiece and the deadline for ordering them is Sunday, December 20. Names of those you wish to remember or honor should also be sent in by that day. Judy also has found a carton of Christmas cards, picturing our altar at Christmas. These packets of cards are available on the piano; take as many as you like. If you wish to make a contribution, please designate it as “Christmas cards.” If you are staying at home and wish to use these cards, call Judy at (410) 377–8833 or email her at judy.volkman@verizon.net. Offering envelopes for 2021 are now at the back of the church. You may take yours now but be sure not to use them until January. They have been renumbered, so we want the contributions to be credited to the right number.

The church will be decorated for Christmas following Divine Service on the Fourth Sunday in Advent, December 20. “Many hands make light work.”

Someone recently asked me what is meant by the title “Divine Service” as it is found in the Lutheran Service Book and in our announcements and Sunday bulletins. It comes from the German word “Gottesdienst” which means “God’s Service.” And the great point to note is that it chiefly speaks of God serving us—God serving us through His holy Word and Sacrament with forgiveness, life, and salvation. It is of course also true that in the Divine Service we serve God, worshiping Him with our sacrifice of prayer and praise. But the heart of the matter is that it is God who is serving us. God is present, God acts as we hear His Word and are given the life-giving Body and Blood of the Savior as our spiritual food and drink. It is interesting to note that our fellow Christians of the Eastern Orthodox (Greek, Russian, Arabic, etc.) Church call their service the “Divine Liturgy” which has the same meaning.

I doubt that anyone doubts that the year now drawing to its close has been a particularly difficult one. Christmas finds the world still suffering from this pandemic which has plagued the world for so many months. We can now give thanks that vaccines and more effective medications will soon be available while we continue to pray for those whom the hand of sickness and death has touched. During this time when many of our fellow members are confined to their homes it is comforting to know that in prayer for one another we are close to one another and to the Lord whose mercies are new every morning. Never hesitate to reach out to me either by phone or email. Much of the work of a pastor consists in listening! I am of course also available to hear private confession as explained in Luther’s Small Catechism.

I wish you a truly blessed Christmas, rich in the joy and certainty of the Lord who as at this time was born to be our Savior.

Affectionately in our Lord,


Pastor McClean

Works of Mercy

Recently, a lady from east Baltimore wrote us a letter, requesting assistance at Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Judy Volkman followed up with her and invited her to the November Free Flea market.  She attended, along with several members of her family, and received a number of items, both clothing and household goods.  At Christmas, she will be one of the recipients of a gift card from Aldi’s.  Hopefully, we will see her at the Free Flea Market in the spring!  The Lord has provided for us and we have been able to share that bounty!

Judy Volkman

Thanks to our Church family, we were able to purchase $30 gift cards to send to 10 families prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. The cards were redeemable at Aldi’s Super Market. The postal service delivered the cards, and all arrived at the recipient’s homes in sufficient time for shopping prior to the big day. Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, we will continue to collect monetary donations for purchase of our Christmas gift cards. Our list for Christmas is longer by one additional family this year. There was a recent request for help from a family who resides outside of our partnered Waverly Elementary/Middle School Community. The request was addressed to the church, followed by a meeting at church; and it was determined that help was indeed warranted. In our capacity to serve and share with our neighbors, it was agreed that we would accommodate the additional family. Donations made on December 6 and December 13 would assure that the cards could be purchased, and mailed, and that they would arrive in time for pre-Christmas grocery shopping. A separate check may be placed in the collection plate with the note “Christmas Gift Cards “or just simply “Christmas Cards” in the memo line. If cash is given, an extra envelope with your name and donation number might be placed in the donation plate. Many thanks for your continued support and concern for those in need.

Quilla Downs

Ad Te Levavi – The First Sunday in Advent

gate-of-heaven-violet-1024x1024Ad Te Levavi

The First Sunday in Advent
November 29, 2020 AD

Old Testament: Jeremiah 23:5-8
Epistle: Romans 13: 11-14
Gospel: Matthew 21: 1-9

Click here to listen and subscribe to Pastor McClean’s sermons on iTunes.

Listen to the service:

Our Saviour Parish News, December, 2019

OUR SAVIOUR LUTHERAN CHURCH

3301 The Alameda
Baltimore, MD 21218
410.235.9553
DECEMBER 2019

CHRISTMAS AT OUR SAVIOUR

CHRISTMAS EVE – FESTIVAL DIVINE SERVICE, 7:30 P.M.
CHRISTMAS DAY – FESTIVAL DIVINE SERVICE, 10:00 A.M.
First Sunday after Christmas Day – Divine Service, 11:00 A.M.
New Year’s Eve – Divine Service, 7:30 P.M.
Second Sunday after Christmas Day – Divine Service, 11:00 A.M.
THE EPIPHANY OF OUR LORD (Monday, January 6) -FESTIVAL DIVINE SERVICE, 7:30 P.M.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In the Divine Service of Christmas Eve we always hear the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great Light.” That great Light is Mary’s Child whose name is “Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” That is the wonder of Christmas: that out of love for you and for me and for every human being God’s eternal Son took upon Himself our flesh in the womb of the lowly virgin Mary and was born in Bethlehem to save us. I love these words of Martin Luther’s Christmas hymn, “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come”:

These are the tokens ye shall mark:
The swaddling clothes and manger dark;
There ye shall find the Infant laid
By whom the heavens and earth were made.

It is easy to sympathize with some words of that learned and devout 17th century Christian, Blaise Pascal -mathematician, physicist, inventor and theologian – who, contemplating the unimaginable vastness of the universe, once said, “The eternal silence of these infinite spaces frightens me.” But that silence was broken when God appeared in the flesh to be our Savior. He is the bright Light which dispels all the darkness.

The first of December is the First Sunday in Advent, the beginning of the new Church Year, and the beginning of the season in which we prepare for the Christmas celebration. Advent is a time of quiet reflection and anticipation as we contemplate the three-fold Coming of Christ: His coming in humility as Mary’s Child, His constant coming to us in His holy Word and Sacraments, His coming again in glory at the Last Day as Judge of the living and the dead. Advent is not so much a season of celebration as it is a season of expectation. It is a season for self-examination in the light of God’s Word. Examine yourself in the light the Ten Commandments or our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) or Saint Paul’s words about “the works of the flesh” and “the fruit of the Spirit”(Galatians 5:19-23). Although the Lutheran Church does not require the use of private confession and absolution, the fifth chief part of the Catechism – The Office of the Keys and Confession -makes plain that we are encouraged to use this means of grace. If you wish to come to confession, you need only make an appointment to do so.

It is time to order the poinsettias for Christmas for the people you wish to honor or remember. They are still $10 per plant (no increase in price). Please get your order to Judy Volkman by December 22, or earlier if possible. Envelopes for your order are in the rear of the church. Make checks out to Our Saviour Lutheran.

On Sunday, December 8th, there will be a potluck lunch after Divine Service. Merton Masterson will be deep-frying a turkey and the rest of us are asked to bring side dishes. There is a sign-up sheet on the piano. I have been asked to show pictures of my recent trip to Germany and I will do so after lunch.

On Sunday, December 15th, the Rev. Lucas Witt will be installed at 4:00 P.M. as associate/missionary pastor of Immanuel Church at Loch Raven and Belvedere. It is expected that his missionary work will aid not only Immanuel Church but also the other Baltimore congregations of our Synod.

On Sunday, December 22nd, the Fourth Sunday in Advent, the church will be decorated for Christmas following Divine Service. “Many hands make light work!”

In addition to Divine Service on Christmas Eve we will also have Divine Service on Christmas morning at 10 o’clock. It is hoped that this will meet a real need for those who do not drive after dark. This is of course another opportunity to join in celebrating the Day of Christ’s birth.

Judy Volkman recently received an award for Lifetime Achievement from the Baltimore County Commission on Disabilities. She has been a member of the Commission for forty-two years, has served as chair of various committees, and one term as Chair of the full Commission. Judy is amazed at the progress that has been made in the disability community but says there is still more to be done. She believes that “the Lord has made sure I was in the right place at the right time.” And so congratulations are in order!

Our former Vicar, Trent Demarest and his wife Maritza, are now the proud parents of Robert Martin who was born last Friday evening. He has three older brothers: John, Thomas, and Charles. Trent is now Headmaster of Trinity Lutheran School in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Congratulations and God bless the whole Demarest family.

Included in this newsletter is an article about the bells of Our Saviour. The author, Pastor Carl Kruelle,, grew up at Our Saviour and was ordained here. The article is yet more evidence of what a treasure we have in these bells. Our task now is to raise the funds to restore the mechanism which plays them.

If you need a ride to church, do not hesitate to call me at 410.554.9994 or email me at charlesmcclean42@gmail.com. I will make every effort to see that you have a ride.

Let us continue to hold one another in prayer. I wish you a blessed Advent, a genuine preparation for the birthday of the Savior.

Affectionately in our Lord,

Pastor McClean

Works of Mercy

This Thanksgiving, we have continued to honor our commitment to some of our neighbors at Waverly Elementary/Middle School. As usual, our church family responded to our call for help by making monetary donations which enabled us to purchase 10 Gift Cards from Aldi’s Supermarket totaling $250. The families picked up their cards from the school’s social worker on Monday, November 25. The time frame gave the families sufficient time to shop for a few extra holiday items for their Thanksgiving feast. Now that Thanksgiving deliveries are done, we will be collecting donations for our Christmas food gift cards. Monetary donations will be collected from Sunday, November 24, through Sunday, December 22; a separate check may be placed in the collection plate with the designate “Christmas Gift Cards” in the memo line. If cash is given, an extra envelope with your name and donation number might be placed in the donation plate. Many thanks to our church family for the outpouring of generosity and caring for the needs of our brothers and sisters in our community.
– Quilla Downs

The Message of the Bells

It was a nice spring day in Govans, 1943. The forsythia were in full bloom. It was Wartime—we had no car or phone. | was having cramps in my stomach. Mom, being a nurse, took, my temperature. It was high. She rushed me down the block to the streetcar on York Rd. I continued having cramps all the way to the transfer point at Greenmont and Preston. Getting off the streetcar at the center doors was easy. It looked a long way to the ground and I was half-dizzy. I vomited all over the steps getting down to street level (wondering how people on the streetcar were going to survive the smell of my mess; | could leave, but they couldn’t) to catch the trackless trolley to St. Joseph Hospital on Caroline St. Once in the operating room, the anesthetist told me “Breathe into this balloon and count to 10.” I remember the scent of the ether but never made it to 10 — maybe 5 or 6, and I was out.

After waking up in the ward, I was told I had an emergency appendectomy (appendicitis). The next night my Pastor came to visit, the Rev. A. J. Stiemke. He placed his calming hand on my forehead, prayed, spoke the Lord’s Prayer and Benediction.

The next morning was Palm Sunday and time for discharge. Uncle Fred arrived along with my parents to drive me home in his Hudson Terraplane. The route we traveled took me right past The Church of Our Saviour along the Alameda Boulevard. It was just before the 11:00a.m. Service. And | was thankful we had to stop for the red light, because I got to hear the bells resounding with “O Savior, Precious Savior’, “Crown Him with Many Crowns”, “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name”, “Beautiful Savior’. As the light changed to green and we headed for home, I could still hear the bells trailing off in the distance. One of the high points of my life!

At the various churches where I have served, I always scheduled one or more of these hymns for Palm Sunday congregational signing.

Over years I have often wondered how many people were healed, helped, or redirected by the message of the bells.

Carl H. Kruelle. Jr.

October 27, 2019

 

Our Saviour Parish News, December 2018

OUR SAVIOUR LUTHERAN CHURCH
in the City of Baltimore

DECEMBER, 2018

This charming picture of the birth of our Lord is by the German artist, Martin Schongauer (1430-1491). We see the Christ Child in the manger and His blessed mother kneeling in adoration. We see the angels and also the shepherds approaching the stable. But why are the cow and donkey there, gazing at the Christ Child? It seems that Christians long ago were impressed by some words of the prophet Isaiah:”The ox knows its owner and the donkey its master’s crib…” (Isaiah 1:3). And so in John Mason Neale’s familiar paraphrase of one our oldest and best-loved carols, In dulci jubilo (Now Sing We, Now Rejoice) we sing, “Ox and ass before Him bow, and He is in the manger now, Christ is born today!” The One who lies in the manger is not only our truly human Brother born of the Virgin Mary but also God the Father’s eternal Son and Word “through whom all things were made” (John 1:3), the Lord of all creation and so the Creator come to save this ruined race and bring us to the joy of the resurrection and the life of the world to come.

Note that on Christmas Eve The Holy Night Communion will begin at 10:30 P.M. For several years our Christmas Eve worship has begun at 7:30 in the evening but, at the recommendation of the Church Council, the Voters have agreed to return this year to what had in fact been the practice here for many years. If you need a ride to church on Christmas Eve, please call me at 410.554.9994 or email me at charlesmcclean42@gmail.com and I will see to it that someone will pick you up and bring you safely home. Driving at night is difficult for some of us. I know how that is: it was in fact a bit difficult for me until my cataracts were removed! As we all know, the word “Christmas” means “Christ’s Mass,” “Mass” being the Divine Service of Word and Sacrament. It goes without saying that all Christians will be eager to celebrate our Savior’s birth at “Christ’s Mass,” receiving in our Christmas Communion the Body born for us this night of Mary. The Real Presence in the Sacrament is not only on Christmas night but always cause for wonder and joy!

The Church’s Christmas celebration goes on for twelve days, and so the Sunday Divine Service on December 30th is a Christmas service as is also the Divine Service on New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Eve not only marks the turn of the year but is also the Eve of the church festival of the Circumcision and Name of Jesus. Eight days after His birth the Christ Child was circumcised and given the holy name of Jesus which means Savior (Luke 2:21) The New Year’s Eve Divine Service is at 7:30 P.M.

Because of the Savior’s great love for us we are eager to show kindness to those who are needy. At the end of this newsletter Quilla Downs and Judy Volkman tell us about our efforts to share with the needy. We all realize that the need in our world is simply immense and all of us must do what we can to address this crying need.

Looking ahead, on January 27 we will be having an Epiphany Service of Lessons and Carols at 4:00 P.M. followed by a reception. We will have as guest organist, Matthew Machemer, who is the Associate Kantor at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne. There will also be a quartet that will include: Marie Herrington (our organist and Paul Techau (our cantor). Plan on attending and invite your friends!

Helen Gray was briefly hospitalized this past month but is now again at home. As of this writing Queenie Hardaway has been in Johns Hopkins Hospital for several days. Remember them in your prayers.

I hope that we will all use the Advent season – these four weeks before Christmas – to prepare for our yearly celebration of Christ’s Coming in lowliness and also for His Coming in glory at the Last Day. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! Come quickly!

Affectionately in our Lord,

Pastor McClean

WORKS OF MERCY

The closing Free Flea Market was held on November 10th, distributing 187 items to 20 people. This included winter clothes and Christmas items. The Free Flea Market has been reaching out into the community for 5 years now, and we have made a considerable impact. We have had 835 people attend, and they received 5633 items for free! All this was made possible through the generous donations from church members, Orphan Grain Train, and community donations. We are now giving back to Orphan Grain Train 8 bags of clothes to be distributed to others in need. Of course, this couldn’t have been done without faithful volunteers; they were present to hand out items 232 times. So many thanks to all who supported this outreach and shared the bounty that God has given us.
– Judy Volkman

For a number of years, Our Saviour has partnered with Waverly Elementary/Middle School during the Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays to provide Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets to needy families in our community. We intend to continue the holiday food giveaways because the need is great. Food items have come from donations from generous church members, but most items are purchased with funds collected during our Lenten soup suppers. In the past, we delivered the baskets to the school, and earlier still, we made deliveries to homes. Of late the baskets have been picked up at our church. However, it is difficult for some families to pick up their food due to lack of transportation and conflicting work schedules. In addition, we do not have the necessary manpower re shopping and distribution to accommodate all of the circumstances in the chain of distribution. This Thanksgiving we had to repurchase some turkeys due to thaw on the lower shelves of the refrigerator. We repurchased due to concern for health and liability. I believe the church and the families would be better served with gift certificates. I am asking the council to consider the purchase of gift certificates at one of the food chains such as ShopRite or Aldi’s where food purchases would go further and the families would have the dignity of making their own food choices. We have never accommodated more than 11 families. If this request meets with the approval of council, I will facilitate follow through with the grocery merchant and the school social worker. Many thanks for your continued support and concern for those who are in need.
        – Quilla Downs

Our Saviour Parish News, December, 2016

oslcbwOur Saviour Lutheran Church
in the city of Baltimore

December, 2016

 

christmas2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The calendar year 2016 is now rapidly coming to an end; soon we will enter the year of our Lord 2017 which will be marked by two anniversaries. With Lutherans throughout the world we will be celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, and here at Our Saviour Church will be celebrating the 125th anniversary of the founding of this congregation. Both anniversaries call us to remember, repent, and give thanks: to remember all God’s innumerable blessings, to repent of our indifference and ingratitude for those blessings, and to give thanks that God’s mercies are new to us every morning and that through His dear Son Jesus Christ our Lord He daily forgives our sins, sustains us by His Holy Spirit, and promises the light and joy of the world to come. Needless to say, we are beginning to make plans for the celebration of both anniversaries.

 Now we find ourselves in the holy season of Advent, a time of self-examination and repentance, as we prepare for the celebration of our Saviour’s first coming in great humility as the Child of the Blessed Virgin Mary and also prepare for His coming again in glory to judge both the living and the dead. I suspect that we are all very much conscious of the devastating effects of human sin together with the wiles of the devil and of the despair which plagues countless human beings. In the light of those realities we Christians know that the hope which never puts to shame is found in the Saviour whose blood cleanses from all sin and through whose death and resurrection the door of heaven again stands open to all who place their trust in Him.

By way of contrast with the Roman Catholic Church the Lutheran Church does not require her members explicitly to confess their sins in the presence of the pastor. But the Lutheran Church does provide opportunity for the blessing of private confession and absolution. We learned in the Catechism: “Confession embraces two parts: one is that we confess our sins; the other, that we receive absolution, or forgiveness, from the pastor as from God Himself, and in no wise doubt, but firmly believe that by it our sins are forgiven before God in heaven. Which sins should we confess? Before God we should plead guilty of all sins, even of those which we do not know as we do in the Lord’s Prayer; but before the pastor we should confess those sins only which we know and feel in our hearts” (Luther’s Small Catechism) And we read in the Augsburg Confession: “It is taught among us that private absolution should be retained and not allowed to fall into disuse. However, in confession it is not necessary to enumerate all trespasses and sins, for this is impossible. Ps.19:12 ‘Who can discern his errors?'” (Augsburg Confession, Article XI). Dr. Luther himself regularly went to confession and said that without it the devil would easily have overcome him. The great blessing of private confession is the individual word of absolution. Consciences burdened with the memory of sin find release, peace, and hope. i am always available to hear confession. Since we now have a prayer desk with crucifix in the study we now have a place where confessions can be heard in strict privacy. If you have any questions about confession, do be in touch with me (charlesmcclean42@gmail.com, 410.554.9994). To prepare for confession one can examine one’s conscience by reflecting on the Ten Commandments and their meaning as found in the Catechism.

At the November Voters Meeting it was decided upon the recommendation of the Church Council that Our Saviour apply for Historic Designation from our City’s Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation. The application process will take a number of months but will almost certainly be complete before the end of the 125th Anniversary year.

Also at the Voters Meeting the Congregation accepted the Church Council’s recommendation for our Christmas services. Because Christmas Day and New Year’s Day come on Sunday this year there will as usual be Divine Service at 11:00 A.M. on both days, but the Adult Class and Sunday School will not meet. The Holy Night Communion of Christmas Eve will be celebrated this year at 7:30 P.M. The New Year’s Eve service will be omitted this year. And Christmastide will close with the Feast of the Epiphany of our Lord, Friday, January 6th; there will be a Festival Divine Service at 7:30 P.M. to which all the churches in our Circuit are invited. A reception will follow. There is a practical benefit in having Divine Service on Christmas morning and New Year’s morning. Some people are understandably reluctant to come out at night, so these daytime services provide them with an opportunity for worship. It surely goes without saying that every Christian who is able will wish to be at the Divine Service on the day of our Saviour’s birth: the Saviour once found wrapped in swaddling clothes now comes in the lowly bread and wine of His Sacrament.

Here are two passages from Christmas sermons of Dr. Luther.

“O thou boy, lying in the manger, thou art truly God who hast created me, and thou wilt not be wrathful with me because thou comest to me in this loving way – more loving cannot be imagined.”

“If you would truly love, let him be this way in your heart. If you regard the boy according to the flesh, he means nothing to you’ but much if this little Jesus is your God and Savior.”

Ponder these words of Dr. Luther as you prepare for your Christmas Communion and then come with joy to the Lord’s altar on the day of His birth.

Let us pray for one another, for the whole church, and for the whole world Christ came to save.

Affectionately in our Lord, 

PastorMcCleanSig

Pastor McClean

 

 

 

Advent 2 (2015)

Advent 2

December 6, 2015 AD

Old Testament: Malachi 4:1-6

Epistle: Romans 15:4-13

Gospel: Luke 21:25-36
 
 
 
Click here to listen and subscribe to Pastor McClean’s sermons on iTunes.


Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

– St. Luke 21:28

I wonder how many times you’ve found yourself asking, “Where will it all end?” That’s not the kind of question we’re likely to ask when things are going well, but I’m sure we’ve all asked that question in times of personal crisis, or when faced with family difficulties that just won’t go away, or on those days when we become so painfully aware of the violence and conflict in the world, of the deprivation and hunger, the sheer misery that mark the lives of millions. It’s then that we find ourselves asking, “Where will it all end?”

Just a few short days after those terrible events we’ve come to call “9-11”, I received a beautiful card from a very dear and considerably older friend encouraging all of us “to remain strong in faith and prayer because,” she said, “no matter what might happen in the meantime, we Christians already know how the story ends.”

And how does the story end? In the coming again in glory of our Lord Jesus Christ to judge the living and the dead and to usher in His beyond-imagination glorious kingdom which in His love He prepared for us from the foundation of the world. That’s where it will all end!

To many people of course our Christian belief in Christ’s coming again has nothing to do with the urgent demands of life; it seems to deal with what to them is at best an utterly remote possibility— in fact an event that in all likelihood will never take place and therefore can be safely ignored. And if truth be told, even within the visible Church there are people who have in fact abandoned this hope in part because misguided teachers have so distorted our Lord’s teaching about this with all kinds of bizarre notions and have even attempted to predict the exact day and hour of His coming— despite the fact that our Lord Himself said: “Watch, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming,” and “the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

In the Gospel for this Sunday our Lord does in fact speak of the signs of the last days: “signs in sun and moon and stars and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring. . .men fainting with fear and foreboding at what is coming on the world.” But what is so often forgotten is that, according to Holy Scripture, all days from Christ’s first coming in lowliness until His second coming in glory are in fact the last days – the days when God is at last bringing to completion His truly loving purpose for the whole creation. Saint John wrote, “Children, it is the last hour,” and Saint Paul addressed the Christians of his day as those “upon whom the end of the ages has come.”

And so when Jesus says, “When you see these things place, you know that the kingdom of God is near,” Jesus is speaking in terms not of our human time-table but in terms of God’s time-table which is another thing altogether— the Lord “with whom one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.” In a word, the signs of which Jesus speaks tell us that He is coming, not when He is coming as Jesus said, “Watch for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming,” and “Watch, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

Someone has said that our Lord’s coming again has to do not with a date but with an attitude. “Not a date” because the day and hour of His coming are known only to Him, “but an attitude”: an attitude which is neither cynical despair and resignation nor naive optimism but rather a deep and abiding hope which can face the very worst and still rejoice because it is hope grounded solely in Christ: the Lord who through forgiveness makes each moment of our lives a new beginning, who brings good out of evil, life out of death, and who will in the End deliver the dying creation and wonderfully transform all things by the light of His resurrection. As Saint Paul writes to the Church at Rome, “Creation itself will”— in a way we cannot now even dimly imagine— “be delivered from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God.”

We live in a dying world and you and I are dying people; the grave awaits each and every one of us, and the world as we now know it will come to an end. The signs of which Jesus speaks in this day’s Gospel tell us that this is so: “signs in sun and moon and stars and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring. . .men’s hearts fainting with fear and with foreboding at what is coming on the world.” In fact all the dismal and destructive realities of life tells us that this so. But if we remember and take seriously the words of Jesus, these signs— these grim reminders of our own mortality and of the world’s approaching end— are no cause for despair. Seen with eyes of faith, they are even reason for hope because they tell us that the Lord we love and long to see is in fact on His way; He is coming to gather His redeemed children into the kingdom which in His love He has prepared for us from the foundation of the world.

So where will it all end? Not in death and oblivion, but in the coming again of the Lord whose love we already know through His manger, cross, and open tomb. So, “When all these begin to take place, look up and raise your heads because your redemption is drawing near.”

And so I would like to conclude this morning with some beautiful, yes, poetic words of John Henry Newman about the altar, the altar of the Sacrament, as this place where our hope is kindled and sustained. Newman says,

But while the times wax old, and the colours of the earth fade, and the voice of song is brought low, and all kindreds of the earth can but wail and lament, the sons of God “lift up their heads for their redemption draweth nigh.” Nature fails, the sun shines not, and the moon is dim, the stars fall from heaven, and the foundations of the round world shake; but the altar’s light burns ever brighter; there are sights there which the many cannot see and all above the tumults of earth the command is heard to show forth the Lord’s death and the promise that the Lord is coming. “Happy are the people that are in such a case!” who, when  wearied of the things seen can turn with good hope to the things unseen; yea “blessed are the people who have the Lord for their God.” “Come unto Me,” He says, “all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Rest is better than toil, peace satisfies, and quietness disappoints not. These are sure goods. Such is the calm of the heavenly Jerusalem , which is the mother of us all; and such is their calm worship, the foretaste of heaven, who for a season shut themselves out from the world, and seek Him in invisible-Presence, whom they shall hereafter see face to face. (J. H. Newman, Parochial & Plain Sermons VII, l58f)

And the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus unto life everlasting, +Amen.