Presentation of the Augsburg Confession
June 25, 2017 AD
Old Testament: Isaiah 55:6-11
Epistle: I Timothy 6:11-16
Gospel: Matthew 10:26-33
June 25, 2017 AD
Old Testament: Isaiah 55:6-11
Epistle: I Timothy 6:11-16
Gospel: Matthew 10:26-33
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This month of October brings Family Day on October 9th, the beginning of the “Christian Essentials” class on October 16th, a Voters Meeting of the congregation on October 23 and Reformation Sunday on October 30th.
The Rev. Jacob P. Okwir, Pastor of Saint James’s Church, Overlea, will be the preacher on Family Day. Pastor Okwir was born in Southern Sudan; he lived in Uganda, Kenya, and Egypt before coming to the United States where he settled in Michigan. After completing studies in preparation for the Holy Ministry at Concordia Seminary in Saint Louis, he was ordained and installed as Pastor of Saint James’s Church this past July. Following the Divine Service there will be a congregational meal and fellowship time. Fried chicken and ham will be provided but we are asking everyone to bring a side dish. So that we can know about how many people to expect, please sign up on the clipboard on the piano and indicate what side dish or dessert you will bring. Bernie Knox is coordinating the meal, so call her at 410.335.3744 if you have any questions.
The “Christian Essentials” class which begins October 16th is intended both for adults who wish to prepare for confirmation, for inquirers, and for those who wish to review the teachings of Holy Scripture as set forth in Luther’s Small Catechism. The class meets at 9:45 A.M. Questions are especially welcome!
Following the Divine Service on October 23 we have a Voters Meeting of the congregation. One of the items to be discussed is the schedule for the Thanksgiving and Christmastide services. Last year we celebrated Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving Eve. Christmas Day comes on a Sunday this year, and so we shall as usual have Divine Service at I I :00 A.M. Although we have not in recent years had a service on Christmas morning, it is surely unthinkable that the church should stand locked and empty on the morning of any Lord’s Day! Last year we had the Christmas Eve Divine Service at 9:30 rather than 10:30 P.M. We need to decide what is the best time for this service of the Holy Night. New Year’s Day also comes on Sunday this year and so there will – as on any other Sunday – be Divine Service at I I :00 A.M. There was in fact a time when Our Saviour regularly had a service on the morning of January 1which is not only the civil New Year but also the Festival of the Circumcision and Name of Jesus (Luke 2:21). We’ll need to decide whether or not we also wish to have the New Year’s Eve service this year. Do come to the Voters Meeting and share in reaching a consensus.
The last Sunday of October will as usual be kept as The Festival of the Reformation. It was on October 31st, 1517, that Dr. Luther nailed to the door of the Castle Church of All Saints in Wittenberg his ninety-five theses. Although this event has come to be seen as a highly dramatic occurrence, it was in fact a perfectly ordinary one. For the door of the Castle Church was a kind of bulletin board; all kinds of notices were apparently posted there, also theses – such as Luther’s – for disputation among theologians. But though this event was in the context of the times perfectly ordinary, the theses posted in Wittenberg were soon known all over Europe. Devout Christians had long been lamenting the desperate need for a reformation of the Church: Luther’s theses were received as a clarion call to repentance – as we in fact read in the very first of his theses: “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent,’ [Matthew 4: 17] he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” In his sixty-second thesis we read: “The true treasure of the Church is the most holy Gospel of the glory and grace of God.” Penitent sinners receive forgiveness, are made alive and receive great comfort, through the Gospel which is the good news of salvation through the saving death of Christ. This Gospel is given through Holy Baptism into Christ’s saving death, through Holy Absolution – the forgiveness spoken “in the stead and by the command of Christ” by His called and ordained servants, and through the gift of Christ’s true Body and Blood in the most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. The entire reforming work of Dr. Luther and his colleagues consisted in removing only that which had come to obscure or deny the Gospel in the teaching and practice of the Church and then retaining everything that is so precious in the life of the Church through all the ages. And so in the Augsburg Confession, the principal confession of the faith of the Lutheran Church, we read in Article XXIV: “Our churches are falsely accused of abolishing the Mass (the Divine Service of Word and Sacrament), for the Mass is retained among us and celebrated with the highest reverence.” Our use of this liturgy is the outward and visible sign of continuity with the Church of all the ages, a priceless treasure to be cherished and handed down to those who come after. The Divine Service as we find it in the several authorized service books of our Synod – The Lutheran Hymnal (the red book), Lutheran Worship (the bluebook) and the more recently published Lutheran Service Book – is essentially the historic liturgy of the Church as that has been received among the churches of the Augsburg Confession. I cannot resist the urge to add that the letters “U A C” – which are literally written in stone on the cornerstone of our church building! – always remind us of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession which is part of the foundation of the Lutheran Church in general and of Our Saviour Church in particular. And so we pray:
Lord Jesus Christ, with us abide,
For round us falls the eventide;
Nor let Thy Word, that heavenly light,
For us be ever veiled in night.
In these last days of sore distress
Grant us, dear Lord, true steadfastness
That pure we keep, till life is spent,
Thy holy Word and Sacrament.
These hymn stanzas which come to us from the 16th century have often been prayed daily by pious Christians. I commend them to your use “in these last days of sore distress. I hope to see you on Family Day, on Reformation Sunday, and on every Lord’s Day when we gather to celebrate the glorious, life-giving resurrection of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ in whom is all our life and hope.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
September 7th is the eighty-sixth anniversary of the dedication of this wonderful church building in which we worship the triune God, hear His Word, and receive the holy Sacraments. At the service of dedication on the morning of that day the preacher was Pastor William Dallmann who in the year 1892 had led the little group of faithful laymen, formerly members of Immanuel Church then on south Caroline Street (now at Loch Raven and Belvedere), who had come together to establish a church in which Christ’s true Gospel would be preached in the English rather than in the German language, His sermon at the dedication of our church building: “Confessing Christ in Augsburg in 1530 and in Baltimore in 1930,” drew attention to the fact that the same faith which had been joyfully and faithfully confessed by the Lutheran princes and cities before Emperor Charles V in the city of Augsburg in 1530 would be confessed also here in this building being dedicated four hundred years late. And so the cornerstone of this church building reads: “The Church of Our Saviour Evangelical Lutheran U. A. C.” “U.A.C.” stands for Unaltered Augsburg Confession. Why unaltered? Because attempts had been made already in the sixteenth century to change the teaching of this Confession, notably the article concerning the Holy Sacrament, so as to make the Confession acceptable to those who do not believe in the Real Presence of the true body and blood of Christ in the Sacrament but see the Sacrament as nothing more than a memorial meal in which the bread and wine merely represent the Lord’s body and blood. And so that “U.A.C.” On our cornerstone not only expresses our church’s adherence to the Augsburg Confession in general but also to Article X of that Confession in particular, that Article in which the Real Presence is confessed. And it is the Real Presence which makes of the Sacrament a heavenly feast of love and joy, the very center of the Church’s life.
Although the Augsburg Confession is the Lutheran Church’s principal confession of faith, the Small Catechism is that confession of faith with which most Lutherans are familiar. Luther prepared this Catechism for the instruction Of children. At first the Catechism was printed on large charts and eventually in an illustrated booklet. You may have noticed the large posters with the text of the Catechism now hanging in the hall just outside the door next to the chancel entrance. These have been given by Paul and Mary Techau and we thank them for this gift. These charts serve to remind us of Dr. Luther’s words: “Every morning, and whenever have time, I read and recite word for word the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Psalms, etc. I must still read and study the Catechism daily, yet I cannot master it as I wish, but must remain a child and pupil of the Catechism, and do it gladly.”
I very much enjoyed my trip to Milwaukee in early July as a pastoral delegate to the triennial convention of our Church body. In a day when there IS so much division even within Christian churches the convention showed that our Synod is a remarkably united Church. It is – as it has in fact been since its founding in 847 – still very. much a Church of the Augsburg Confession. The presence of leaders from overseas showed that our Synod is part of a worldwide fellowship of faithful, confessing Lutherans. Pray for our Synod, its congregations, its pastors, its schools, and all its leaders, especially for Pastor Matthew Harrison who serves as President of Synod.
I have again been asked to speak at the annual Saint Michael’s Conference at Zion Church in Detroit on September 26th. And so I will leave for Detroit after Divine Service on Sunday, September 25th and will return to Baltimore late in the afternoon on September 27th. If you need a pastor while am gone, you may call our good friend Pastor Roy Coats at 443.745.9200. The Saint Michael’s Conference focuses on the sacramental and liturgical life of the Church.
Our last Free Flea Market in 2016 will take place this coming Saturday, September 10th from 9:00 a.m. until noon. We always need help with putting out the goods and then putting away those that remain afterward. This is a fine opportunity to meet our neighbors and introduce them to Our Church.
On the following day, Sunday, September 11th, there will be a Potluck Lunch following Divine Service. Do Join your fellow members for this! If your name begins with A-CA bring a salad; H-L, a main dish; M-Z a dessert. Drinks will be provided.
September 11 is also the first day of Sunday School for children. I thank Mary Techau, Helen Gray, and William Hawkins for making this happen. Sunday School will begin with breakfast at 9:45 A.M.
There will also be class for adults who wish to be confirmed or review the Church ‘s teaching. As of this writing we still have not fixed a time for this.
It is not too soon to mention that Sunday, October 9th. will be our annual Family Day. Pastor Jacob Okwir, the newly ordained and installed Pastor of Saint James’s Church in Overlea will be the preacher. Having been born in Sudan and having studied at the universities of Khartoum in Sudan and Nairobi in Kenya, he and his family came to this country where he studied for the Holy Ministry at Concordia Seminary in Saint Louis. Following Divine Service there will be a luncheon. Fried chicken and ham will be provided. We are asking that everyone bring a side dish for this meal. Family Day is always a happy occasion. Do plan on being present.
We extend our Christian sympathy to Lucille Carmichael and her family on the death Of her husband, Dr. Robert Carmichael. May he rest in peace and may Our heavenly Father comfort all who mourn his departure.
Let us continue to pray for one another and for all the Lord of the Church will send to us.
Works of Mercy
There is always need for non-perishable food items to stock the shelves at the CARES Community Food Pantry. A new school year has begun and food need has increased. As usual, the need is for peanut butter, jelly, canned vegetables, rice, boxed mashed potatoes, cereal, tuna fish, etc. Any donation large or small will help alleviate hunger.
Neighbors in need can visit the Food Pantry which is located at 5502 York Road in the rear of Saint Mary’s church. CARES allows customers/clients to choose the foods that their household members prefer. A nutritional guideline based on family size is provided on site. Hours of operation are Mondays and Thursday from 9:00 A.M. until 11:00 A.M. CARES also assists individuals and families with pending evictions, utility shut off and prescription needs.
Helping Up Mission
We are encouraging members to drop spare change in the collection boxes located in the front and rear of the Church. The change will be used to purchase grooming items for the men in recovery at the Helping Up Mission. We are still collecting personal size grooming items, tooth paste, shampoo, foot powder, etc.; additionally we are collecting socks, tee shifts, (new or gently worn) to be delivered to the Mission. If you have items designated for the Mission, please deliver them to Quilla Downs, Judy Volkman, or Mary Techau. The Mission is a recovery program with a high rate of success in fighting addiction and homelessness. As we do unto the least of these, we do unto Him.
– Quilla Downs