February 17, 2021 AD
February 17, 2021 AD
3301 The Alameda
Baltimore, MD 21218
7:30 pm Divine Service
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Lent begins on February 17, Ash Wednesday. Divine Service will be celebrated at seven thirty in the evening. On the following Wednesdays in Lent there will be Vespers with the Litany, except on the last Wednesday in February and the last Wednesday in March when Divine Service will be celebrated.
Wednesday, February 24, is Saint Matthias Day. Since Saint Matthias was chosen to replace the traitor Judas, this holy day is directly connected with the Lenten season. Saint Matthias was chosen during the ten days between our Lord’s ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost (Acts 1:15–26).
Wednesday, March 24, is the Eve of the Feast of the Annunciation, a most important holy day because it celebrates the conception of Jesus following the virgin Mary’s assent to the message of the angel Gabriel. Nine months before His birth in Bethlehem (Saint Luke 1:26–38) the eternal Son of God took on Himself the humanity that is yours and mine in the womb of His virgin mother. And that is in the most real sense the beginning of the journey which would lead to the Cross. The ancient appointed prayer or collect for the Annunciation expresses this in a memorable way:
O Lord, as we have known the incarnation of Your Son Jesus Christ by the message of an angel to the virgin Mary, so by the message of His cross and passion bring us to the glory of His resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
On the three remaining Wednesdays in Lent the meditations will focus on Old Testament Types of Christ’s Passion. “Types” are events which point forward to the Savior. We will consider the Sacrifice of Isaac, the Passover Lamb, and the Blood of the Covenant.
I wish I could announce that our midweek Lenten services will as usual be preceded by our popular soup suppers. But the circumstances surrounding the COVID virus do not make that possible at this time. Depending on circumstances we may be able to have them as Lent goes on.
We recently heard from the office of the President of Synod, the Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison, that he is planning to come to our Saint Mark’s Conference which will, God willing, take place April 19–20. Dr. Harrison was to have spoken at last year’s conference which had to be canceled because of the COVID pandemic. On the Monday in Holy Week, March 29, he will make a decision as to whether or not he can come. We will be sending out notifications with the proviso that all depends on the circumstances of the pandemic. The theme of the Conference will be the one announced last year, the life and works of the Rev. Dr. Hermann Sasse (1895–1976) of blessed memory. Last year was the 125th anniversary of Dr. Sasse’s birth. He was almost certainly the greatest faithful Lutheran theologian of the last century. His writings continue to guide and enrich the Church of the Augsburg Confession throughout the world. English-speaking Lutherans owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the President of Synod who has himself translated countless pages of Dr. Sasse’s works and has caused them to be published.
Our dear sister in Christ, Dorothy Bell, fell asleep in the Lord on Thursday, January 28. She was born on September 8, 1931 in Meherrin, Virginia, and will be buried in Saint Matthew’s Cemetery in Meherrin. May the Light perpetual ever shine upon her and may our heavenly Father comfort her husband Louis, her children, and all who mourn her departure. As of this writing, funeral arrangements are incomplete, but you will be notified as soon as they are in place.
Our Saviour Church in fact has roots in Saint Matthew’s Church, Meherrin, which was founded as an African-American congregation in 1883, nine years before the founding in Baltimore of Our Saviour Church, which was then called Jackson Square. It was members of Saint Matthew’s in Meherrin who founded Saint Matthew’s Church in Baltimore in 1928 which in 1973 merged with Our Saviour. So our roots as a congregation in a real sense go all the way back to 1883.
Gabe Purviance had been sick with the COVID virus but has made a good recovery. His father Philip was hospitalized with the virus but is now with Gabe and his wife Louise and is making a good recovery. Continue to keep them all in your prayers together with Joe Silver who will undergo surgery this Friday, and also Yolanda Ford, who having been hospitalized is now in the Future Care home on North Point Boulevard.
Our former organist, Matthew Bunn, resigned as organist on Sunday, January 24th. We are fortunate that John Igoe has agreed to serve as our organist for some weeks to come. He has served before as substitute here at Our Saviour and we are happy that he is available. He played for Divine Service on January 31.
At the end of this newsletter Quilla Downs reports on the gifts we were able to give to needy families connected with the Waverly Elementary School this Christmas. It really is wonderful that we were able to give even more generously than last year because of our people’s generosity. It happens that I began my education in kindergarten at the Waverly School then known as School 51. Judy Volkman reports on our Free Flea Markets.
We are continuing to work toward the restoration of the mechanism which plays the bells in the church tower. Mary Techau has done much in this connection. We now have over $9,000 in the bell fund. At our website (oursaviourbaltimore.org) there is a delightful video about the bells with Gabe Purviance as narrator. Be sure to see it!
While we are on the subject of finances, I should mention that a generous friend of our congregation recently sent us a check for $10,000. The Church Council will be discussing how this may best be used.
I suspect that during Lent last year very few people expected that the world would still be plagued with COVID–19 as this Lent begins. But so it is, and Lent is almost here.
The Church has always marked Lent with the three disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving as Christ teaches in His Sermon on the Mount—Saint Matthew 6:1-21. Lent is not so much a time to take on extraordinary disciplines as it is to return to those ordinary thoughts and words and deeds which are fitting for all those who have been baptized into our Lord’s death and resurrection. And so if we have been negligent in prayer, Lent is a time to return to a more disciplined prayer life. The forms of daily morning and evening prayer which Dr. Luther provides in the Small Catechism are not just forms to use but in fact a pattern for daily prayer. Public prayer is the worship of the Church. If we have for no valid reason (e.g. sickness, danger of exposure to the virus, etc.) been negligent in Sunday worship, Lent is certainly a time to begin to remedy that negligence and also to join in the midweek Lenten devotions. Almsgiving includes not just monetary gifts but anything that we do to help our neighbor, for example, our flea markets, our gifts to the GEDCO food cupboard, our gifts for the Helping Up Project, the help we recently provided for a group of Christians in Kenya. These needs are now greater than ever. But at the heart of the Lenten season is the contemplation of God’s great love in the passion and death of His only Son. God is a generous God! “God so loved the world that He gave…” Let us pray that through our Lenten discipline we may be ever more fully conformed to the image of our generous God!
Remember that our services are livestreamed at Our Saviour Baltimore Facebook and that sermons can be heard by calling (410) 587–0979. Never hesitate to call me at my home telephone: (410) 554–9994. If I am not at home, do leave a message. I check my messages throughout the day. The Holy Sacrament is the spiritual food and drink for our journey through this world. I am always ready to bring the Sacrament to those who for any reason are unable to come to the Divine Service.
Lent has always been kept as a season of fasting—but not only from food and drink! There may be fixed patterns in our lives, behaviors of various kinds, even patterns of thought which hinder our walk with Christ. We can all certainly benefit from careful self-examination. And then there is always the blessing of private confession and absolution which is always available by appointment. In the fifth chief part of his Small Catechism, The Office of the Keys and Confession, Dr. Luther provides necessary teaching about this. I am always ready and willing to answer your questions.
Let us continue to pray for one another and for this deeply troubled world.
Affectionately in our Lord,
Due to the increased funding from the Church, generosity from church family, and donor friends, we were able to more than fulfill our prior commitment to needy families recommended to us by our liaison at Waverly Elementary/Middle School. We usually provide $30 food gift cards to 10 families, but during the Christmas Holiday, additional help was requested, and our resources were such that we were able to purchase $70 gift cards for 11 families in need. The cards were redeemable at ALDI grocery stores. The COVID–19 pandemic and job loss have severely impacted already economically fragile communities and family budgets are stretched to the limit. I am glad that our congregation has again opened its collective heart and purse to make Christmas more meaningful and abundant for our neighbors in need. Many thanks for your continued support and concern for those who are in need.
– Quilla Downs
As COVID–19 continues, many of us are taking on projects that, in busier times, were set aside… like cleaning out that closet or the basement. If you are doing this, remember the Free Flea Market at Our Saviour. We can use men’s and women’s summer clothing, household items, and even Christmas items. We have gotten a number of items for Christmas and will have a “Christmas in July” sale! You can call Judy Volkman at (410) 377–8833 if you have items to be picked up or just to let her know that you have contributed some items. We will be starting the Free Flea Markets in May. Let us share the bounty the Lord has given us!
– Judy Volkman
February 26, 2020 AD
Guest Preacher: Rev. Guenter Schwab
February 14, 2018 AD
Wednesday, March 1
6:30 P.M. Soup Supper
7:30 P.M. DIVINE SERVICE WITH
IMPOSITION OF ASHES
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The beginning of March brings with it the beginning of Lent. “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent,’ he meant that the whole life of believers should be repentance.” This first of the 95 Theses which Dr. Martin Luther nailed to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg on October 31st 1517 reminds us that repentance is by no means confined to one season of the Church Year. In his Small Catechism Dr. Luther asks, “What does such baptizing with water signify?? It signifies that the old Adam in us should through daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die together with all sins and evil desires, and again a new man daily come forth and arise who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.” Nevertheless the Church has from ancient times set aside the forty days of the Lenten season as a time when we are especially conscious of Christian life as one of repentance. In preparation for Easter we meditate on the sufferings and death of the Lord Jesus for our sins, we confess our sins and are strengthened by the daily forgiveness He extends to all who with penitent hearts place their trust in Him. It is a very serious error so suppose that God somehow needs our Lenten observance: it is rather you and I who need this holy season. And so I hope that everyone will make a sincere effort to be present in church as we begin the Lenten season on Ash Wednesday with Divine Service and Imposition of Ashes. Receiving the ashes we hear the words God spoke to Adam after he had fallen into sin: “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). And “the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). On each of the following Wednesdays of the Lenten season there will be Lenten Vespers at 7:30 P.M. with meditations on the Passion of our Lord. A simple soup supper precedes these Lenten services at 6:30 P.M.
Included with this newsletter is a copy of a letter from the President of Synod, Pastor Matthew Harrison, on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the founding of our congregation. It was on March 10th, 1892 that twelve members of Immanuel Church, then on Caroline Street in east Baltimore, founded our congregation under the leadership of Pastor William Dallmann who was then the Pastor of English Emmanuel Church in west Baltimore. Emmanuel Church had been founded in 1888. So these two congregations were the beginning of the English work of the Missouri Synod in Baltimore. The name of our congregation has changed through the years. It was at first known as Jackson Square Lutheran Church because of its location. When in 1919 the old church was sold to Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church (which still worships in the old church) and the Church moved to its present location, the name was changed to The Church of Our Saviour. Then upon the merger of Our Saviour and Saint Matthew’s Church in April 1973 we became Our Saviour Lutheran Church. 125 years is a significant milestone which we will celebrate on Sunday, April 30th. The preacher for this occasion will be the Rev. Christopher Esget, Pastor of Immanuel Church in Alexandria and one of the five regional vice-presidents of the Missouri Synod. Do note this date in your calendar and plan on being present. You might also inform former members of our congregation about this celebration.
I think that everyone thoroughly enjoyed the potluck lunch on Sunday, February 12th, and the film on the life of Rosa Young, her remarkable work among the African American community as a confessor of the Gospel as proclaimed by the Lutheran Church. Mary Bridges, one of our older members, was in fact a student of Rosa Young. We give thanks for Rosa Young’s faithful witness as we continue to confess the same saving Gospel of Christ.
More than twenty people came to the meeting here at Our Saviour on February 18th to lay the foundation for a chapter of Lutherans for Life here in Baltimore. Hilary Haak, the Mission and Ministry Director of the national organization, led us through a very enlightening presentation on the basics of founding a chapter. We also were honored with the presence of the Rev. Everette Greene, vice-president of Lutherans for Life, a Baltimore native who is now Pastor of Immanuel Church in Cincinnati. There will be a follow up meeting here at Our Saviour on Saturday, March 18th, at 10:00 A.M. Everyone is welcome to attend. We are very much in just the beginning stages of this effort.
Confirmation classes for young people will be held on Tuesdays at 3:30 P.M. beginning February 28th. Dymond Hawkins and Ted Jones will be attending. Do let me know if there are other young people who might be invited.
The second Saint Mark’s Conference will be held on April 24 and 25 which is Saint Mark’s Day. Forty people attended last year’s Conference and we hope for a good response also this year. Although the Conference is chiefly of interest to pastors and seminarians, anyone may attend. The topic this year will be The Office of the Holy Ministry which will be considered in the light of Holy Scripture, the Lutheran Confessions, church history in general and the history of the Missouri Synod in particular. Publicity about this Conference will soon appear on our website.
We recently received the good news that, thanks to the generosity of Synod and Concordia Seminary in Fort Wayne, we will have a summer vicar. We will soon be able to announce his name. I know how much we all enjoyed the presence of Trent Demarest as our vicar together with his wife Maritza and his infant son John. Do keep the Demarests in your prayers as Maritza is expecting another child in early March.
Darlene Grant is still hospitalized at Johns Hopkins Hospital, James Gray is temporarily living at the Augsburg Home and recovering strength, Gabe Purviance is undergoing treatments. Remember to keep these fellow members in your prayers.
I suspect most of us are familiar with the tithe as a guideline (not a law!) for giving in response to God’s gift of forgiveness, life and salvation. Less familiar perhaps is the idea of Lent as the “Tithe of the Year.” The year has 365 days, Lent has 40 days. There is of course no divine law that Lent must be observed and consciences must not be burdened with such a mistaken idea: God does not need our Lenten observances but you and I do. In His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6) our Lord speaks of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving which have always been understood as the traditional Lenten disciplines. I urge you to read and meditate on Matthew 6 as we begin the Lenten season. It is always a mistake to try to do too much by way of Lenten discipline. Consider your own spiritual health – or perhaps the lack thereof. For example, if you have been negligent in prayer for others you might make a short list of people who need your prayers. If you have been negligent in worshiping on the Lord’s Day, resolve to be present each Lord’s Day to celebrate the weekly memorial of the Lord’s resurrection and receive the precious gift of His holy Body and Blood. By your presence you also encourage your fellow Christians in their faith. I also highly recommend the use of “Portals of Prayer” which provides a fine brief meditation on Scripture and prayer for every day of the year.
As during this Lenten season we remember God’s great mercy toward us in His Son, let us pray for grace to be merciful to others, keeping our hearts free of all judgmental, condemning thoughts. In the words of that 4th century Syrian Christian, Saint Ephrem:
O Lord and Master of my life,
Put far from me the spirit of pride, vainglory and hypocrisy,
But give rather to your servant a spirit of
humility, chastity, patience and love.
Yes, O Lord and King,
Help me to see my own faults and not to
judge my brother.
For you are blessed unto the ages of ages. Amen.
February 14, 2016 AD
Old Testament: 1 Samuel 17:40-51
Epistle: Hebrews 4:14-16
Gospel: Matthew 4:1-11
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Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Our text for this day is from the third and fourth chapters of St. Matthew’s Gospel:
And when Jesus was baptized, He went up immediately from the water, and, behold, the heavens were opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on Him; and, lo, a voice from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son, with Whom I am well pleased.” Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And the tempter came and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”
It was of course C. S. Lewis who said that Satan’s greatest success in modern times is his success in persuading countless souls that he is a harmless myth— despite the fact that the last century saw evil perhaps unparalleled in human history. And what shall we say of this new century, now halfway through its second decade? Well, C. S. Lewis was right! Satan’s greatest success is his success in persuading countless souls that he is a harmless myth, a joke.
Not so St. Paul who wrote of Satan, “We are not ignorant of his devices.”
The gospel writers Matthew, Mark, and Luke all tell us that immediately after Jesus’ baptism He was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil.
Now there is a great deal which can be said about this deeply mysterious story of God-Incarnate’s battle with the Prince of Darkness, but for today let’s focus on just one aspect of that battle. At Jesus’ baptism, just before His fasting and temptation, Jesus hears the voice of God the Father proclaim: “This is My Beloved Son.” But what then does Satan do? He tries to sow seeds of doubt in our Lord’s mind and heart. God the Father says, “This is My beloved Son!” Satan whispers, “If you are the Son of God…”— if you are the Son of God— “command that these stones be made bread… if you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from the pinnacle of the temple…,” as if to say, “God the Father’s word is not enough. ‘This is My beloved Son’? Let’s have some proof here.” Satan says, “If you are the Son of God,” echoing his words to Eve at the very beginning of the human story: “Did God say? Did God really say?” No wonder we call Satan “The Old Evil Foe”— up to the same old tricks he’s been up to since the beginning.
Now at your baptism, you didn’t literally hear God the Father say, “This is my beloved Child,” but you were through the waters of that heavenly washing truly made “the child of God, a member of Christ, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven.” But just as Satan tried to sow seeds of doubt in the mind and heart of our Lord, just so he tries the very same thing with us. He tries to bring about doubt as to what and who by God’s tender mercies we truly are.
Sinners, yes! But sinners forgiven and cleansed through Jesus’ precious blood: as our baptism assures us, as the word of absolution assures us, and as Christ’s truly present-in-the-Sacrament Body and Blood assure us. More than anything else Satan wants you to forget, to forget all that. He wants to sow seeds of doubt in your mind and heart: “You? You as you are!— a child of God?” Satan whispers, “How can that be? Just look at all your troubles and difficulties. Yes, look at your sins!” And Satan is past master at bringing to life the memory of sins long ago repented of, forgiven, but which still come back to trouble our conscience. “You, you as you are, a child of God?”
Our Lord held fast to the word His Father spoke at His baptism: “This is My Beloved Son”; just so we cling to God’s word of tender mercy put upon us with the water of our baptism whose power is the Blood of Jesus. Just listen to some wonderful words of that splendid preacher John Donne. Donne says:
Against this [accusation of the devil] there is no other medicine but the blood of Christ. And therefore, whensoever this apprehension of God’s future judgment bites on you, be sure to present to it the blood of your Savior. Never consider God’s judgement for sin alone but rather in company with the blood of Christ. It is but the hissing of the Serpent, the whispering of Satan when he surprises you in a melancholy midnight of dejection of spirit and lays your sins before you. Look not on your sins so inseparably that you cannot see Christ, too! Come not to Confession to God without consideration of the promises of the Gospel.
In the words of John Newton:
How sweet the name of JESUS sounds
In a believer’s car!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.
By Him my prayers acceptance gain,
Although with sin defiled;—
Satan accuses me in vain
And I am owned a child.
And the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus to life everlasting. +Amen.