Reminiscere Midweek Vespers
March 3, 2021AD
March 3, 2021AD
The Second Sunday in Lent
February 28, 2021 AD
Listen to the service:
The First Sunday in Lent
February 21, 2020 AD
Old Testament: Genesis 3:1-21
Epistle: II Corinthians 6:1-10
Gospel: Matthew 4:1-11
Listen to the service:
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
April 5, 2020 AD
April 1, 2020 AD
Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and orders of the governor of the State of Maryland, services at Our Saviour have been temporarily suspended. You are invited to meditate on the following for your mid-week devotions.
Luke 23:26-49 (Meditation from Bo Giertz, To Live with Christ)
LSB 425 When I Survey the Wondrous Cross (TLH 175)
LSB 434 Lamb of God, Pure and Holy (TLH 146)
LSB 437 Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed (TLH 154)
LSB 428 Cross of Jesus, Cross of Sorrow
The Fifth Sunday in Lent
March 29, 2020 AD
Listen to the whole service here:
The Second Sunday in Lent
Guest Preacher: Chaplain Charles Varsogea
March 8, 2020 AD
The First Sunday in Lent
March 1, 2020 AD
Guest Preacher, Chaplain Patrick Flynn, U.S. Navy
February 26, 2020 AD
Guest Preacher: Rev. Guenter Schwab
The Fifth Sunday in Lent
April 7, 2019 AD
The Fourth Sunday in Lent
March 31, 2019 AD
March 27, 2019 AD
The Third Sunday in Lent
March 24, 2019 AD
“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” Luke 11:23
When you were baptized and when you were confirmed you were asked, “Do you renounce the devil and all his works and all his ways?” And you answered – either through your godparents at our baptism or you yourself answered at your confirmation – with the single word “Yes.” “Do you renounce the devil and all his works and all his ways? Yes.” A simple answer to a simple question! But what follows in not simple at all for by answering that question with a “Yes” you in fact enlisted as a soldier in the battle with Satan and his legions, a battle which never ends until we leave this present world and like the poor beggar Lazarus are carried by angels into the paradise of God. “Do you renounce the devil and all his works and all his ways? Yes.” A simple answer to a simple question, but the living out of that answer is the work of a lifetime.
In the Gospel for the this day Jesus speaks of the work of Satan by means of a comparison, an illustration. He says, “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe, but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil.” Satan is like that strong man, fully armed, guarding his own palace, his goods safe – until one stronger that he attacks and overcomes him. What our Lord is saying is this: By nature you and I and every human being who has ever lived is a palace or castle of the evil one, a place where he swells and does all the mischief he can. As long as God permits this, Satan has his own way. There is no struggle, no distress, no misgiving of conscience – people go contentedly down the broad way which leads to destruction. This is that full power of Satan which Saint Paul speaks when he writes of those who are “without God in the world,” and, worst of all, not even aware of their plight.
From this condition the merciful Lord delivers us when we are brought to Holy Baptism and there made a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven. Says Saint Paul, “God has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son.” God did that for each one of you when you were baptized, when you in fact renounced the devil and all his works and all his ways. But the struggle to live out the renunciation goes on as long as we live – just as we learned in the Catechism: Baptism “signifies that the Old Adam in us should through daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires and again a new person comes forth who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.”
Every day of our lives, every moment, we are caught up in that struggle between the power of Satan and the power of Christ. “Whoever is not with Me is against Me,” says the Lord Jesus, “and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” There can be no neutrality! “Do you renounce the devil and all his works and all his ways? Yes.”
In the Epistle for this day Saint Paul spells out something of what that means for our daily lives, what if means to be WITH Christ rater than against HIM. Paul says, “Be imitators of God as beloved children,” the point being that just as little children who love their parents will try to be like them as much as they can, just so we as the children of God try to be like the heavenly Father, we know in His Son Jesus. Paul then immediately adds: “And walk in love as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Anything that contradicts love contradicts Christ, is against Christ. And so we are called to love the human beings God places in our lives. And that isn’t always an easy thing! It is so much easier to be indifferent and ignore people or even respond in kind when they do us harm. “Christ loved us and gave himself for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” If there is someone you find it hard to forgive, picture in your mind the crucified Savior, and then picture yourself on one side of His cross an this difficult person on the other, and listen to the Savior as He prays, “Father, forgive them…” Whoever is not WITH Me is AGAINST Me and whoever does not GATHER with Me scatters.”
The world in which the Lord’s apostles lived and worked was a world no less decayed than our own. The cities of that time were in fact notorious havens for vice of every description And so Paul admonishes the Christians in Ephesus: “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you…Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking which are out of place.” And Paul hastens to add: “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.”
But it is never enough to avoid what is wrong in the eyes of God, it is also necessary to replace what is wrong with what is pleasing in God’s eyes. How we need to take to heart the words Saint Paul addressed to the Christians in the city of Phillipi! “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, it there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
“Whoever is not WITH me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” Our Lord clearly teaches that in the battle with Satan and with sin there can be no neutrality. These are the words of the Son of God who will come to be our Judge and they speak to the conscience of every one of us. No doubt some may find it hard to accept them, just as it is hard, very hard to bring home to ourselves that although we cannot save ourselves – only God can do that – we are in fact mysteriously free to damn ourselves. And from that fate may God in His mercy save us all!
He is the merciful Lord who, as Saint John writes, appeared “to destroy the works of the devil.” We heard in the Gospel, that when Jesus was accused of casting out devils with the help of the Prince of the devils, He replied: “If I by the finger of God cast out devils, the kingdom of God has come upon you.” God’s kingly rule of compassion, mercy and that “love to the loveless shown what we might lovely be.” In Jesus’ struggle with Satan in the wilderness, in His life of perfect obedience to the Father’s will, in His precious pouring out His life-blood to cleanse us from the stain of all our sins, Satan has met his match: the Savior had defeated Him, the decisive battle has been won. And now we but await the unveiling of His victory on that Last and Great Day when the world as we now know it will come to its end and the risen Lord of Love will make all things new. That new world dawned from the open tomb when the Lord rose victorious from the dead, the triumph we shall soon again celebrate with great joy.
March 20, 2019 AD
Just before He died on the cross the Lord Jesus spoke that word which the bystanders no doubt understood as an admission of defeat but which was in fact Jesus’ cry of victory: “It is finished!” meaning “It is accomplished, it is completed!” And if we ask, “What is finished? What is accomplished? What is completed?” the answer is this: our Lord ‘s work of perfect love for His Father, His perfect love for this lost and fallen world. That Jesus lived a life of perfect love for His Father is seen in His perfect obedience to the Father’s will, humbling Himself even to the death of the cross. That Jesus lived a life of perfect love for this lost and fallen world is seen in His praying even for those who had brought His cruel death, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” A life of perfect love for the Father, a life of perfect love for this lost and fallen world: This is what is finished, accomplished, completed as the Lord Jesus bows His head and dies.
On these Lenten evening this year we’re meditating on the Ten Commandments in the light of Jesus’ passion and death.
We remember that when Jesus was asked, “Which is great commandment in the Law? He replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” In these words Jesus summarizes the Ten Commandments: the first ‘THREE commandments require love for God, the remaining SEVEN require love for the fellow human beings God has placed in our lives. But even these last seven also have to do with the love of God. For since they are commandments given by God, fulfilling them, keeping them, not disobeying them expresses love for God
This evening we reflect briefly on the Third and Fourth Commandments.
The Third Commandment is “Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.” And in the Catechism Dr. Luther explains this third commandment in this way. “We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His word but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.”
Jesus truly lived from the written Word of God. When tempted in the wilderness He defeated Satan with the Word of God: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. You shall not tempt the Lord your God. You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.” And as Jesus lived so also He died. As His life drew to a close the Word of God was on his lips. For on the cross He prays in the words of the 22nd Psalm, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?” and from the words of the 31st Psalm, “Into your hands I commend my spirit.” The Lord Jesus not only prayed to the Father: in the most real sense His whole life was prayer, communion with the Father, and so perfect love for Him.
The Fourth Commandment is “Honor your father and your mother.” And in the Catechism we learn that this means: “We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them.” Saint John tells us in His Gospel that Jesus, “having loved His own who were in the world loved them to the end.” And so as He is dying on the cross Jesus says to Mary His mother, “Woman, behold your son,” and to John, “Behold your mother.” Here we see how our Lord provides for His mother by entrusting her to the care of John the beloved disciple. And we see in this the pattern of love for parents which God requires of us all — not always easy, but never, ever to be regretted!
But from the cross our Savior not only provides a home for His mother. In a deeper sense He provides a home for every lost and lonely child of Adam’s race — by bringing into being that holy family, His one holy Church, gathered together by the blood and water which flowed from His pierced side as He handed over the Spirit: the water of Holy Baptism, the blood of the Holy Sacrament, and in both of them the gift of the Holy Spirit. In that magnificent 68th Psalm which sings of the triumphal progress of the children of Israel in their wilderness wanderings the psalmist sings: “A father of the fatherless and a defender of the widow is God in His holy habitation: God sets the solitary in families.” And how does God do this? Through that CRUCIFIED Body born of Mary, gathering forgiven sinners into His MYSTICAL Body the Church, the whole company of His faithful people in heaven and on earth. And as Jesus in His death not only provided a home for His mother but an eternal home for every human being His love calls into being, so you and I who are already by our Baptism members of that blessed company of all faithful people are called to WELCOME into Christ’s family those who have yet to know His mercy and His grace.
Saint John wrote: “If you KNOW these things, blessed are you if you DO them.” May we then take to heart all we have been shown from God’s holy Word so that together with Christ’s blessed Mother and all saints we may forever rejoice in the unveiled presence of Him who died but is alive forevermore and has the keys of death and the grave!
The Second Sunday in Lent
March 13, 2019 AD
March 13, 2019 AD
Now we remember how God first revealed His Law to Moses in written form, the Ten Commandments on the two stone tablets. But long before that, in fact from the very beginning of the human story, God’s Law was written on the heart of every human being. Saint Paul puts this so clearly when he writes in his Letter to the Church at Rome, “When the Gentiles which have not the Law do by nature what the Law required,…they show that what the Law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them.” And so we see that God’s Law is written not only on two tablets of stone but also on the heart of every human being. And this Law of God is no arbitrary code but simply reflects the way we’ve been fashioned by our Creator.
An illustration I often use in confirmation class is this, that God’s Law is like the little manual that comes with a new car. It tells you what to do and what not to do if you don’t want your car to become a wreck! The owner’s manual isn’t arbitrary but comes from the company that made the car and knows what needs to happen if the car is to be in good running order. Well, you might say that the Ten Commandments are something like your car’s owner’s manual. God is our Maker and so He knows how we are to live if we are to avoid all kinds of trouble, even disaster.
This evening we consider the First Commandment, “You shall have no other gods” which means “We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things” and the Second Commandment, “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God” which means that “We should fear and love God so that we do not curse, swear, use satanic arts, lie, or deceive by His name but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise and give thanks.
“You shall have no other gods…” We remember how our first parents and we like them really want to be our own God, ourselves the arbiter of good and evil, right and wrong. Saint Paul tells us that our Lord did not think of equality with God as something to be grasped but emptied Himself, taking on the form of the perfectly obedient Son and Servant of the Father, humbled Himself even to the death of the cross. The words of the psalmist were perfectly fulfilled in Jesus. The psalmist sings, “Then said I, ‘Lo, I have come to do THY will, O God’… and by that WE have been sanctified by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all.”
God cares about His name as we learn in the Second Commandment “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God” and God-in-the-flesh taught us to pray, “Hallowed be Thy name,” a prayer which may be paraphrased as “May Your name be kept holy, May Your name be held in reverence.” But to listen to people talk today – to say nothing of the blasphemies regularly heard on television and in the movies, patterns of speech which even pollute the lives of our little children – you would think that the Second Commandment has become nothing more than an empty form.
It is both amazing and saddening how widespread the misuse of God’s name, even the holy name of Jesus, has become even among professing Christians – all this a symptom of the collapse of any real sense of the majesty and holiness of Him who made and redeemed us. A wise pastor of the Church had this to say: “God’s name must not be profaned in speech… We cannot drag God’s name in the mud of our dirty discourse without undermining in ourselves, and in those who hear us, reverence for God Himself.” There is much to ponder here and perhaps much to repent of.
Jesus is the perfectly obedient Son of the Father. During His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane He prays, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not MY will but THINE be done” and then goes forward to His bitter passion, the perfectly meek and humble Lamb of God, the perfectly trusting Son of the Father, praying with His final breath, “FATHER into Thy hands I commend My spirit.” Jesus’ whole life had in fact been an expression of His dying words, “Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.” “Father, I place my life in Your hands.” He did not curse those who betrayed Him, arrested Him, unjustly condemned Him, flogged Him, and crucified Him, but instead prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” He continues to call upon His heavenly Father both in Gethsemane and on the cross.
And all of this He did and suffered for you. He did suffered for me. HIS obedience makes good for OUR disobedience. HIS perfect love makes good for OUR imperfect love, HIS perfect trust makes good for OUR imperfect trust. His HOLY life He gives in exchange for OUR sinful life. And so nothing stands between us and the judgment of God. In His suffering Christ our Lord has suffered the judgement of God for all our sins and so we live in the happy freedom of those who know that “There is now no condemnation for them that are in Christ Jesus.”
The whole human race fell in Adam’s fall, the whole human race is restored through the perfect obedience of Him who is the Second Adam. Says Saint Paul, “As one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one Man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all.” And that acquittal is yours and mine not through any effort on our part but through simple trust in God’s sure promise that this is so!
The First Sunday in Lent
March 10, 2019 AD
March 6, 2019 AD