Tag Archives: Reformation

The Festival of the Reformation

OSLC front Holga-ishThe Festival of the Reformation

October 25, 2020 AD

First Reading: Revelation 14:6-7

Epistle: Romans 3:19-28

Gospel: Matthew 11:12-19

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Our Saviour Parish News, October, 2020



OUR SAVIOUR LUTHERAN CHURCH

3301 The Alameda
Baltimore, MD 21218
410.235.9553
OCTOBER, 2020

Sunday, October 4
The Ninetieth Anniversary of the Dedication
Of The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Our Saviour
Family day

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In this year of our Lord 2020 three out of the four Sundays of October will be festival days here at Our Saviour. On October 4th we celebrate the 90th anniversary of the dedication of our church building, October 18th is Saint Luke the Evangelist’s Day and October 25th is Reformation Sunday.

We are continuing to follow COVID-19 protocols and to do our best to keep everyone safe. Many of these were discussed in the July newsletter and can be found on our church website (http://www.oursaviourbaltimore.org/2020/06/our-saviour-return-to-worship-announcement). When you arrive please wear a mask until you are in your place. Please observe social distancing in the nave. We in fact have plenty of space and we might as well use it all! We still have just four to a table for Communion—one person kneeling at each end of the two parts of the altar rail—and offering plates may be found on the piano and in the back of the church.

Our Saviour congregation was founded in 1892 as an English-speaking congregation by a number of laymen from German Immanuel Church then on South Caroline Street, now at Loch Raven and Belvedere. The old Jackson Square Methodist Church in east Baltimore was purchased as a place of worship. In 1919 the congregation moved to its present location and for ten years worshipped in a simple wooden chapel until the present splendid church was built in 1929/30.

Now, the stones and mortar and glass of a church building are not holy in themselves, but the purpose of a church building is most certainly holy. For here the Triune God draws near to us in the preaching of His holy Word and in the celebration of the Holy Sacrament in which the Son of God feeds us with His true body and blood, the price of our redemption, the sure pledge of the resurrection. Here we confess our sins, here we say our prayers, and here we adore the Holy and Undivided Trinity who has saved us. And so we can say as did Jacob when he awoke from the dream of the ladder from earth to heaven with the angels of God ascending and descending on it: “Surely the Lord is in this place… This is none other than the House of God and this is the Gate of Heaven” (Genesis 28:17). And so it is completely fitting that we should give thanks for all the blessings which God has bestowed in this hallowed place now for ninety long years.

The preacher for our anniversary will be the Rev. Dr. David P. Stechholz who is Bishop Emeritus of the English District of our Synod. He will also speak on the history of Lutheranism in North America at 9:45 am. When our church was dedicated in 1930, our congregation belonged to the English District of Synod. The first convention of the English District was in fact held in 1912 in our old Jackson Square Church in east Baltimore. The term bishop is perhaps unfamiliar in our circles. Yet more than thirty years ago the English District adopted the term bishop for its district president because the district had come to the conclusion that the title bishop more clearly expresses what district presidents in fact are and do. District presidents supervise the doctrine and practice of the pastors and congregations in their respective districts and—either in person or by proxy—ordain candidates for the Holy Ministry: Bishop is quite simply the ancient churchly name for those who do these things. It has been in use continuously since the Reformation in many parts of the Lutheran Church and continues to be in use in many of our sister churches around the world.  It has recently been adopted by Synod’s Atlantic District.

In the Calendar of the Church Year (Lutheran Service Book, p. xi) October 18th is always Saint Luke the Evangelist’s Day. This year October 18th falls on Sunday and so we have an opportunity to remember and give thanks for the life and work of Saint Luke, one of the four evangelists whose statues adorn the reredos of our church’s altar. Saint Luke is the evangelist who has recorded for us the wonderful story of our Savior’s birth and some of the most beautiful parables of Jesus, for example, the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son. There is a fine old hymn, dating from the 12th century, which we will sing on Saint Luke’s Day, which has some lines which so beautifully express the work of the four evangelists of the one Lord Christ:

In one harmonious witness the chosen four combine                        While each his own commission fulfills in every line.

voters meeting of our congregation will be held after Divine Service on October 18th. Every member of Our Saviour, age eighteen and older, is eligible to participate.

The last Sunday of October brings the Festival of the Reformation. It was on October 31, 1517, the Eve of All Saints Day, that Dr. Luther posted 95 theses, that is, propositions for debate among theologians, on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. Much has been written and continues to be written about these 95 propositions or theses but, when all is said and done, these theses were heard far and wide as a great call to repentance. And it was that clarion call to repentance which set in motion the great movement we know as the Reformation. “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ says, ‘Repent!’ he meant that the whole life of Christians should be one of repentance (Thesis 1)… The true treasure of the Church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God” (Thesis 62).  Dr. Luther and his coworkers never imagined that they were somehow founding a new church. They understood their work as one of calling the whole church to repentance and faith in our crucified and risen Savior in whom alone is all our hope. Thirteen years later the Lutheran princes and two city councils presented the Confession of their faith to Emperor Charles V in the City of Augsburg. They understood themselves to be confessing the one Faith of the one Church and to be inviting others to join them in so confessing. In its continued adherence to the Augsburg Confession the Church called Lutheran continues to issue that invitation to all Christians. We Lutherans believe that in this Confession divided Christendom can find unity in the truth as revealed in Christ through the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures and confessed in the Three Ecumenical Creeds—the Apostles, the Nicene, and the Athanasian. Dr. Luther’s Small Catechism is a marvelous summary of this teaching.

We were all saddened by the death of our long-time organist emeritus, Don Weber, on August 9th yet we are glad that he now rests in the nearer presence of the Lord Jesus. On September 15th the burial service was read at his grave in the presence of a number of his friends. On Sunday, November 22nd, there will be a Memorial Service at 4:00 P.M. This will be an opportunity to remember and give thanks.

Adult Christian Education and Sunday School will resume on Sunday, October 4th. Bishop Stechholz will speak on the history of Lutheranism in North America. Come and join us! These classes are always quite informal, and questions are most welcome.

At Mary Techau’s suggestion a video has been made of the bells in our church tower. Gabe Purviance is the narrator and Abigail Scheck has made some equipment available for better audio. You can see and hear this at oursaviourbaltimore.org or on Youtube. We are still trying to gather funds to repair the mechanism which rings the bells.

Our first free flea market of the year took place on September 12th, and the next one will take place on Saturday, October 10th, 9:00 am – 12:00 noon. We always need volunteers to help and welcome those who come.

Remember that the Sunday Divine Service is livestreamed every week and that you can also hear the Sunday sermon by calling 410.587.0979. Remember that if you wish to receive Holy Communion at home you should call me at 410.554.9994 or email me at charlesmcclean42@gmail.com.

We now have been living with this COVID-19 pandemic for over half a year. It goes without saying that we must pray for all who are sick and for those who mourn, also for all who care for the sick and the dying and for those who are working on a vaccine and effective medications. There also seems to be so much unrest at home and abroad: this too requires us to pray more fervently for all who are anxious and suffering. In all of this commotion we need more than ever to take to heart the words of the psalmist, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Do continue to remember me in your prayers: you are in mine.

Affectionately in our Lord,


Pastor McClean

Our Saviour Parish News, October, 2018

Our Saviour Lutheran Church
3301 The Alameda
Baltimore, MD 21218
410-235-9553

October, 2018

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

FAMILY DAY this year is SUNDAY, OCTOBER 14th. This is always one of the highlights of our year, We will have lunch following Divine Service. Sandwiches will be provided but everyone is invited to bring a side dish to share. There is a sign-up sheet for this on the piano in the front of the nave. Our guest preacher this year is the Rev. Noah Rogness who serves as Senior Non-commissioned Officer of the United States Army Pastoral Care Advisory Team. Before going to seminary Noah had served in the United States Army and was deployed to Afghanistan. Pastor Rogness is a dear friend of mine. I first got to know him ten years ago when he was serving as assistant to Chaplain (Colonel) Jonathan Shaw who preached at the Easter Vigil here at Our Saviour in 2017. Chaplain Shaw now serves at the Pentagon as the Director of Operations of the United States Army Chaplain Corps.

The Sunday morning Bible Class meets at 9:45 and we are continuing our study of the Letter to the Hebrews. On October 28 and on the following two Sundays the class will be led by Joshua Rystedt who is completing course work with Concordia University in Mequon, Wisconsin, in order to prepare for entrance into seminary. He will also assist in the Divine Service and will accompany me on several visits to members no longer able to come to Church.

The regular Voters Meeting will be held following Divine Service on October 21st. Every member of Our Saviour who is eighteen years old or older is eligible to participate and vote. Among other things we will be considering the schedule for our observance of Thanksgiving and of the Christmas season.

On Saturday, October 27th, the 19th Annual Meeting of the Baltimore City Historical Society will be held in our Church at 2:00 P.M. A reception in the undercroft will follow. The Historical Society will be meeting here because our Church has now been placed on the Society’s register of historic buildings. A building placed on the register has a sign briefly summarizing its history; planning for ours is almost complete. It will be placed on the 33rd Street side of our Church. The Society’s website says that the Society is dedicated to “preserving, curating and telling Baltimore’s story.”

The end of October always brings Reformation Sunday. As faithful Lutherans we believe that through Dr. Luther God restored to the Church the holy Gospel in its purity and the Sacraments as instituted by Christ Himself. But we must never assume an attitude of pride and condescension toward our fellow Christians, let alone a malicious joy in their trials and tribulations! One of the greatest faithful Lutheran teachers of the last century — some would say the greatest of them all — Dr. Hermann Sasse (1895-1976) had this to say in connection with the hundredth anniversary of the First Vatican Council of the Roman Church which had taken place in 1870:

If the century that has passed since the last solemn session of Vatican I has taught us one thing, it is that there is a solidarity or a common destiny that binds together a divided Christendom. Every great event in the history of one church is the concern of all. Church history should have taught us this long since. Today we are learning this better from year to year. Victory and defeat, glory and shame of one church are shared by all. Therefore each individual church should be the keeper of her sisters. To know this is the beginning of true ecumenicity.

It is no secret that the Roman Catholic Church is going through a terrible crisis — perhaps its worst since the Reformation – in connection with not only predatory sexual behavior on the part of some of its clergy but also distressing evidence that many in positions of authority deliberately covered this up and so permitted this evil to continue. Nor is that all. There also seems to be a growing uncertainty concerning doctrine and practice at the highest levels of that Church, including the Pope himself. Nor is that all! For when we look at the rest of Western Christendom today we see here in many places what increasingly approaches apostasy, an abandonment of the authority of God’s Word and the doctrine solemnly confessed in the three ecumenical creeds: the Apostles, the Nicene, and the Athanasian. And so we must pray for all Christendom that God would — as we say in the Bidding Prayer every Good Friday – “defend it against all the assaults and temptations of the devil and preserve it on the true foundation, Jesus Christ.”

On Reformation Sunday all four hymns sung in the Divine Service will be hymns of Dr. Luther. It is noteworthy that two of them were not entirely new. The first stanza of that wonderful hymn, “Come Holy Ghost, God and Lord!” had been in use for a hundred years, and the first stanza of that other hymn, “To God the Holy Spirit Let Us Pray,” had been sung for more than two hundred years before Luther was born. He simply added some beautiful stanzas to each of these already well loved hymns. This is significant! It shows that, not only in the liturgy but also in the hymnody of the Church, the Lutheran Reformation was truly a reformation and in no sense a revolution. As has often been said, the difference between the Church before and after the Reformation is like that of a garden before and after it has been weeded: those weeds are gone but it is still the same garden — that same Church which has been in the world since the first Pentecost and will continue until our risen and ascended Lord appears in glory at the Last Day. One sign of that continuity is that in our worship we use both words and music hallowed by centuries of use.

Since July we have been using Divine Service I in the Lutheran Service Book. This is the familiar service from the blue hymnal, Lutheran Worship. Beginning on Reformation Sunday and continuing until the end of January we will be using Divine Service Ill which is the familiar service from the red book, The Lutheran Hymnal. We are learning some hymns which are perhaps new to many of us. For a number of weeks we sang that delightfully joyful hymn, “In Thee is Gladness.” Beginning on October 7 we will be singing each week, “Lord Enthroned in Heavenly Splendor,” a hymn in which we rejoice in the Real Presence of the Savior under the humble forms of the consecrated bread and wine.

God has given so much to us here at Our Saviour: we are truly a family in Christ. Visitors quickly notice this! We are privileged to worship in a church building of astonishing beauty which wordlessly invites us to prayer. We are blessed with a remarkably talented organist, Marie Herrington. All of us were saddened when after more than a half century Don Weber was no longer able to continue his faithful service here. Yet I believe that in Marie we have found a worthy successor. She has many gifts, not least her ability to accompany the hymns in a way which truly expresses the words we sing, a way that truly lifts the heart! Before concluding this letter let me gently remind you to inform me when you or a loved one or a friend is ill or in need of pastoral care. That’s what pastors are for! And do let me know if you are in need of a ride to church. I will make every effort to see that one is provided. The best phone number to reach me is 410.554.9994. It has an answering machine and I regularly check it as I also do my email: charlesmcclean42@gmail.com.

You are in my prayers. Do remember me in yours.

Affectionately in our Lord,

Pastor McClean

WORKS OF MERCY

During the four free flea markets this year, we have distributed over a 1000 items! We can be proud that we are meeting a need in our community. There is one more Free Flea Market scheduled for November 10th. We will be distributing winter items at that time, including coats, hats, scarves, and gloves. And there will also be Christmas items. So if you have any winter clothes items or Christmas decorations to donate, please get them to me by November 5th. The Lord has blessed us with bounty and we are sharing that with those who need it.
– Judy Volkman

Our Saviour Parish News, November, 2016

oslcoutsidepicNOVEMBER, 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Those of you who were at the Divine Service last Sunday, Reformation Sunday, will remember that the text for my sermon was taken from the second Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians: “For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17,18).The Church as the mystical Body of Christ, His holy Bride, is a great reality in this world but we do not see her glory; instead the Church in this world is hidden under the cross of suffering, division, persecution. So it has always been and so it will always be until her risen Lord appears in glory. The Church is an eternal fellowship or communion: “I believe in the Holy Christian Church, the communion of saints.” Included in the Church are the believers here in this world and all those who have been called to Christ’s nearer presence in paradise. On the first Sunday in November, which we keep as All Saints Day, we celebrate this wonderful reality – as we sing in that wonderful All Saints Day hymn:      

O blest communion! Fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
Yet all are one in thee, for all are thine
Alleluia! Alleluia!

It is no secret that we live in an age which has little use for the great unseen realities to which the Scriptures bear witness. And so how fortunate it is that every year we are pointed to those unseen realities on this great Feast of All Saints. But not only on All Saints Day should we be mindful of “blest communion,” this “fellowship divine,” for every celebration of the Sacrament of the Altar is a participation in the life of heaven. From earliest times the Church has prayed as we still do today: “Therefore with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven we laud and magnify thy glorious name…” Our worship is no empty remembrance of an absent Lord! For the Lamb once slain on Calvary, now risen from the dead and worshipped in heaven is truly present under the outward forms of the consecrated bread and wine. And wherever Christ is, there too are His saints and all the holy angels.

 As November goes on the Scripture readings direct our attention more and more to the Last Day, the coming again in glory of our Lord and Savior. In fact the last Sunday in November this year is the First Sunday in Advent, that blessed season when we not only prepare to remember our Lord’s coming in humility as the Child of blessed Mary but we also look forward to His coming again to be our Judge. And so the thought of the Last Day is a call not only to hope but also to repentance and amendment of life. No one can compel you to be present at the Divine Service every Lord’s Day and Festival, but the Catechism teaches us that “We should fear and love God so that we may not despise preaching and His Word but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.” When we do not do this we are sinning against the commandment of God. Repentance is empty if it does not lead to amendment of life. The age in which we live is much afflicted with individualism, thinking only of oneself. The Church as the communion of saints is the contradiction of individualism and places us in communion with God the Holy Trinity and with one another. And that means among other things that we are bound to encourage our fellow Christians in faith and hope and love. When we fail to be present at the Divine Service we sin not only against God but also against our fellow Christians who need our encouraging presence.

 Thanksgiving Day is November 24th but again this year we will celebrate Thanksgiving on its Eve, Wednesday, November 23rd, at 7:30 P.M. The giving of thanks is of course the heart of our life as Christians; the Divine Service is the Holy Eucharist which means the Holy Thanksgiving. The Catechism directs us to begin our morning and evening prayer with thanksgiving: “I thank you, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, your dear Son…” Thanksgiving Day is the day when we give thanks especially for God’s mercies to us as a nation.

 And speaking of thanksgiving, I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to thank Scott Jones for the beautiful new green banner which he has given. It fits in very well with the green altar hangings and has triangles and circles which are symbols of the Holy Trinity. I also wish to thank Paul and Mary Techau for the new prayer desk in my study and for the beautiful crucifix above it. Having this prayer desk in the study will make it more convenient for any who wish to use the great privilege of private confession which is taught in the Catechism.

 The postponed Voters Meeting will take place this coming Sunday after the Divine Service. We will hear about a proposal for placing our church building on the roster of historic buildings in our City. Do come to the Voters meeting to hear about this and other concerns. We will determine the schedule of services for Christmastide.

 We now have a potluck lunch every second Sunday of the month and will this month on November 13th.

 As we approach the coming of the new year we are conscious of the fact that 2017 will be not only the 500th anniversary of the Reformation but also the 125th anniversary of the founding of Our Saviour congregation. It is not too soon to give thought to how we might best keep these two milestones in the Church’s life.

 And do remember to let me know if you are ill or if you have any concern which you would discuss with your pastor. I am always glad to see you. You are in my prayers. I ask your prayers for me and our whole congregation. 

Affectionately in our Lord,
PastorMcCleanSig
Pastor McClean

Works of Mercy

The holiday season is fast approaching, and, as in prior years, we look forward to sharing our food bounty with a few families who need a little extra help. Last year we provided dinners for ten families during Thanksgiving and Christmas. We would love to provide for the same number of families this year. To that end, and to the extent that you are able, please pick up an extra nonperishable food item for our holiday baskets. We will need the usual items for a traditional holiday table: canned cranberry sauce, canned sweet potatoes, green beans, greens, boxed mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, any canned vegetables, boxed cake mix, etc. Additionally, and any donations of turkeys would be greatly appreciated.

 We continue to remember the residents of Helping Up Mission. Personal grooming items are always needed. Monies collected from the Alms boxes are designated to benefit the needs of the residents of the Mission. Please share your spare change. Many thanks for caring for the needs of those less fortunate.

– Quilla Downs

Our Saviour Parish News, October, 2016

OCTOBER 2016

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.

Affectionately in our Lord,
PastorMcCleanSig
Pastor McClean