November 22, 2017 AD
November 23, 2016 AD
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
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.
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
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
From ancient times the first day of November has been kept as All Saints Day, the festival when the Church here on earth remembers all those who now rest in Christ’s nearer presence. Here at Our Saviour we always especially remember those members of our congregation who have fallen asleep in the Lord since the last All Saints Day: this year Dr. Joseph Jones and Doris Goods. May the Light perpetual ever shine upon them.
God’s saving purpose is misunderstood if its goal is described as isolated individuals ﬁnally at one with Him. No, His saving purpose is that all who have been baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus will together be with Him and with one another in that kingdom of love and joy which has no end. As we say in the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe…in the communion of saints.” In last year’s November newsletter I shared with you a few words of Pastor Wilhelm Löhe (1811-1872), one of the great Fathers of the Lutheran Church in the nineteenth century. Here is the entire excerpt from his writings:
There is one eternal Church, part to be found here and part to be found in eternity. Here it becomes smaller and smaller, but there it becomes ever larger, for the yearning, struggling band is always being gathered to its people. When I was young I thirsted for an eternal fellowship. Now I know an eternal fellowship which becomes more and more close and binding— the holy Church! From it death shall not separate me, but death will for the first time bring me to complete enjoyment of love and fellowship.
Or, as we shall sing in a fine hymn of Charles Wesley (1707-1788) this coming Sunday:
The saints on earth and those above
But one communion make;
Joined to their Lord in bonds of love,
All of His grace partake.
One family, we dwell in Him,
One Church above, beneath;
Though now divided by the stream,
The narrow stream of death.
November 26th is Thanksgiving Day. We usually have Matins at 10 o’clock in the morning, but after careful thought and discussion the Church Council has recommended that we try celebrating our national Day of Thanksgiving with worship the evening before. Although Thanksgiving is not, strictly speaking, a festival of the Church Year, it remains our country’s national day of Thanksgiving. When I was a boy the churches were filled— but that was a long time ago! I am personally of the conviction that the neglect of worship at this national festival is yet another deplorable sign of lethargy, indifference, and the growing secularism which tries to sweep all before it. I hope that Divine Service on the Eve will make it possible for more people to attend. The hymns sung on the day are wonderful hymns, not to be missed: “Now Thank We All Our God,” “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come,” etc. It has been said that “thinking people are thankful people.” When we think of God’s undeserved blessings showered on our nation— despite our many sins as individuals and as a nation!— we will wish to give thanks to the Lord “whose mercy endureth forever.”
I should also mention that the Church Council has recommended that the Festival Divine Service of Christmas Eve be held at 9:00 PM rather than at 10:30 PM. More and more churches seem to be having their Christmas Eve worship somewhat earlier in the evening. I mention this change now so that you can plan your Christmas Eve in such a way that you will not miss the celebration of the Savior’s birth for your salvation.
Looking back over the past month, we certainly had a wonderful Family Day here on October 11th. I think that the attendance was better than it has been in several years, and we were blessed with a ﬁne sermon by our friend, Pastor Elliott Robertson, of Martini Church. I wish to thank Louise Purviance for taking charge of the delightful luncheon which followed and also everyone who helped in any way to make our Family Day such a success.
The handsome red cope worn on Reformation Day is a gift from Vicar Trent and Maritza Demarest. The cope is a vestment which has continued to be used by the Lutheran bishops in Scandinavia since the time of the Reformation, and it has been restored in many parts of the Lutheran Church. If you have not yet done so, do look at our Church’s website. Vicar Trent has done a splendid job of putting it together and he continues to keep it up to date. Although I have not asked him to do this, he places a recording of my sermons on our website every week. Some of our members who are no longer able to come to church have said how much they appreciate this.
I cannot close without also thanking Steve Knox for all his work in connection with the installation of the new boiler which is now finally in place, up, and running! Please keep me in your prayers. You are daily in mine.
As an expression of our care and concern for those in need we will be collecting non-perishable food items for Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets for families in the Waverly Elementary/Middle School Community. On October 6th we delivered six boxes of food to the CARES food pantry; that delivery depleted supply. Our focus now is to collected holiday foods (boxed mashed potatoes, canned sweet potatoes, string beans, sweet corn, macaroni, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, boxed cake mix, etc). With the help of a $250 donation from Thrivent and a gift card pledge from Giant Foods, we expect to provide dinners, including turkeys, for approximately ten families, for both the Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays. Many thanks for sharing your gifts of food.
— Quilla Downs