Festival Divine Service
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Forty days after His glorious resurrection the risen Lord ascended into heaven to prepare a place for us so that where He is we might also be. And so on Thursday, May 25th, we celebrate the great festival of the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. As we sing in one of the hymns for Ascension Day: “On Christ’s ascension I now build the hope of mine ascension…” Surely it is not a burden but a joyful privilege to celebrate the festivals on which we rejoice in God’s mighty acts whereby we are saved. I hope that you will come to worship on this happy feast day.
On Tuesday, May 2, the risen and ascended Lord called out of this world to Himself in heaven our dear brother in Christ, James Gray. He loved the Lord Jesus and He loved this House of God for so many years. Now he rests in the nearer presence of his Savior. May the Light Perpetual ever shine upon him! We pray that our Lord would comfort Helen and the whole Gray family and all who mourn. Nowhere in Holy Scripture are we told that it is wrong to mourn the loss from this world of those we love. Holy Scripture does not say that we should not sorrow, but rather that we should not “sorrow as others do who have no hope” (I Thessalonians 4:13). The Lord Jesus Himself wept at the grave of his dear friend Lazarus. God has given us tears for healing.
The month of April was certainly a busy one here at Our Saviour: Holy Week, Easter Day, the second annual Saint Mark’s Conference, and the celebration of the one hundred twenty-fifth anniversary of this congregation. I must thank everyone who worked to make all of this happen! I fear that we sometimes take for granted the work of our sexton, William Hawkins. So here I want especially to thank him. As you may know, the Saint Mark’s Conference is not paid for from our congregation’s funds: it is supported by Conference registration fees and generous gifts from friends. This year we had a substantial sum left after all expenses had been paid and this sum will be used for next year’s Conference.
And speaking of finances, at the Voters Meeting following Divine Service on May 21st, the budget for Fiscal Year 2018 will be approved and other matters discussed. A slate of officers for the Church Council will be presented:
President: Gabriel Purviance
Secretary: Judy Volkman
Treasurer: Bernice Knox
Director of Stewardship:
Director of Evangelism:
Director of Worship: Merton Masterson
Director of Youth:
Director of Property: Paul Techau
Director of Education: Mary Techau
At Large Member: Richard Brown
At Large Member: Gary Watson
We do not have candidates for all the positions of the Council. This is in part due to the fact that the constitution and bylaws of our Church presuppose a very much larger congregation. And this is true in many congregations of our Synod. Marie Herrington has continued to serve as organist. The Council will recommend to the Voters that we ask her to become the organist of this Church. She is very talented and a joy to work with. As you know she is a student at the Peabody Conservatory.
This year three of the four Sundays in June are festivals. June 4th is the Feast of Pentecost, June 11th is Trinity Sunday, and June 25th is the Anniversary of the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession. Pentecost is with Christmas and Easter one of the three great feasts of the Church Year. The Holy Spirit was poured out on Pentecost which is the fiftieth day after Easter Day – “Pentecost” means fiftieth – and the tenth day after our Lord’s ascension. From Advent through the Day Pentecost we celebrate what God has done for our salvation, on Trinity Sunday we celebrate the mystery of who God is: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: one God.
Less familiar than Pentecost and Trinity Sunday is the Anniversary of the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession on June 25th. After the Three Ecumenical Creeds – the Apostles, the Nicene, the Athanasian – the Unaltered Augsburg Confession is the principle statement of the faith of the Lutheran Church. So important is this Confession that the letters U A C are carved in stone on the cornerstone of this church building right after the name of the Church, and there was a time when our congregation’s Constitution required that all the voting members of the congregation be familiar with it. . In fact at the dedication of this church building on the 12th Sunday after Trinity in 1930 “Confessing Christ in Augsburg in 1530 and in Baltimore in 1930” was the title of the sermon preached by the Rev. William Dallmann, the Pastor who had helped the twelve laymen from Immanuel Church to organize this congregation.
So how did this Confession come about? In 1530 Emperor Charles V summoned the princes and free imperial cities of the German nation to a diet (meeting) in the City of Augsburg to plan a united defense against the invading Turks who had already reached the gates of Vienna. He hoped that at this meeting the religious controversy which had arisen between those remaining loyal to the Pope and those who had embraced the faith as taught by Dr. Luther and his coworkers might be resolved. As their contribution to the resolution of the conflict the Lutheran princes and two free imperial cities presented the Confession of their doctrine to the Emperor on the afternoon of June 25th. The Confession was based solidly on Holy Scripture and showed how “Lutheran” doctrine was not an innovation but none other than the doctrine of the ancient Christian Church. The faithful Lutheran Church continues to propose this Confession as a unifying Confession. And so on the anniversary of the presentation of the Augsburg Confession we give thanks for this treasure of truth and we pray for the unity of sadly divided Christendom. Nothing is more precious than the truth of Christ’s saving Gospel. And that is why we cherish this wonderful Confession of that saving Gospel whereby we live and die in the peace of Christ
On June 5th, the great Feast of Pentecost, our summer vicar Brett Witmer will be with us and will participate in the Divine Service. There will also be a lunch to welcome him. He will have completed his first year of study at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana. Having already met him I am confident that he will be a blessing to us all. Do come to church on Pentecost and warmly welcome him.
In conclusion I wish to share with you the closing paragraphs of the wonderful sermon Pastor Esget preached on Sunday, April 30th, the Sunday known as “Good Shepherd Sunday” in the Calendar of the Church Year. As Regional Vice-President of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, Pastor Esget brought us the greetings of the President of Synod, Pastor Matthew Harrison. Here is what Pastor Esget had to say:
We rejoice that you are 125 years old. But you are not old, you are young, you’re new. In the kingdom of God, things do not grow old, but they are ever new. Last Sunday we all heard that we are newborn babes, drinking the milk of the Word to grow by. Even now, Jesus is making you new, and teaching you to live a new kind of life. “Christ also suffered for you,” we heard St. Peter say, “leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” And again, “[Christ] himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.”
So rejoice and be glad this day. All these years God has cared for you, and for Our Saviour Lutheran Church. Your Jesus is your Good Shepherd. He will be your rock through all the storms of life. He will guide you and protect you from danger. And when the last hour comes, your Jesus will pick you up and like a Shepherd lead you home.
So sing and be glad this day, for Jesus lives, and His Church will never die! Clap your hands and laugh, for Jesus lives, and you will live forever. Play the trumpet and clang the cymbal, for Jesus Christ is risen today!
Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Our congregation has so many reasons for giving thanks. Let us continue to be truly thankful Christians and also pray for one another, also for the whole Church and the whole world, so desperately in need of the fervent prayers of faithful Christians.