Our Saviour Lutheran Church
3301 The Alameda
Baltimore, MD 21218
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
When the mother of Jesus visited her cousin Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, Elizabeth greeted Mary with the words, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb…for when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” And Mary herself said, “from now on all generations will call me blessed, for He who is mighty has done great things for me.” This meeting of Mary and Elizabeth and of their yet unborn children, the Lord Jesus and Saint John the Baptist, has from ancient times been commemorated on July 2nd which this year falls on Sunday. And so this coming Sunday we shall joyfully celebrate the Festival of the Visitation. You can read about this at Saint Luke 1:39-56.
This past Sunday we celebrated the 487th anniversary of the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession, the principle confession of the faith of the Lutheran Church. A booklet containing the Augsburg Confession was distributed to all who were in Church. If for some reason you were not able to be present and wish to have a copy of this booklet, I’ll be happy to see that you get one.
Vacation Bible School has begun and we are very grateful to everyone who is helping to make this possible: our summer Vicar Brett Witmer, Mary Techau, our good friend Pastor Roy Coats and his summer Vicar Simeon Cornwell, as well as Mr. Hawkins, our Sexton, who is always so willing to help. Having repainted the undercroft he is now painting the classroom in which the Sunday School meets. At this year’s VBS the children are learning about the wonderful “I am” sayings of Jesus as we find them in the Gospel according to Saint John: “I am the Bread of Life,” “I am the Light of the world,” “I am the good Shepherd,” “I am the Resurrection and the Life,” etc. Pray for God’s blessing on this effort to bring children ever closer to their Savior.
I wish to thank all who helped with the second of our free flea markets of this year on Saturday, June 10th, and especially Judy Volkman who has led this effort for several years. The next free flea market will be held on Saturday, July 8th, 9:00 A.M. – 12:00 Noon. We always need willing helpers. I think I can truthfully say that we have a good time doing this! It is a pleasure to meet our neighbors and indeed just to spend time with each other.
Do remember our continued efforts to support the Helping Up Mission and the community food cupboard at GEDCO. The Helping Up Mission is always in need of personal grooming items and GEDCO is always in need for food for the poor and needy.
The process for gaining historic designation for our beautiful church is progressing. The last meeting before the City Council will be July 17. Anyone may attend this meeting as our church history is presented before the council and a landmark designation is read and voted on. Once this process is complete we will be able to continue with maintenance and beautification projects around the church building knowing it will always remain a treasure in the city.
I must thank everyone who helped with the delicious luncheon we had on Sunday, June 4th, the Feast of Pentecost, to welcome our summer Vicar. I am very glad that he is here! We got to hear him preach a fine sermon on Sunday, June 18th; he’ll also be preaching on July 16th and August 20th. It is a real treat for me to listen to someone else’s voice! The Vicar has been helping with calls on our shut-in members and has been helping with the confirmation class and the Sunday adult study group and in general making himself useful.
And speaking of shut-in members, Darlene Grant has been able to return to her home after more than six months in and out of hospitals and nursing homes. Pray for her continued recovery. And we are all very glad that Gabe Purviance is again with us after a long course of treatment.
Our dear brother in Christ, David West, fell asleep in the Lord on Sunday, May 28th, after a brief illness. His funeral was held at the Church on Thursday, June 1st. He will certainly be missed here at Our Saviour and in the neighborhood where he was such a friendly and cheerful presence. May the Light perpetual ever shine upon him! And may our Savior comfort all who mourn his departure with the sure and certain hope of the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.
In 2016 not one member of our congregation died. But in the first half of this year we have mourned the death of three faithful members: Myrna Curtis, James Gray, and now David West. Ours is the loss but theirs is only gain. Says Saint Paul, “I have a desire to depart and to be with Christ which is far better” (Philippians 1:23).
Those of you who regularly attend Divine Service will have noticed that we have two new acolytes in addition to Kai Hawkins and Jamera Lewis-Hawkins who are so very faithful in serving week after week after week. They are an example to us all! Jamera will be out of town this summer. Our two new acolytes are Ted Jones and Dominick Carmichael-Myrie. I am very happy that our young people want to serve at the Lord’s altar.
On Sunday, July 9th, we will begin using the “blue book,” Lutheran Worship, and will continue to do so for several months. Since Palm Sunday we have been using the “red book,” The Lutheran Hymnal. Both of these books have been authorized for use in our Synod, the red hymnal in 1941, the blue hymnal in 1982. In 2007 a new hymnal, the Lutheran Service Book, was authorized for use in the congregations of our Synod. It in fact incorporates the best both of the red and of the blue hymnal, including the liturgies we use from both books. I think the time has now come to consider the possibility of introducing this book. Nothing will be done quickly! Instead the possibility of using the Lutheran Service Book will be formally introduced to the congregation at the October Voters Meeting, but no action will be taken until the January Voters Meeting. This will provide time for members to familiarize themselves with the new book – several copies will be available for borrowing – and for discussion among ourselves. I repeat, nothing will be done quickly! I am happy to answer any questions you may have.
In a recent sermon Pastor Christopher Esget, who preached for the 125th anniversary of our congregation, had this to say: “The walls of Western Civilization are collapsing. And with that collapse, so also the church is shattered, splintered, fragmented. Many of our members have a weak or nominal commitment to Christianity. The children we spend so much time catechizing will go out into a world deeply hostile to everything we have taught them.” These words certainly have the ring of truth! Yet if we find ourselves despairing, we have clearly lost sight of the one true and living God, the God who creates out of nothing, the God who Himself joined us in our death and then rose triumphant from the grave. To be sure, there is no promise that Western Civilization will be saved, but there is Christ’s promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail against His Church – that this “only holy Church shall be and remain forever” (Augsburg Confession, Article VII). Our part is to live lives of repentance and faith nourished by Christ’s Gospel and holy Sacraments in which week by week, every Lord’s Day, He is present to pardon us, to renew us, and to strengthen our hope in His coming again to make all things new.
Do keep me in your prayers as you are in mine.
Affectionately in our Lord,
Lutherans for Life – Maryland Chapter
Maryland Lutherans for Life held a formation meeting at Our Saviour this past March and representatives from nine Lutheran churches in the greater Baltimore area were in attendance. You may have heard of the national organization, formed in 1976, in connection with the March for Life held each January in Washington DC. This certainly is part of the Maryland chapter’s mission, peacefully marching on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision which overturned state laws regarding abortion. But Lutherans for Life includes all life issues, from conception to natural death. The gift of life is from our Creator and we uphold the sanctity of human life because all people are created and redeemed by God who intends they bear His image for time and for eternity (John 10:10).
As a chapter we will work to be a Gospel-motivated voice for life in our community. What does this look like for us? Each of us might meet someone who needs a listening ear, a hot line number, a tract or a counseling center address. Our chapter will begin compiling this information including adoption, bioethics. end of life issues, family living and many more topics, and educate ourselves that we might help our neighbor.
Our next meeting will be at Our Saviour, Saturday, November 18th, at 10:00 A.M. All are welcome to find out about this outreach.
– Mary Techau