OUR SAVIOUR LUTHERAN CHURCH
in the City of Baltimore
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Although I do not always agree with him, George F. Will is one of my favorite journalists. In an article published some years ago he had this to say: “Modernity teaches that freedom is the sovereignty of the individual’s will – personal volition that is spontaneous, unconditioned, inviolable, and self-legitimizing.” This deplorable misunderstanding of freedom is at the root of so much of the disarray in today’s world. In the beginning of the human story Satan whispers to Eve, “You shall be as gods”: yourselves sovereign, yourselves the arbiter of good and evil, yourselves subject to no one, subject to no One – to God. In one of its beautiful ancient prayers the Church addresses God as the One “in whose service is perfect freedom.” The original Latin of the prayer makes this even clearer: that “to serve God is to reign/cui servire regnare est” Genuine freedom is found in obedience to God’s will, obedience to our own sinful will is only a more terrible form of bondage! In a recent book Rod Dreher notes that “the repaganization called the Sexual Revolution can never be reconciled with orthodox Christianity…For the Christian, there is only one right way to use the gift of sex: within marriage between one man and one woman. This is heresy to the modern world, and a hard saying upon which hearts, friendships, and even families and even churches have been broken. There is no one teaching of the Christian faith that is less popular today, and perhaps more important to obey”(The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, pp. 197,195). Writing to the Galatian Christians, Saint Paul says: “You were called to be free…only do not turn your freedom into license for your lower nature” (Galatians 5:13 New English Bible). And so we are all called to repentance which includes compassion for those who are ensnared by their ignorance of or rejection of Christ’s teaching. We are called to pray for their – and our! – deliverance from sin, remembering that we sin not only in deed and word but also in our thoughts which are known to God “unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid.”
Needless to say I hope that you will be able to be present every Lord’s Day for the Divine Service but I especially hope that many of you will be present on the Second Sunday in July – July 14th – because our summer Vicar, Joshua Dub, will be with us for the first time and Chaplain/Dr. John Bombaro will preach and address the Bible Class which as always will meet at 9:45 A.M.
Vicar Joshua attended Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where he studied Classics and German and was involved in various musical ensembles. After college he spent a year teaching English and Latin in Windsbach, Germany, at the school for the boys choir of that city, one of the renowned boy choirs of the world. He has most recently been serving in the Philadelphia area with Pastor Kieselowsky at Saint John’s Church in Springfield (where I served as pastor 1976-1982) and at the Logos Church in center city Philadelphia. He will also be serving with Pastor Coats at Redeemer Church in Irvington. Vicar Joshua will preach, lead the Sunday Bible Class, attend meetings of the Church Council, and accompany me on visits to our sick and shut-in members. I am also hoping that with his help we may move forward in outreach to college students in this city.
Chaplain Bombaro, who is at present attached to the Pentagon, will soon be leaving to teach at the Luther Academy in the City of Riga in Latvia, to plant an English-speaking church there, and to organize theological conferences in Eurasia. The Luther Academy was founded in 1997 to be a school for the education of pastors, teachers and church musicians. At our Sunday Bible Class Dr. Bombaro will show slides about his new work which is part of our Synod’s mission in other parts of the world. The Lutheran Church in Latvia suffered terribly under the Soviet tyranny, but since the fall of the Soviet Union has experienced a rebirth. For the past twenty-five years, under the leadership of its Archbishop Janis Vanags, our Latvian sister church has become a beacon of faithful Lutheranism in that part of the world. Do plan on coming to see and hear Chaplain Bombaro’s presentation in the air- conditioned rooms of our education building!
As faithful Lutherans, we know that the Church in the truest sense is the gathering of believers around the Word and the Sacraments. At the same time we do cherish the buildings in which our gracious God comes to us. More than a year ago our Church was placed on the register of historic buildings. Among other things, that designation makes it easier for us to obtain grants from outside sources for needs connected with the physical fabric of our building. And so the Church Council has formed the Our Saviour Church Historic Preservation Committee. We are extremely fortunate that Theresa Barrett, a friend of Merton Masterson, a grants expert, is willing to work with us in this effort. Chairman of the Committee is Mary Techau, Bernie Knox is treasurer, Richard Brown is secretary; Merton Masterson, Gary Watson, Gabe Purviance, and Paul Techau are also members. We most certainly do not worship buildings, but our Church building is a treasure of which we are stewards, stewards so that the mission of Christ the Savior can continue in this part of Baltimore.
Under the leadership of Judy Volkman we continue our Free Flea Markets on the second Saturday of each month; this meets the real needs of many people. We also continue our support for the Helping Up Mission by donating items needed by the men who are being helped by that wonderful institution. There is a box adjacent to the door next to the church office for depositing these items. We also continue to collect food for GEDCO. The box for donations is next to the door of the church office. As Christians we cannot be indifferent to the plight of those less fortunate than ourselves but must do what we are able to do to help them.
The triennial Convention of our Synod meets in Tampa, Florida, July 20-25. Pastor Charles Minetree of Immanuel Church is the pastoral delegate from the Circuit of congregations to which we belong and Harry Reinhardt of Martini Church is the lay delegate. Remember in your prayers those who will be taking counsel for the life of our Synod so that we may remain faithful to the Word of God and the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and so be an ever more effective mission in the world.
Looking ahead, Family Day/Homecoming is tentatively set for Sunday, October 6th. The annual Joint Reformation Service of our Synod’s Baltimore congregations will be held here at Our Saviour on Sunday, October 27th, at 4:00 P.M. The Rev. Dr. Gregory Todd, Rear Admiral United States Navy, Deputy Chief of Naval Chaplains and Chaplain of the Marine Corps, will preach. You will want to hear him.
As always let me encourage you to remember one another in your prayers. Pray also for the leaders of our nation, our state, our city in these difficult days. Please remember me in your prayers as I remember you in mine.