3301 The Alameda
Baltimore, MD 21218
Wednesday, February 26
Soup Supper, 6:30 P.M.
WITH IMPOSITION OF ASHES
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The beginning of February brings the last festival of the Christmas Cycle of the Church Year – Advent, Christmas, Epiphany – the Festival of the Presentation of our Lord in the temple. The end of February brings with it Ash Wednesday, the First Day of Lent.
Because the Savior was taken by His parents to the temple at Jerusalem on the fortieth day after His birth, the Festival of the Presentation of our Lord is always kept on February 2nd. Since February 2nd usually falls on a weekday, not on Sunday, we rarely have opportunity to keep this bright festival. This year we do. Saint Luke in his Gospel tells us all about it: Luke 2:22-40. There we learn that the little Lord Jesus was greeted by the aged Simeon who took Him up in His arms and said, “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace according to Thy word, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation…” (Luke 2:28,29) and went on to declare the infant Lord to be “a light to enlighten the Gentiles” (Luke 2:32). The theme of Christ as the true Light, come to dispel this world’s darkness, accompanies the whole Christmas Cycle of the Church Year: on Christmas Eve we hear the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light”(Isaiah 9:2); on the Feast of the Epiphany we hear Isaiah’s words, “Arise, shine, for your light has come”(Isaiah 60:1); and now on the Feast of the Presentation we hear the words of Simeon, “A light to enlighten the Gentiles.” And because of these words of Simeon it became the custom to have a candle-light procession on this festival, a custom which gave to this festival the name “Candlemas.”
The Christmas Cycle of the Church Year – Advent, Christmas, Epiphany – ends with the first Sunday in February. The next Sunday is the beginning of the Easter Cycle of the Church Year – Pre-Lent, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost.
The three Pre-Lenten Sundays have Latin names which reflect the nearness of Easter: approximately seventy, sixty, and fifty days until Easter: Septuagesima, Sexagesima, Quinquagesima. February 26th is Ash Wednesday. I regret that in many places the Pre-Lenten season has disappeared. I regret this because its disappearance tends to deprive us of a time of preparation for Lent. I believe that we need time to consider how we will use the holy season of Lent; the Pre-Lenten season provides us with an opportunity to do just that. In the ancient Church the forty days of Lent were the time to prepare candidates for the Easter baptisms. For us who have been baptized, the Lenten season should be a time of returning to our baptism, a time of greater intensity in living the baptismal life as we learned in the Catechism:
“What does such baptizing with water indicate? It indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.”
I will have more to say about Lent in the March newsletter. For now I will simply note that the three traditional Lenten disciplines are prayer, fasting, and alms-giving. Our Lord speaks of this in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:1-21). These disciplines can so easily become an occasion for sinful pride, for works righteousness. The words of the Savior show us how they are meant to be a blessing to ourselves and others
We will as usual have soup suppers on the Wednesdays in Lent beginning on Ash Wednesday. Divine Service on Ash Wednesday will as usual begin at 7:30 P.M.; the soup supper begins at 6:30 P.M. There is on the piano in the front of the church a sign-up sheet for those who wish to provide the soup on these Wednesdays.
Mary Techau gives us this update of the work of our Historic Preservation Committee. “In early 2020 we will be applying for a Maryland Bond Bill for capital improvements to our building, mainly the education wing, and also applying to the Maryland Historic Trust for a capital grant for renovation work. Once capital improvements are complete, we will be able to offer more ways to help in our community. The initial phase of our project will include roof, gutter and storm water repairs to ensure a safe and dry building.” It is worth remembering that we are able to make these applications because our building has been placed on Baltimore’s Historic Preservation list.
Do remember in your prayers those whose names appear each Sunday in the bulletin. As of this writing Lawrence Smallwood is recovering from surgery at Union Memorial Hospital. Quilla Downs has suffered several deaths in her extended family. Julia Silver continues to seek healing and asks for continued prayers.
I often find myself telling friends and acquaintances that I am blessed to serve a congregation whose people are generally good natured. I – sadly! – cannot say that of every congregation I have served! I think we need to be profoundly grateful for this blessing and seize every opportunity to draw others into this fellowship of faith and hope and love. You are in my prayers. I depend on yours.
Works of Mercy
Prior to Christmas, food gift cards were delivered to designated families at Waverly Elementary/Middle School; the social worker, on behalf of the recipient families, expressed warm thanks to our congregation for our sustained remembrance and support during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Again, many thanks to all of the generous donors who made our commitment to our community outreach a success.
Not to forget our recovering brothers and sisters at the Helping Up Mission. Because of the large and continuing number of residents served by the Mission, the need for clothing and grooming supplies is endless. We will continue to collect grooming items (soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, body powder etc.) and gently used or new clothing items, until we have a significant supply to deliver. If you would prefer to make a personal delivery, it would be welcomed, and you will be impressed with the efficiency of the operation. The Mission is located at 1029 East Baltimore St, Baltimore, Md. 21202.
Please remember to share your loose change by depositing it in the Poor Boxes; the proceeds will be used to purchase needed items for the Mission. Many thanks, and may God continue to bless you and our church family throughout the new year.