3301 The Alameda
Baltimore, MD 21218
Second Sunday after Christmas, January 3 – 11:00 am
The Epiphany of Our Lord, January 6 – 7:30 pm
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
There is perhaps a sense of relief at the passing of the year 2020 and hope that the new year will prove to be less difficult. But we would be guilty of the sin of ingratitude if we did not thankfully remember how our merciful heavenly Father has in fact sustained us through all the days. As I look back on the year now ended, I am very grateful as I remember all the many kindnesses, the outpouring of love when I was convalescing after my fall this past February. And what can be happier than to know that one is loved? There come to mind some words of John Keble (1792–1866):
New every morning is the love
Our wakening and uprising prove;
Through sleep and darkness safely brought
Restored to life and power and thought.
New mercies, each returning day,
Hover around us as we pray;
New perils past, new sins forgiven,
New thoughts of God, new hopes of heaven.
The first Wednesday in January (the 6th) is the Feast of the Epiphany of our Lord. Epiphany means revelation, a shining forth, an appearing. At Christmas God appears as Man in the world; at Epiphany this Man appears as God and Savior of the whole world. The coming of the Gentile wise men is both a fulfillment of the prophecy that “the Gentiles will come to Thy light” (Isaiah 60:3) and itself a prophecy of the ingathering of all nations in the Church of Jesus. In the Western Church (of which we Lutherans are a part) the coming of the wise men, led by the miraculous star, has always been the focus of this Feast, but in the Eastern Church the baptism of our Lord is celebrated. But also in the Western Church the Epiphany festival includes the baptism of Jesus and also His first miracle at the wedding in Cana, changing water into wine. You can see that this is so by looking at two Epiphany hymns—one by Coelius Sedulius in the 5th century and one by Christopher Wordsworth in the 19th century—found both in our present Lutheran Service Book (hymns 399 and 394) and in The Lutheran Hymnal (hymns 131 and 134). Both these hymns speak of the coming of the magi, the baptism of Jesus, and His first miracle at Cana. A portion of the ancient liturgy for Epiphany speaks of these three events:
Today the Church is joined to her heavenly Bridegroom;
because in Jordan Christ has washed away her offences:
the wise men with their offerings hasten to the royal marriage,
and the guests are regaled with water made wine, Alleluia.
If you are able to do so, do try to come to Divine Service on Epiphany; it is a beautiful culmination of our Christmas celebration. We will sing familiar carols: The First Nowell, What Child is This, We Three Kings of Orient Are, and that wonderful Epiphany hymn, As with Gladness Men of Old. In my opinion no Epiphany service can be complete without that wonderful hymn, so simple and yet so lovely.
The Epiphany season is the culmination of the Christmas Cycle of the Church Year: Advent-Christmas-Epiphany. On the last Sunday in this month the Easter Cycle of the Church Year begins: PreLent-Lent-Holy Week-Easter-Ascension-Pentecost. There was a time when it was customary, after the reading of the Gospel on Epiphany, to announce the dates of the Church Year:
“Beloved brethren, as we have recently rejoiced over the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, now through the mercy of God, we must tell you about the happiness that will stem from the resurrection of that same Lord and Savior:
January 31 will be Septuagesima Sunday,
February 17 will be Ash Wednesday,
On April 4 we will joyfully celebrate the holy feast of Easter, the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
May 13: the ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ.
May 23: the feast of Pentecost
November 28 will be the first Sunday of the Advent season of our Lord Jesus Christ: to Him be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”
We continue to livestream our services which can be found at Our Saviour Lutheran Church – Home | Facebook. And here I must thank Richard Brown for making all of this possible. You can also call (410) 587-0979 to hear the sermon. For those of you who cannot yet come to Divine Service I can bring the Holy Sacrament to you at home; simply call me at (410) 554-9994 and we can arrange a convenient time. The Sacrament of our Savior’s Body and Blood is the spiritual food and drink of Christians—it is provision for the way on our journey through the wilderness of this world to the heavenly fatherland.
There is no doubt that the worldwide pandemic still continues to affect all our lives in so many different ways. We all eagerly hope for its end! The remarkable development of vaccines is certainly a sign of hope—but the end is not yet. We must continue in our prayers for the sick and the dying and the bereaved, also for all those who are so selflessly caring for them. We also need to be alert for opportunities to be of help.
I wish to thank you for your Christmas cards and gifts. Let us continue to keep one another in our prayers as we enter this new year.
Affectionately in our Lord,
Works of Mercy
Although there will be more stimulus checks coming, there is still hunger in America. We are collecting canned goods to pass on to CARES to give to needy families. Please put your donation in the boxes in the side hallway so we can share the bounty the Lord has given us with those who need it. Thank you!