3301 The Alameda
Baltimore, MD 21218
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I am writing these lines on Monday in the Week of Pentecost which is the birthday of the Church. Empowered by the coming of the Holy Spirit, the apostles spoke in many languages of all that God had done in Christ and, in response to Saint Peter’s powerful witness to Christ crucified and risen, about three thousand people repented of their sins and were baptized into Christ and His mystical Body, the Church. And all members of the Church “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42). And so the Church has continued and will continue until our risen and ascended Lord comes again in glory.
On the cornerstone of our church building, following the name of the church, “The Church of Our Saviour, Evangelical Lutheran,” we find the letters “U A C.” And what does that mean? It means “Unaltered Augsburg Confession” and shows that, for those who built Our Saviour Church, the Unaltered Augsburg Confession was tremendously important, indeed that it is part of the very foundation of this congregation as it is of faithful Lutheran churches everywhere. Another piece of evidence, which shows the great importance of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession, happens to be the fact that, in an earlier version of the Constitution of Our Saviour Church, members were required to be familiar not only with the Small Catechism of Dr. Luther but also with the Unaltered Augsburg Confession.
Although we Lutherans have accepted the name “Lutheran,” which was first given by the enemies of our church to those who had joined in Dr. Luther’s confession of the Gospel, the name that most accurately and most truly shows what the Church called Lutheran in fact is, is this: The Church of the Augsburg Confession, a name that unmistakably shows that this Church is not a “Luther cult,” but rather those churches which join with him in the confession of the one faith of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church which has been in the world since the Day of Pentecost. The Augsburg Confession affirms the teaching of the Three Ecumenical Creeds—the Apostles, the Nicene, and the Athanasian—thereby showing that the Augsburg Confession is not a sectarian document, still less the charter of some new church, but the confession of the one faith of the one Church of Christ: nothing more, nothing less! And so, far from being a divisive document, the Augsburg Confession invites all Christians to join as one in this confession of the “faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). In a sadly divided Christendom, the Augsburg Confession is a clarion call to unity in the one truth of the Gospel as received by the one Church of God.
It was on June 25, 1530, that the Lutheran princes and the two free imperial cities of Nuremberg and Reutlingen presented this unifying Confession to Emperor Charles V in the City of Augsburg. Because of the threat of a Turkish invasion of Christian Europe, and because of the growing division in the Western Church, the Emperor had summoned all the estates of the Empire to ask for their help in repelling the Turkish threat and in resolving the controversy dividing Christians in his Empire. The Lutheran princes were loyal to their Emperor, and their confession of faith was an effort to restore unity in the churches.
Because of the importance of the Augsburg Confession we shall, beginning this year, always keep June 25th when it falls on Sunday or, if not, the Sunday following as the commemoration of The Presentation of the Augsburg Confession, an observance noted in the calendar of commemorations in our Lutheran Service Book. In a bewildered Christendom and a divided world, the Augsburg Confession is a light shining in a dark place, calling all Christians to unity in the truth that is Christ our Savior as He is revealed in God’s written Word and confessed by His one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.
On the first Sunday in June the Offertory Chant will be restored to the Divine Service. For several reasons it was dropped when I first became pastor here, but those reasons no longer exist. And so, following the hymn that follows the sermon, we will sing: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Thy presence and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation and uphold me with Thy free spirit.” These words from King David’s great penitential psalm (Psalm 51:10–12) are prayed looking forward to the reception of Holy Communion, the Real Presence of the crucified and risen Savior with His holy body and precious blood, His Holy Gifts for forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation.
One of many blessings we enjoy as Our Saviour congregation is that we have the privilege of worshiping in a church building of great beauty, an architectural gem. This church has also been lovingly furnished by its members down through the years. We have very fine altar cloths. The white and the black altar cloth are full frontals: a frontal cover the whole front of the altar. The others are superfrontals: an altar cloth which hangs at the top—”super/over or above”—of the front of the altar. On Pentecost, we used for the first time a new red frontal which complements the red superfrontal. I have given this in memory of Miss Lula Louis, my cousin and my father’s cousin and godmother, who for sixty years (1901–1961) was secretary of the altar guild of Martini Church in south Baltimore. She taught me to love the beauty of God’s house and was like a grandmother to me. I owe her a tremendous debt of gratitude. May the Light perpetual ever shine upon her!
I am sure that everyone who attended the Memorial Service for Don Weber, who for almost sixty years served this congregation as organist and choirmaster, will agree that it was a worthy tribute to Don, giving thanks to God for Don’s long and faithful service and commending Him to our heavenly Father in sure and certain hope of the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Two of Don’s many friends— David Dasch and Kevin Clemens—served as organists and, through the generosity of one of Don’s friends, there was a quartet which sang music which surely would have brought much joy to him. The singing of several of Don’s favorite hymns was fervent indeed; and, also through the generosity of his friends, we were able to enjoy a delightful reception, enjoying each other’s company and happily reminiscing about Don in many ways! And, through livestreaming, members of Don’s family and friends who could not be with us were able to see and hear the Service. And so we gave hearty thanks to the Giver of all good gifts for our dear brother in Christ. May the Light perpetual ever shine upon him!
At the Voters Meeting on May 16th we approved the budget for fiscal year 2021–2022 and elected members of the Church Council: Bernie Knox, Merton Masterson, Ben Orris, Gabe Purviance, Mary Techau, Paul Techau, Gary Watson. As pastor, I am truly grateful for the faithful and willing service of these leaders in our congregation. I do not take them for granted; they often go far above and beyond any call of duty! Our congregation has reason for gratitude.
It seems as if, with every passing week, members who have not been able to come to church in months are returning to Divine Service. I am also happy to note that—despite COVID and all that—some of our members have since the beginning of the year in fact increased their giving for the support of the Church’s work. I am hoping that on October 3, when we shall observe both Family Day and the 91st anniversary of the dedication of this Church, circumstances will be such that it will be possible to keep this Lord’s Day also as homecoming and reunion after the long siege of COVID. So we pray that God in His mercy will bring an end to this plague and bless us all with patience and hope as we look forward to that happy day.
Congratulations are in order for Lauren, Don and Lisa Watson’s daughter, Joe and Julia Silver’s granddaughter, who after graduating May 4 Summa Cum Laude from the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis is now Doctor Lauren Watson. She will now be doing a residency at Lynn Community Health Center in Lynn, Massachusetts. Congratulations are also in order for Elijah Carmichael who has graduated from high school and will be attending Morehouse College in Atlanta. Congratulations to both Lauren and Elijah! And do keep Dr. Watson and Elijah in your prayers as they enter this next chapter in life. And remember in your prayers Joe and Julia Silver as they face various health problems.
Maggie Doswell is now at Cardia Healthcare (4922 Lasalle Road, Hyattsville, MD 20782) recovering from COVID. Frank Ford’s daughter, Yolanda, is at Future Care Northpoint (1046 North Point Rd, Baltimore, MD 21224). She is recovering from a stroke suffered on Christmas Day. Sending cards to them is a way of expressing our love for them and letting them know that we have not forgotten them. Queenie Hardaway continues to live at Augsburg Village (6825 Campfield Road, Baltimore, MD 21207). Remember Maggie and Yolanda and Queenie in your prayers together with all those whose names appear in the Sunday bulletin: James Bauman, Louis Bell, Dana Carmichael, Lucille Carmichael, Albert Ford, Frank Ford, Iris Ford, Sean Fortune, Helen Gray, Gloria Jones, Althea Masterson, Chris Mokris, Beverly Pittelko, George Volkman, Dennis Watson, Gary Watson.
If you are not able as yet to come to Church and wish to receive Holy Communion at home, please call me at (410) 554–9994 or email me at email@example.com and I will be happy to respond. Remember that all our services are livestreamed at Our Saviour Baltimore Facebook and that sermons can be heard by calling (410) 587–0979.
It is Satan, the Father of Lies, who tries to sow in our hearts seeds of discouragement and discontent which obscure the sheer goodness of our heavenly Father, whose mercies are new every morning, and whose heart of love we see in the thorn-crowned face of His only Son, our crucified and risen Lord, whose Holy Spirit comforts all sad and troubled hearts. And so the Church’s prayer, not only on the Feast of Pentecost but every day, is this: Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful people, and kindle in us the fire of Your love.
As we continue to grow in love for God and in “fervent love toward one another,” as we pray in the Post-Communion Prayer, the Father of all mercies is working His good and gracious will in us and among us. Prompted by His many mercies, let us continue in trusting, confident prayer.
Free Flea Market
The next Free Flea Market will be June 12, 9:00 AM-12:00 PM. It’s our chance to connect with the community.