3301 The Alameda
Baltimore, MD 21218
Festival Divine Service Thursday, May 13, 7:30 P.M.
MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR DON WEBER
Sunday, May 16, 4:00 P.M.
Festival Divine Service Sunday, May 23, 11:00 A.M.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We are basking in the afterglow of Easter Day, the glad Feast of the Lord’s Resurrection, and in the afterglow of this year’s Saint Mark’s Conference. Apart from last year’s cancellation because of COVID, this Conference has been held every year since 2016. Primarily for pastors but also for interested lay people, it addresses the doctrinal, sacramental, and liturgical life of the Church. It was this year my very happy duty and privilege to welcome to Our Saviour Church and to the Conference the Reverend Doctor Matthew Charles Harrison, President of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, our Chief Pastor and Right Reverend Father in God. As he left for the airport I said to him, “Thank you for everything!” and he replied, “I thank God for you!” Included in that “you” is not only your unworthy Shepherd but also Our Saviour congregation. In Pastor Harrison, the President of Synod, we as a congregation in fact have a very good friend indeed! For this we are bound to give thanks to God. As Pastor Harrison’s lectures at the Conference made plain, he is not only a pastor to his fingertips but also, like the late Reverend Doctor Hermann Sasse (1895–1976) of whom he spoke, a most faithful confessor of the Church of the Augsburg Confession, which was first called “Lutheran” by its enemies, a name we now embrace as pointing to Dr. Luther who, as the Church’s norm of teaching—the Book of Concord—says, is “the principal teacher of the churches of the Augsburg Confession.” Never forget that on the cornerstone of this church building, written in stone, are the letters “U A C”! They stand for Unaltered Augsburg Confession, so important to our identity is that confession of faith which was presented on June 25, 1530 in the city of Augsburg to the Emperor Charles V by the Lutheran princes and by the two free imperial cities of Nuremberg and Reutlingen. Both in the late Dr. Sasse of blessed memory and in Pastor Harrison we have two joyful confessors of that one Christian and Apostolic “faith which was once for all delivered to the saints,” that faith which was boldly confessed by our Lutheran forefathers before the powers of this world. The world of 1530 was no less troubled than ours! The specter of sudden death was an ever-present threat. Among other things, militant Islam in the form of the Turk had reached the gates of Vienna, and Christian Europe was in danger of being overrun by the infidel with fire and sword. In that hour of peril and need, our Fathers in Faith confessed Christ crucified and risen, the only Savior, as do we in our own hour of peril and need. Christ alone is the Rock of our Salvation! And as those who embrace the Augsburg Confession, we too point to Him who is graciously present with His Church in His holy Gospel and with His truly present Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist. It is noteworthy that at one time in its history the Constitution of this congregation required that its members be familiar not only with Luther’s Small Catechism but also with the Unaltered Augsburg Confession. I will have more to say about this precious Confession in the June newsletter, June being the month in which it was presented to the Emperor in Augsburg.
As the liturgy of the Holy Communion says, “we should at all times and in all places give thanks” to God for everything. It is also our happy duty as Christians to thank those who have done us good. And so I here wish to thank everyone who helped to make the Saint Mark’s Conference a success—especially Paul and Mary Techau. Gabe Purviance, Bernie Knox, Richard Brown, and Jake Mokris. The happy willingness of Our Saviour Church’s people to help our Church in its work is a reason for thankfulness and delight.
And while we are on the subject of thanksgiving, I hasten to mention the Memorial Service for Don Weber, our long-time and faithful organist and choirmaster. This will take place on The Sunday after Ascension Day, May 16th, at 4:00 P.M. A reception will follow. Our Saviour Congregation owes Don Weber a tremendous debt of gratitude. I hope that everyone who can will come to this memorial service in which we shall give thanks to God for Don and commend him to our heavenly Father’s mercy as he awaits—as do we—the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. Plan now to be present on May 16 at 4:00 pm!
The Ascension of the Lord is yet another reason for giving thanks. Christ ascended into heaven to prepare a place for us, that where He is, there we might also be and reign with Him in glory. The neglect of Ascension Day is just one more symptom of the decline of churchly life in recent times. Plan now on attending the Festival Divine Service of Ascension Day (which is Thursday, May 13, the fortieth day after Easter) at 7:30 pm. Anyone who is in need of a ride for this or any Divine Service, please call me at (410) 554–9994, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Spring Voters Meeting will be held immediately after Divine Service on Sunday, May 16. All members of our congregation who are eighteen years old or older are eligible to participate and vote.
Elsewhere in this newsletter Judy Volkman tells us about the Free Flea Market which will be held on Saturday, May 8, 9:00 am–12:00 pm. We always need volunteers to welcome our visitors and help distribute what they need.
April of the year after next—2023—will mark the 50th Anniversary of the merger of the Church of Our Saviour and Saint Matthew’s Church, a merger which was among other things a remarkable act of Christian courage and faithfulness to the teaching of the written Word of God: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:27). Before the Supreme Court ordered the desegregation of public schools in 1954, Baltimore was a strictly segregated city. Having been born in 1942, I vividly remember those unhappy circumstances; such well-established circumstances are very slow to change! And so the merger was a remarkable achievement. We want to plan a worthy celebration of this half century of united witness and service here at the corner of The Alameda and 33rd Street. Suggestions are welcome; speak with members of the Church Council or with me.
When the merger took place, Saint Matthew’s Church brought with them their sacramental vessels. We have now begun to use the silver ciborium which they brought. “Ciborium” comes from the Latin word cibus which means “food.” We will be using the ciborium to distribute the Heavenly Food that is the true Body of the Lord. Until now we have been using the very fine, silver “footed” paten, a plate resting on a little base. It is a precious thing of beauty, but there has always been the danger of hosts falling from the paten or being blown off the paten by a gust of wind. The use of the ciborium solves that problem and therefore adds to that great reverence with which the precious Body of Christ is distributed to the communicants. Reformed Protestants commonly understand the Sacrament as an emblem, symbol, reminder of the absent Body of Christ. Together with the ancient Church and with Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christians, we Lutherans believe, teach, and confess the Real Presence of the Lord’s Body and Blood in the Holy Sacrament, a doctrine which therefore is no peculiarly Lutheran notion but quite simply “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3), the faith to which the Church is bound until our Lord returns in glory to judge the living and the dead.
The COVID pandemic continues—literally!—to plague the nation and the world. We are called to repentance and patience. I am not worried about people returning to Divine Service. They will “when”—for each one of them—”the time is right.” But honesty compels me to add that habit is a powerful force, and Satan will gladly use the force of habit to keep some people from ever returning to Divine Service! And so each and every one of us must pray as we do in the Lord’s Prayer: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” The original Greek text means: “deliver us from the Evil One.” “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). “We are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11).
In the ancient Christian Church, it was quite simply inconceivable that any member of the Church, which is Christ’s mystical Body (1 Cor 12:27), would fail to be present on the Lord’s Day to receive in Holy Communion Christ’s true Body (1 Cor. 10:16), the sure Seal of redemption, the certain Pledge of the resurrection, the Medicine of Immortality. To ancient Christians Sunday was the Lord’s Day because it was the Day of the Lord’s Supper. We have yet to recover that deep and joyful understanding of every Lord’s Day as the weekly celebration of the resurrection of the Lord who truly comes to us in the Sacrament.
Ten days after His ascension, fifty days after His resurrection, the ascended Lord poured out the Holy Spirit on His disciples. Pentecost, which means fiftieth, is the celebration of this mighty act of God. Together with Easter and Christmas, Pentecost is one of the Three Great Feasts of the Christian Year and therefore no less important a day for faithful Christians. On Good Friday Christ finished His victorious redeeming work, on Easter His victory was revealed, and on Pentecost His victory was proclaimed and so the Church was born. Pentecost is the Birthday of the Church. As no Christian would think of failing to be present at Divine Service on Christmas or Easter Day, just so no Christian should think of failing to be present on Pentecost. Everyone who can in fact should be present at the Festival Divine Service on Pentecost, this year May 23.
Yolanda Ford continues to be in a nursing home. Maggie Doswell is in intensive care at Bayview Hospital. Please remember them in your prayers and pray for me, your unworthy Shepherd.
Works of Mercy
Donations have been coming in and many thanks to all those who are helping! We are in good shape for the first Free Flea Market on May 8. We do need bags so we can fill them with purchases; we also need volunteers for that day. Let Judy Volkman know if you will be able to assist. This is a fun time to interact with our “customers” and share our faith and bounty with them!
On Wednesday, April 28, 8 milk cartons of food were delivered to CARES, including 10 pounds of potatoes. Thanks to some very generous donations we were able to help stock the GEDCO Food Pantry.