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Invocavit Midweek Vespers

gate-of-heaven-violet-1024x1024Invocavit Midweek Vespers

February 21, 2024 AD

Psalm 40
Matthew 26:30–56
THE PREACHING OF THE PASSION: GETHSEMANE
Wednesday after Invocavit 2024

In our Lenten services this year we will be meditating on the passion of our Lord as recorded in the Gospel according to Saint Matthew. Last year we meditated on the Passion as recorded in Saint Luke’s Gospel. And of course all four Gospels tell of our Lord’s Passion in considerable detail. Now WHY God has given us not just ONE but FOUR Gospels which tell of the life and death and resurrection of His Son, we simply do not know though it may well be that just one telling of this story couldn’t possibly unfold all the riches of Christ’s saving life and death and resurrection.

In ONE HARMONIOUS witness
The chosen FOUR combine;
While each HIS OWN commission
Fulfills in EVERY line.

And so THIS year we consider the Passion according to Saint Matthew,-who was one of the Twelve Apostles and so had in fact been an eye witness to the public ministry, passion and resurrection of the Lord.

As we begin these meditations on the passion, we might well remember the words Moses heard when the angel of the Lord called to him out of the burning bush: “Put off your shoes from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Now all of Holy Scripture is holy ground – because in all of Holy Scripture the Holy Spirit is pointing to Christ – but the story of Jesus’ Passion is in-a real sense Scripture’s “Holy of holies” because there as nowhere else we catch a glimpse of “what no eye has seen nor ear heard-nor the heart of man conceived,” that love of God beyond understanding, the lengths to which that love will go to reclaim the human creatures who have taken up arms against Him; here we see what it cost God to redeem and save us – each and every one.

And what did it cost our Maker to redeem and save us? We catch a glimpses of that cost in the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane: “My Father, if it be possible, lei this CUP pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will but as you will.”

And what is that cup? We read in the 75th Psalm: “It is God who executes judgment… for in the hand of the Lord there is a cup… and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs.” And there are many similar passages in the Old Testament in which the word “cup” speaks of God’s judgement, God’s wrath, “a cup… all the wicked of the earth shall drain, down to the dregs” Yet here the holy Jesus who knew no sin, who is Himself the Light and Life of God, Himself pure overflowing love which knows no end, faces the terrible prospect of draining the “cup prepared for the wicked’ – the cup of God’s wrath against sin.

Now God’s wrath is not like yours and mine! There is nothing in it of pettiness, of spite, of vindictiveness, of pleasure at the misery of one who has offended us, who has become our enemy; yet it still is wrath, the reaction of the altogether holy and loving God to the sin which disfigures and destroys His beloved human creatures. Because in His baptism the sinless Son of God had taken His place among sinners under the judgment of God, He now must – though Himself holy and sinless – drink the cup of wrath prepared for the wicked, drain to the dregs that bitter cup.

No wonder Jesus prays that this cup may be taken away from Him! But his prayer really is prayer, not a demand; He doesn’t set His own will over against the will of His Father, for the wish He expresses depends completely on the will of the Father: “Father, if it is Your will to take this cup from Me; nevertheless, not my will but Yours be done.” Jesus never ceases always to pray in perfect union with the Father will and willingly goes – to the cross.

Preaching on the passion only months before his own difficult death from cancer, Dom Gregory Dix had this to say:

The spiritual agonies of the passion – the final grappling with the iniquity of sin by the soul of Jesus – is something we cannot hope to understand, because we are sinful and He, though tempted in all things as we are, was entirely sinless. We can only connect this dreadful inner conflict with the statement of Saint Paul, “God made Him to be sin who knew no sin so that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.

“What no eye has seen nor ear heard nor the human heart of conceived,” the lengths to which the love of God will go to reclaim the human creatures who have taken up arms against Him! The Son of God takes on Himself all that is ours that He might give us all that is His – the “happy exchange” so often spoken of by the-ancient fathers and by . Luther. The incarnate Son of God drains the bitter cup of wrath so that He might give you and me and all poor sinners the blessed cup – of salvation.

Saint Matthew tells us that, before Jesus and His disciples left the upper room to go to Gethsemane, they “sang a hymn.” And since it was the Feast of Passover that hymn was almost certainly the so-called Great Hallel of the-Psalter, Psalm 111 through Psalm 118 in which we find this verse, “I will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord.” Jesus had that very night taken in His hands the cup, had given thanks, and had made of the wine in that cup His blood, and then on the cross poured out His blood in death so that just as the angel of death passed over the homes of the Israelites marked with the blood of the Passover Lamb, so the cup of wrath might pass from us who by baptism and faith are washed in the blood of the true Passover Lamb.

“I will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord!” Because of that cup of salvation, in which our sins are dead and nevermore remembered in all eternity, we have the absolute assurance that when the cup of suffering does pass our lips, as it surely must for each and every one, there is nothing in it of wrath or judgement but only a means whereby we are more fully conformed to the image of Him who suffered the judgement we deserve under the wrath of God, our merciful Savior, who through the cross – both His and ours – leads  us to our joyful resurrection.

Amen.

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Our Saviour Parish News, February, 2024



OUR SAVIOUR LUTHERAN CHURCH

3301 The Alameda
Baltimore, MD 21218
410.235.9553
February, 2024

ASH WEDNESDAY
Divine Service with the Imposition of Ashes
February 14, 7:30 P.M.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Once again we are about to begin our annual journey through Lent and Holy Week to Easter. Although Christmas is a more popular festival, which is in various ways celebrated even by those who do not see in the Child born of Mary our God and Savior, it is Easter that is for Christians the Feast of Feasts, the Holy Day of Holy Days, the Crown of the Christian Year, and all the seasons and festivals of the Christian Year (including Christmas) only make sense in the light of the Day of the Lord’s resurrection.From ancient times Christians have felt the need to prepare for Easter and that is why the Church has always the holy season of Lent in preparation for the glad feast of the Lord’s resurrection.

On Ash Wednesday there will as usual be Divine Service with imposition of ashes at 7:30 P.M. On the following Wednesdays there will be Vespers and Litany at 7:30 P.M. preceded by a soup supper at 6:30. Offerings given at the soup supper will be used to provide gift certificates for needy families at Thanksgiving and Christmas. This year the meditations at the Lenten Vespers will be based on the Passion as narrated by Saint Matthew. In using the Litany at Lenten Vespers we remember that Dr. Luther once said that after the Lord’s Prayer itself the Litany is “the best prayer that can be made” It was Pastor Wilhelm Loehe (1808-1872), that great 19th century father of the faithful Lutheran Church who founded the Seminary in Fort Wayne and then gave it to our Synod, who had this to say about the Litany: “Beginning with adoration, confessing Christ in its heart, it ends with the lovely Agnus [O Lamb of God…have mercy] which leads our thoughts to eucharistic heights…how evangelical, how entirely agreeable to our Church.”

The A Capella Choir of Concordia University Nebraska will give a concert of sacred and secular music at Immanuel Church, Loch Raven and Belvedere, at 7:00 P..M. on Thursday, March 7th. This choir of 72 auditioned voices has performed both internationally and throughout the United States. The Upper School Choir of Concordia Preparatory School in Towson will open the evening and will sing with the A Capella Choir. There is a need for people willing to provide lodging for members of the choir on the night after the concert. If you are interested, you may email
averykaser@concordiaprepschool.org.

The Epiphany Choral Vespers on January 21st, was a wonderful celebration of the new organ console which had been dedicated to the memory of Joseph Silver last October. I am sure that everyone will agree that Cameron Kuzepski, our guest organist for this service, is a remarkably gifted organist, composer, and choirmaster. It was a real treat to hear him play and to hear the quartet which sang settings of Psalm 72 and the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) which he had composed. This service was well attended and the reception that followed was delightful. We are much indebted to everyone who helped make this happen. I am hoping that we can from time to time have such choral Vespers on Sunday afternoons. Such services provide a good opportunity to invite our friends who attend other churches and those who are unchurched to worship with us.

Helen Gray, our dear sister in Christ, fell asleep in the Lord early in the morning on Thursday, January 11th. She was given Christian burial following the funeral service here at church on Saturday, January 20th. May the Light perpetual ever shine upon her and may the risen Lord comfort all who mourn with the sure and certain hope of the resurrection!

Remember in your prayers all those for whom our prayers are desired: Bridget Bauman, James Bauman, Louis Bell, Dana Carmichael, Timothy Doswell, Quilla Downs, Bunny Duckett, Steve and Joyce Eaves, Albert Ford, Frank Ford, Iris Ford, Yolanda Ford, Sean Fortune, Sherry James, Gloria Jones, Althea Masterson, Chris Mokris, Marion Rollins, Elaine Schwab, Julia Silver, Robert Siperek Jr., Lawrence Smallwood, George Volkman, Gary Watson, Dennis Watson. Yolanda Ford remains at Future Care, 1046 North Point Road, Baltimore, MD 21224. Louis Bell remains at Autumn Lake Healthcare, 700 Sudbrook Road, Pikesville, MD 21208.

When we see terrible suffering in so many parts of the world, such as the ongoing wars in Ukraine and in the Holy Land, we can have a sense of helplessness in the face of so much needless suffering. But one way to provide help is through Synod’s LCMS World Relief and Human Care. You can give online through this secure website: lcms.org/givenow/mercy or you can call Synod’s Contributor Care Line: 888-930-4438. Or you can send a check to LCMS World Relief and Human Care, PO Box 66861, Saint Louis, Missouri 63166-6861. Make your check payable to “The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod” and write “LCMS World Relief and Human Care” on the memo line.

We learn in Holy Scripture that the Lord Jesus began His earthly ministry in this way: “Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:14,15). Lent is a “penitential season” when we are especially conscious that – as Dr. Luther said in the first of his 95 Theses – “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ says, ‘Repent,’ he intended that the whole life of Christians should be one of repentance.” Both the Greek and the Hebrew word for repentance show that repentance is a change of heart, a change that God alone can work in us as we listen to His word of judgment and mercy. For Christians every day is a day of repentance. Lent is the season of the Christian Year that we are most especially conscious that this is so, and therefore we are called to examine our lives in the light of God’s Word. So consider your life in the light of the Ten Commandments or in the light of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 – 7) or in the light of Saint Paul’s catalog of “the works of the flesh” and “the fruit of the Spirit” (Galatins 5:19-24). And then confess your sins to the Lord. And remember that – as we are taught in the Fifth Chief Part of the Catechism, The Office of the Keys and Confession – pastors are always willing to hear the confession of penitent sinners. The hymnal we use in fact provides a form for individual confession and absolution at page 292. I am always willing to answer any questions about this. Call me at (410) 554-9994 or email me at charlesmcclean42@gmail.com. As a dear friend of mine likes to say: “In private confession we learn not so much how sinful we are but how forgiven we are.”

The Lord’s People are in the Lord’s House at the Lord’s Own Service every Lord’s Day. May it be said of us as it was of the first Christians: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42).

Affectionately in our Lord,

Pastor McClean

Our Saviour Parish News, January, 2024



OUR SAVIOUR LUTHERAN CHURCH

3301 The Alameda
Baltimore, MD 21218
410.235.9553
January, 2024

New Year’s Day: The Circumcision and Name of Jesus –
Divine Service, 10:00 A.M.
Eve Of The Epiphany Of Our Lord, Friday, January 5th
Divine Service, 7:30 P.M.
Epiphany Choral Vespers in celebration of the new organ console, Sunday, January 21, at 4:00 PM

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Although the world more or less ends its celebration of Christmas on Christmas Day, the Church continues to celebrate the twelve days of Christmas which conclude on January 5th, “Twelfth Night,” the Eve of the Festival of the Epiphany of our Lord. Epiphany has often been called the “Christmas of the Gentiles” because the wise men were the first Gentiles to worship the Christ Child and offer Him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. As the poet Aurelius Clemens Prudentius (A.D. 348-413) says in his Epiphany hymn:

Sacred gifts of mystic meaning:
Incense doth their God disclose,
Gold the King of kings proclaimeth,
Myrrh his sepulcher foreshows.

As the magi offered frankincense to the Savior, so we will offer incense – pure frankincense – at our Epiphany celebration; and we will sing those familiar carols which speak of the journey of the wise men and of their gifts: The First Nowell, What Child is This, and We Three Kings of Orient Are. The celebration of the Epiphany of our Lord is a joyful way to bring our annual celebration of Christ’s coming into this world to its happy conclusion.

The Rev. Philip Jaseph will be installed as the ninth  pastor of  Martini Church at Hanover and Henrietta Streets on Saturday, January 6th at 10:00 A.M. Please let me know if you plan on staying for the reception that follows. Call me at (410)554-9994 or email me at charlesmcclean42@gmail.com.

On Sunday, January 21st, at 4:00 P.M. there will be a Choral Vespers in celebration of our new organ console which on October 22 was dedicated to the glory of God and in loving memory of Joseph Silver. Mr. Silver served faithfully as president of Our Saviour congregation for a number of years and held other offices in the church as well as serving as our sexton. The Choral Vespers will celebrate the Epiphany season in which we celebrate Christ’s manifestation of His deity in the guiding star and the worship of the magi, in His baptism and in His changing of water into wine at the marriage in Cana,  and in His glorious transfiguration. Our guest organist for this service is Cameron Kuzepski who is the principal organist at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen here in Baltimore. He studied organ and piano at the Peabody Conservatory, attended the Juilliard School of music’s pre-college division, has studied orchestral conducting in Bulgaria with the International Musicians Academy and the Vidin Sinfonietta, and participated in an internship with the Netherlands Bach Society in Utrecht, Holland. Do plan on attending this Choral Vespers and invite your friends! A reception will follow the service.

The January Voters Meeting will be held following Divine Service on January 28th. Every member of Our Saviour, eighteen and older, is eligible to participate in this congregational meeting.

Because Easter is early this year (March 31st)  the Christmas Cycle of the Church Year – Advent, Christmas, Epiphany – ends with the Festival of the Transfiguration of our Lord on Sunday, January 21st, and the Easter Cycle – Pre-Lent, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, Ascension and Pentecost – begins with Septuagesima Sunday on January 28th. The Latin names of the three pre-Lenten Sundays – Septuagesima, Sexagesima, Quinquagesima – tell us that it is approximately 70, 60, and 50 days until Easter. This year Ash Wednesday falls on February 14th – which is also Saint Valentine’s Day!

Please do not forget our on-going support of the GEDCO Food Pantry and of the Helping Up Mission. The need remains so great!

Thanks to the generosity of our members we were able to provide thirteen $40 Aldi gift certificates to needy families connected with the Waverly School at Thanksgiving and thirteen $100 gift certificates at Christmas.

Sherry James, the daughter of Eugene James, has been hospitalized since before Christmas Day. Remember her in your prayers, also Bridget Bauman, James Bauman, Louis Bell, Dana Carmichael, Timothy Doswell, Quilla Downs, Bunny Duckett, Steve and Joyce Eaves, Albert Ford, Frank Ford, Iris Ford, Yolanda Ford, Sean Fortune, Helen Gray, Gloria Jones, Althea Masterson, Chris Mokris, Marian Rollins, Elaine Schwab, Julia Silver, Robert Siperek Jr., Lawrence Smallwood, George Volkman, Dennis Watson, Gary Watson, Marvalisa Sierra, Jonathan and Steven Gibson. Helen Gray remains at Keswick Multi-Care Center, 700 W. 40th Street, Baltimore, MD 21211. Yolanda Ford remains at Future Care, 1046 North Point Road, Baltimore, MD 21224. Louis Bell remains at Autumn Lake Healthcare, 700 Sudbrook Road, Pikesville, MD 21208.

I am writing these lines on December 28th which in the calendar of the Church Year is the Holy Innocents Day when we remember the infants slaughtered by King Herod in his vain attempt to destroy the infant Savior. How sad it is that the slaughter of innocent children continues in our own day! It goes without saying that as disciples of Him who is the Prince of Peace we Christians will pray fervently for peace throughout the world, especially in Ukraine and in the Holy Land. Every life is precious to Him who is the Maker and Redeemer of the whole world. And so let us turn to Him who “makes wars cease to the end of the earth” (Psalm 46:9). The late Rev. Dr. Alfred Fuerbringer, who for many years was like his father Ludwig the president of our Synod’s Saint Louis Seminary, noted that during the First World War the congregation of Trinity Church in Saint Louis – the “mother church” of our Synod – at the end of every service sang the ancient prayer for peace which Dr. Luther had translated and which now is found in our hymnal (777. 778):

Grant peace, we pray, in mercy, Lord; Peace in our time, O send us!
For there is none on earth but You, none other to defend us.
You only, Lord, can fight for us. Amen.

Let me conclude this letter by thanking you for your Christmas cards and gifts and by reminding you of the blessing and privilege that is ours as Christians: that every Lord’s Day the God of great mercy is present for us through the preaching of His holy Word and in the Sacrament of our Lord’s true body and blood. The Lord of Mercy graciously invites you. How will you respond?

Affectionately in our Lord,

Pastor McClean