3301 The Alameda
Baltimore, MD 21218
CHRISTMAS AT OUR SAVIOUR
CHRISTMAS EVE—FESTIVAL DIVINE SERVICE, 7:30 PM
CHRISTMAS DAY—FESTIVAL DIVINE SERVICE, 10:00 AM
SAINT STEPHEN’S DAY (SUNDAY, DECEMBER 26)
DIVINE SERVICE, 11:00 AM
NEW YEAR’S EVE—DIVINE SERVICE, 7:30 PM
EPIPHANY (THURSDAY, JANUARY 6)
FESTIVAL DIVINE SERVICE, 7:30 PM
Sunday School and Bible Class will not meet on December 26 or January 2.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This will now be the second Christmas celebrated during the COVID pandemic which still—alas—has not come to an end. I recently heard from an apparently reliable source that there now is evidence that one third of all who have stopped coming to church will probably never return. Although this is far from certain, it is disturbing; and I doubt that there is any easy remedy for the situation. I am, however, certain that this pandemic has only uncovered and made worse some already long-standing problems. Among them is the fact that we now live in a world where, not only is church attendance no longer a cultural expectation, but the neglect of worship on the Lord’s Day has also become common even among practicing Christians. There are all kinds of reasons for this, but we utterly deceive ourselves if we fail to realize that this sad neglect of worship on the Lord’s Day and on the festivals of the Christian Year is caused—among other things—by three enemies of Christ: By a world which does not know Him, by our own sinful human nature, and by the devil. These three malign forces have always fought against Christ and His Church and they will continue to do so until on the Last Day the risen Lord comes in glory to judge the living and the dead.
On every Lord’s Day and on every festival the Savior Himself graciously invites us to a rich banquet in which He mysteriously yet truly feeds us with His precious body and blood: The price of our redemption, the pledge of the resurrection, holy communion with Him and with all who together share in this heavenly feast of love and joy. But like the invited guests who made excuses in the parable the Savior told of the great wedding feast (Matthew 22:1-14), there are so many who ignore His gracious invitation and make light of it! Beloved, these things ought not so to be!
Christmas is the great festival of the Incarnation: Of God come in the flesh for our salvation. In his splendid book, The Conservative Reformation and its Theology, Charles Porterfield Krauth (1823–1883), the greatest English-speaking Lutheran theologian of the 19th century, had this to say about the Sacrament of the Altar:
The glory and the mystery of the incarnation combine there as they combine nowhere else. Communion with Christ is that by which we live, and the Supper is “the Communion.”
In the English-speaking world we call the festival of the Nativity of our Lord “Christmas” which means “Christ’s Mass.” The “Mass” is quite simply the service of the Holy Communion: The very heart and center of our celebration of Christmas is our Christmas Communion in which we find in the hallowed bread and cup the Savior whom the shepherds found “wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” If you are in fact unable to come to church, I will be happy to bring Christmas Communion to you at home. You need only e-mail me firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (410) 554–9994. And do contact me if you are in need of a ride to church. I will see to it that you have one; you need only ask. Remember that all our services are livestreamed at Our Saviour Baltimore Facebook for those who are unable to come to church.
The decoration of the church for Christmas will take place following Divine Service on December 19, the Fourth (and Last) Sunday in Advent. Many hands make light work!
Judy Volkman reminds us that it is again time to order poinsettias to either remember or honor loved ones. The price is still $10 each, and the payments need to be made to Judy by Sunday, December 19. Order envelopes may be found in the back of the church. Judy also reminds us that offering envelopes for 2022 are available in the back of the church. Please be sure you pick up yours, but don’t use them until January!
Be sure to read Works of Mercy at the end of this newsletter. Quilla Downs fills us in on our efforts to reach out at Thanksgiving and Christmas to needy families in our community by providing them with Aldi’s Gift Cards. If you wish to contribute to this effort, be sure to mark your check Aldi’s Gift Cards. Quilla also tells us about the work of the Helping Up Mission which we have supported for many years. As we support these works of mercy, we are mindful of the Savior’s words: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40).
This Christmas we will again hear the bells in our tower! From December 13th through December 16th the McShane Bell Company will be replacing the mechanism that rings them. In the new year there will be an occasion on which we will rededicate the bells to the glory of God. We plan to do this on Sunday, February 27, the last Sunday before Lent begins.
The wise men offered to the Christ Child their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. In the familiar Christmas carol, “We Three Kings of Orient Are”, we find the words: “Frankincense to offer have I, incense owns a deity nigh.” In the liturgy for Vespers the Church has from ancient times prayed, “Let my prayers be set forth before Thee as incense…” (Lutheran Service Book, page 231; The Lutheran Hymnal, page 42). Incense has been used in Christian worship since ancient times and in fact continued in use in the early Lutheran Church. In his Order of Mass and Communion for the Church in Wittenberg, published in 1523, Dr. Luther mentions its use. As late as the year 1619 it was still in use at the Lutheran Cathedral Church of Saint Catherine and Saint Maurice in Magdeburg and was in use at Christmas Matins in the Duchy of Weimar. The revival of its use in some churches of our Synod can be dated back to the 1930s. We will be using it here in church on five days in the Church Year: On Christmas morning, on Epiphany (January 6), on Easter Eve, and on Ascension Day and Pentecost. Incense is of course a symbol of our prayers ascending to God.
Our Sunday morning Bible class is continuing its study of the book of the prophet Micah. Dr. Luther spoke of the Scriptures as “the cradle in which Christ is laid”: Christ is the Real Content of the entire Bible, both the Old and the New Testament. Come join us! We meet at 9:45 AM.
Be sure to remember in your prayers all those for whom our prayers are desired: James Bauman, Louis Bell, Dana Carmichael, Lucille Carmichael, Maggie Doswell, Albert Ford, Frank Ford, Iris Ford, Yolanda Ford, Sean Fortune, Helen Gray, Queenie Hardaway, Gloria Jones, Althea Masterson, Chris Mokris, Eric Phillips, Joseph and Julia Silver, Lawrence Smallwood, George Volkman, Dennis Watson, Gary Watson. Maggie Doswell is still at the Cedia Health Center, 4922 LaSalle Road, Hyattsville, MD 20782. Yolanda Ford is still at Future Care, 1046 North Point Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21224. Louis Bell is at Autumn Lake Health Care, 7 Sudbrook Lane, Pikesville, MD 21208. Sending cards is a way of showing that we have not forgotten them.
As we approach Christmas let us continue in prayer for one another and for our city and state and nation; for the whole church and for the whole world. These Advent days are a time when we not only prepare to remember our Savior’s birth but also prepare for His coming again at the Last Day to be our judge. Keeping in mind that each one of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, we are especially conscious of the fact that our whole life as Christians must be one of repentance: Of turning from sin, embracing God’s mercy and walking in newness of life. I look forward to seeing you at the altar rail for your Christmas Communion.
WORKS OF MERCY
Many thanks to our church membership and friends of our congregation for donations towards our annual Thanksgiving and Christmas Gift Card program. This year the referral list of families increased to 15 from last year’s 11. This year, we were unable to match last year’s $70 gift cards. But despite the increase in the number of families and the lack of funds from our Soup Suppers, we were still able to purchase 15 gift cards of $30 each from Aldi’s. Thanksgiving wishes and Aldi’s Gift Cards were sent to the families by mail on November 16, 2021. We continue to collect monetary donations for our Christmas gift cards. If you plan to make a donation for Christmas, please make your monetary gift by Sunday, December 12, 2021. Any donations made by check should be made out to the church with the notation “gift cards” in the memo.
Our recent delivery to Helping Up Mission included the usual staples: Socks, underwear, deodorant, soap, foot powder, towels, toothpaste and brushes, etc. In addition to these grooming items, Judy Volkman donated men’s pants, coats and various other men’s apparel left over from the summer giveaway. All items were of good quality, clean and gently used.
The Helping up Mission has opened its doors of opportunity to women and children. The Center for Women & Children will offer a yearlong recovery program provided free of cost to women and their children. As women enter the center, they all receive a package with toiletries, towels, books to support spiritual growth, and nice, clean donated clothes. The facility offers an on-site primary healthcare and wellness clinic, workforce development and job training, professional clinical mental health and substance abuse counseling, pastoral care, art and music therapy, and much more. To the extent that you are able, please include in your giving gifts of clothing and grooming for the female residents and their children.
Again, many thanks for your generous donations to the Thanksgiving and Christmas outreach programs and for the loose change which you drop in the Poor Boxes. The collected change goes towards purchase of grooming items for the residents of the Mission.