Wednesday, March 1
6:30 P.M. Soup Supper
7:30 P.M. DIVINE SERVICE WITH
IMPOSITION OF ASHES
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The beginning of March brings with it the beginning of Lent. “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent,’ he meant that the whole life of believers should be repentance.” This first of the 95 Theses which Dr. Martin Luther nailed to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg on October 31st 1517 reminds us that repentance is by no means confined to one season of the Church Year. In his Small Catechism Dr. Luther asks, “What does such baptizing with water signify?? It signifies that the old Adam in us should through daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die together with all sins and evil desires, and again a new man daily come forth and arise who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.” Nevertheless the Church has from ancient times set aside the forty days of the Lenten season as a time when we are especially conscious of Christian life as one of repentance. In preparation for Easter we meditate on the sufferings and death of the Lord Jesus for our sins, we confess our sins and are strengthened by the daily forgiveness He extends to all who with penitent hearts place their trust in Him. It is a very serious error so suppose that God somehow needs our Lenten observance: it is rather you and I who need this holy season. And so I hope that everyone will make a sincere effort to be present in church as we begin the Lenten season on Ash Wednesday with Divine Service and Imposition of Ashes. Receiving the ashes we hear the words God spoke to Adam after he had fallen into sin: “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). And “the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). On each of the following Wednesdays of the Lenten season there will be Lenten Vespers at 7:30 P.M. with meditations on the Passion of our Lord. A simple soup supper precedes these Lenten services at 6:30 P.M.
Included with this newsletter is a copy of a letter from the President of Synod, Pastor Matthew Harrison, on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the founding of our congregation. It was on March 10th, 1892 that twelve members of Immanuel Church, then on Caroline Street in east Baltimore, founded our congregation under the leadership of Pastor William Dallmann who was then the Pastor of English Emmanuel Church in west Baltimore. Emmanuel Church had been founded in 1888. So these two congregations were the beginning of the English work of the Missouri Synod in Baltimore. The name of our congregation has changed through the years. It was at first known as Jackson Square Lutheran Church because of its location. When in 1919 the old church was sold to Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church (which still worships in the old church) and the Church moved to its present location, the name was changed to The Church of Our Saviour. Then upon the merger of Our Saviour and Saint Matthew’s Church in April 1973 we became Our Saviour Lutheran Church. 125 years is a significant milestone which we will celebrate on Sunday, April 30th. The preacher for this occasion will be the Rev. Christopher Esget, Pastor of Immanuel Church in Alexandria and one of the five regional vice-presidents of the Missouri Synod. Do note this date in your calendar and plan on being present. You might also inform former members of our congregation about this celebration.
I think that everyone thoroughly enjoyed the potluck lunch on Sunday, February 12th, and the film on the life of Rosa Young, her remarkable work among the African American community as a confessor of the Gospel as proclaimed by the Lutheran Church. Mary Bridges, one of our older members, was in fact a student of Rosa Young. We give thanks for Rosa Young’s faithful witness as we continue to confess the same saving Gospel of Christ.
More than twenty people came to the meeting here at Our Saviour on February 18th to lay the foundation for a chapter of Lutherans for Life here in Baltimore. Hilary Haak, the Mission and Ministry Director of the national organization, led us through a very enlightening presentation on the basics of founding a chapter. We also were honored with the presence of the Rev. Everette Greene, vice-president of Lutherans for Life, a Baltimore native who is now Pastor of Immanuel Church in Cincinnati. There will be a follow up meeting here at Our Saviour on Saturday, March 18th, at 10:00 A.M. Everyone is welcome to attend. We are very much in just the beginning stages of this effort.
Confirmation classes for young people will be held on Tuesdays at 3:30 P.M. beginning February 28th. Dymond Hawkins and Ted Jones will be attending. Do let me know if there are other young people who might be invited.
The second Saint Mark’s Conference will be held on April 24 and 25 which is Saint Mark’s Day. Forty people attended last year’s Conference and we hope for a good response also this year. Although the Conference is chiefly of interest to pastors and seminarians, anyone may attend. The topic this year will be The Office of the Holy Ministry which will be considered in the light of Holy Scripture, the Lutheran Confessions, church history in general and the history of the Missouri Synod in particular. Publicity about this Conference will soon appear on our website.
We recently received the good news that, thanks to the generosity of Synod and Concordia Seminary in Fort Wayne, we will have a summer vicar. We will soon be able to announce his name. I know how much we all enjoyed the presence of Trent Demarest as our vicar together with his wife Maritza and his infant son John. Do keep the Demarests in your prayers as Maritza is expecting another child in early March.
Darlene Grant is still hospitalized at Johns Hopkins Hospital, James Gray is temporarily living at the Augsburg Home and recovering strength, Gabe Purviance is undergoing treatments. Remember to keep these fellow members in your prayers.
I suspect most of us are familiar with the tithe as a guideline (not a law!) for giving in response to God’s gift of forgiveness, life and salvation. Less familiar perhaps is the idea of Lent as the “Tithe of the Year.” The year has 365 days, Lent has 40 days. There is of course no divine law that Lent must be observed and consciences must not be burdened with such a mistaken idea: God does not need our Lenten observances but you and I do. In His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6) our Lord speaks of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving which have always been understood as the traditional Lenten disciplines. I urge you to read and meditate on Matthew 6 as we begin the Lenten season. It is always a mistake to try to do too much by way of Lenten discipline. Consider your own spiritual health – or perhaps the lack thereof. For example, if you have been negligent in prayer for others you might make a short list of people who need your prayers. If you have been negligent in worshiping on the Lord’s Day, resolve to be present each Lord’s Day to celebrate the weekly memorial of the Lord’s resurrection and receive the precious gift of His holy Body and Blood. By your presence you also encourage your fellow Christians in their faith. I also highly recommend the use of “Portals of Prayer” which provides a fine brief meditation on Scripture and prayer for every day of the year.
As during this Lenten season we remember God’s great mercy toward us in His Son, let us pray for grace to be merciful to others, keeping our hearts free of all judgmental, condemning thoughts. In the words of that 4th century Syrian Christian, Saint Ephrem:
O Lord and Master of my life,
Put far from me the spirit of pride, vainglory and hypocrisy,
But give rather to your servant a spirit of
humility, chastity, patience and love.
Yes, O Lord and King,
Help me to see my own faults and not to
judge my brother.
For you are blessed unto the ages of ages. Amen.