3301 The Alameda
Baltimore, MD 21218
7:30 pm Divine Service
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Lent begins on February 17, Ash Wednesday. Divine Service will be celebrated at seven thirty in the evening. On the following Wednesdays in Lent there will be Vespers with the Litany, except on the last Wednesday in February and the last Wednesday in March when Divine Service will be celebrated.
Wednesday, February 24, is Saint Matthias Day. Since Saint Matthias was chosen to replace the traitor Judas, this holy day is directly connected with the Lenten season. Saint Matthias was chosen during the ten days between our Lord’s ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost (Acts 1:15–26).
Wednesday, March 24, is the Eve of the Feast of the Annunciation, a most important holy day because it celebrates the conception of Jesus following the virgin Mary’s assent to the message of the angel Gabriel. Nine months before His birth in Bethlehem (Saint Luke 1:26–38) the eternal Son of God took on Himself the humanity that is yours and mine in the womb of His virgin mother. And that is in the most real sense the beginning of the journey which would lead to the Cross. The ancient appointed prayer or collect for the Annunciation expresses this in a memorable way:
O Lord, as we have known the incarnation of Your Son Jesus Christ by the message of an angel to the virgin Mary, so by the message of His cross and passion bring us to the glory of His resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
On the three remaining Wednesdays in Lent the meditations will focus on Old Testament Types of Christ’s Passion. “Types” are events which point forward to the Savior. We will consider the Sacrifice of Isaac, the Passover Lamb, and the Blood of the Covenant.
I wish I could announce that our midweek Lenten services will as usual be preceded by our popular soup suppers. But the circumstances surrounding the COVID virus do not make that possible at this time. Depending on circumstances we may be able to have them as Lent goes on.
We recently heard from the office of the President of Synod, the Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison, that he is planning to come to our Saint Mark’s Conference which will, God willing, take place April 19–20. Dr. Harrison was to have spoken at last year’s conference which had to be canceled because of the COVID pandemic. On the Monday in Holy Week, March 29, he will make a decision as to whether or not he can come. We will be sending out notifications with the proviso that all depends on the circumstances of the pandemic. The theme of the Conference will be the one announced last year, the life and works of the Rev. Dr. Hermann Sasse (1895–1976) of blessed memory. Last year was the 125th anniversary of Dr. Sasse’s birth. He was almost certainly the greatest faithful Lutheran theologian of the last century. His writings continue to guide and enrich the Church of the Augsburg Confession throughout the world. English-speaking Lutherans owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the President of Synod who has himself translated countless pages of Dr. Sasse’s works and has caused them to be published.
Our dear sister in Christ, Dorothy Bell, fell asleep in the Lord on Thursday, January 28. She was born on September 8, 1931 in Meherrin, Virginia, and will be buried in Saint Matthew’s Cemetery in Meherrin. May the Light perpetual ever shine upon her and may our heavenly Father comfort her husband Louis, her children, and all who mourn her departure. As of this writing, funeral arrangements are incomplete, but you will be notified as soon as they are in place.
Our Saviour Church in fact has roots in Saint Matthew’s Church, Meherrin, which was founded as an African-American congregation in 1883, nine years before the founding in Baltimore of Our Saviour Church, which was then called Jackson Square. It was members of Saint Matthew’s in Meherrin who founded Saint Matthew’s Church in Baltimore in 1928 which in 1973 merged with Our Saviour. So our roots as a congregation in a real sense go all the way back to 1883.
Gabe Purviance had been sick with the COVID virus but has made a good recovery. His father Philip was hospitalized with the virus but is now with Gabe and his wife Louise and is making a good recovery. Continue to keep them all in your prayers together with Joe Silver who will undergo surgery this Friday, and also Yolanda Ford, who having been hospitalized is now in the Future Care home on North Point Boulevard.
Our former organist, Matthew Bunn, resigned as organist on Sunday, January 24th. We are fortunate that John Igoe has agreed to serve as our organist for some weeks to come. He has served before as substitute here at Our Saviour and we are happy that he is available. He played for Divine Service on January 31.
At the end of this newsletter Quilla Downs reports on the gifts we were able to give to needy families connected with the Waverly Elementary School this Christmas. It really is wonderful that we were able to give even more generously than last year because of our people’s generosity. It happens that I began my education in kindergarten at the Waverly School then known as School 51. Judy Volkman reports on our Free Flea Markets.
We are continuing to work toward the restoration of the mechanism which plays the bells in the church tower. Mary Techau has done much in this connection. We now have over $9,000 in the bell fund. At our website (oursaviourbaltimore.org) there is a delightful video about the bells with Gabe Purviance as narrator. Be sure to see it!
While we are on the subject of finances, I should mention that a generous friend of our congregation recently sent us a check for $10,000. The Church Council will be discussing how this may best be used.
I suspect that during Lent last year very few people expected that the world would still be plagued with COVID–19 as this Lent begins. But so it is, and Lent is almost here.
The Church has always marked Lent with the three disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving as Christ teaches in His Sermon on the Mount—Saint Matthew 6:1-21. Lent is not so much a time to take on extraordinary disciplines as it is to return to those ordinary thoughts and words and deeds which are fitting for all those who have been baptized into our Lord’s death and resurrection. And so if we have been negligent in prayer, Lent is a time to return to a more disciplined prayer life. The forms of daily morning and evening prayer which Dr. Luther provides in the Small Catechism are not just forms to use but in fact a pattern for daily prayer. Public prayer is the worship of the Church. If we have for no valid reason (e.g. sickness, danger of exposure to the virus, etc.) been negligent in Sunday worship, Lent is certainly a time to begin to remedy that negligence and also to join in the midweek Lenten devotions. Almsgiving includes not just monetary gifts but anything that we do to help our neighbor, for example, our flea markets, our gifts to the GEDCO food cupboard, our gifts for the Helping Up Project, the help we recently provided for a group of Christians in Kenya. These needs are now greater than ever. But at the heart of the Lenten season is the contemplation of God’s great love in the passion and death of His only Son. God is a generous God! “God so loved the world that He gave…” Let us pray that through our Lenten discipline we may be ever more fully conformed to the image of our generous God!
Remember that our services are livestreamed at Our Saviour Baltimore Facebook and that sermons can be heard by calling (410) 587–0979. Never hesitate to call me at my home telephone: (410) 554–9994. If I am not at home, do leave a message. I check my messages throughout the day. The Holy Sacrament is the spiritual food and drink for our journey through this world. I am always ready to bring the Sacrament to those who for any reason are unable to come to the Divine Service.
Lent has always been kept as a season of fasting—but not only from food and drink! There may be fixed patterns in our lives, behaviors of various kinds, even patterns of thought which hinder our walk with Christ. We can all certainly benefit from careful self-examination. And then there is always the blessing of private confession and absolution which is always available by appointment. In the fifth chief part of his Small Catechism, The Office of the Keys and Confession, Dr. Luther provides necessary teaching about this. I am always ready and willing to answer your questions.
Let us continue to pray for one another and for this deeply troubled world.
Affectionately in our Lord,
Works of Mercy
Due to the increased funding from the Church, generosity from church family, and donor friends, we were able to more than fulfill our prior commitment to needy families recommended to us by our liaison at Waverly Elementary/Middle School. We usually provide $30 food gift cards to 10 families, but during the Christmas Holiday, additional help was requested, and our resources were such that we were able to purchase $70 gift cards for 11 families in need. The cards were redeemable at ALDI grocery stores. The COVID–19 pandemic and job loss have severely impacted already economically fragile communities and family budgets are stretched to the limit. I am glad that our congregation has again opened its collective heart and purse to make Christmas more meaningful and abundant for our neighbors in need. Many thanks for your continued support and concern for those who are in need.
– Quilla Downs
As COVID–19 continues, many of us are taking on projects that, in busier times, were set aside… like cleaning out that closet or the basement. If you are doing this, remember the Free Flea Market at Our Saviour. We can use men’s and women’s summer clothing, household items, and even Christmas items. We have gotten a number of items for Christmas and will have a “Christmas in July” sale! You can call Judy Volkman at (410) 377–8833 if you have items to be picked up or just to let her know that you have contributed some items. We will be starting the Free Flea Markets in May. Let us share the bounty the Lord has given us!
– Judy Volkman