December 25, 2020 AD
December 25, 2020 AD
3301 The Alameda
Baltimore, MD 21218
Christmas Eve – 7:30 pm
Christmas Day – 10:00 am
Saint John’s Day, December 27 – 11:00 am
New Year’s Eve – 7:30 pm
Second Sunday after Christmas, January 3 – 11:00 am
The Epiphany of Our Lord, January 6 – 7:30 pm
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Preaching in the City Church of Saint Mary in Wittenberg on the afternoon of Christmas Day in the year 1530, Dr. Luther had this to say:
“For if it is true that the Child was born of the virgin and is mine, then I have no angry God and I must know and feel that there is nothing but laughter and joy in the heart of the Father and no sadness in my heart. For if what the angel says is true, that He is our Lord and Savior, what can sin do against us? ‘If God is for us, who is against us?’ [Romans 8:31]. Greater words than these I cannot speak, nor all the angels or even the Holy Spirit, as is sufficiently testified by the beautiful songs that have been made about it.”
From ancient times the Church has observed the three days immediately following Christmas Day as Saint Stephen’s Day, Saint John’s Day, and the Holy Innocents Day. Saint Stephen was the First Martyr (Acts 7:54-60) and the Holy Innocents were the young boys of Bethlehem killed by King Herod’s soldiers in his vain attempt to destroy the Christ Child (Matthew 2:13–18). Although Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist was not a martyr he suffered exile on the island of Patmos (Revelation 1:9). These three holy days serve to remind us that Christ and His Church have always suffered opposition and persecution. And so it will continue to be until the final triumph of Christ in His glorious Appearing at the Last Day. And so the Church’s prayer has ever remained, “Come Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20). Apart from a very brief blessing, these are in fact the very last words in all of Holy Scripture.
Do take careful note of the schedule of Christmas services as given above. We have restored the Divine Service of Christmas Day in part to provide opportunity for Christmas worship for those who are reluctant to venture out after dark. If anyone needs a ride to church for any of these services, please call me at (410) 554–9994 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will make every effort to provide it. Also call or email me if you wish to receive the Holy Sacrament at home. Do remember that all of our services are livestreamed at Our Saviour Baltimore Facebook and that you can hear the sermons by calling (410) 587–0979.
Several months ago we received an email from the leader of a small group of Christians who had found us at our website and were eager to learn more. Their leader, Isaac Zachary Okemwa, wanted me to come to Africa and teach them! Although that was clearly not feasible for all kinds of reasons, we have been able with the help of the Lutheran Heritage Foundation and the Kenyan Lutheran Church to provide them with Bibles in their native language. And now, just this past week, I’ve had an email from Pastor George Ondieki of the Kenyan Church telling me that this group has decided to become Lutheran and that the local Bishop, Joseph Omwoyo Ombasa, has assigned Pastor Isaac Onderi Nyamora to be their pastor and prepare them for confirmation. These fellow Christians are praying for us and they ask our prayers for them. It is wonderful to see how God uses modern technology to further His good and gracious will!
And speaking of our website I here want to thank everyone who has had a hand in making it possible, including those who created the website long before I arrived at Our Saviour.
Elsewhere in this newsletter Quilla Downs tells us about our outreach to needy families connected with the Waverly Elementary/Middle School and Judy Volkman brings us up to date on the work of our free flea markets.
Judy Volkman reminds us that it is time to order poinsettias to decorate the church for Christmas. They are still ten dollars apiece and the deadline for ordering them is Sunday, December 20. Names of those you wish to remember or honor should also be sent in by that day. Judy also has found a carton of Christmas cards, picturing our altar at Christmas. These packets of cards are available on the piano; take as many as you like. If you wish to make a contribution, please designate it as “Christmas cards.” If you are staying at home and wish to use these cards, call Judy at (410) 377–8833 or email her at email@example.com. Offering envelopes for 2021 are now at the back of the church. You may take yours now but be sure not to use them until January. They have been renumbered, so we want the contributions to be credited to the right number.
The church will be decorated for Christmas following Divine Service on the Fourth Sunday in Advent, December 20. “Many hands make light work.”
Someone recently asked me what is meant by the title “Divine Service” as it is found in the Lutheran Service Book and in our announcements and Sunday bulletins. It comes from the German word “Gottesdienst” which means “God’s Service.” And the great point to note is that it chiefly speaks of God serving us—God serving us through His holy Word and Sacrament with forgiveness, life, and salvation. It is of course also true that in the Divine Service we serve God, worshiping Him with our sacrifice of prayer and praise. But the heart of the matter is that it is God who is serving us. God is present, God acts as we hear His Word and are given the life-giving Body and Blood of the Savior as our spiritual food and drink. It is interesting to note that our fellow Christians of the Eastern Orthodox (Greek, Russian, Arabic, etc.) Church call their service the “Divine Liturgy” which has the same meaning.
I doubt that anyone doubts that the year now drawing to its close has been a particularly difficult one. Christmas finds the world still suffering from this pandemic which has plagued the world for so many months. We can now give thanks that vaccines and more effective medications will soon be available while we continue to pray for those whom the hand of sickness and death has touched. During this time when many of our fellow members are confined to their homes it is comforting to know that in prayer for one another we are close to one another and to the Lord whose mercies are new every morning. Never hesitate to reach out to me either by phone or email. Much of the work of a pastor consists in listening! I am of course also available to hear private confession as explained in Luther’s Small Catechism.
I wish you a truly blessed Christmas, rich in the joy and certainty of the Lord who as at this time was born to be our Savior.
Affectionately in our Lord,
Recently, a lady from east Baltimore wrote us a letter, requesting assistance at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Judy Volkman followed up with her and invited her to the November Free Flea market. She attended, along with several members of her family, and received a number of items, both clothing and household goods. At Christmas, she will be one of the recipients of a gift card from Aldi’s. Hopefully, we will see her at the Free Flea Market in the spring! The Lord has provided for us and we have been able to share that bounty!
Thanks to our Church family, we were able to purchase $30 gift cards to send to 10 families prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. The cards were redeemable at Aldi’s Super Market. The postal service delivered the cards, and all arrived at the recipient’s homes in sufficient time for shopping prior to the big day. Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, we will continue to collect monetary donations for purchase of our Christmas gift cards. Our list for Christmas is longer by one additional family this year. There was a recent request for help from a family who resides outside of our partnered Waverly Elementary/Middle School Community. The request was addressed to the church, followed by a meeting at church; and it was determined that help was indeed warranted. In our capacity to serve and share with our neighbors, it was agreed that we would accommodate the additional family. Donations made on December 6 and December 13 would assure that the cards could be purchased, and mailed, and that they would arrive in time for pre-Christmas grocery shopping. A separate check may be placed in the collection plate with the note “Christmas Gift Cards “or just simply “Christmas Cards” in the memo line. If cash is given, an extra envelope with your name and donation number might be placed in the donation plate. Many thanks for your continued support and concern for those in need.
3301 The Alameda
Baltimore, MD 21218
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Let me begin by thanking you for your Christmas greetings and gifts. It means a lot to be kindly remembered! Let me also thank everyone who helped decorate the church for Christmas. Many hands make light work, and as usual we completed this happy task in little more than an hour.
The first Monday of this month and of this new year is the bright Festival of the Epiphany of our Lord when the Church remembers and celebrates the coming off the wise to worship the infant Savior. The word Epiphany means appearing, revelation, showing forth. At Christmas God appears in the world as Man, at the Epiphany this Man appears as God. The coming of the wise men is both a fulfillment of prophecy and itself a prophecy of all nations coming to faith in the Lord Jesus as God and Savior of the world. At the Divine Service of the Epiphany we will sing familiar carols which speak of the visit of the magi: The First Nowell, What Child is This, and We Three Kings of Orient Are. Epiphany immediately follows the Twelve Days of Christmas and is a joyful conclusion of our Christmas celebration.
By now most of you will have heard that our organist, Marie Herrington, will be moving on to a new position after the first Sunday in January. We are truly sorry to see her go because she has contributed so much to our worship. Those of you who were in church on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day know just how true this is! We are all the beneficiaries of her faithful — and thoroughly competent – service. We have come to cherish Marie and we truly wish her well in all her endeavors. She may from time to time be with us to play the organ. We have engaged a substitute organist for most of the month of January; the Church Council and I are looking for someone to fill this position. Pray for God’s guidance and blessing on this endeavor.
Remember in your prayers Merton Masterson who mourns the death of his father. May the Light perpetual ever shine upon him and may the risen Lord comfort all who mourn his departure.
We continue to work on the project of restoring the mechanisms which play the bells in our church tower. We recently received a generous gift of a thousand dollars for this purpose. Do be on the lookout for individuals who might be interested in helping with this project. The playing of the bells before the Divine Service has been a lovely custom and the bells are in fact a witness to the presence of Christ’s church here in our neighborhood. The bells have been here since 1934, just four years after the dedication of this church building. We look forward to the day when they will ring out again! By the way this new year brings the 90th anniversary of the dedication of this church building.
I doubt that anyone will disagree with me when I say that we begin this new year in a deeply troubled world. For one thing, it seems that so much is unsettled! How then shall we live? What are we to make of all this? Well first we need to remember that “the world, the flesh, and the devil” are not only the clear teaching of Holy Scripture; they continue as a fearsome reality in this fallen world and will continue until the Lord Jesus comes again in glory to judge the living and the dead. And since that is so, we Christians are – as Saint Peter addresses the recipients of his first Letter – “sojourners and exiles” (I Peter 2: Il) in this world; as Saint Paul says, “our citizenship is in heaven and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus” (Philippians 3:20) and “we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4: 18).
In a deeply troubled world this teaching most certainly doesn’t “solve all our problems” but it makes it possible for us to keep things in perspective: to do what we are able to do in addressing its problems, but also to remember that we are finally only on a journey through this world to that home which will be home indeed.
If you need a ride to church, please do not hesitate to contact me by telephone (410.554.9994) or email (charlesmcclean42 a, tnailecom). If I am not myself able to give you a ride, I will make every effort to see that you get one. And please do not hesitate to contact me if you should be sick or simply wish to talk. Among other things, that’s what pastors are for!
Wishing you a truly happy new new, I am
Thanks to your generous donations of food items, 5 crates of food were delivered to CARES. They were running low on items and we had a good stock, so we were able to assist them at a crucial time. Now we need to restock for them!
As you return to the normal day to day routine, remember that we need items for the Free Flea Market. We need to completely restock with new items in order to keep up the interest in our outreach. Clothing for warmer weather is most appropriate for us. We don’t get many requests for children’s items. Household items, books, games, etc. are also welcome. Please make sure the items are clean and gently used. Donations can be left in the room downstairs, across from the Multi-Purpose room. Thank you for your continued support. We will start up again in May.
December 25, 2019 AD
December 24, 2019 AD
3301 The Alameda
Baltimore, MD 21218
CHRISTMAS EVE – FESTIVAL DIVINE SERVICE, 7:30 P.M.
CHRISTMAS DAY – FESTIVAL DIVINE SERVICE, 10:00 A.M.
First Sunday after Christmas Day – Divine Service, 11:00 A.M.
New Year’s Eve – Divine Service, 7:30 P.M.
Second Sunday after Christmas Day – Divine Service, 11:00 A.M.
THE EPIPHANY OF OUR LORD (Monday, January 6) -FESTIVAL DIVINE SERVICE, 7:30 P.M.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In the Divine Service of Christmas Eve we always hear the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great Light.” That great Light is Mary’s Child whose name is “Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” That is the wonder of Christmas: that out of love for you and for me and for every human being God’s eternal Son took upon Himself our flesh in the womb of the lowly virgin Mary and was born in Bethlehem to save us. I love these words of Martin Luther’s Christmas hymn, “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come”:
These are the tokens ye shall mark:
The swaddling clothes and manger dark;
There ye shall find the Infant laid
By whom the heavens and earth were made.
It is easy to sympathize with some words of that learned and devout 17th century Christian, Blaise Pascal -mathematician, physicist, inventor and theologian – who, contemplating the unimaginable vastness of the universe, once said, “The eternal silence of these infinite spaces frightens me.” But that silence was broken when God appeared in the flesh to be our Savior. He is the bright Light which dispels all the darkness.
The first of December is the First Sunday in Advent, the beginning of the new Church Year, and the beginning of the season in which we prepare for the Christmas celebration. Advent is a time of quiet reflection and anticipation as we contemplate the three-fold Coming of Christ: His coming in humility as Mary’s Child, His constant coming to us in His holy Word and Sacraments, His coming again in glory at the Last Day as Judge of the living and the dead. Advent is not so much a season of celebration as it is a season of expectation. It is a season for self-examination in the light of God’s Word. Examine yourself in the light the Ten Commandments or our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) or Saint Paul’s words about “the works of the flesh” and “the fruit of the Spirit”(Galatians 5:19-23). Although the Lutheran Church does not require the use of private confession and absolution, the fifth chief part of the Catechism – The Office of the Keys and Confession -makes plain that we are encouraged to use this means of grace. If you wish to come to confession, you need only make an appointment to do so.
It is time to order the poinsettias for Christmas for the people you wish to honor or remember. They are still $10 per plant (no increase in price). Please get your order to Judy Volkman by December 22, or earlier if possible. Envelopes for your order are in the rear of the church. Make checks out to Our Saviour Lutheran.
On Sunday, December 8th, there will be a potluck lunch after Divine Service. Merton Masterson will be deep-frying a turkey and the rest of us are asked to bring side dishes. There is a sign-up sheet on the piano. I have been asked to show pictures of my recent trip to Germany and I will do so after lunch.
On Sunday, December 15th, the Rev. Lucas Witt will be installed at 4:00 P.M. as associate/missionary pastor of Immanuel Church at Loch Raven and Belvedere. It is expected that his missionary work will aid not only Immanuel Church but also the other Baltimore congregations of our Synod.
On Sunday, December 22nd, the Fourth Sunday in Advent, the church will be decorated for Christmas following Divine Service. “Many hands make light work!”
In addition to Divine Service on Christmas Eve we will also have Divine Service on Christmas morning at 10 o’clock. It is hoped that this will meet a real need for those who do not drive after dark. This is of course another opportunity to join in celebrating the Day of Christ’s birth.
Judy Volkman recently received an award for Lifetime Achievement from the Baltimore County Commission on Disabilities. She has been a member of the Commission for forty-two years, has served as chair of various committees, and one term as Chair of the full Commission. Judy is amazed at the progress that has been made in the disability community but says there is still more to be done. She believes that “the Lord has made sure I was in the right place at the right time.” And so congratulations are in order!
Our former Vicar, Trent Demarest and his wife Maritza, are now the proud parents of Robert Martin who was born last Friday evening. He has three older brothers: John, Thomas, and Charles. Trent is now Headmaster of Trinity Lutheran School in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Congratulations and God bless the whole Demarest family.
Included in this newsletter is an article about the bells of Our Saviour. The author, Pastor Carl Kruelle,, grew up at Our Saviour and was ordained here. The article is yet more evidence of what a treasure we have in these bells. Our task now is to raise the funds to restore the mechanism which plays them.
If you need a ride to church, do not hesitate to call me at 410.554.9994 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will make every effort to see that you have a ride.
Let us continue to hold one another in prayer. I wish you a blessed Advent, a genuine preparation for the birthday of the Savior.
This Thanksgiving, we have continued to honor our commitment to some of our neighbors at Waverly Elementary/Middle School. As usual, our church family responded to our call for help by making monetary donations which enabled us to purchase 10 Gift Cards from Aldi’s Supermarket totaling $250. The families picked up their cards from the school’s social worker on Monday, November 25. The time frame gave the families sufficient time to shop for a few extra holiday items for their Thanksgiving feast. Now that Thanksgiving deliveries are done, we will be collecting donations for our Christmas food gift cards. Monetary donations will be collected from Sunday, November 24, through Sunday, December 22; a separate check may be placed in the collection plate with the designate “Christmas Gift Cards” in the memo line. If cash is given, an extra envelope with your name and donation number might be placed in the donation plate. Many thanks to our church family for the outpouring of generosity and caring for the needs of our brothers and sisters in our community.
– Quilla Downs
It was a nice spring day in Govans, 1943. The forsythia were in full bloom. It was Wartime—we had no car or phone. | was having cramps in my stomach. Mom, being a nurse, took, my temperature. It was high. She rushed me down the block to the streetcar on York Rd. I continued having cramps all the way to the transfer point at Greenmont and Preston. Getting off the streetcar at the center doors was easy. It looked a long way to the ground and I was half-dizzy. I vomited all over the steps getting down to street level (wondering how people on the streetcar were going to survive the smell of my mess; | could leave, but they couldn’t) to catch the trackless trolley to St. Joseph Hospital on Caroline St. Once in the operating room, the anesthetist told me “Breathe into this balloon and count to 10.” I remember the scent of the ether but never made it to 10 — maybe 5 or 6, and I was out.
After waking up in the ward, I was told I had an emergency appendectomy (appendicitis). The next night my Pastor came to visit, the Rev. A. J. Stiemke. He placed his calming hand on my forehead, prayed, spoke the Lord’s Prayer and Benediction.
The next morning was Palm Sunday and time for discharge. Uncle Fred arrived along with my parents to drive me home in his Hudson Terraplane. The route we traveled took me right past The Church of Our Saviour along the Alameda Boulevard. It was just before the 11:00a.m. Service. And | was thankful we had to stop for the red light, because I got to hear the bells resounding with “O Savior, Precious Savior’, “Crown Him with Many Crowns”, “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name”, “Beautiful Savior’. As the light changed to green and we headed for home, I could still hear the bells trailing off in the distance. One of the high points of my life!
At the various churches where I have served, I always scheduled one or more of these hymns for Palm Sunday congregational signing.
Over years I have often wondered how many people were healed, helped, or redirected by the message of the bells.
Carl H. Kruelle. Jr.
October 27, 2019
December 31, 2017 AD
December 24, 2018 AD
This charming picture of the birth of our Lord is by the German artist, Martin Schongauer (1430-1491). We see the Christ Child in the manger and His blessed mother kneeling in adoration. We see the angels and also the shepherds approaching the stable. But why are the cow and donkey there, gazing at the Christ Child? It seems that Christians long ago were impressed by some words of the prophet Isaiah:”The ox knows its owner and the donkey its master’s crib…” (Isaiah 1:3). And so in John Mason Neale’s familiar paraphrase of one our oldest and best-loved carols, In dulci jubilo (Now Sing We, Now Rejoice) we sing, “Ox and ass before Him bow, and He is in the manger now, Christ is born today!” The One who lies in the manger is not only our truly human Brother born of the Virgin Mary but also God the Father’s eternal Son and Word “through whom all things were made” (John 1:3), the Lord of all creation and so the Creator come to save this ruined race and bring us to the joy of the resurrection and the life of the world to come.
Note that on Christmas Eve The Holy Night Communion will begin at 10:30 P.M. For several years our Christmas Eve worship has begun at 7:30 in the evening but, at the recommendation of the Church Council, the Voters have agreed to return this year to what had in fact been the practice here for many years. If you need a ride to church on Christmas Eve, please call me at 410.554.9994 or email me at email@example.com and I will see to it that someone will pick you up and bring you safely home. Driving at night is difficult for some of us. I know how that is: it was in fact a bit difficult for me until my cataracts were removed! As we all know, the word “Christmas” means “Christ’s Mass,” “Mass” being the Divine Service of Word and Sacrament. It goes without saying that all Christians will be eager to celebrate our Savior’s birth at “Christ’s Mass,” receiving in our Christmas Communion the Body born for us this night of Mary. The Real Presence in the Sacrament is not only on Christmas night but always cause for wonder and joy!
The Church’s Christmas celebration goes on for twelve days, and so the Sunday Divine Service on December 30th is a Christmas service as is also the Divine Service on New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Eve not only marks the turn of the year but is also the Eve of the church festival of the Circumcision and Name of Jesus. Eight days after His birth the Christ Child was circumcised and given the holy name of Jesus which means Savior (Luke 2:21) The New Year’s Eve Divine Service is at 7:30 P.M.
Because of the Savior’s great love for us we are eager to show kindness to those who are needy. At the end of this newsletter Quilla Downs and Judy Volkman tell us about our efforts to share with the needy. We all realize that the need in our world is simply immense and all of us must do what we can to address this crying need.
Looking ahead, on January 27 we will be having an Epiphany Service of Lessons and Carols at 4:00 P.M. followed by a reception. We will have as guest organist, Matthew Machemer, who is the Associate Kantor at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne. There will also be a quartet that will include: Marie Herrington (our organist and Paul Techau (our cantor). Plan on attending and invite your friends!
Helen Gray was briefly hospitalized this past month but is now again at home. As of this writing Queenie Hardaway has been in Johns Hopkins Hospital for several days. Remember them in your prayers.
I hope that we will all use the Advent season – these four weeks before Christmas – to prepare for our yearly celebration of Christ’s Coming in lowliness and also for His Coming in glory at the Last Day. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! Come quickly!
WORKS OF MERCY
The closing Free Flea Market was held on November 10th, distributing 187 items to 20 people. This included winter clothes and Christmas items. The Free Flea Market has been reaching out into the community for 5 years now, and we have made a considerable impact. We have had 835 people attend, and they received 5633 items for free! All this was made possible through the generous donations from church members, Orphan Grain Train, and community donations. We are now giving back to Orphan Grain Train 8 bags of clothes to be distributed to others in need. Of course, this couldn’t have been done without faithful volunteers; they were present to hand out items 232 times. So many thanks to all who supported this outreach and shared the bounty that God has given us.
– Judy Volkman
For a number of years, Our Saviour has partnered with Waverly Elementary/Middle School during the Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays to provide Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets to needy families in our community. We intend to continue the holiday food giveaways because the need is great. Food items have come from donations from generous church members, but most items are purchased with funds collected during our Lenten soup suppers. In the past, we delivered the baskets to the school, and earlier still, we made deliveries to homes. Of late the baskets have been picked up at our church. However, it is difficult for some families to pick up their food due to lack of transportation and conflicting work schedules. In addition, we do not have the necessary manpower re shopping and distribution to accommodate all of the circumstances in the chain of distribution. This Thanksgiving we had to repurchase some turkeys due to thaw on the lower shelves of the refrigerator. We repurchased due to concern for health and liability. I believe the church and the families would be better served with gift certificates. I am asking the council to consider the purchase of gift certificates at one of the food chains such as ShopRite or Aldi’s where food purchases would go further and the families would have the dignity of making their own food choices. We have never accommodated more than 11 families. If this request meets with the approval of council, I will facilitate follow through with the grocery merchant and the school social worker. Many thanks for your continued support and concern for those who are in need.
– Quilla Downs
December 24, 2017 AD
OUR SAVIOUR LUTHERAN CHURCH
in the City of Baltimore
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Here we are at the beginning of the year of our Lord 2017 which is both the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and the 125th anniversary of Our Saviour Church. I write these lines on December 28th which is the fourth day of the Twelve Days of Christmas and also the Festival of the Holy Innocents when the Church remembers the little boys of Bethlehem who perished in King Herod’s futile attempt to destroy the infant Savior (Matthew 2:13-18).
Our happiness on Christmas Eve was increased by the fact that Don Weber, our faithful organist, was able to play for the Holy Night Communion. He has served as organist in this Church since September 1959; this past September he had completed fifty-seven years here! In a day when commitments are hard to come by and people seem to move from one job to another, Our Saviour has been truly blessed to have Don Weber these many years. You realize how long Don has been here when you remember that when he began here Dwight Eisenhower was in the White House – and I had just graduated from City College High School! The Church Council and I truly wish that Don could go on for ever, but age with its infirmities has a way of catching up with us all. And so for reasons of health Don has announced his retirement. He will hold the title Organist Emeritus and he expects to play on occasion when he is able. I must say that as pastor I have been simply delighted with Don’s work: he is truly liturgical organist. He has a deep understanding of the worship of the Church in general and of its music in particular. We now face the challenge of choosing a successor. For the time being we have the services of several qualified organists. The Church Council has addressed all of these matters quite carefully and is certainly willing to receive input from our members. Don will be part of the committee which will look for his successor. We are of course going to have a grand recognition event for Don but that will take some time to put in place. In your prayers give thanks for Don and pray that our heavenly Father would continue to bless and keep him in all his ways.
We Christians celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas through January 5th. The following day is the Festival of the Epiphany of our Lord, one of the great festivals of the Church in which we remember the coming of the Gentile wise men (Matthew 2:1-12) to worship the infant Lord. Epiphany has been called the “Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles” and the “Christmas of the Gentiles.” On the evening of Friday, January 6th, there will be a Festival Divine Service at which we’ll sing beloved Christmas carols which speak of the wise men: “The First Nowell,” “What Child is This?” and “We Three Kings of Orient Are,” together with Epiphany hymns. The Rev. Aaron Bueltmann, Pastor of Advent Church in Forest Hill, will be the preacher. The other congregations of our Circuit have been invited and there will be a reception after Service. The Epiphany Festival brings our Christmas celebration to a bright and joyful conclusion.
Sunday, January 1st, is of course New Year’s Day. In the calendar of the Church Year it is the Festival of the Circumcision and the Name of Jesus (Luke 2:21) and also the Eighth of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Should not we Christians wish to begin the New Year in the Lord’s House at the Lord’s Altar? Divine Service will as usual be at 11:00 A.M. but Sunday School and Adult Class will not meet.
Jake Mokris has been studying for a doctorate in physics at Johns Hopkins University. His adviser at Hopkins recently took a new job at the University of Haifa in Israel. And so to complete his doctoral studies Jake must now follow his adviser to Haifa. On Sunday, January 8th, we’ll have a potluck luncheon to wish him well and thank him not least for his faithful carrying out of the duties of worship director following James Gray who served faithfully and well for so many years. Merton Masterson will be succeeding Jake in that capacity.
You may have noticed that the arch over the main door of the church facing The Alameda has recently been painted – thanks to the generosity of a member who prefers to remain anonymous. Such an arch is called a tympanum. It had been showing the wear of the 86 years since the Church’s dedication in 1930.
I must thank Joe Silver and William Hawkins for getting the Christmas trees and everyone who helped to decorate the Church. “Many hands make light work,” and so the whole task was finished in little more than an hour. Judy Volkman as usual took in hand the ordering of the poinsettias and their placement in the chancel. Our Church is always quite splendid in its Christmas finery. The decorations will be taken down on January 8th, the First Sunday after the Epiphany.
I have been remiss in not having thanked Paul Techau for serving as our cantor. He sings the variable parts of the liturgy which properly are sung: the Introit (entrance chant), the Gradual (between the Old Testament Lesson and the Epistle), the Alleluia Verse (before the Holy Gospel). These parts of the liturgy are largely taken from the Book of Psalms and have been in use in the Church for well over a thousand years. They compliment the Scripture readings of the Sunday or Festival. When the liturgy was revised at the Reformation these parts were retained.
I will be away from January 14th through January 20th attending the annual Symposium on the Lutheran Confessions at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana. On Sunday, January 15th, Pastor Thomas Foelber, until his retirement Pastor of Saint James’s Church in Overlea, and now our Circuit Visitor, will be with us. If you need a pastor while I am away, call my home phone (410.554.9994) and there will be a message to help you reach a pastor.
There will be a regular Voters Meeting on Sunday, January 22nd, following the Divine Service. Members of our congregation, 18 years and older, are eligible to participate in the Voters Meeting.
I suspect that as we enter the new year we are full of hopes and also misgivings. Those hopes and misgivings we place in the hands of Jesus our Savior in the confidence that His forgiving love will sustain us all our days. Pray for this congregation and for me your pastor and for the whole Christian Church on earth with all its pastors and ministers. Pray for our country and for all the nations of the earth that we may continue to serve our Lord and Savior with glad hearts and live quiet and peaceful lives in all godliness and honesty.
Affectionately in our Lord,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The calendar year 2016 is now rapidly coming to an end; soon we will enter the year of our Lord 2017 which will be marked by two anniversaries. With Lutherans throughout the world we will be celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, and here at Our Saviour Church will be celebrating the 125th anniversary of the founding of this congregation. Both anniversaries call us to remember, repent, and give thanks: to remember all God’s innumerable blessings, to repent of our indifference and ingratitude for those blessings, and to give thanks that God’s mercies are new to us every morning and that through His dear Son Jesus Christ our Lord He daily forgives our sins, sustains us by His Holy Spirit, and promises the light and joy of the world to come. Needless to say, we are beginning to make plans for the celebration of both anniversaries.
Now we find ourselves in the holy season of Advent, a time of self-examination and repentance, as we prepare for the celebration of our Saviour’s first coming in great humility as the Child of the Blessed Virgin Mary and also prepare for His coming again in glory to judge both the living and the dead. I suspect that we are all very much conscious of the devastating effects of human sin together with the wiles of the devil and of the despair which plagues countless human beings. In the light of those realities we Christians know that the hope which never puts to shame is found in the Saviour whose blood cleanses from all sin and through whose death and resurrection the door of heaven again stands open to all who place their trust in Him.
By way of contrast with the Roman Catholic Church the Lutheran Church does not require her members explicitly to confess their sins in the presence of the pastor. But the Lutheran Church does provide opportunity for the blessing of private confession and absolution. We learned in the Catechism: “Confession embraces two parts: one is that we confess our sins; the other, that we receive absolution, or forgiveness, from the pastor as from God Himself, and in no wise doubt, but firmly believe that by it our sins are forgiven before God in heaven. Which sins should we confess? Before God we should plead guilty of all sins, even of those which we do not know as we do in the Lord’s Prayer; but before the pastor we should confess those sins only which we know and feel in our hearts” (Luther’s Small Catechism) And we read in the Augsburg Confession: “It is taught among us that private absolution should be retained and not allowed to fall into disuse. However, in confession it is not necessary to enumerate all trespasses and sins, for this is impossible. Ps.19:12 ‘Who can discern his errors?'” (Augsburg Confession, Article XI). Dr. Luther himself regularly went to confession and said that without it the devil would easily have overcome him. The great blessing of private confession is the individual word of absolution. Consciences burdened with the memory of sin find release, peace, and hope. i am always available to hear confession. Since we now have a prayer desk with crucifix in the study we now have a place where confessions can be heard in strict privacy. If you have any questions about confession, do be in touch with me (firstname.lastname@example.org, 410.554.9994). To prepare for confession one can examine one’s conscience by reflecting on the Ten Commandments and their meaning as found in the Catechism.
At the November Voters Meeting it was decided upon the recommendation of the Church Council that Our Saviour apply for Historic Designation from our City’s Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation. The application process will take a number of months but will almost certainly be complete before the end of the 125th Anniversary year.
Also at the Voters Meeting the Congregation accepted the Church Council’s recommendation for our Christmas services. Because Christmas Day and New Year’s Day come on Sunday this year there will as usual be Divine Service at 11:00 A.M. on both days, but the Adult Class and Sunday School will not meet. The Holy Night Communion of Christmas Eve will be celebrated this year at 7:30 P.M. The New Year’s Eve service will be omitted this year. And Christmastide will close with the Feast of the Epiphany of our Lord, Friday, January 6th; there will be a Festival Divine Service at 7:30 P.M. to which all the churches in our Circuit are invited. A reception will follow. There is a practical benefit in having Divine Service on Christmas morning and New Year’s morning. Some people are understandably reluctant to come out at night, so these daytime services provide them with an opportunity for worship. It surely goes without saying that every Christian who is able will wish to be at the Divine Service on the day of our Saviour’s birth: the Saviour once found wrapped in swaddling clothes now comes in the lowly bread and wine of His Sacrament.
Here are two passages from Christmas sermons of Dr. Luther.
“O thou boy, lying in the manger, thou art truly God who hast created me, and thou wilt not be wrathful with me because thou comest to me in this loving way – more loving cannot be imagined.”
“If you would truly love, let him be this way in your heart. If you regard the boy according to the flesh, he means nothing to you’ but much if this little Jesus is your God and Savior.”
Ponder these words of Dr. Luther as you prepare for your Christmas Communion and then come with joy to the Lord’s altar on the day of His birth.
Let us pray for one another, for the whole church, and for the whole world Christ came to save.
Affectionately in our Lord,
January 3, 2016 AD
Old Testament: Genesis 46:1-7
Epistle: 1 Peter 4:12-19
Gospel: Matthew 2:13-23
In less than a month we will again celebrate Christmas. Here at Our Saviour the Holy Night Communion will be celebrated at 9:00 PM on Christmas Eve. After much thought and discussion, the Church Council decided to recommend and the Voters Meeting agreed that we have this Festival Divine Service somewhat earlier than in the past. There is a perception that people are less willing for various reasons to come out late at night. Be all that as it may, it goes without saying that every Christian will wish to be present in the Lord’s House on Christmas. The shepherds found the Christ Child in the manger, we find Him in the holy Sacrament of His body and blood.
The Church will be decorated for Christmas following the Divine Service on the Fourth Sunday in Advent, December 20th. “Many hands make light work.” The previous Sunday, December 13th, is the deadline for ordering poinsettias in memory or in honor of loved ones. Names and ten dollars for each plant should be given to Judy Volkman.
But before we come to Christmas we have the Advent season of preparation for the Feast. These four weeks before Christmas are not yet Christmas— despite what the world may say or do! During Advent Saint John the Baptist is after Christ Himself the one dominating figure of the season, and John is the great preacher of repentance. Although it is true that, as Dr. Luther said, “the Christian’s whole life should be one of repentance,” Advent and Lent are times for intensiﬁed focus on this theme. In order to repent we need to recognize our sins. So let me as your pastor urge you during these Advent weeks to examine your conscience in the light of God’s holy Word. There are any number of ways to do this. You might carefully read the Ten Commandments and their meanings in Luther’s Small Catechism or you might consider Christ’s Sermon on the Mount as found in chapters five through seven of Saint Matthew’s Gospel or Saint Paul’s catalogue of the “works of the flesh” and the “fruit of the Spirit” as found in Galatians 5:19-23. And then reﬂect on your own life in the light of all this. If you feel that you need help in doing this, I am always ready to be of assistance.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention that, although the Lutheran Church does not require private confession before the pastor, private confession is taught both in the Augsburg Confession— the principle statement of the doctrine of the Lutheran Church— and in Luther’s Small Catechism which also provides a form for such confession and absolution. Those who use this means of grace testify to the great comfort provided when, having confessed their sins, they receive individual absolution. The pastor who hears such confessions can never under any circumstances divulge what he has heard to anyone, he may not even subsequently mention it to the penitent whose confession he has heard. And if you ask why, the answer is this: confession is made not to the pastor but to God; the pastor is simply a witness to such confession and then grants absolution and counsel. It goes without saying that I am always ready to hear confessions and answer questions about this means of grace. In any event, do use these Advent weeks to examine your conscience not least in preparation for your Christmas Communion.
In the past few weeks two long-time members of our congregation have been called out of this world to Christ’s nearer presence. On Saturday, November 21st, Earline Pride fell asleep in the Lord; the following day Elaine Albert peacefully died. On Saturday, December 12th, there will be a Memorial Service for Earline at 11 o’clock followed by a repast. On Saturday, December 19th, there will be a Memorial Service for Miss Albert at 10 o’clock. May the Light perpetual ever shine upon them and may our heavenly Father comfort all who mourn with the sure and certain hope of the resurrection.
On the Second Sunday in Advent, December 6th, Paul and Mary Techau will be received as members of Our Saviour. They formerly were members of Immanuel Church in Alexandria whose pastor, Christopher Esget, preached for my installation as Pastor of Our Saviour. We welcome them and ask God’s blessing on their life here at Our Saviour.
This newsletter always provides me with an opportunity to say thank you. So I especially want to thank Anthony Baylor who organized the clean-up and planting day on Saturday, November 14th and to all who participated. I think all of us who joined in the clean-up and planting of bulbs thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. In the spring everyone will take delight in seeing the beautiful tulips in bloom.
On New Year’s Eve we will as usual have Divine Service at 7:30 PM Wednesday, January 6th, is the Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord. There will be a Festival Divine Service at 7:30 PM. All the congregations of our Circuit have been invited to join us. It will be a joyous celebration in which we will sing such familiar carols as “The First Nowell,” “We Three Kings of Orient Are,” “What Child is This?” and also such beloved hymns as “As with Gladness Men of Old.” The celebration of Epiphany provides a joyous conclusion to our Christmas celebration.
God bless you in these Advent days and bring you to a happy Christmas! Affectionately in our Lord,
This past month Our Saviour received a very generous donation from a former member. This came in the form of a Thrivent Choice designation for over $1200. Thrivent is a fraternal insurance organization and they give back to the community. The Thrivent Choice program lets eligible members recommend where one of Thrivent’s charitable funds goes by designating Choice dollars. If you have life insurance or an annuity through Thrivent you may qualify to designate funds to Our Saviour. Go to http://www.thrivent.com/thriventchoice. Several members have already designated funds through Thrivent Choice. You can join them and access funds for Our Saviour.
– Judy Volkman
This past Thursday we provided complete Thanksgiving dinners to eleven families in our community. Because of an outpouring of generosity, our food drive was a success. Additionally, we have nearly enough fixings to supply our Christmas baskets. Thanks to Judy Volkrnan, a $250 grant from Thrivent was used to purchase ten turkeys. The 33rd Street Giant Supermarket donated a $25 gift card which was spent at the store. Looking towards Christmas, we have a pledge of ﬁve turkeys already. Additional turkey donations would be welcome. We thank our church family for gifts of food, of cash, and for the gift of time.
On Monday, November 23rd, we delivered the food boxes to Waverly Elementary/Middle School. With the help of additional hands, the packaging, the labeling, and the delivery went smoothly. A special thanks to Pastor McClean and to Eugene James who brought his grandson, to William Hawkins and Ron Lang. By the end of the school day, all of the families had picked up their baskets from the Church. We would like to provide for an equal number of families this Christmas. We believe it is possible.
Lastly, we responded to GEDCO’s requesty for a donation of food for their annual Thanksgiving Eve dinner for the residents of Harford House and Mica House. Under the umbrella of Our Saviour Lutheran Church we supplied four bags of dinner rolls and two pies.
– Quilla Downs