Feasts and Commemorations

“Our churches teach that the remembrance of the saints is to be commended in order that we may imitate their faith and good works according to our calling.” (Augsburg Confession 21)

The Lutheran reformers understood that there was great benefit in remembering the saints whom God has given to His Church. The Apology of the Augsburg Confession (Article 21) gives three reasons for such honor. First, we thank God for giving faithful servants to His Church. Second, through such remembrance our faith is strengthened as we see the mercy that God extended to His saints of old. Third, these saints are examples by which we may imitate both their faith and their holy living according to our calling in life.

Their defense of the fundamental beliefs of the Christian faith and/or their virtuous living have caused these individuals to stand out over time as persons worthy of recognition. In every case, the purpose of our remembrance is not that we honor these saints for their own sake, but as examples of those in whom the saving work of Jesus Christ has been made manifest to the glory of His holy name and to the praise of His grace and mercy.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. ” (Hebrews 12:1)

Philemon and Onesimus (Feb 15)

Philemon was a prominent first-century Christian who owned a slave named Onesimus. Although the name “Onesimus” means “useful,” Onesimus proved himself “useless” when he ran away from his master and perhaps even stole from him (Philemon 18).  Somehow Onesimus came into contact with the apostle Paul while the latter was in prison (possibly in Rome), and through Paul’s proclamation of the Gospel he became a Christian. After confessing to the apostle that he was a runaway slave, he was directed by Paul to return to his master and become “useful” again.…

Read more...

Valentine, Martyr (Feb 14)

A physician and priest living in Rome during the rule of the Emperor Claudius, Valentine become one of the noted martyrs of the third century. The commemoration of his death, which occurred in the year 270, became part of the calendar of remembrance in the early church of the West. Tradition suggests that on the day of his execution for his Christian faith, he left a note of encouragement for a child of his jailer written on an irregularly-shaped piece of paper.…

Read more...

Aquila, Priscilla, Apollos (Feb 13)

Aquila and his wife Priscilla (Prisca), Jewish contemporaries of St. Paul, traveled widely. Because of persecution in Rome, they went to Corinth where they met the apostle Paul, who joined them in their trade of tentmaking (Acts 18:1–3). They, in turn, joined him in his mission of proclaiming the Christian Gospel. The couple later traveled with Paul from Corinth to Ephesus (Acts 18:18), where the two of them established a home that served as hospitality headquarters for new converts to Christianity.…

Read more...

Using Gesimatide to Prepare for Lent

In our regular Sunday services I described these three Gesima weeks between Epiphany and Lent as a time to prepare for our journey to the cross. We began our preparations last week by considering “mercy” as it is confessed by the Scriptures. This week, we will consider “witness.”

There is more preparation you might consider. Fellow pastor Rev. William Weedon of Hamel, Illinois offers the following suggestions: Weedon’s Blog: Using Gesimatide to Prepare for Lent.

 

Using Gesimatide to Prepare for Lent

Okay, the days of Gesimatide are upon us.  
Read more...

Silas, Fellow Worker of St. Peter and St. Paul (Feb 10)

Silas, a leader in the church at Jerusalem, was chosen by Paul (Acts 15:40) to accompany him on his second missionary journey from Antioch to Asia Minor and Macedonia. Silas, also known as Silvanus, was imprisoned with Paul in Philippi and experienced the riots in Thessalonica and Berea. After rejoining Paul in Corinth, he apparently remained there for an extended time. Beyond that there is little further mention of Silas and his association with Paul.…

Read more...

Jacob (Israel), Patriarch (Feb 5)

Jacob, the third of the three Hebrew patriarchs, was the younger of the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah. After wrestling with the Angel of the Lord, Jacob, whose name means “deceiver,” was renamed “Israel,” which means “he strives with God” (Genesis 25:26; 32:28). His family life was filled with trouble, caused by his acts of deception toward his father and his brother Esau and his parental favoritism toward his son Joseph (March 31). Much of his adult life was spent grieving over the death of his beloved wife Rachel and the presumed death of Joseph, who had been appointed by the Egyptian Pharaoh to be in charge of food distribution during a time of famine in the land.…

Read more...