Biblical memoirs

 

 

 

 

present by Alan Lyght

 

Monday October 23St. James of Jerusalem, Brother of Jesus and Martyr. St. James of Jerusalem (or “James the Just”) is referred to by St. Paul as “the Lord’s brother” (Galatians 1:19). Some modern theologians believe that James was a son of Joseph and Mary and, therefore, a biological brother of Jesus. But throughout most of the Church (historically, and even today), Paul’s term “brother” is understood as “cousin” or “kinsman,” and James is thought to be the son of a sister of Joseph or Mary who was widowed and had come to live with them. Along with other relatives of our Lord (except His mother), James did not believe in Jesus until after His resurrection (John 7:3-5, 1 Corinthians 15:7). After becoming a Christian, James was elevated to a position of leadership within the earliest Christian community. Especially following St. Peter’s departure from Jerusalem, James was recognized as the bishop of the Church in that holy city (Acts 12:17: 15:12ff.) According to the historian Joseph, James was martyred in AD 62 by being stoned to death by the Sadducees. James authored the Epistle in the New Testament that bears his name. In it, he exhorts his readers to remain steadfast in the one true faith, even in the face of suffering and temptation, and to live by faith the life that is in Christ Jesus. Such a fath, he makes clear, is a busy and active thing, which never ceases to do good, to confess the Gospel by words and actions, and to stake its life, both now and forever, in the cross.

For Wednesday October 25Dorcas (Tabitha), Lydia, and Phoebe, Faithful Women. These women were an exemplary  Christians who demonstrated their faith by their material support of the Church. Dorcas (also known as Tabitha) was well-known and much loved for her acts of charity in the city of Joppa, especially for making clothes for the poor. When Dorcas died suddenly, the members of her congregation sent to the neighboring city of Lydda for the apostle Peter, who came and raised her from the dead (Acts 9:36-41). Lydia was a woman of Thyatira, who worked at Philippi selling a famous purple dye that was much in demand in the ancient world. She was also a “worshiper”of God at the local synagogue (Acts 16:14). When  the Apostle Paul encountered her in prayer among other proselyte women, his preaching of the Word braught Lydia to faith in Christ. She and her friends thus became the nucleus of the Christian community in Philippi (Acts 16:13-15, 40). Phoebe was another faithful woman associated with the apostle Paul. She was a deaconess from Cenchreae (the post of Corinth) whom Paul sent to the Church in Rome with his Epistle to the Romans. In it, he writes of her support for the work of the Early Church (Romans 16:1-2).

Today Thursday October 26Philipp Nicolai, Johann Heermann, and Paul Gerhardt, Hymnwriters. Philipp Nicolai (1556-1608) was a pastor in Germany during the Great Plague, which took the lives of thirteen hundred of his parishioners during a six-month period. In addition to his heroic pastoral ministry during that time of stress and sorrow, he wrote the texts for “Wake, Awake, for Night Is Flying” and “O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright,” known, respectively, as the king and queen of the Lutheran chorales. Johann Heermann(1585-1647), also a German pastor, suffered from poor health as well as from the ravages of the Thirty Years’ War (1618-48). His hymn texts are noted for their tenderness and depth of feeling. Paul Gerhardt (1607-76) was another Lutheran pastor who endured the horrors of the Thirty Years’ War. By 1668, he had lost his pastoral position in Berlin (for refusing to compromise his Lutheran convictions) and endured the death of four of his five children and his wife. He nevertheless managed to write 133 hymns, all of which reflect his firm faith. Along with Martin Luther, he is regarded as one of Lutheranism’s finest hymnwriters.

Today Saturday October28St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles. In the lists of the twelve apostles (Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14-16; Acts 1:13), the tenth and eleventh places are occupied by Simon the Zealot (or “Cananaean”) and by Jude (or “Judas,” not Iscariot but “of James”), who was apparently known also as Thaddaeus. According to early Christian tradition, Simon and Jude journyed together as missionaries to Persia, where they were martyred. It is likely for this reason, at least in part, that these two apostles are commemorated on the same day. Simon is not mentioned in the New Testament apart from the lists of the twelve apostles. Thus he is remembered and honored for the sake of his office, and thereby stands before us – in eternity, as in his life and ministry on earth – in the name and stead of Christ Jesus, our Lord. We give thanks to God for calling and sending Simon, along with Jude and all of the apostles, to teach and preach the Holy Gospel, to to proclaim repentance and forgivenes, and to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (John 4:1-2; Matthew 10; 28:16-20; Luke 24:46-49). Jude appears in John’s Gospel (14:22) on the night of our Lord’s betrayal and the beginning of His Passion, asking Jesus how it is that He will manifest Himself to the deciples but not to the world. The answer that Jesus gives to this question is a pertinent emphasis for this festival day: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep my word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23). Surely both Jude and Simon exemplified, in life and death, their love for Jesus and their faith in His Word. Not only are we thus strengthened in our Christian faith and life by their example, we are encouraged by the faithfulness of the Lord in keeping His promise to them to bring them home to Himself in heaven. There they live with Him forever, where we shall someday join the

Biblical Memoir

For Tuesday October 17: Ignatious of Antioch, Pastor and Martyr. Ignatious was the bishop of Antioch in Syria at the beginning of the second century AD and an early Christian martyr. Near the end of the reign of the Roman Emperor Trajan (AD 98-117), Ignatious was arrested, taken in chains to Rome, and eventually thrown to the wild beasts in the arena. On the way to Rome, he wrote letters to the Christians at Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralles, Rome, Philadelphia, and Smyrna, as well as to Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna. In the letters, which are beautifully pastoral in tone, Ignatious warned against certain heresies (false teachings). He also repeatedly stressed the full humanity and deity of Christ, the reality of Christ’s bodily presence in the Lord’s Supper, the supreme authority of the bishop, and the unity of the Church found in her bishops. Ignatious was the first to use the word catholic to describe the universality of the Church. His Christ-centeredness, his courage in the face of martyrdom, and his zeal for the truth over against false doctrine are a lasting legacy to the chuch.

For Wednesday October 18: St. Luke Evangelist.  St. Luke, the beloved physian referred to by St.Paul (Colossians 4:14), presents us with Jesus, whose blood provides the medicine of immortality. As his traveling companion, Paul claimed Luke’s Gospel as his own for its healing souls (Eusebius). Luke traveled with Paul during the second missionary journey, joining him after Paul received his Macedonian call to bring the Gospel to Europe (Acts 16:10-17). Luke most likely stayed behind in Philippi for seven years, rejoining Paul at the end of the third missionary journey in Macedonia. He traveled with Paul to Troas, Jarusalem, and Caesarea, where Paul was imprisoned for two years (Acts 20:5-21:18). While in Caesarea, Luke may have researched material that he used in his Gospel. Afterward, Luke accompanied Paul on his journey to Rome (Acts 27:1-28:16). Especially beloved in Luke’s Gospel are the stories of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37), the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16: 19-31), and the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18: 9-14). Only Luke provides a detailed account of Christ’s birth (Luke 2:1-20) and the canticles of Mary (Luke 1:46-55) , of Zechariah (Luke 1:68-79), and of Simeon (Luke 2:29-32). To show how Christ continued His work in the Early Church through the apostles, Luke also penned the Acts of the Apostles. More than one-third of the New Testament comes from the hand of the evangelist Luke.

Biblical Memoir for this coming week

For Saturday October 7Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, Pastor. Moving from the Old World to the New,  Henry Melchior Muhlenberg established the shape of Lutheran perishes for North America during a forty-five year ministry in Pennsylvania. Born at Einbeck, Germany, in 1711, he came to the American colonies in 1742. A tireless traveler, Muhlenberg helped to found many Lutheran congregations and was the guiding force behind the first Lutheran synod in North America, the Ministerium of Pennsylvania, founded in 1748. He valued the role of music in Lutheran worship (often serving as his own organist) and was also the guiding force in preparing the first American Lutheran liturgy (also in 1748). Muhlenberg is remembered as a church leader, a journalist, a liturgist, and-above all-a pastor to the congregation in his charge. He died in 1787, leaving behind a large extended family and a lasting heritage: American Lutherism.

For Monday October 9Abraham. Abraham (known early in his life as Abram) was called by God to become the father of a great nation (Genesis 12). At age seventy-five and in obedience to God’s command, he, his wife, Sarah, and his nephew Lot moved southwest from the town of Haran to the land of Canaan. There God established a covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15:18), promising the land of Canaan to his descendants. When Abraham was 100 and Sarah was ninety, they were blessed with Isaac, the son long promised to them by God. Abraham demonstrated supreme obedience when God commanded him to offer Isaac as a burnt offering. God spared the young man’s life only at the last moment and provided a ram as a substitute offering (Genesis 22:1-19). Abraham died at the age of 175 and was buried in the cave of Machpelah, which he had purchased earlier as a buriel site for Sarah. He is especially honored as the first of the three great Old Testament patriarchs-and for his righteousness before God through faith (Romans 4:1-12).

For Wednesday October 11Philip the Deacon. Philip, also called the evangelist (Acts 21:8), was one of the seven men appointed to assist in the work of the twelve apostles and of the rapidly growing Early Church by overseeing the distribution of food to the poor (Acts 6:1-6). Following the martyrdom of Stephen, Philip proclaimed the Gospel in Samaria and led Simon the Sorcerer to become a believer in Christ (Acts 8:4-13). He was also instrumental in bringing about the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-39), through whom Philip became indirectly responsible for bringing the Good News of Jesus to the people on the continent of Africa. In the town of Caesarea, he was host for several days to the apostle Paul, who stopped there on his last journey to Jerusalem (Acts 21: 8-15).

Today in Biblical Memoir

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For Friday September 29th, the following is recognized from the Treasury of Daily Prayer: St. Michael and All Angels : The name of the archangel St. Michael means “Who is like God?” Michael is mentioned in the book of Daniel (12:1), as well as in Jude (v.9) and Revelation (12:7). Daniel portrays Michael as the angelic helper of Israel who leads the battle against the forces of evil. In Revelation, Michael and his angels fight against and defeat Satan and the evil angels, driving them from heaven. Their victory is made possible by Christ’s own victory over Satan in His death and resurrection, a victory announced by the voice in heaven: “Now the salvation and the power and the Kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ  have come” Revelation (12:10). Michael is often associated with Gabriel and Raphael , the other chief angels who surround the throne of God. Tradition names Michael as the patron and the protector of the Church, especially as the protector of Christians at the hour of death.

Propers for use with Matins and Vespers: Antiphon He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. (Psalm (1:11) Responsory L: The Lord Jesus will be reveald from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire. (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8) When the Lord Jesus comes on that day to be glorified in His saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed. (2 Thessalonians 1:10) Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. C: For He will command His angels concerning you to gurad you in all your ways. (Psalm 91:11)

Today, Saturday September 30, from the Treasury of Daily Prayer  we recognize Jerome, Translator of Holy Scripture. Jerome was born in a little village on the Adriatic Sea around A.D. 345. At a young age, he went to study in Rome, where he was baptized. After extensive travels, he chose the life of a monk and spent five years in the Syrian Desert. There he learned Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament. After ordination at Antioch and visits to Rome and Constantinople, Jerome settled in Bethlehem. From the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, he used his ability with languages to translate the Bible into Latin, the common language of this time. This translation, called the Vulgate, was the authoritative version of the Bible in the Western Church for more than a thousand years. Concidered one of the great scholars of the Early Church, Jerome died on September 30, 420. He was originally interred at Bethlehem, but his remains were eventually taken to Rome.

Alan Lyght