present by Alan Lyght
Monday October 23: St. 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 25: Dorcas (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 26: Philipp 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 October28: St. 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