For today February 23Polycarp of Smyrna, Pastor and Martyr. Born around AD 69, Polycarp was a central figure in the Early Church. A disciple of the evangelist John, he linked the first generation of believers to later Christians. After serving for many years as bishop of Smyrna, Polycarp was arrested, tried, and executed for his faith on February 23, in AD 155 or 156. An eyewitness narative of his death, The Martyrdom of Polycarp continues to encourage believers in times of persecution.

for today February 24St. Matthias, Apostle. St. Matthias is one of the lesser-known apostles. According to the Early Church Fathers, Matthias was one of the seventy-two sent out by Jesus in Luke 10:1-20. After the ascension, Matthias was chosen by lot to fill the vacancy in the Twelve resulting from the death of Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:16-25). Early Church tradition places Matthias in a number of locations. Some historians suggest that he went to Ethiopia; others place him in Armenia, the first nation to adopt Christianity as a national religion. Martyred for his faith may well have met his death at Colchis in Asia Minor, around AD 50. The Church of St. Matthias at Trier, Germany, claims the honor of being the final burial site for Matthias, the only one of the Twelve to be buried in Europe north of the Alps.

For today February 18The Ten Commandments.

1 Thou shalt have no other gods.

2 Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord, thy God, in vain.

3 Thou shalt sanctify the holy-day

4 Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother [that it may be well with thee and thou mayest live long upon the earth].

5 Thou shalt not kill.

6 Thou shalt not commit adultery.

7 Thou shalt not steal.

8 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

9 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house.

10 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his cattle, nor anything that is his.

For today February 25The Apostles Creed.

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,

And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried.
He descended into hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of God
the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy Christian Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

 

For today Ash Wednesday – During the forty days of Lent, God’s baptized people cleanse their hearts through the discipline of Lent: repentance, prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Lent is a time in which God’s people prepare with joy for the Paschal Feast (Easter). It is a time in which God renews His people’s zeal in faith and life. It is a time in which we pray that we may be given the fullness of grace that belongs to the children of God.

 

For today February 18Martin Luther, Doctor and Cofessor. Martin Luther, born on November 10, 1483, in Eisleben, Germany, initially began studies leading toward a degree in law. However, after a close encounter with death, he switched to a study of theology, entered an Augustinian monastry, was ordained a priest in 1505, and received a doctrate in theology in 1512. As a professor at the newly established University of Wittenberg, Luther’s scriptual studies led him to question many of the Church’s teachings and practices, especially the selling of indulgences. His refusal to back down from his convictions resulted in his excommunication in 1521. Following a period of seclusion at the Wartburg castle, Luther returned to Wittenberg, where he spent the rest of his life preaching and teaching, translating the Scriptures, and writing hymns and numerous theological treatises. He is remembered and honored for his lifelong emphasis on the biblical truth that for Christ’s sake God declares us righteous by grace through faith alone. Luther died on February 18, 1546, while visiting the town of his birth.

biblical memoirs

The following NOTES (my posting as to part 3 of 3) are taken from the Large Catechism with Study Questions, Concordia 2010.

February 19: Note to the Second Petition – In this petition, we are praying to God that the kingdom of Christ will come and remain among us, both in this life and finally on the last day. We ask God that we will remain faithful and daily grow in His grace, so that many more will come to Christ’s kingdom. This petition shows that God wants us to ask not only for small cares and needs of life, but also for great things from Him. If God invites us to pray for such great and wonderful things as His kingdom of grace, surely He will provide also for our daily needs.

February 20Note to the Third Petition – By faith we cling to God’s holy name and His holy kingdom. But evil opposes us and tries to snatch God’s kingdom from us. Luther says we pray that God will work His will among us and protect and keep us safe from our old sinful flesh and from all the evil in the world. The devil will spare no effort to make us fall away from God’s kingdom. We Christians bear a holy cross: temptations, dangers, and intense struggle throughout our life. It is foolish for us to think that a Christian’s life is easy. Therefore, we ask God to work His gracious will for us and to provide us with the strength we need.

February 21Note to the Fourth Petition – “Daily Bread” encompasses everything we need for our life here on earth. Luther explains in this petition that our greatest need is good governing authorities. Through them God provides us with what we need for this body and life. Nothing in this life will be “good” unless we live in peace and security; history readily proves Luther’s point. The devil is intent on thwarting good government and causing unrest and turmoil. Yet God gives daily necessities even to the wicked. God wants us to pray for them too, so that we recognize that He gives us all good things as a gracious gift.

February 22Note to the Fifth Petition – God forgives our sins, even if we do not realize it. In this petition we pray for forgiveness so that we recognize and accept this gift from God. We need this petition so that our conscience will be strengthened in the struggle against sin. The phrase “as we forgive those who sin against us” is added so that we will extend God’s gracious forgiveness to others who sin against us. By doing so we exhibit God’s forgiveness to us.

February 23Note to the Sixth Petition – In this petition, Luther sets forth the threefold source of temptation: our sinful human flesh, the world around us, and the devil. Luther identifies our sinful human nature as the “old Adam,” a biblical metaphor for our sinful flesh, as opposed to the “new man,” which we have been given by the new Adam, Christ. Luther distinguishes between feeling temptation to sin and giving to sin. We all are tempted in various ways, according to our age and situation in life. We pray in this petition that the Lord will provide a way out of temptation and graciously help us so that we do not sin.

February 24Note to the Seventh and Last Petition – Luther rightly notes that the original Greek says, “Deliver us from the evil one.” The devil is the sum of all evil. In this petition, we pray that God will rescue us from any and all forms of the devil’s tricks and plots to make us sin and fall away from God. Luther had a very vivid and realistic view of the devil’s active presence and power in this world. The Bible speaks of the devil prowling around like a roaring lion, seeking people to devour. We should note that Luther does not offer an explanation for the common conclusion to the Lord’s Prayer familiar to most Protestant Christians: “For thine is the kingdom. . . .” (1 Chronicles 29:11-13). These words are not necessarily part of the original text of the Lord’s Prayer and may have been inserted into later copies of the Gospel (perhaps in the second century). Nevertheless, they are fine and appropriate words. But the Lord’s Prayer, as prayed in Luther’s time and still often among Roman Catholics today, concludes simply with this Seventh Petition.  Amen is a hearty “Yes! May it be so!” that we say in faith, believing that God will hear and answer our prayer in and through Christ.

February 25Note to Baptism – Baptism is not our work, but God’s work. It is a priceless treasure God gives and faith receives or grasps. Baptism gives us great comfort and strength when our sins accuse us, when we realize how we stand guilty before God. Then, says Luther, the Christian is to say, “But I am baptized!” Luther comments about infant Baptism since, in his time as today, some Christians deny infants this precious Sacrament. Luther’s defense of infant Baptism is interesting. He says simply that if God did nothing through Baptism, how do baptized children believe in Him? For Luther, the fact that the gift of the Holy Spirit is given even to very small children is proof enough that God works in and through Baptism. Luther also explains how Baptism encompasses what was known as “penance.” So for Luther, Confession and Absolution are subsumed under Baptism and the proclamation of the Gospel. True repentance is daily returning to Baptism. Baptism is our daily garment, by which we suppress the old Adam and grow up in the new Adam, being clothed with the righteousness of Christ. (See AC IX; SA III V.)

February 26Note to the Sacrament of the Altar – In this Sacrament, we cling to and trust God’s Word alone. Jesus does not lie to us or deceive us. Therefore, when He tells us the bread and wine are His body and blood, they are what He says. The key to understanding the benefit of the Sacrament is Christ’s words “for you.” What we receive in this Sacrament is a great “treasure”: the forgiveness of sins. The whole Gospel is comprehended in this Sacrament and is offered to us through the Word, which promises that in and under the bread and wine we receive the body and blood that was sacrificed on the cross for our salvation. Those who believe the Words of promise receive the forgiveness this Sacrament promises. Luther urges Christians to receive the Sacrament frequently. Those who realize the enormity of their sin, how many dangers abound, and how great Christ’s gifts are that are given in the Sacrament will receive the Lord’s Supper as often as possible. This is precisely why the early Lutheran congregations began to offer the Lord’s Supper every Lord’s Day and on other festival days to those wishing to receive it. (See AC X; SA III VI; FC Ep VII and SD VII.)

For today February 13: Aquila, Priscilla, Apollos. Aqulia and his wiife, 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). In turn, they joined Paul 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 Christanity. Apollos was one of their numerous Jewish pupils in the faith. An eloquent man, Apollos, “being fervent in spirit . . . spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus” (Acts 18:25). He later traveled from Corinth to the province of Achaia, “showing the Scriptures that Christ was Jesus” (Acts 18:28). Aquila, Priscilla, and Apollos are remembered and honored for their great missionary zeal.

For today February 14: Valentine, Martyr. A physician and priest living in Rome during the rule of Emperor Claudius, Valentine became one of the noted martyrs of the third century. The commemoration of his death, which occured in AD 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, Valentine left a note of encouragement for a child of his jailer written on a irregularly shaped piece of paper. This greeting became a pattern for millions of written expressions of love and caring that now are the highlights of Valentine’s Day in many nations.

ADDITION TO THIS DAY: LENT and “Ash Wednesday

Invitatory for Lent

The Lord has redeemed His People.

O come, let us worship Him.

Antiphons

1   Man shall not live by bread alone,

but by every word that comes from

the mouth of God.                (Matthew 4:4)

2   Behold, now is the favorable time:

     behold, now is the day of salvation.

(2 Corinthians: 6:2)

3   He was opressed, and He was afflicted

yet He opened not His mouth

and the Lord was laid on Him

the iniquity of us all.          (Isaiah 53:7, 6)

Responsory for Lent

L:  We have an advocate with the Father:

Jesus is the propitiation for our sins.

(1 John 2:1-2)

Blessed is he whose transgression is

forgiven and whose sin is put away.

(Psalm 32:1)

     We have an advocate with the Father:

Jesus is the propitiation for our sins.

(1 John 2:1-2) 

C:  He was delivered up to death:

He was delivered for the sins of the people.

(Mark 10:33)

     

For today February 15: Philemon and Onesimus. 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, Onesimus was directed by Paul to return to his master and become “useful” again. In order to help pave the way for Onesimus’s peaceful return home, Paul sent him on his way with a letter addressed to Philemon, a letter in which he urged Philemon to forgive his slave for running away and to “receive him as you would receive me” (v. 17), no longer as a slave but . . . as a beloved brother” (v. 16). The letter was eventually included by the Church as one of the books of the New Testament.

ADDITION TO THIS DAYHoly (Maundy) Thursday

Invivatory for Holy Week

Christ became obedient to death, even death

on a cross.

O come, let us worship Him.

Antiphon

Man should not live on bread alone,

but by every word that comes from

the mouth of God.                   (Matthew 4:4)

Responsory

L:  But he would feed you with the finest of

the wheat, and with honey from the rock

I would satisfy you.                  (Psalm 81:16)

     For as often as you eat this bread and

drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s

death until He comes.

(1 Corinthians 11:26)

Just as I have loved you, you also are to

love one another.                       (John 13:34

C: The blood of Jesus, God’s Son,

cleanses from all sin.          (1 John 1:7, alt.)

 

For today February 16: Philipp Melanchthon (birth), Confessor. Philipp Melanchthon (1497-1560) was a brilliant student of the classics and a humanist scholar. In 1518, he was appointed to teach along with Martin Luther at the University of Wittenberg. At Luther’s urging, Melanchthon began teaching theology and Scripture in addition to his courses in classical studies. In April 1530, Emperor Charles V called an official meeting between the representatives of Lutheranism and Roman Catholics, hoping to effect a meeting of minds between two opossing groups. Since Luther was at that time under papal excommunication and an imperial ban, Melanchthon was assigned the duty of being the chief Lutheran representative at this meeting. He is especially remembered and honored as the author of the Augsburg Confession, which was officially presented by the German princes to the emperor on June 2, 1530, as the defining document of Lutheranism within Christendom. Melanchthon died on April 19, 1560.

ADDITTION TO THIS DAYGood Friday

Invivatory for Holy Week

Christ became obedient to death, even death

on a cross.

O come, let us worship Him.

Antiphon 

He was opressed, and He was afflicted

yet He opened not His mouth

and the Lord was laid on Him

the iniquity of us all.          (Isaiah 53:7, 6)

Responsory

L:  He was despised and rejected by men: a

man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.

(Isaiah 53:3)

He was opressed, and He was afflicted,

yet He opened not His mouth.

                                                        (Isaiah 53:7)

He poured out His soul to death and was

numbered with the transgressors.

(Isaiah 53:12)

C: He humbled Himself by becoming

obedient to the point of death,

even death on a cross.   (Philippians 2:8)

ADDITION FOR FEBRUARY 17Holy Saturday

Invivatory for Holy Week

Christ became obedient to death, even death

on a cross.

O come, let us worship Him.

Antiphon

Every day I call upon you, O Lord:

I spread out my hands to you.

(Psalm 88:9)

Responsory

L:  Our shepherd, the source of the waters of

life, has died. The sun was darkened when

He passed away.               (Liturgical text)

He has destroyed the barricades of hell and

overthrown the sovereignty of the devil.

(Liturgical text)

     But in fact Christ has been raised from

the dead, the firstfruits of those who have

fallen asleep.          (1 Corinthians 15:20)

C: Therefor God has highly exalted Him and

bestowed on Him the name that is above

every name.                    (Philippians 2:9) 

biblical memoirs

For today February 10Silas Fellow Worker of St. Peter and St. Paul. Silas, a leader in the Church at Jerusalem, was chosen by Paul (Acts 15:40) to acompany him on his second missionary journey from Antioch to Asia Minor and Macadonia. Silas, also known Silvanus, was imprisoned with Paul in Philippi and experienced the riots in Thessalonica and Berea. After rejoining Paul in Corinth, Silas apparently remained there for an extended time. Sometime later he apparently joined the apostle Peter, likely serving as Peter’s secretary (1 Peter 5:12). Tradition says that Silas was the first bishop at Corinth.

Biblical Memoir

For today February 5Jacob (Israel), Patriarch. Jacob, the third of the three Hebrew patriarches, was the younger of the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah. After wrestling with the Angel of the Lord, Jacob, whose name means “deceive,” 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. Much of his adult life was spent grieving over the death of his beloved wife Rachael and the presumed death of Joseph, who had been appointed by the Egyptian pharaoh to be in charge of the food distribution during a time of famine in the land. Prior to Jacob’s death, through the blessings of his sons, God gave the promise that the Messiah would come through the line of Jacob’s fourth son, Judah (Genesis 49).