St. Philip and St. James

image

Philip and James

Writing for St. Philip and St. James, Apostles

Somebody might ask, “Why did the Gospel writers tell us only how Peter and James, John and Philip were called, but not the others?” It is because these, more than the rest, were in such a lowly walk of life. There is nothing worse than being a tax collector or more ordinary than being a fisherman. Philip was clearly not from a noble class, as is clear from where he came. They reveal their lowly ways of life so that we will believe them when they declare the glorious parts of their life. They did not choose to pass by anything that would be considered shameful, but since they are so careful to tell us all these sort of details, no matter whether they relate to the Teacher or to the disciples, how can they be suspected when they write about those things that require our reverence? Even more so, since they pass over many signs and miracles, while the events of the cross, which are considered to be so shameful, they tell us about with great clarity and boldness. They even tell us about the lowly jobs of the disciples, and the faults and failings in the Master’s ancestors, some of whom were notorious for their very public sins. They are very clear about this. Thus, it is very clear that they are concerned about the truth above all else and did not write to gain favor or for the sake of appearances.

—John Chrysostom

St. Philip and St. James, Apostles

St. Philip is mentioned in the lists of the apostles (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14; Acts 1:13), but only in John’s Gospel is more told about him. Philip was from Bethsaida in Galilee and one of the first disciples called after Peter and Andrew. Philip also was instrumental in bringing Nathanael to Jesus (John 1:43-51). It was to Philip that Jesus posed the question about where to buy bread to feed five thousand men (John 6:5). During Holy Week, Philip with Andrew brought some inquiring Greeks to Jesus (John 12:20-22). And on Maundy Thursday evening, Philip asked Jesus to show the Father to him and to the rest of the disciples (John 14:8). According to tradition, Philip went to labor in Phrygia and was buried there.

St. James was a son of Alphaeus and was also called “the Younger” (to distinguish him from James, the son of Zebedee, “the Elder,” whose festival day is July 25). His mother, Mary, was one of the faithful women who stood at the cross of Jesus (Matthew 27:56; Mark 15:40). James is mentioned in the same apostolic lists as Philip, but there is no other mention of him in the New Testament. There is also no information regarding his field of labor or the circumstances of his death, except that he may have been martyred by being sawed in two.

Prayer of the Day

Almighty God, Your Son revealed Himself to Philip and James and gave them the knowledge of everlasting life. Grant us perfectly to know Your Son, Jesus Christ, to be the way, the truth, and the life, and steadfastly to walk in the way that leads to eternal life; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Published in: on May 4, 2015 at 9:01 am  Leave a Comment  

Frederick the Wise,

Frederick the Wise, Christian Ruler

image

Frederick the Wise, elector of Saxony from 1486 to 1525, was Martin Luther’s sovereign in the early years of the Reformation. Were it not for Frederick, there might not have been a Lutheran Reformation. Born in Torgau, Germany, in 1463, Frederick became so well known for his skill in political diplomacy and his sense of justice and fairness that he was called “the Wise” by his subjects. Although he never met Luther, Frederick repeatedly protected and provided for him. In all likelihood, he saved the reformer from a martyr’s fate when he refused the pope’s demand to extradite Luther to Rome for a heresy trial in 1518. When Emperor Charles V declared Luther an outlaw in 1521 at the Diet of Worms, Frederick provided sanctuary for Luther at Wartburg Castle. On his deathbed, Frederick received the Lord’s Supper in both kinds—a clear confession of the evangelical faith.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, You provided wisdom and skill to Frederick the Wise as elector of Saxony during the early years of the Reformation, using his rule and authority to protect Martin Luther and preserve the preaching of the Gospel. Graciously regard all Your servants who make, administer, and judge the laws of this nation, and look with favor upon all the rulers of the earth. Grant them wisdom and understanding that they might provide sanctuary for Your Church to continue to proclaim the true faith; for You live and reign with the Son and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Published in: on May 1, 2015 at 7:24 am  Leave a Comment  

A Spark in the Ocean

image

The good God permits such small evils to befall us merely in order to arouse us snorers from our deep sleep and to make us recognize, on the other hand, the incomparable and innumerable benefits we still have. He wants us to consider what would happen if He were to withdraw His goodness from us completely. In that spirit Job said (2:10): “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” . . . [Job] said (Job 1:21): “As God wills, so let it be; the name of the Lord be praised.” He did not simply look at the evil, as we would-be saints do; he kept in sight the goodness and grace of the Lord. With this he comforted himself and overcame evil with patience.

We also are to look at our misfortunes in no other way than that with them God gives us a light by which we may see and understand His goodness and kindness in countless other ways. Then we conclude that such small misfortunes are barely a drop of water on a big fire or a little spark in the ocean. Then we understand and love the words: “O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His steadfast love endures forever!”

—Martin Luther

Published in: on February 21, 2015 at 8:59 am  Leave a Comment  

February 14, Valentine, Martyr

image

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 occurred 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 an irregularly shaped piece of paper. This greeting became a pattern for millions of written expressions of love and caring that now are the highlight of Valentine’s Day in many nations.

Prayer

Almighty and everlasting God, You kindled the flame of Your love in the heart of Your holy martyr Valentine. Grant to us, Your humble servants, a like faith and the power of love, that we who rejoice in Christ’s triumph may embody His love in our lives; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Published in: on February 14, 2015 at 10:09 am  Leave a Comment  

February 13, Aquila, Priscilla and Apollos

image

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). 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 Christianity. 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 by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus” (Acts 18:28). Aquila, Priscilla, and Apollos are all remembered and honored for their great missionary zeal.

Prayer

Triune God, whose very name is holy, teach us to be faithful hearers and learners of Your Word, fervent in the Spirit as Apollos was, that we may teach it correctly against those who have been led astray into falsehood and error and that we might follow the example of Aquila and Priscilla for the good of the Church You established here and entrusted into our humble care; for You, O Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, live and reign, one God, now and forever.

Published in: on February 13, 2015 at 7:42 am  Comments (1)  

The Dark Path of Want

winery

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.
What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not scheme to get our neighbor’s inheritance or house, or get it in a way which only appears right, but help and be of service to him in keeping it.

Something kept from us by law, marriage, ownership, or money is a virus when we dwell on it.  Like a slavery that takes ownership one piece at a time we move from that initial pang of separation to a black hole of thoughs to scheming plans and lying words.  We are chained to the point that nothing else exists and no other happiness could be imagined except by possessing, truly controlling, even enslaving what we want.  Ahab’s dark path lead to death, one innocent and his own.  What a bitter vintage.

Published in: on February 5, 2015 at 4:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Good Medicine

Praise to You, the Medicine of life, who has converted all who are baptized to Him who is life of all and Lord of all! The lost who are found bless You, for by finding the lost, You have given joy to the angels that are found and were not lost. – Ephraim Syrus

If someone gives you good medicine they desire your health. The medicine works even if you don’t want it to. Of course there is a lot more to being healthy then simply having the destructive sickness destroyed by a medicine. So if a person that cares about my wellbeing gives me medicine, even when I am not able to speak for myself, doesn’t it still have power? I find this to be a helpful insight into the baptism of a child whose parents and faith community care about their wellbeing.

Published in: on January 19, 2015 at 9:29 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Music

image

A mighty fortress

I would certainly like to praise music with all my heart as the excellent gift of God which it is and to commend it to everyone. . . . Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise. She is a mistress and governess of those human emotions—to pass over the animals—which as masters govern men or more often overwhelm them. No greater commendation than this can be found—at least not by us. For whether you wish to comfort the sad, to terrify the happy, to encourage the despairing, to humble the proud, to calm the passionate, or to appease those full of hate—and who could number all these masters of the human heart, namely, the emotions, inclinations, and affections that impel men to evil or good?—what more effective means than music could you find? The Holy Ghost himself honors her as an instrument for his proper work when in his Holy Scriptures he asserts that through her his gifts were instilled in the prophets, namely, the inclination to all virtues, as can be seen in Elisha [II Kings 3:15]. On the other hand, she serves to cast out Satan, the instigator of all sins, as is shown in Saul, the king of Israel [I Sam. 16:23].

Thus it was not without reason that the fathers and prophets wanted nothing else to be associated as closely with the Word of God as music. Therefore, we have so many hymns and Psalms where message and music join to move the listener’s soul, while in other living beings and [sounding] bodies music remains a language without words. After all, the gift of language combined with the gift of song was only given to man to let him know that he should praise God with both word and music, namely, by proclaiming [the Word of God] through music and by providing sweet melodies with words.

—Martin Luther

Published in: on December 21, 2014 at 9:29 am  Leave a Comment  

December 7, Ambrose of Milan, Pastor and Hymnwriter

image

I think I shall not seem to be taking too much on myself, if, in the midst of my children, I yield to my desire to teach, seeing that the master of humility himself has said: “Come, ye children, listen to me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord” [Psalm 34:11]. . . . We therefore, being anxious to imitate his reverence for God, and not without justification in dispensing grace, deliver to you as to children those things which the Spirit of Wisdom has imparted to him, and which have been made clear to us through him, and learned by sight and by example. For we can no longer now escape from the duty of teaching which the needs of the priesthood have laid upon us, though we tried to avoid it: “For God gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers” [Ephesians 4:11-12].

I do not therefore claim for myself the glory of the apostles (for who can do this save those whom the Son of God Himself has chosen?); nor the grace of the prophets, nor the virtue of the evangelists, nor the cautious care of the pastors. I only desire to attain to that care and diligence in the sacred writings, which the apostle has placed last among the duties of the saints [1 Corinthians 12:10]. And this very thing I desire, so that, in the endeavor to teach, I may be able to learn. For one is the true Master, who alone has not learned what He taught to all; but men learn before they teach, and receive from Him what they may hand on to others.

But not even this was the case with me. For I was carried off from the judgment seat, and the garb of office, to enter on the priesthood, and began to teach you what I myself had not yet learned. So it happened that I began to teach before I began to learn. Therefore I must learn and teach at the same time, since I had no leisure to learn before.

—Ambrose of Milan

Hymnody

For You are the Father’s Son
Who in flesh the vict’ry won.
By Your mighty pow’r make whole
All our ills of flesh and soul.

—Savior of the Nations, Come (LSB 332:6)

Ambrose of Milan, Pastor and Hymnwriter

Born in Trier in AD 340, Ambrose was one of the four great Latin Doctors of the Church (with Augustine, Jerome, and Gregory the Great). He was a prolific author of hymns, the most common of which is Veni, Redemptor Gentium (“Savior of the Nations, Come”). His name is also associated with Ambrosian Chant, a style of chanting the ancient liturgy that took hold in the province of Milan. While serving as a civil governor, Ambrose sought to bring peace among Christians in Milan who were divided into quarreling factions. When a new bishop was to be elected in AD 374, Ambrose addressed the crowd, and someone cried out, “Ambrose, bishop!” The entire gathering gave their support. This acclaim of Ambrose, a thirty-four-year-old catechumen, led to his Baptism on December 7, after which he was consecrated bishop of Milan. A strong defender of the faith, Ambrose convinced the Roman emperor Gratian in AD 379 to forbid the Arian heresy in the West. At Ambrose’s urging, Gratian’s successor, Theodosius, also publicly opposed Arianism. Ambrose died on Good Friday, April 4, 397. As a courageous doctor and musician, he upheld the truth of God’s Word.

Prayer

O God, You gave Your servant Ambrose grace to proclaim the Gospel with eloquence and power. As bishop of the great congregation of Milan, he fearlessly bore reproach for the honor of Your name. Mercifully grant to all bishops and pastors such excellence in preaching and fidelity in ministering Your Word that Your people shall be partakers of the divine nature; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Published in: on December 7, 2014 at 2:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

November 29, Noah

image

Rainbow, November 28

Noah, the son of Lamech (Genesis 5:30), was instructed by God to build an ark in which his family would find security from the destructive waters of a devastating flood that God warned would come. Noah built the ark, and the rains descended. The entire earth was flooded, destroying “every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals” (Genesis 7:23). After the flood waters subsided, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. When Noah determined it was safe and God confirmed it, Noah, his family, and all the animals disembarked. Then Noah built an altar and offered a sacrifice of thanksgiving to God for having saved his family from destruction. A rainbow in the sky was declared by God to be a sign of His promise that never again would a similar flood destroy the entire earth (Genesis 8:20-22; 9:8-17). Noah is remembered and honored for his obedience, believing that God would do what He said He would.

Prayer of the Day

Almighty and eternal God, according to Your strict judgment You condemned the unbelieving world through the flood, yet according to Your great mercy You preserved believing Noah and his family, eight souls in all. Grant that we may be kept safe and secure in the holy ark of the Christian Church, so that with all believers in Your promise, we would be declared worthy of eternal life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Published in: on November 29, 2014 at 9:58 am  Leave a Comment  
%d bloggers like this: