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Archive for May 1st, 2015

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Is it Biblical for Christians to Get Tattoos?

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COLLECT 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.  Amen.

READINGS

Isaiah 30:18-21

Psalm 36:5-12 (antiphon: v. 8)   Ephesians 2: 19-22

St. John 14:1-14

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.(The Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH)

The Gospel Reading for today is part of our Lord’s teaching the disciples in the night in which He was betrayed, and so there is a poignancy  and urgency to these words of Christ Jesus.  In the next chapter, the Lord teaches,

I am the vine;you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing (St. John 15: 5).

It is clear from the biography above that we do not know much about the “fruit” of these two Apostles, in fact, almost nothing from the Bible, yet tradition tells us that they went on to preach and teach the Gospel.  It is clear that the Apostles all would know the literalism of our Lord’s teaching:  “I am”, present tense, for He died for them and likewise rose for them, for us all.  “I am the vine”.  “I am”, said the Lord, today where you are in your life.  The Bible does not tell us of the fruit of Philip and James.  It is not necessary to be told except they abode in Christ the Vine.  Most  of us will not be remembered in the annals of history, yet in Christ the true vine we have fruitfulness. I think Philip and James would agree with what Luther preached on John 15:  1-11, “This fruit is not mine; it is the Vine’s”.  Luther on the saint’s life in everyday life:

“It is true that a Christian is not as impressive with his works and fruit as a schismatic spirit or an eccentric, for he does not choose any particularly striking works but confines himself to the ordinary tasks that come up in everyday life. The trouble is that the world is unable to see that these are works performed by a new person in Christ. Therefore one and the same work becomes different even in one and the same person, depending on whether it is performed before or after he has come to faith in Christ. Previously he was a thistle and a thorn; for he was not a part of the Vine and for this reason was unable to bear fruit, and all the works he performed were lost and condemned. But now that he is a Christian, the same work is a fine and precious grape — not because it was done in this or that manner, but because it issues from the good Vine, which is Christ.”

With praise and thanksgiving to God ever living,
The tasks of our everyday life we will face.
Our faith ever sharing, in love ever caring,
Embracing His children of each tribe and race.
With Your feast You feed us, with Your light now lead us;
Unite us as one in this life that we share.
Then may all the living with praise and thanksgiving
Give honor to Christ and His name that we bear.

(“Sent Forth by God’s Blessing”, stanza 2, #643, The Lutheran Service Book)

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