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Posts Tagged ‘evangelism’

I bind unto myself the name,
The strong name of the Trinity
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three,
Of whom all nature has creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word.
Praise to the Lord of my salvation;
Salvation is of Christ the Lord!

Hymn # 172 from Lutheran Worship

Let us pray… God of grace and might, we praise You for your servant Patrick, to whom You gave gifts to make the good news known to the people of Ireland. Raise up, we pray, in every country, heralds and evangelists of Your kingdom, so that the world may know the immeasurable riches of our Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Lessons: Isaiah 62: 1-7; Psalm 48; Romans 10: 11-17; St. Luke 24: 44-53

Bio:  Patrick is one of the best-known of the missionary saints. Born to a Christian family in Britain around the year 389, he was captured as a teenager by raiders, taken to Ireland, and forced to serve as a herdsman. After six years he escaped and found his way to a monastery community in France. Ordained a bishop in 432, he made his way back to Ireland, where he spent the rest of his long life spreading the Gospel and organizing Christian communities. He strongly defended the doctrine of the Holy Trinity in a time when it was not popular to do so. His literary legacy includes his autobiography, Confessio, and several prayers and hymns still used in the church today. Patrick died around the year 466.  Read more about St. Patrick’s biography here, citing quotes from his Confessio.

 

Reflection: The Church’s mission is Baptism.  St. Patrick, missionary Bishop, knew that. He wrote a majestic poem that became a hymn on Holy Baptism (see above). Ireland had been evangelized prior to Patrick but it was through this servant of the Lord that the Faith was rooted.  Bishop Patrick’s preaching of Jesus Christ was to the baptized who had wandered down false paths and dead ends to return to the waters. Patrick’s preaching of Christ was for the baptized to walk in the newness of life in Christ as a baptized son or daughter. Bishop Patrick’s preaching of Jesus Christ was for the pagan to come to the waters, to bind unto themselves the strong Name of the Holy Trinity. Jesus Christ commanded His Church to baptize in the Name of the Holy Trinity, not in the Church’s name,nor Patrick’s nor Luther’s, for that matter.  The baptism mission of the Church is obviously not fads and fashions, techniques and clever tactics to “get people into Church”.  The Baptism is always Jesus Christ.  Patrick did not water down Holy Baptism!  He did not water down the doctrine and practice of the Church to “reach people”.  His goal was not ‘outreach’ to people but preach the Word so that people call upon the Name of the Lord and be saved, and that means:  Holy Baptism.   Patrick knew that he was a jar of clay” (see 2 Corinthians 4:7), as he knew that the surpassing power was the Lord’s, the One who baptized him:

Whence I, once rustic, exiled, unlearned, who does not know how to provide for the future, this at least I know most certainly that before I was humiliated I was like a stone Lying in the deep mire; and He that is mighty came and in His mercy lifted me up, and raised me aloft, and placed me on the top of the wall. And therefore I ought to cry out aloud and so also render something to the Lord for His great benefits here and in eternity—benefits which the mind of men is unable to appraise.

The Church wears the “green” day in and day out, in the bloom of summer, in the dead of winter:  greening in the watering of His forgiveness by His grace through faith (see Ephesians 2:8). When we forget our baptismal sojourn in the Holy Spirit and His Word the Scriptures, then we are lost. Yes, wear the green today but do not forget to pray and make the sign of the Cross giving thanks to Lord our God, for the missionary bishop who baptized many. The Lord’s Cross points us home to the Holy Trinity.  From Patrick’s  Confession:

 In the light, therefore, of our faith in the Trinity I must make this choice, regardless of danger I must make known the gift of God and everlasting consolation, without fear and frankly I must spread everywhere the name of God so that after my decease I may leave a bequest to my brethren and sons whom I have baptised in the Lord—so many thousands of people
(More on St. Patrick here and here)

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One of the great leaders in Europe at the close of the sixth century, Gregory served in both the secular and sacred arenas of his era. As mayor of Rome, he restored economic vitality to his native city, which had been weakened by enemy invasions, pillage, and plague. After he sold his extensive properties and donated the proceeds to help the poor, he entered into full-time service in the Church. On September 3,590 A.D., Gregory was elected to lead the church in Rome. As Bishop of Rome he oversaw changes and growth in the areas of church music and liturgical development, missionary outreach to northern Europe, and the establishment of a church-year calendar still used by many churches in the western World today. His book on pastoral care became a standard until the 20th century. (From The Lutheran Church-MIssouri Synod web-site, Commemoration Biographies)

Reflection:  Bishop Gregory was the first Bishop of Rome, pope to call himself,  “servant of the servants of God”.  This is a salutary reminder for all bishops, pastors, priest and ministers.  Gregory was simply following our Lord’s instruction to the Apostles: Mark 10:  “…and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  

The following quote is from St. Gregory’s Sermon for the 2nd  Sunday in Advent, text, St. Matthew 11: 2-10. He shows that in our ‘small ways’ we too can be like John the Baptizer with the Message for a friend. The only stat I cite regarding evangelism is that the majority of people who join a congregation do so because a family or friend invited them.  Historical reminder:  the Church spread by the Word of the Gospel going from mouth to ear for the first 2 centuries of the Church as the Church was illegal and persecuted. Here is eloquent testimony and encouragement to so invite a friend or family member, just as Philip said to Nathanael, “Come and see” (John 1:46)

You… who live in the Tabernacle of the Lord, that is, in the Holy Church, if you cannot fill up the goblets with the teachings of holy wisdom, as well then as you can, as far as the divine bounty has endowed you, give to your neighbors spoonfuls of the good word!

And when you consider that you have yourself made some little progress, draw others along with you; seek to make comrades on the road to God. Should one among you, Brethren, stroll out towards the forum or the baths, he will invite a friend whom he thinks is not busy to keep him company. This simple action of our ordinary life is pleasant to you, and if it be that you are going towards God, give a thought not to journey alone. Hence it is written: He that heareth, let him say: come (Rev. xxii. 17); so let him who has heard in his heart the invitation of divine love, pass on to his neighbors around about him, the message of the invitation. And though a man may not have even bread wherewith to give an alms to the hungry;  yet, what is still more precious  is able to give who possess but  tongue. For it is a greater to strengthen with the nourishment of a word that will feed the mind for ever, than to fill with earthly bread a stomach of perishable flesh.

Prayer of the Day

Almighty and merciful God, You raised up Gregory of Rome to be a pastor to those who shepherd God’s flock and inspired him to send missionaries to preach the Gospel to the English people. Preserve in Your Church the catholic and apostolic faith that Your people may continue to be fruitful in every good work and receive the crown of glory that never fades away; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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The way the Church is built and builds has been a disputed topic for some time now. The many and sundry blueprints for the Church at corporate (district and synodical offices) have been promulgated to “grow the church”, e.g. church growth.  There are as many ‘new’ ideas to ‘grow the Church’ put forward as there are many fears that we are not growing and we are going to die.   This ‘new’ plan will save the Church!  Wrong.  The Church is saved and is being saved by the One Who alone finally builds His Church: ” And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (St. Matthew 16: 18)  Anything else is the beginning of sheer unbelief, just as Peter wanted to prevent the Lord from the Cross.

The Scriptures contain the building plans, building materials and the identity of the builders for the Church:

Builders :  The Lord is clear He is the builder of His Church.  The Lord also calls builders, such as the Apostles and then pastors and He calls, instructs and encourages the  builders to use the best materials available.

Building materials: The gold, silver and precious stones of His Word:  the Word of the Bible, Law and Promise, the Word of God in the Sacraments, the Word in prayer, the Word of rebuke and consolation.

Building plans, blueprint: The Scripture is quite clear on the Lord’s blueprint as He He builds His Church:    a Temple formed, reformed and conformed (see  1 Corinthians 6:19,1 Peter 2:5 Romans 8:29, to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ (see Luke 24:46-48). 

The past two Sundays after the Epiphany the Epistle readings are  1 Corinthians 3:1-9  and 1 Corinthians 3:10-23.

The following passage from 1 Corinthians is quite illustrative of the Lord’s builders, building materials, and blueprint for His Church and I will be exploring this Text with you:

According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—  13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

 16 Do you not know that YOU are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in YOU17If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and YOU are that temple.

In  verse 15 the translation “skilled” is in Greek, sophia, as “wise”, e.g. as in philosophy, literally “love of wisdom”.  The Apostle clearly identifies the “wisdom” given him:  the wisdom of  the Crucified (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:21 ). God’s wisdom is most assuredly not human wisdom.  The Medieval Ages could not have been simply the “dark ages”, as they developed the architectural plan of a sanctuary that proclaims clearly the Cross of Jesus Christ:

The Greek word for “master builder” is the one from which we have our word, “architect”.  Paul, Apollos and many others build. Paul laid the foundation of the Church in Corinth which is the cornerstone of Jesus Christ, not religious experience, human wisdom, man’s plans and the like.  Jesus Christ, the cornerstone rejected by the original builders (Israel) and men, cast out, has become the chief cornerstone (cf. Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:11 Ephesians 2:20).  The Apostle laid this foundation by the only means Christ gave to His Apostles and His apostolic Church:   preaching “Christ and Him crucified”, 1 Corinthians 1:23.  Our preaching is cross-shaped as missionary work and evangelism:  

“For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2: 2)

and

It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. (Galatians 3: 1)

The Sacraments are likewise cruciform, see  Romans 6:3-5;   1 Corinthians 11:26.  The stones for His Church are not quarried out of granite, but out of Jesus Christ, now “living stones” , see 1 Peter 2:5. Peter (Rock) from Christ, not Christ from Peter.

The two lists of construction materials that the Apostle lays out side by side,

gold, silver, precious stones”

and

“wood, hay and straw” .

Those two contractors’ lists are strikingly different  The first list is obviously more valuable than the second and it is clear from the text, the desirable materials.  Gregory Lockwood in the Concordia Publishing House Commentary on 1 Corinthians notes that the first list were the building materials for the Temple.  It is so obvious in the Apostle’s comparison that the Temple building materials endure because they are non-combustible.  Fire will not burn them but  fire will test everyone’s work.  Further, it is plain to see that the Temple of which St. Paul writes is the Church.  The Greek pronoun “you” is plural, as we say here in the South: y’all.  There is no Church of one, no ‘super-Christians’, but a communion, a “spiritual house” being built  Lockwood comments:

In addition (and this is most important in the context), these three more valuable items are noncombustible, whereas the materials in the second group are all combustible. The OT refers to gold, silver, and precious stones as building materials used in the tabernacle and the temple. Thus Paul anticipates the temple imagery of 3:16-17.7

The precious, noncombustible materials represent preaching, teaching, and pastoral care that rest upon the Gospel. The combustible items signify teaching and methods motivated by human “wisdom” (1:17-22; 2:1-5, 13; 3:19) and therefore at odds with God’s “wisdom” (1:24, 30; 2:6-7)—the doctrine of Christ.

Wood, hay, straw…one match, it’s ablaze and gone.  Let’s say that synodical and district offices are akin to a contractor’s office, then the only task for which they are to oversee is to see that the building materials are the gold, silver and precious stones of His Word and Sacraments of His Church, as outlined in Scripture and the Confessions. The Word endures to eternity and from eternity and in time and space, flesh and bone.  The Word  is not ephemeral like wood, hay and straw of human wisdom, plans, schemes, techniques and tactics.  We point to the Word of promise, not to church programs.  Episcopos, or bishop, the role of district president, literally means “oversight”, not “overlook”. Bishops, pastors and district presidents are not to be designing new blueprints,nor using substandard building materials.

We cannot keep on using substandard building materials as we have done now for decades, quick let’s have a ministry, get some funding and 5 piece band.  The Lord builds His house, not a coffee house, to sell people a little Christ with their capuccino.   We do not package and sell the Word of God, peddling it, then the Word becomes  a commodity and the Lord’s House becomes  a whore house:

For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.(2 Corinthians 2: 17)

We are not messing around with a weekend carpentry job finishing the basement.  One reason to use easier materials is that the “job gets done” and many a weekend carpenter has worked with wood and that’s fine for finishing a basement.  Using the inferior “plans of mice and men”, of human wisdom and that work will not last.  Building by using substandard materials and they tend to collapse and people die.    Yet, it makes pastors feel useful and the job is done quickly.   The basement, the foundation has been laid and it is precious in God’s sight.  The original builders rejected the cornerstone, Jesus Christ.  what the Lord is building and which is precious in His sight.  “If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him.”  The Law of God is frightening as well it should be. We are using sound building materials, that is “sound doctrine”.

The other aspect of the two groups of building materials is this:  I opine that “gold, silver and precious stones” not only are more costly, but harder to work with than wood, hay and straw.  Gold and silver take time to smelt and burn the dross. Pearls were not cultivated then, but one had to dive into the depths of the ocean to find them. In fact finding one, one sells all he has to buy it.  This triumvirate lasts as the Word of the Lord  endures forever.

Our calling is not to master the public but to make public the Master.  What is the Church to do?  Like seed, cast His Word to all (see St. Matthew 13: 1-23).  Ours is not to figure out how it will work but to trust He is at work in His Word according to His Word.  We are to confess Christ.  

Pastor Bonhoeffer preached it well in 1933, in Berlin, about building the Church and confession Jesus Christ:

…it is not we who build. He builds the church. No human being builds the church but Christ alone. Whoever intends to build the church is surely well on the way to destroying it; for he will build a temple to idols without wishing or knowing it. We must confess-he builds. We must proclaim—he builds. We must pray to him-that he may build. We do not know his plan. ‘We cannot see whether he is building or pulling down. It may be that the times which by human standards are times of collapse are for him the great timesof construction. It may be that from a human point of view great times for the church are actually times of demolition. It is a great comfort which Christ gives to his church: you confess, preach, bear witness to me, and I alone will build where it pleases me. Do not meddle in what is my province. Do what is given to you to do well and you have done enough. But do it well. Pay no heed to views and opinions, don’t ask for judgments, don’t always be calculating what will happen, don’t always be on the lookout for another refuge! Let the church remain the church! But church, confess, confess, confess! Christ alone is your Lord, from his grace alone can you live as you are. Christ builds.

 

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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 tent-making, as the Apostle was likewise trained in that trade:

Acts 18:  1After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, 3and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tent makers by trade. 4And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks.

Please note that the Roman persecution and exile of the Jews was the historical cause by which Paul met this faithful couple in the Lord. The three of them met in Corinth where the Apostle evangelized.  The author of Acts, Luke, tells us that the three of them met because of their vocation, “tent makers by trade” (This means they were leather workers and as Paul was a trained Pharisee, it was customary for a Pharisee to have a trade).   Was it a historical accident that Paul met this Christian husband and wife?  We do not know in this concrete event in the Church’s history but we do know that the Lord is,

“…making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” (Ephesians 1)

The Lord brings about His plan in ways that to the human eye are hidden but He is working to bring us His salvation in our Lord Jesus Christ.  

Later Luke tells us in his history of the early Church, Acts, that Silas and Timothy came to Corinth,  and so the Church was there in Corinth:  Apostle Paul,  Aquilla and Priscilla, Silas and Timothy.  There were not a “team”as this was not a sport’s game.  Our Lord promised where 2 or 3 are gathered in His Name, so He is there.  It was not 5 of them in Corinth but also the Lord, the Temple of His Body to be revealed in the preaching and teaching of His Word, as the Apostle evangelized first  in the Corinthian synagogue.   Our Lord sent out the disciples two by two to preach and heal. Further, the Apostle Paul mentions Apollos eight times in 1 Corinthians.  Paul wrote the Corinthians that their following of human leaders, however ‘charismatic’, is fleshly.  Paul and Apollos worked in concert in the ministry of the Gospel:  

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. (1 Corinthians 3)

Dr. Lockwood in his commentary on 1 Corinthians (Concordia Publishing House) points out:  “…Apollos and Paul did not work independently of each other;  they formed a harmonious unit, one in purpose, one in fellowship      (Gal. 2: 9).”   In the Scriptures, evangelism is not a solo activity, but the mission of the Church in concert under her Lord (see 1 Corinthians 12: 1-26).  

The Apostle supported himself by making tents so he would not be a burden on the congregations he was called to serve (cf. 1 Corinthians 9: 18), though, he was by no means against preachers receiving a salary so that their time could be fully devoted to freely preach and teach the word (cf. 1 Corinthians 9: 1-8). In turn, Aquila and Priscilla  joined Paul in his mission of proclaiming the Gospel. The couple later traveled with Paul from Corinth to Ephesus:

Acts 18: 18: After this, Paul stayed many days longer and then took leave of the brothers and set sail for Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila

Priscilla and Aquila established a home in Ephesus that served as hospitality headquarters for new converts to Christianity. Paul left them there as he went to  Caesarea, then Galatia and Phyrgia.  It was good that Priscilla and Aquila stayed in  Ephesus because of a visitor:

Acts 18: 24Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. 25He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

This faithful couple taught the talented and highly educated Apollos regarding Baptism according to Christ’s command and promise.  The Christians in Corinth were so fleshly proud that many of them boasted they followed Apollos  and others(see 1 Corinthians 1:11-13), whereas   Apollos, with all his erudition, was obviously humble and had an ear as one being taught (see Isaiah 50:4). It is also important to note that the clear implication in the verses above that,  “the way of God”  to us all  is Baptism:  “…though he knew only the baptism of John”, which was  for repentance whereas Baptism commanded by Christ Jesus is for forgiveness, until He comes again (see St. Matthew 28:  18-20).  Priscilla and Aquila were in business.  Business is a vocation in this world for people to serve their neighbor, but this is also a clear narrative demonstrating that in your daily vocation you may so teach the “…way of God” to those who want to know.  Priscilla and Aquila knew their catechism.

Then later, Apollos:

…wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, 28for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.(Acts 18)

Aquila, Priscilla, and Apollos are all remembered and honored for their great missionary zeal in the unity, the concord, of the Church.  No matter the greatness nor humility of the talent, we all need to be catechized and preached Christ and Him crucified, “…  showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.”  This day is especially good to remember to always pray for all businessmen, tradesmen, day-laborers and to  pray for the Church’s mission and her missionaries in daily life that the Lord’s salvation be brought to many a listening,“poor in spirit”, ear and heart.

Let us pray…

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 false and error and that we might follow the example of Aquila and Priscilla for the good 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. Amen.

 

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Intro:  The following quote is from St. Gregory’s Sermon, text, St. Matthew 11: 2-10, for the 2nd  Sunday in Advent.  He shows that in our ‘small ways’ we too can be like John the Baptizer with the Message for a friend. The only stat I cite is that the majority of people who join a congregation do so because a family or friend invited them.  Here is eloquent testimony and encouragement to do so, just as Philip said to Nathanael, “Come and see” (John 1:46)

You… who live in the Tabernacle of the Lord, that is, in the Holy Church, if you cannot fill up the goblets with the teachings of holy wisdom, as well then as you can, as far as the divine bounty has endowed you, give to your neighbors spoonfuls of the good word!

And when you consider that you have yourself made some little progress, draw others along with you; seek to make comrades on the road to God. Should one among you, Brethren, stroll out towards the forum or the baths, he will invite a friend whom he thinks is not busy to keep him company. This simple action of our ordinary life is pleasant to you, and if it be that you are going towards God, give a thought not to journey alone. Hence it is written: He that heareth, let him say: come (Apoc. xxii. 17); so let him who has heard in his heart the invitation of divine love, pass on to his neighbors around about him, the message of the invitation. And though a man may not have even bread wherewith to give an alms to the hungry;  yet, what is still more precious  is able to give who possess but  tongue. For it is a greater to strengthen with the nourishment of a word that will feed the mind for ever, than to fill with earthly bread a stomach of perishable flesh.

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This reflection on evangelization is for everyone! Check out the Lutheran Hispanic Missionary Institute.

“I See Dead People” 

Are lost people really lost?

In the movie The Sixth Sense, Dr. Malcolm Crowe, a child psychologist played by Bruce Willis, works with an eight-year-old patient called Cole Sear, played by Haley Joel Osment. While it is not my purpose here to ruin the movie for you if you’ve not seen it, the character Cole Sear has the ability to see dead people walking around just like regular people. The line he uses with Dr. Crowe to inform him of this ability has become something of a classic, “I see dead people”.

While I was attending seminary, I had a missiology professor who gave an interesting writing assignment. It was simply this, “Are lost people really lost”. While I had to do a lot of research for the paper, and read a lot of Scripture, I affirmed the position I started with, yes, they are. If a person has not received grace, through Christ, then they are lost. Or another way of saying it might be that they’re walking around dead.

I recently asked the same question to a group of Christians and got mostly the same answer. However, there were a few that just could not accept the concept of hell and there were a number who believe there were many ways to get to heaven. Virtually all of them were willing to extend undeserved credit to the “good” people, while extending no mercy at all to “bad” people. In other words, they saw very few, if any, dead people.

If there is any consistent trend that I have noticed over the 30+ years of my ministry, it is that the longer people are Christians, and the longer churches exist, the less likely it is that they will have strong connections with the unchurched community around them. They simply stop seeing dead people. Before you quickly disagree with me, take a moment and list all of the people you know. Now, indicate which ones you know to be Christians and which ones you know who are not. How many are on the second list? Any at all?

This summer I have attended five district conventions for the LCMS. During one of the conventions I heard a report that the district had experienced one adult baptism for every 30 churches in the district. Of course, this does not include the children, but can it be said that these churches are seeing the dead people in their community?

New Christians win people to Christ faster than older Christians. New churches win people to Christ faster than older churches. These two truths underscore the need for adult baptisms and new church planting. And they should also send the message to older Christians and older churches that they need a strong renewal of their vision. Each Christian needs to be able to say, “I see dead people”, and of course, to want to bring them once again to the land of the living. If we truly have the heart of Christ, then we should weep when he wept.

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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) Ephesians2:19-22

John 14:1-14

From Festivals and Commemorations by Rev. Philip Pfatteicher:

Philip was born in Bethsaida, the same fishing village on the shores of Galilee from which Peter and Andrew came. He was one of the first disciples to follow Jesus, and brought Nathanael ( sometimes identified with Bartholomew) to the Lord ( John1:43-51). Apart from his own calling, the story of Nathanael, and mention along with the other Apostles, the only other incidents of his life recorded in the Gospels are the occasion when some Greeks came to him to ask his help in getting an interview with Jesus ( John 12:20-22) and the time Jesus asked Philip how they would be able to feed the crowds ( John 6:5-7).

According to tradition, after Pentecost Philip went first to Scythia to preach the Gospel, where he was remarkably successful, and then to Phrygia where he stayed until his death. He is said to have met his death in the town ofHierapolisinPhrygia(in modern Turkey), according to some accounts by crucifixion and stoning. Traditions also tell of Philip’s two unmarried daughters who survived him, lived to an old age, and were also buried in Hierapolis.

James the son of Alphaeus is usually called James the Less (meaning either “short” or “younger”) to distinguish him from James the Elder, the brother of John, and from James of Jerusalem, the brother of the Lord. The only mention of James in the Scriptures, apart from his name in the apostolic lists, is the statement that his mother Mary was one of those present at the crucifixion (Matt. 27:55 and Mark 15:40), which also tells us that he had a brother named Joseph or the Greek form of the name, Joses.

May 1 has been kept as the feast day of St. Philip and St. James since 561 when on that date the supposed remains of the two saints were interred in the Church of the Apostles in Rome. To counteract the effects of the twentieth-century dedication of May 1 to the working classes and socialism, Pope Pius XII made May 1 the Feast of St, Joseph the Worker, and shifted the feast of Philip and James to May 11. The new Roman calendar commemorates the two apostles on May 3. Lutherans and Anglicans have retained the traditional date.

Reflection:  

Today is May Day.  I think it was a celebration of  spring time, as in, dancing around the May pole.  I would dare say that is a distant cultural memory. But it was the Communists, especially in the Soviet Union that every year would observe May Day with displays of militarism in their official virulent atheism…an atheism by way that is becoming stronger in our day.

I was reminded of this as I read Rev. Pfatteicher’s bio on Philip and the Roman Catholic Church’s noble efforts to fight it by moving St. Joseph, the Worker to May 1st.  But this traditional date for Philip and James is so understated, as is St. Joseph, and it’s meaning will undo virulent atheism with virtuous faith and love in the Savior.  What was the main deed  that Philip is remembered?  He brought people to Jesus.  That’s all…and that’s enough.  The Soviets believed in salvation without God…as today’s atheists.  Life on our own terms. Many want a Messiah to be, “…sovereign of the world. IN reality, He was to become the Savior of the world.” (Luther) For anyone reading this of a certain age, the picture above is also a distant cultural memory: thank God!  Quietly, Philip told Nathaniel:  Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Come and see…in a place of no importance in Biblical, world or cultural history till then, Nazareth.  Nathanael saw his Savior. Philip, James, Nathanael…no power players on the world’s stage but in the Kingdom, great indeed because they brought people to the Savior who loved them from the foundation of the world.  This is still the way of Jesus Christ in the midst of the other false saviors. And you might be part of someone’s divine blessedness with a simple invite to “Come and see”.

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