Festival of Saint Mary Magdalene


Today the LCMS celebrates the Festival of Saint Mary Magdalene.

The Gospels mention Mary of Magdala as one of the women of Galilee who followed Jesus and His disciples. She witnessed His crucifixion and burial, and went to the tomb on Easter Sunday to anoint His body. She was the first recorded witness of the risen Christ and was sent by Him to tell the disciples. Thus, early Christian writings sometimes refer to her as “the apostle to the apostles” (apostle means “one who is sent”).

Confusion sometimes abounds as to whether she is the same person as Mary of Bethany (sister of Martha and Lazarus) or the unnamed woman who anointed Jesus’s feet (Luke 7:36-48). Add in the statement that Jesus cast seven demons out of her (Luke 8:2) and you get the origins of a tradition that she was a prostitute before she met Jesus.

Following the assumption (possibly quite misguided) that Mary Magdalene truly had been a spectacular sinner whose penitential sorrow was deep and complete — and possibly because John described her as crying at the tomb of Jesus — artists often portray her either as weeping or with red eyes from having wept. This appearance (and a slight corruption in translation) led to the English word “maudlin,” meaning “effusively or tearfully sentimental.” Magdalen College at Oxford and Magdalene College at Cambridge (note the different spellings) — both pronounced “Maudlin” — derive their names from this Saint Mary.

Source: Aardvark Alley: + Saint Mary Magdalene +.

From the hymn “By All Your Saints in Warfare” (LSB 517):

All praise for Mary Magdalene,
Whose wholeness was restored
By You, her faithful master,
Her Savior and her Lord.
On Easter morning early
A word from You sufficed;
For she was first to see You,
Her Lord, the risen Christ.




“Higher Things” Reflection for July 20


Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, ‘Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 1 Samuel 3:9

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. You can’t get around the fact that the Lord speaks to us through men. In the Old Testament, He spoke through the preaching of the prophets and the Scriptures written by Moses and preached by the Levites. These words pointed to the fulfillment of the promise when the Savior would come.

When the Son became man in the womb of Mary, the Lord spoke to the world through Him. Jesus, whose words are written down for us in the Gospels, told us the love of God, that by His death, our sins are forgiven, and that by His resurrection, we have conquered death.

Now the Lord still speaks to us through the witness of the prophets and the apostles in the Holy Scriptures and through the preaching and teaching of that Word by the pastors He calls.

The Lord called Samuel because He hadn’t said much to His people in a while. When the Lord is quiet, people get worried. Where did God go? What are we going to do? How can we survive on our own? Samuel was given as a prophet to Israel to comfort them with God’s Word.

Your pastor is given for the same reason. When the world troubles you, when your sins bother you, when it seems like everything declares God has left you; then your pastor is there from God Himself to tell you what is really true: Christ died for you. He rose for you. He baptized you. He forgives you. He has His body and blood for you. We need to hear those things from someone outside of ourselves. We can convince ourselves that we’re doing all right until we can’t fool ourselves any more.

But the pastors whom Jesus calls to declare His Word to us are given that by their preaching of His Word, the Holy Spirit would comfort us against all temptations to unbelief and keep us in the faith of Jesus forever. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For deep in prophets’ sacred page, And grand in poets’ winged word, Slowly in type, from age to age The nations saw their coming Lord; Till through the deep Judean night Rang out the son, “Goodwill to men!” Sung once by firstborn sons of light, It echoes now, “Goodwill!” Amen. LSB 810:2

via Higher Things : July 20, 2012 – Friday of the Sixth Week after Trinity.


“Why We Must Cling to the Word and Sacraments” – Luther


Martin Luther on clinging to the Word and Sacraments.

Whoever wants to be proof against that and be safe must take this admonition to heart and be warned to retain and cling to this Word which Paul proclaimed and to ignore whatever objections others might raise to it, even though these may boast of their side of the story and lend it a good appearance. For here you hear what fruit this Gospel of St. Paul produced among them and what fruit it still produces, namely, that all became Christians through it and were saved and that people must still be saved by it. And since this fruit is ours by virtue of the Gospel, why should we search further or permit ourselves to be diverted from this and be directed and led to other things? For whatever directs us otherwise can surely not be as good, but it must be false and sheer seduction, since it pretends to have something which we already have by means of this Gospel; and thereby it denies all this or disdains it utterly. Therefore Paul addresses the Corinthians as though it were unnecessary to admonish them beyond asking them to recall and observe what they received and how they became Christians. “For if you note that,” he wants to say, “you will surely adhere to it and remain safe from all sorts of error. For you can easily differentiate between my doctrine and theirs and judge in accordance with what you gain from each, observing whether they are able to submit something better than my Gospel, by which you are saved.” And let us note here that Paul is speaking of the oral presentation of the Gospel preached by him and that he assigns to it such a claim and such praise, that they “stand in it and are saved by it” alone. This is clone in contrast to our blind spirits who disdain the external Word and Sacrament, and in their stead adduce their own imaginary spiritism.

Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 28: 1 Corinthians 7, 1 Corinthians 15, Lectures on 1 Timothy, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald and Helmut T. Lehmann, 1 Co 15:1–2 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999).

Source: Daily Luther: Why We Must Cling to the Word and Sacraments | CyberBrethren – A Lutheran Blog.


Beginning the Conversation With Jesus

A great article in the Lutheran Witness on beginning religious conversation with Jesus.

Another option is beginning the religious conversation with Jesus. That is, after all, where our Gospels begin. Like other famous figures, He really was a part of history. Luke notes that Jesus was born when Caesar Augustus ruled the Roman Empire and was executed by the governor appointed by that emperor. Ancient creeds even catch this by saying that Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate.

So, if we can agree to the reality of Jesus, the question about religion can continue, even if those to whom we talk can agree only to see Him as a great moral teacher and not God. The conversation can continue by agreeing to listen to what He said about Himself as God, His relationship to the Father, and His astounding claim that no one comes to God except through Him.

At the same time, the four Gospels begin with Jesus. Luke starts with apostles who were eyewitnesses of the Word, that is, Jesus. Mark simply says, “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” John begins with Jesus as the Word and then introduces God. “In the beginning was the Word, and Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Matthew begins with Jesus as the Immanuel child, “God with us,” who by being called out of Egypt is recognized as God’s Son. This is confirmed at Jesus’ Baptism by the voice from heaven claiming Him as His Son. Finally, the Trinitarian God is revealed with the appearance of the Spirit in the form of a dove.

Only later, at the end of his Gospel, does Matthew give us the familiar order of how the divine persons exist with one another: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But in the well-known benediction, Paul still begins with Jesus: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

Rev. Scaer sums it up perfectly.

Jesus is the content of faith and Jesus is the content of faith and its boundaries. its boundaries. With Him, we begin and end the religious conversation.

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