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.

Source

 

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Commemoration of the Prophet Elijah

 

Today the LCMS commemorates Elijah.

The prophet Elijah, whose name means, “My God is Yahweh [the Lord],” prophesied in the northern kingdom of Israel, mostly during the reign of Ahab (874 – 853 B.C.).

Ahab, under the influence of his pagan wife Jezebel, had encouraged the worship of Baal throughout his kingdom, even as Jezebel sought to get rid of the worship of Yahweh. Elijah was called by God to denounce this idolatry and to call the people of Israel back to the worship Yahweh as the only true God (as he did in 1 Kings 18:20-40).

Elijah was a rugged and imposing figure, living in the wilderness and dressing in a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt (2 Kings 1:8). He was a prophet mighty in word and deed. The Lord worked many miracles through Elijah, including the raising of the dead (1 Kings 17:17-24) and the effecting of a long drought in Israel (1 Kings 17:1).

At the end of his ministry, he was taken up into heaven as Elisha, his successor, looked on (2 Kings 2:11). Later on, the Lord proclaimed through the prophet Malachi that Elijah would return before the coming of the Messiah (Malachi 4:5-6), a prophecy that was fulfilled in the prophetic ministry of John the Baptist (see Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:1-19).

Source: Aardvark Alley: + The Holy Prophet Elijah +.

And from Cyberbrethren, a prayer for today:

Lord God, heavenly Father, through the prophet Elijah, You continued the prophetic pattern of teaching Your people the true faith and demonstrating through miracles your presence in creation to heal it is its brokenness. Grant that Your Church may see in Your Son, our Lord Christ, the final end-times prophet whose teaching and miracles continue in Your Church, through the healing medicine of the Gospel and the Sacraments, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

 

Be Prepared!

A sermon on Acts 13:38-49, preached at the LCMS International Center Chapel by Rev. Dr. Rudolph Blank.

Be prepared! That’s what we hear on the News during these days of extreme heat in Saint Louis. Drink a lot of water, wear light clothes, do not over exert yourself and stay out of the direct sun. When I first came to Missouri as a student in the summer of 1954 the temperature hit 115 in St. Louis and 117 in Clayton. I wasn’t prepared for that. It’s not a good idea to be unprepared. Our text from the book of Acts also calls us all and especially our new missionaries to be prepared. To be prepared for what?

Be prepared to find doors of opportunity for the proclamation of Christ and his cross. Such a door of opportunity opened for Paul when he arrived at Antioch in Pisidia and was invited to address a synagogue full of diaspora Jews and god-fearing gentiles. Antioch in Pisidia was the home town of Sergius Paulus, the roman proconsul whom Paul had befriended in Cyprus. It is quite possible that the apostle’s friendship with Sergius Paulus helped open some of those doors of opportunity among the governor’s friends and relatives in Antioch. Be prepared for the Spirit to open for you similar doors of opportunity to proclaim Christ wherever you find yourself.

If you read through Paul’s inaugural sermon in Antioch you will observe that it is peppered with one Old Testament quotation or allusion after another. These were Scriptures the Jews of Antioch had studied many times – Sabbath after Sabbath, year after year without fully understanding them. They searched these Scriptures, as Jesus said, because in them you think you have eternal life. In his Antioch sermon Paul shows his listeners how all of these Scriptures point forward to Jesus. They point to his death, his resurrection and his ascension to the right hand of the Father. Right there in the prophesies of the Old Testament Paul pointed his listeners to Christ crucified. Some time later the apostle writes: O Galatians, It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified”. Be prepared, like Paul, to use your windows of opportunity to point to Jesus.

Read the rest: Witness, Mercy Together – Sermon on Acts 13

“Feast of the Visitation, A Time for Celebration”

As you prepare to celebrate on Wednesday …

42 and she lifted up her voice with a loud cry, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.

43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come unto me?

44 For behold, when the voice of thy salutation came into mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

45 And blessed is she that believed; for there shall be a fulfilment of the things which have been spoken to her from the Lord.

Luke 1:42-45

For the 236th time Americans will celebrate Independence Day. Patriots from Maine to California will fire up barbecue grills and ice down beer in anticipation of the evening’s fireworks. It is the perfect end to a perfect day.

Traditional celebrations sometimes lose their mystique over time. The more frequently we experience holidays, the less they have to offer. After all, how much fun can a celebration be after 236 repetitions? Plenty!

That’s right. No matter how many times Americans celebrate Independence Day, it continues to bring ‘oohs and aahs’ with the explosion of multicolored fireworks in the July night sky.

Reading one more time about the prenatal encounter between John and Jesus is one of those celebrations that simply does not grow old. It is an encounter filled with ‘oohs and aahs.’

John’s prenatal celebration begins with a leap in the womb. Elizabeth shares her joy, and proclaims the reason for her happiness. It is not that she is with child; rather, it is that Mary is with “the Child.” She bears the Savior of the world.

Salvation is at hand, even among us. Coming in the flesh is forgiveness, hope, and eternal life. What joy there is for sinners! Jesus is near; He is among us and in His life, suffering, and death there is the promise of eternal life.

Washed in the waters of baptism and renewed in the Eucharistic meal sinners find hope. No matter how many times one receives the gift of life at the altar; it never grows old. It continues to fill the sinners’ response with ‘oohs and aahs’ of thanksgivingfor God’s continued grace and mercy. Amen.

via Feast of the Visitation, A Time for Celebration.