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Tag Archives: Festival

The Day of Pentecost

From the Treasury of Daily Prayer:

The Church lives and moves and has her being through the gracious inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Without God’s Spirit, no one could come to Christ or believe in Him. The fifty-day celebration of Easter ends with this joyous festival. The risen and ascended Savior has sent the Holy Spirit to be our Sanctifier, entering our hearts at Holy Baptism, nurturing us through the Word, and enabling us to understand the Gospel and to live a life that honors God and serves our neighbor.

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The Easter Season–The Great Fifty Days

From the Treasury of Daily Prayer:

The Easter season is a fifty-day-long season of joy extending from Easter to Pentecost. During this time, the Church celebrates the end of Christ’s struggles and proclaims His victory over death and the reception of the benefits of His life, death, and resurrection as gracious gifts of love and mercy for all those who believe in Him. This is the Church’s great season of joy! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

The Resurrection of Our Lord–Easter Sunday

From the Treasury of Daily Prayer:

Easter is the oldest and highest of all Christian festivals–the festival of festivals, the feast of feasts! On this day, when Christ first stepped triumphantly from the ranks of the dead, all our waiting is declared to be a waiting that is already completed; Christ’s triumph makes all the waiting that follows in our lives of faith a building anchored on the foundation that was laid when He whom the builders rejected became the Cornerstone. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Church Feasts, Festivals, and Commemorations

I’ve spent the last year sharing writings for each Feast, Festival, and Commemoration observed by the Lutheran church. So, you may be asking yourself, what is the difference between a Principal Feast of Christ, a Festival Day, and a Commemoration? I think I’ve finally got it figured out (although, I’m certainly open to correction if I screwed something up!):

  • Feast–These are the chief days of celebration, outside of the church year days such as Easter, and generally focus on events in the life of Christ, such as His Presentation in the Temple and the Annunciation to Mary, as well as days such as St. Michael and All Angels and All Saints’ Day.
  • Festival–These are days to recognize people who associated directly with Jesus, such as his disciples and his family. All of the people recognized on Festival Days are found in the New Testament. Holy Cross Day and Reformation Day are also Festivals.
  • Commemoration–These days recognize other notable Saints, including people from the Old Testament, such as Abraham, (and his wife, Sarah), Isaac, and Jacob, people from the New Testament epistles, including Aquila, Priscilla, and Apollos, early church fathers like Augustine of Hippo and Ambrose of Milan, and famous Lutherans, like Martin Luther and his wife, Katharina von Bora, Frederick the Wise, Philipp Melanchthon, and  C.F.W. Walther. Other pastors, missionaries, rulers, musicians, martyrs, and even artists are also recognized. These are all people who didn’t work directly with Christ, as His apostles did, but still worked to spread the Gospel in some way. The 325 Council of Nicaea is also included as a Commemoration Day, as is the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession.

Most of these dates are observed on the best known date of death for the individual, as that is the date they went to their eternal glory with Christ in Heaven. Men and women are both represented, as are many different countries from around the world. Principal Feasts of Christ can replace the regularly scheduled pericopes for worship when they occur on a Sunday, while festivals and commemorations do not.

December 28–The Holy Innocents, Martyrs

From the Treasury of Daily Prayer:

Matthew’s Gospel tells of King Herod’s vicious plot against the infant Jesus after being “tricked” by the Wise Men. Threatened by the one “born King of the Jews,” Herod murdered all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or younger (Matthew 2:16-18). These “innocents,” commemorated just three days after the celebration of Jesus’ birth, remind us not only of the terrible brutality of which human beings are capable but more significantly of the persecution Jesus endured from the beginning of His earthly life. Although Jesus’ life was spared at this time, many years later, another ruler, Pontius Pilate, would sentence the innocent Jesus to death.

December 27–St. John, Apostle and Evangelist

From the Treasury of Daily Prayer:

St. John was a son of Zebedee and brother of James the Elder (whose festival day is July 25). John  was among the first disciples to be called by Jesus (Matthew 4:18-22) and became known as “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” as he refers to himself in the Gospel that bears his name (e.g., John 21:20). Of the Twelve, John alone did not forsake Jesus in the hours of His suffering and death. With the faithful women, he stood at the cross, where our Lord made him the guardian of His mother. After Pentecost, John spent his ministry in Jerusalem and at Ephesus, where tradition says he was bishop. He wrote the fourth Gospel, the three Epistles that bear his name, and the Book of Revelation. Especially memorable in his Gospel are the account of the wedding at Cana (John 2:1-12), the “Gospel in a nutshell” (John 3:16), Jesus’ saying about the Good Shepherd (John 10:11-16), the raising of Lazarus from the dead (John 11), and Jesus’ encounter with Mary Magdalene on Easter morning (John 20:11-18). According to tradition, John was banished to the island of Patmos (off the coast of Asia Minor) by the Roman emperor Domitian. John lived to a very old age, surviving all the apostles, and died at Ephesus around AD 100.

December 26–St. Stephen, Martyr

From the Treasury of Daily Prayer:

St. Stephen, “a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5), was one of the Church’s first seven deacons. He was appointed by the leaders of the Church to distribute food and other necessities to the poor in the growing Christian community in Jerusalem, thereby giving the apostles more time for their public ministry of proclamation (Acts 6:2-5). He and the other deacons apparently were expected not only to wait on tables but also to teach and preach. When some of his colleagues became jealous of him, they brought Stephen to the Sanhedrin and falsely charged him with blaspheming against Moses (Acts 6:9-14). Stephen’s confession of faith, along with his rebuke of the members of the Sanhedrin for rejecting their Messiah and being responsible for His death, so infuriated them that they dragged him out of the city and stoned him to death. Stephen is honored as the Church’s first martyr and for his words of commendation and forgiveness as he lay dying: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” and “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:59-60).

December 21–St. Thomas, Apostle

From the Treasury of Daily Prayer:

All four Gospels mention St. Thomas as one of the twelve disciples of Jesus. John’s Gospel, which names him “the Twin,” uses Thomas’s questions to reveal truths about Jesus. It is Thomas who says, “Lord, we do not know where You are going. How can we know the way?” To this question Jesus replies, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:5-6). John’s Gospel also tells how Thomas, on the evening of the day of Jesus’ resurrection, doubts the report of the disciples that they had seen Jesus. Later, “doubting Thomas” becomes “believing Thomas” when he confesses Jesus as “my Lord and my God” (John 20:24-29). According to tradition, Thomas traveled eastward after Pentecost, eventually reaching India, where still today a group of people call themselves “Christians of St. Thomas.” Thomas was martyred for the faith by being speared to death.

November 30–St. Andrew, Apostle

From the Treasury of Daily Prayer:

St. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was born in the Galilean village of Bethsaida. Originally a disciple of St. John the Baptist, Andrew then became the first of Jesus’ disciples (John 1:35-40). His name regularly appears in the Gospels near the top of the lists of the Twelve. It was he who first introduced his brother Simon to Jesus (John 1:41-42). He was, in a real sense, the first home missionary, as well as the first foreign missionary (John 12:20-22). Tradition says Andrew was martyred by crucifixion on a cross in the form of an X. In AD 357, his body is said to have been taken to the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople and later removed to the cathedral of Amalfi in Italy. Centuries later, Andrew became the patron saint of Scotland. St. Andrew’s Day determines the beginning of the Western Church Year, since the First Sunday in Advent is always the Sunday nearest to St. Andrew’s Day.

October 31–Reformation Day

From the Treasury of Daily Prayer:

On October 31, 1517, an Augustinian monk posted ninety-five statements for discussion on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. Dr. Martin Luther hoped that posting his theses would bring about an academic debate regarding repentance, the sale of indulgences, and other matters of concern within the Roman Catholic Church. However, Rome eventually excommunicated Luther, judging him to be a heretic. Luther’s reforms, centered on the teaching that a believer is justified by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, sparked religious reforms not only in the German states but also in many European countries. In 1667, Elector John George II of Saxony standardized the custom of observing Luther’s October 31 posting of the Ninety-five Theses.

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