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Archive for November 11th, 2013

And early in the morning all the people came to him in the temple to hear him.  Luke 21: 38

“Note: Many a Christian of our days might learn a lesson from these people that got up unusually early and thronged to the Temple to hear the Lord, whereas many in our days act as though they were conferring a favor upon the Lord by appearing at His house some half hour after service has begun.”  (The Popular Commentary (1921), by Rev. Prof. Paul E. Kretzmann)

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Three seemingly disparate events occurred on this date:  

1.  On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month the armistice was signed ending World War I and this date became Veteran’s Day.  We remember all military, soldiers and sailors, who have defended our nation in war.  We thank them for their service and the best way to do that is, as is rightly encouraged in the media: THANK A VETERAN TODAY!

2. On this date, Martin of Tours, Pastor and Bishop was buried in the city of Tours, France:

Martin was born about the year 316 in the town of Sabaria in the Roman province of Pannonia, present day Hungary, of a pagan family, his father a Roman legionary. He spent his boyhood in Pavia in Lombardy where he came under Christian influence, and at the age of ten he decided on his own to become a catechumen (a catechumen is a person preparing for Holy Baptism). When he was fifteen, being the son of a soldier, he was drafted to serve in the army. He was apparently a good soldier and popular with his comrades. One winter night when he was stationed in Amiens, Martin saw a poor old beggar at the city gate shivering in the cold, and, having nothing else to give him, he drew his sword, cut his own cavalryman’s cloak in two, and gave half to the man to wrap himself in. The next night Martin dreamed of Christ in heaven wearing his half-cloak and saying, “Martin, still a catechumen, has covered me with his cloak.” The young soldier, however, found it increasingly difficult to combine his own ideal of a Christian life with the duties of the military. Eventually he decided to be baptized and asked to leave the army, since he was no longer willing to kill. Like his modern counterparts, this fourth century “conscientious objector” had difficulty proving he was not a coward, but finally he was released, now about twenty years old. (from Festivals and Commemorations by Philip Pfatteicher)  But sensing a call to a church vocation, Martin left the military and became a monk, affirming that he was “Christ’s soldier.” Eventually, Martin was named bishop of Tours in western Gaul (France). He is remembered for his simple lifestyle and his determination to share the Gospel throughout rural Gaul (present day France) (From Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH)

3.  On November 10th, 1483  a miner’s wife gave birth to a son.  They lived in Eisleben in the German lands. Baptisms were done quickly due to infant mortality. The next day the miner, Hans and Margarethe brought their son for Baptism, today, St. Martin’s Day.  So they named him Martin, as was the custom, after the saint who is commemorated today.  The son baptized today was Martin Luther. We make much about someone’s birthday, as is right.  I know it is foolish to say of a person in the past something that may or may not be true, but based upon Luther’s writing in The Large Catechism, I think that he held his baptism in higher estimation than his birthday:

To appreciate and use Baptism aright, we must draw strength and comfort from it when our sins or conscience oppress us, and we must retort, “But I am baptized! And if I am baptized, I have the promise that I shall be saved and have eternal life, both in soul and body.” This is the reason why these two things are done in Baptism: the body has water poured over it, though it cannot receive anything but the water, and meanwhile the Word is spoken so that the soul may grasp it.

Since the water and the Word together constitute one Baptism,  body and soul shall be saved and live forever: the soul through the Word in which it believes, the body because it is united with the soul and apprehends Baptism in the only way it can. No greater jewel, therefore, can adorn our body and soul than Baptism, for through it we obtain perfect holiness and salvation, which no other kind of life and no work on earth can acquire.

What do these 3 commemorations have in common? These two Christian saints and veterans is all about being serving.  We give thanks for those veterans who served in our armed forces.  I have heard many a veteran say that I did my duty and I came home.  War is hard, to say the least.  Many veterans do not want to say what happened over there.  They bore arms to defend our freedoms inscribed in the Constitution, the words of the charter of our political freedom.  Martin of Tours left one army and joining the militia Christ, the army of Christ for the salvation of souls.  As bishop he did battle against the heresies of his day and served his people upon  the green and eternal pasture of the Word of God.  He fought against the powers and principalities:  sin, death and the power of the devil. The man named after him, Martin Luther, likewise did the same. Martin and Martin bore the weapons of the Spirit to defend the charter of our eternal salvation, one Lord, one faith, one birth.  Martin and Martin did their duty, lived their callings. This day is united in thanksgiving for our freedom, political and spiritual, for their battles for our freedoms we take too lightly.

 Oh, may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia! Alleluia! (“For All the Saints”)

We are freed from the tyranny of political and spiritual despots and so freed to serve our neighbor, our nation and church, as free citizens of both realms so that any tyranny is defeated and freedom is promoted as we wait for the Day.

ALMIGHTY God, our heavenly Father, in whose hands are the living and the dead; We give thee thanks for all those thy servants who have laid down their lives in the service of our country. Grant to them thy mercy and the light of thy presence, that the good work which thou hast begun in them may be perfected; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord. Amen.

 Lord God of hosts, Your servant Martin the soldier embodied the spirit of sacrifice. He became a bishop in Your Church to defend the catholic faith. Give us grace to follow in his steps so that when our Lord returns we may be clothed with the baptismal garment of righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns With You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 

Almighty and most merciful Father, in the waters of Holy Baptism You have united Your children in the suffering and death of Your Son Jesus Christ, cleansing them by His blood. Renew in them the gift of Your Holy Spirit, that they may live in daily contrition and repentance with a faith that ever clings to their Savior. Deliver them from the power of Satan and preserve them from false and dangerous doctrines, that they may remain faithful in hearing Christ’s Word and receiving His body and blood. By the Lord’s Supper strengthen them to believe that no one can make satisfaction for sin but Christ alone. Enable them to find joy and comfort only in Him, learning from this Sacrament to love You and their neighbor and to bear their cross with patience and joy until the day of the resurrection of their bodies to life immortal; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

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