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Archive for June 1st, 2015

Biography:  born at the beginning of the second century, Justin was raised in a pagan family. He was student of philosophy who converted to the Christian faith and became a teacher in Ephesus and Rome. After refusing to make pagan sacrifices, he was arrested, tried and executed, along with six other believers. They were beheaded.  The official Roman court proceedings of his trial before Rusticius, a Roman prelate, document his confession of faith. The account of his martyrdom became a source of great encouragement to the early Christian community. Much of what we know of early liturgical practice comes from Justin.

Timeline

30

Crucifixion of Jesus; Pentecost

65

Peter and Paul executed

70

Destruction of Jerusalem by Titus

100

Justin Martyr born

165

Justin Martyr dies

180

Irenaeus writesAgainst Heresies

For Christians, such as this Lutheran pastor, the order of service from the 2nd Century, as described by Justin Martyr is quite familiar:

On the day called Sunday there is a gathering together in the same place of all who live in a given city or rural district. The memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits. Then when the reader ceases, the president in a discourse admonishes and urges the imitation of these good things. Next we all rise together and send up prayers.

When we cease from our prayer, bread is presented and wine and water. The president (or Presiding Minister, that is, Pastor/Bishop) in the same manner sends up prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people sing out their assent, saying the ‘Amen.’ A distribution and participation of the elements for which thanks have been given is made to each person, and to those who are not present they are sent by the deacons.

Those who have means and are willing, each according to his own choice, gives what he wills, and what is collected is deposited with the president. He provides for the orphans and widows, those who are in need on account of sickness or some other cause, those who are in bonds, strangers who are sojourning, and in a word he becomes the protector of all who are in need.

In an excellent article by Pastor Mark Surburg, They worshipped when?!?, also quoted the Roman, and pagan, historian Pliny, who lived 50 years before Justin the Martyr, the following about Christians:

They asserted, however, that the sum and substance of their fault or error had been that they were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god, and to bind themselves by oath, not to some crime, but not to commit fraud, theft, or adultery, not falsify their trust, nor to refuse to return a trust when   called upon to do so.

Please note, as  Pastor Surburg commented that the early Church met “before dawn” and Justin says they met as long as time permits because Sunday was not a day off!  They seem to have lived in a 24/7 world. Our brothers and sisters in the Lord back 1,900 years ago woke up really early for the Divine Service on Sunday befodre they would go off to work.  As our culture and society becomes increasingly antogonistic to the Church, it will take faithfulness to receive His Word and Sacraments. Pr. Surburg:  

As the era of the post-Christian world continues to advance in our culture, we are encountering more and more situations that reflect the experience of our early Christian forefathers.  Sporting events, school activities and a growing list of other endeavors are scheduled for Sunday morning.  The faithful practice of the Christian faith will require an ever greater commitment.  It will require sacrifice in order put Jesus Christ first as the Lord of our life.  The saints who have gone before provide both a model and an encouragement.  They show us what Christians have done in order to be faithful, and they demonstrate how by his grace God enabled them to do this.

No wonder that the “memoirs of the Apostles” that were read would have included this Scripture from the Apostle Peter, 1 Peter 2:  111-12:

“Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” 

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