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St. Barnabas | WITHOUT GRACE THERE IS NO HOPE, BUT WITH IT THERE IS NO SHORTAGE. | image tagged in saints | made w/ Imgflip meme maker

Grant, O God, that we may follow the example of your faithful servant Barnabas, who, seeking not his own renown but the well­-being of your Church, gave generously of his life and substance for the relief of the poor and the spread of the Gospel; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Readings: Isaiah 42: 5-12  Psalm 112  Acts 11: 19-30; 13: 1-3  St. Mark 6: 7-13

Bio:

“St. Barnabas was a Levite from Cyprus who sold some land and gave the proceeds to the early Christian community in Jerusalem (Acts 4:36-37). St. Paul informs us that hewas a cousin of John Mark (Colossians 4:10). Barnabas was sent by the Jerusalem Church to oversee the young Church in Antioch (Acts 11:22). While there, he went to Tarsus and brought Paul back to Antioch to help him (Acts 11:25-26). It was this Church in Antioch that commissioned and sent Barnabas and Paul on the first missionary journey (Acts 13:2-3). When it was time for the second missionary journey, however, Barnabas and Paul disagreed about taking along John Mark. Barnabas took Mark and went to Cyprus; Paul took Silas and headed north through Syria and Cilicia (Acts 15:36-41). Nothing more is known of the activities of Barnabas, except that he was apparently known to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 9:6). Tradition relates that Barnabas died a martyr’s death in Cyprus by being stoned.

“Barnabas was a Jew, a Levite born in Cyprus, one of the first disciples of the apostles, and Paul’s traveling companion until the sixteenth year after the resurrection of Christ. He is mentioned in [Acts] 4, 9, 11, 13, 14, 15, 1 Corinthians 9, Galatians 2. Part of the sermons of Barnabas is recited by Clement [of Alexandria] in his Stromateis:

“Before we believed in God, the dwelling of our heart was corruptible and fragile; truly it was a temple made by hands, when it was full of idolatry, and was a house of demons. But behold! It has been built gloriously into the temple of the Lord. How? By receiving the remission of sins and by hoping in the name of Christ, let us become new and re-created,because God truly dwells in us. How? When these dwell in us: the Word of His faith, the calling of His promise, the wisdom of  justification, and the mandates of doctrine.”

“Barnabas is the same as “Son of consolation” (Acts 4), from bar, “son,” and nafesh, “recreate, revive, console,” and so on. Eusebius (bk. 1, ch. 14) writes that he was one of the seventy disciples.—David Chytraeus (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH)

Reflection: “Son of Encouragement”

In Acts 4, where we first meet Barnabas, he may have been encouraged by Peter’s preaching and his bravery and the fact that the scribes and Pharisees noted about Peter and John that,  “…they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished.” And,

“Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 37 sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”

This was probably quite encouraging to the early Church.  Later, Barnabas and St. Paul had a “sharp disagreement” over their missionary plans and especially who would accompany  them in the Lord’s work, see Acts 15:38-40. Yet later, it seems these brothers in Christ reconciled, see Colossians 4:10.    This too would have been encouraging.

Hebrews 3: 13, we are encouraged to be encouraging, to be Barnabas: “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

The Greek word for “encourage” is parakaleite.  It is also translated as comfort, help and exhort.  The Lord uses this Word to describe the Holy Spirit, Paraklētos. Please note the similarities between the two Greek words as they are related.

“But when the Helper (Paracletos) comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me” (St. John 15). 

Paraclete means Advocate, Counselor, Comforter and that is what encouragement does in our souls. Our English word encouragement has it’s root a French word, corage, cour, heart.  Encouragement means to hearten someone else.

Encouragement is a chain effect, spreading from person to person, in secular work and culture but especially in the Church.  In the Church, this is uniquely so.  Literally, parakaleo means “called alongside of”, as you are called alongside your family, your co-workers, strangers you meet and the like. The Holy Spirit is alongside of us with the weapons of the Spirit to strengthen one another in Christ Jesus in the glory of God the Father.  Pray that when the time is right, you are a Barnabas for someone else and may  you speak a word and parakaleo  and may it also be the Word!

Hymnody

For Barnabas we praise You, Who kept Your law of love/ And, leaving earthly treasures, Sought riches from above./ O Christ, our Lord and Savior, Let gifts of grace descend,/ That Your true consolation May through the world extend.

—By All Your Saints in Warfare  (LSB 518:17)

The Age of Pelagius

The Age of Pelagius: An ancient heresy continues to affect our culture in surprising ways by Joshua Hawley| JUNE 4, 2019

Joshua Hawley is the United States senator from Missouri. This article was adapted from a commencement address given at The King’s College in New York City on Saturday, May 11.

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Vexillology is the study of flags. What color on the flags above stand out?  

This is the Altar at Concordia Lutheran Mission for Pentecost.  In the Church Year, the color is red for Pentecost, symbolizing the fire of the Holy Spirit and the tongues of fire that rested on the ApostlesWe put up the flags as a reminder that beginning at Pentecost, and to this day, 2,000 years later that the nations hear the Word of God in their own language (Acts 2:  6 and 11). The Lord is the Lord of all nations.

Red is also the color for the Altar (paraments)  and Pastor (vestments) for the feast days of martyrs.  Red signifies blood.  In the flags of nations, shedding of blood can mean valor and strength.  Valor and strength risking one’s life in defense of a nation: remember D-Day. Red also signifies the Holy Spirit and the Lord’s fire to burn away the dross of sin (the Law) and lightened us with warmth of the light of the world, Jesus Christ, and for the valor and strength of the martyrs who confessed Christ with their blood.

The blood of Christ and the Holy Spirit is for you!  Jesus died for the life of the world. The many flags of the world with the color of red can be a salutary reminder that God so loved the world, He gave His only-begotten Son.  His blood covers the earth. In an intimate connection, red can remind us of the Holy Spirit:  The Holy Spirit who is God before time and in the beginning,  “…was hovering over the face of the waters.”  (Genesis 1). The Holy Spirit who descended on the 120 Galileans gathered in Jerusalem and then gave the gift of language to speak the Gospel for all the nations gathered there for Pentecost (Acts 2: 6-11).  The Holy Spirit, as the Son taught concerning the Spirit, “He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16: 14). 

The Holy Spirit’s book is the Bible and the core curriculum is Christ for us and for our salvation.  Many translations of the Bible have the words of Christ in the color of red. The Lord sends out the Apostles as witnesses (John 16:27), with the Spirit to forgive and retain sin (John 20: 21-23).  He sent them baptizing and teaching  “all nations”  (Matthew 28: 19-20).  As we are baptized in the Name of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we are baptized in the Holy Spirit.  This is for all nations as even the secular flags of the world give mute witness to the Lord of all nations shedding His blood for the life of the world and sending the Holy Spirit in His Church to preach the Blood of Christ. The Holy Spirit witnesses to the Son in His blood of the New Testament beginning in Baptismal waters, as John sums it up for us:

This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify:the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son.  (1 John 3)

“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 20)

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From the Concordia Commentary Commentary by Gregory J. Lockwood (Concordia Publishing House): “This commentary’s view is that the tongues-speaking in 1 Corinthians is the same phenomenon as in Acts 2, namely, the miraculous proclamation of the Gospel in human foreign languages.”  “On Pentecost Day the out poured Spirit enabled the disciples to speak in other tongues (Acts 2:4) …The Spirit’s gift on that occasion was the ability to proclaim the Gospel in known human languages.  The speaker may have had no natural facility in the language, and perhaps did not understand what he was saying, but the hearers who had a natural competence in the language recognized the language as their native tongue and understood what was said…All humanity spoke a common language when construction began on the tower of Babel.  But to thwart humanity’s arrogant ambitions, God confounded human language, resulting in the great diversity of human languages, which makes universal communication impossible (Gen. 1: 1-9).  But the Gospel reunites humanity—except for those who reject it.”

D-Day

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“…we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.” The Gettysburg Address by President Abraham Lincoln

World War II was not formerly a religious war but it did have an aspect of a religious war. Nazism was virulently idolatrous and atheistic, that is, Nazism dissociated itself from the Lord God of Israel and the Church. After World War II ended, Communist Russia held by force and domination the following nations: Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, Albania, People’s Republic of Angola,  Bulgaria, China,  Cuba, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, People’s Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Hungary, Mongolia, Nicaragua,  North Korea,  Poland, Romania,  South Yemen,Vietnam,  Tuvan People’s Republic, and Yugoslavia. Communism is as Nazism: violently anti-Christian and anti-religion. The Soviets held their empire many more years than the Nazis, in which Judaism and Christianity were suppressed and oppressed.

This still goes on in Communist China and Cuba as this week another anniversary was remembered by too few: The Tiananmen Square Massacre, June 4, 1989. To this day, the Communist Chinese regime has effectively written that event out of their official historical record. We still do not know how many were killed in the heart of Beijing near the Altar of Heavenly Peace. This photo reminds us of the beginning of that massacre:

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The United States fought two more wars in the 20th Century to stop the spread of Communism and in this century to stop militant Islam.

World War II was to stop an aggressive and violent atheistic ideology. D-Day would mean that within a year of the invasion on Fortress Europe the concentration camps would be liberated. The Fall of the Soviet Union meant the terrors of the gulags would be stopped. Tyrants do not confess the one true God. Today’s tyrant still wants to stop Christianity.

The thousands upon thousands who landed this day 75 years ago probably had no idea they were also fighting to stop the spread of atheism. This United States World War clip-art states the reality of the anti-Christian zealotry in Nazism (and Communism and so much of present day progressivism) and what we are up against today:

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Freedom is not only political but it is also spiritual. Those soldiers and sailors were frightened and yet courageous. The spiritual battle goes on. Their example must be before our eyes and hearts so we are heartened in the battle. J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings is modeled by the author after World War II. Frodo wants to give up, what’s the use, the journey is too great. His friend and brother in arms, Samwise Gamgee answers, “There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.” The men and women on the beaches of Normandy knew that. It is said there were more Christian martyrs in the 20th century than all the previous centuries combined. They too were most likely frightened and yet courageous. This great cloud of witnesses and martyrs encourages us for the Lord’s good and good work, His salvation is covered in His blood, for His creation.

President Roosevelt’s Prayer prayed on June 6, 1945

“Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity. 

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith. 

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph. 

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest-until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war. 

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home. 

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas — whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them–help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice. 

Many people have urged that I call the Nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts. 

Give us strength, too — strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces. 

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be. 

And, O Lord, give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose. 

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogancies. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister Nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil. 

Thy will be done, Almighty God.

Amen.”

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Almighty God, who called Your faithful servant Boniface to be a witness and martyr in the lands of Germany and Friesland, and by his labor and suffering raised up a people for Your own possession, pour forth Your Holy Spirit upon your Church in every land, that by the service and sacrifice of many Your holy Name may be glorified and Your kingdom enlarged; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Biography:  Boniface was born in the late seventh century in England. Though he was educated, became a monk, and was ordained as a presbyter in England, he was inspired by the example of others to become a missionary. Upon receiving a papal commission in 719 to work in Germany, Boniface devoted himself to planting, organizing, and reforming churches and monasteries in Hesse, Thuringia, and Bavaria. After becoming an archbishop, Boniface was assigned to the See of Mainz in 743. Ten years later he resigned his position to engage in mission work in the Netherlands. On June 5, 754, Pentecost that year, while awaiting a group of converts for confirmation and at sunrise, while reading the Gospel to a group of the newly Baptized, a band of pagan Frisians attacked Boniface and the neophytes.  Boniface and the neophytes were massacred. According to reports, Boniface was carrying a Bible and it was stabbed. So his emblem is

the one you see here.  In Fulda, Germany, are the remains of Boniface along with the purported Gospel book he was holding with slash marks. Boniface died while catechizing. He was around 80 years old. Boniface is known as the apostle and missionary to the Germans.

For Further Reflection:  In A.D. 735, Boniface wrote to the abbess Eadburga.  He began his letter in thanksgiving to Almighty God for her previous gifts of books and garments.   Boniface then asked the abbess for the following:

“And I beg you further to add to what you have clone already by making a copy written in gold of the Epistles of my master, St. Peter the Apostle, to impress honor and reverence for the Sacred Scriptures visibly upon the carnally minded to whom I preach. I desire to have ever present before me the words of him who is my guide upon this road. I am sending by the priest Eoban the materials for your writing.

Do then, dearest sister, with this petition of mine as you have always done with my requests, so that here also your works may shine forth in golden letters for the glory of our heavenly Father. I pray for your well-being in Christ, and may you go on upward to still greater heights of holy virtue.”[i]

This letter, and the other letters and epistles, from Boniface and from many others in the Church to him, are obviously from a different world.  This was a world, yes, marked by idolatry and savagery, but within the Church a civilized gentility and peace without which the Church would not have been faithful in evangelizing.  So from this letter what can we discern and learn about mission?

  1. The mission of the Church was local and catholic, that is, universal.  She was being faithful to the Lord’s command to preach, teach and baptize all nations.  This letter and the many other extant letters bear witness to the fact of the close working together of the Church for her God-given Mission.
  2. This mission of the Church was promoting a Christian culture in pagan lands that shared with the pagans the acknowledgement of sin and the need of the Savior.  Boniface did so by not watering down the faith and practice of the Holy Spirit in the Church for the sake of acceptance, but neither by wiping out indigenous cultures.

It is out of my second point I reflect a bit more. 

With Boniface’s request of the Abbess for a copy of the Epistles of St. Peter, written in gold, the cost of which could have been high, I can hear Judas Isacariot’s complaint to the Lord, “But this money could be used for the poor”.  Boniface knew the poor and the poor in spirit, including himself.  The Words of God are the everlasting bread to feed souls.  Boniface believed St. Peter’s Epistles were of such temporal and eternal nourishment that they deserved such hand copying in gold.  A passage such as this one:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

(1 Peter 1)

The more-precious-than-gold faith of so many is the result of the more-precious-than-gold Word of God made flesh.  Further, the Apostle is thanking the Lord, the blessed and holy Trinity, for the receivers of his epistle that together (!)the Lord, “…has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”, that is, Holy Baptism.  Boniface was in the same situation as his master, St. Peter the Apostle.  The impression of a book of Bible in gold letters would certainly impress “the carnally minded” to whom Boniface preached the “honor and reverence for the Sacred Scriptures”.

Today, in this “carnally minded” world in the rise of neo-paganism, reminders of the stronger than gold-durability of Scriptures is needed.  In the fire at the Cathedral of Notre Dame, we were reminded that in Notre Dame, there was the sublime beauty of Jesus Christ.  The stones themselves cried out but only because the preaching of the Gospel was there and the administration of the Sacraments, not the transitory teachings of men.  Boniface and his brothers and sisters preached and lived the Word at great cost in money and to themselves, and in Boniface’s life, martyrdom. Can we do no less in these dark days?

(Read more about Boniface here)


[i] The Letters of Saint Boniface, translated by Ephraim Emerton; Columbia University Press; pages 42-43

Biography:  born at the beginning of the second century, Justin was raised in a pagan family. He was a 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.

It seems that Sunday as the “Little Easter”, the day the Lord rose again from the dead, has been the day of worship from the beginning for the Church and it was not convenient.  As described by Justin Martyr:

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. 

In an excellent article by Pastor Mark Surburg, They worshipped when?!?, he quotes 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.

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 before they would go off to work.  As our culture and society becomes increasingly antagonistic 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.

Justin Martyr and our brothers and sisters back then give us encouragement for here and now. No wonder that the “memoirs of the Apostles” that were read would have included this Scripture from the Apostle Peter, 1 Peter 2:  11-12:

“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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