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January Commemorations in the Lutheran Church Calendar

1/1: The Name of Jesus

This festival, originally the Octave (that is, the 8th day) of Christmas, goes back to the 6th century. The celebration of the Name of Jesus was part of the celebration of the Circumcision; thus the title on some Lutheran calendars: "The Circumcision and the Name of Jesus."

1/2: Johann K.W. Loehe, pastor, 1872

Loehe (LAY-eh) was born at Fuerth, Germany, in 1808. When he was 8 his father died. Young Loehe studied in Erlangen, there discovering the Lutheran Confessions. In 1837 he became pastor in a small village, Neuendettelsau. His efforts at getting a city parish were unavailing, and he remained there the rest of his life. He was a model parish pastor. He founded a foreign mission society, sending pastors to North America, Australia, and Brazil; he assisted in the founding of the Missouri Synod. Rev. Loehe fought for a clear confessional basis for the Bavarian church and was sometimes in conflict with the ecclesiastical bureaucracy. He founded the Society for Inner Missions and established a deaconess mother-house at Neuendettelsau that had widespread influence. A student of the liturgy and its practical application in the life of his people, he saw Holy Communion as the center of congregational life.

1/5: Kaj Harald Leininger Munk, martyr, 1944

This Danish pastor, patriot, and play-wright (his first name rhymes with "high") was born Kaj Harald Leininger Peterson in 1898. Orphaned at the age of 6, he was brought up by a family named Munk, taking their surname. He was ordained in 1924 and became pastor at Vederso, one of the smallest parishes in Denmark. His writings dis-cuss a wide variety of topics. His plays frequently deal with the eventual victory of the Christian faith despite its ineffect-ive presentation by a weak church. Feared by the Nazis because his patriotic articles and sermons helped to strengthen the Danish resistance move-ment, he was arrested on January 4, 1944; the next day his body was found in a ditch. His martyrdom only in-creased the determination of the resistance movement.

Pastor Munk

1/6: The Epiphany of our Lord

At Christmas we celebrated the birth of our Lord. The Epiphany commemorates no event, but presents an idea that assumes form only through the facts of our Lord's life. The idea of Epiphany is that the Christ born at Bethlehem is recognized by the world; he is "manifested" to the world, represented by the three Magi, or Wise Men, the first gentiles who received the light of the Christ.

1/13: George Fox, renewer of the church, 1691

Fox, the founder of the Society of Friends, was born in England in 1624. In 1643 he felt a call to forsake all ties to family and friends and travel in search of enlightenment. After long inner struggle, in 1646 he found relief in reliance upon the inner light of the living Christ. From then on he abandoned church attendance and began to preach this inner voice of God. He made frequent missionary journeys to Ireland, the West Indies, North America, and Holland. A magnetic personality of great spiritual power, he is an example of selfless devotion, patience in persecution, and ability in organization. His followers called themselves, "The Religious Society of Friends," but they were nicknamed "Quakers". Fox died at the age of 67.

11/14: Eivind Josef Berggrav, Bishop of Oslo, 1959

Eivind Berggrav was born in 1884 and was ordained by the Church of Norway in 1908. He was a teacher, then pastor of a rural parish in 1918, and became a prison chaplain in 1924. Elected Bishop of Tromso in 1928, he was transferred to Oslo in 1937 where he served until his retirement in 1950. The chief author of the declarations and confessional documents of the Norwegian resistance during World War 11, he was arrested on Good Friday 1942, and was im-prisoned until the liberation of Norway in 1945. Until his death in 1959, he was a leader of the World Council of Churches and in the Lutheran World Federation.

1/18: The Confession of St. Peter

This commemoration was suggested by the Episcopal calendar. The martyrdoms of Peter and Paul are jointly com-memorated on June 19. Paul has a separate festival on January 25, mark-ing his conversion; and it seemed logical, therefore, to have a separate day for Peter as well. Since THE WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY concludes on January 25, the Conver-sion of St. Paul, the Episcopal church has introduced a festival of Peter's confession that Jesus is "the Christ, the Son of the living God." With this confession the Week of Prayer for Christian unity begins.

1/19: Henry, Bishop of Uppsala, missionary, 1156

Henry (Henrick) is the national saint of Finland. Born in England, he became Bishop of Uppsala, Sweden, in 1152. In 1155 Henry joined King Erik IX of Sweden on his crusade in Finland, and remained there to organize the church. Henry was killed by a Finnish farmer, but his cult spread rapidly through Sweden and Finland and was carried across Europe. Henry's epitaph is at Nousianinen, Finland, but his relics were removed to the cathedral in Abo (Turku) in 1300. He is regarded as the patron saint of Turku.

Henry walking on his murderer; painting from the Church of Taivassalo about 1450

1/25: The Conversion of St. Paul

The observance of this festival, commemorating a momentous event in the life of the early Church, began in Gaul in the sixth century. It spread throughout the Western church and achieved such popularity that both the Anglican and Lutheran reformers retained the day on their calendars. The day has never been observed in the Eastern church. Prayer: Lord God, you taught the whole world through the preaching of your apostle, Paul. We celebrate his conversion and pray that we may follow his example and be witnesses to your truth in this world; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Read: Acts 2:1-22; Galatians1:11-24. THIS DAY MARKS THE END OF THE WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY.

1/26: Timothy, Titus, and Silas, companions of Paul

TIMOTHY accompanied Paul on his 2nd missionary journey and became the intimate friend to whom Paul entrusted the mission at Thessalonica (1 Thess. 3:2) and Corinth (1 Cor. 4:17). He was with Paul at Rome and, according to Eusebius, became the first Bishop of Ephesus. A 4th century account of his acts tells of his martrydom on January 22, 97. TITUS joined Paul on the journey to the apostolic council at Jerusalem Gal. 2:1). He was later sent on a difficult mission to Corinth (2 Cor. 8:6ff), and also worked in Crete and Dalmatia. According to Eusebius, Titus was the first Bishop of Crete. SILAS was a companion of Paul on his first visit to Macedonia and Corinth. An uncompromising preacher, Silas was commended by Paul for his faithfulness and steadfastness. Tradition says that he died in Macedonia.

1/27: Lydia, Dorcas, and Phoebe, witnesses to the faith

On this day the Church remembers three women who were companions in Paul’s ministry. LYDIA was Paul’s first convert at Philippi. She was a merchant of purple-dyed goods, and because purple dye was extremely expensive, it is likely that she was a woman of some wealth. Lydia and her household were baptized by Paul and for a time her home was a base for Paul’s missionary work. DORCAS is remembered for her charitable works, particularly making clothing for needy widows. PHOEBE was a diakonos, a deaconess in the church at Cenchreae, near Corinth. Paul praises her as one who, through her service, looked after many people.