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September Commemorations in the Lutheran Church Calendar

9/2: Nikolai Frederick Severin Grundtvig, bishop, 1872

Together with Kierkegaard, Grundtvig is the most notable figure in Danish Theology in the 19th century. Beginning with his ordination sermon in 1810, he attacked rationalism and was, therefore, not given a parish until 1821. Three years later he began a reforming movement, continuing his assault on rational-ism and state domination of religion. With the Apostles' Creed as the standard of faith, he sought to restore orthodoxy and to renew the understanding of the church and the sacraments. From 1829 to his death he was preacher at Vartov hospital in Copenhagen. He was given the rank and title of bishop in 1861, although without a diocese.

Nicolai Grundtvig

9/4: Albert Schweitzer, 1965, and Helene Bresslau-Schweitzer, 1957, missionaries

Schweitzer was born in 1875 in Alsace and was educated at Strasbourg, Berlin, and Paris. In 1899 he became a parish pastor in Strasbourg, France, and in 1902 began to teach at the university. His Quest of the Historical Jesus appeared in 1910, expounding his interpretation of Jesus' eschatological vision; in 1912 he applied the same principles to St. Paul. During the year he also received his medical degree and, in the following year, gave up his distinguished academic career to devote himself to the care of the sick and to missionary activities at Lambarene, in Africa. He was also a noted musical scholar and organist and interpreter of Bach. He was awarded the Novel Peace Prize in 1954.

Helene Bresslau, born in Berlin, Germany in 1879, was co-founder of the Albert Schweitzer Hospital, medical missionary, nurse-anesthetist, social worker, linguist, public medicine sup-porter, lecturer, editor, feminist, sociologist, and mother. In 1904 she joined the Protestant Deaconess Association. From 1905-1909, she was a municipal inspector for orphans in Strasbourg, one of the first female employees, as she had been one of the first female students at the University of Strasbourg. Although she was Albert's confidante, sharing completely in his labors in Gabon, he publicly made nothing of her role in his work. She played a pivotal role in the advancement of medicine, feminine independence, and social justice, but it was her husband who was awarded a Nobel prize.

Helene Bresslau-Schweitzer 

9/13: John Chrysostom, Bishop, 407

John Chrysostom (KRISS-us-tum) was educated in law and theology. He was ordained a deacon in 381 and a priest in 386, devoting himself to preaching in which he was skilled (Chrysostom is Greek for "golden-mouthed"). He directed his preaching to the instruction and moral reform of Antioch; and proved to be an expert expositor of Scripture, able to see both the author's meaning and the practical application of the message, and opposing the allegorical interpretation common at the time. His On the Priesthood is a moving description of the responsibilities of the Christian minister. He was made Patriarch of Constantinople against his wishes in 398. In that office, he set about reforming the city, court, and clergy. His honesty, asceticism, and tactlessness earned him condemnation by the Synod of the Oak in 403. He was removed from office, restored, then removed again. Despite support from the people of Constantinople, the pope, and the entire Western church, he was exiled and deliberately killed by forced travel on foot in severe weather.

9/14: Holy Cross Day

The celebration of this day dates from the dedication, in 335, of a basilica built by Constantine in Jerusalem. The day became very popular, being observed in both East and West. It remained on many Lutheran calendars and is a popular title for Lutheran churches. Prayer of the day: Almighty God, your Son Jesus Christ was lifted high upon the cross so that he might draw all men to himself. Grant that we who glory in his death for our salvation may also glory in his call to take up our cross and follow him; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Read: Is. 45:21-25; 1 Cor. 1:18-24; John 12:20-33.

9/17: Hildegard, Abbess of Bingen, 1179

Hildegard lived virtually her entire life in convents yet was widely influential within the church. After an uneventful time as a nun, she was chosen as abbess of her community. She reformed her community as well as other convents. Around the same time, she began having visions, and compiled them, as instructed, in a book she called Scivias. Hildegard's importance went beyond mysticism. She also advised and reproved kings and popes, wrote poems and hymns, and produced treatises in medicine, theology, and natural history. Mother Hildegard was also a musician and an artist. 

9/18: Dag Hammarskjold, Peacemaker, 1961

Hammarskjold was born in Onkoping, Sweden in 1905, the son of the Swedish prime minister. He studied law and economics at Uppsala and Stockholm. Gaining prominence as the chairman of the board of governors of the Bank of Sweden, he joined the foreign ministry as a financial advisor. In 1952 he was named chairman of the Swedish delegation to the United Nations and in 1953 was elected secretary-general with reelection following in 1957. Hammarskjold was killed in a plane crash on September 18, 1961, near Ndola, Northern Rhodesia, while flying there to negotiate a cease-fire. Well-read in literature and philosophy, he kept a diary devoted to the study of his own soul and its relation to God. This remarkable book is considered by many as a classic of religious devotion.

Dag Hammarskjold

9/21: St. Matthew, Evangelist

Matthew (the son of Alphaeus, according to Mark) was a tax collector for the Roman government in Capernaum. He is called Levi in the accounts of his call to discipleship, although in the lists of the Twelve he is always called Matthew. It is a traditional belief that Levi was his original name and Matthew (Hebrew, "gift from God") was given to him after he became a disciple. Since the second century the authorship of the first gospel has been attributed to Matthew. He is usually represented in art by a winged man (suggested by Ezekiel 1:1-10 and 10:8-14). His feast day in the East is November 16.

St. Matthew, Book of Kells, c. 800 C.E.

9/25: Sergius of Radonezh, Abbot, 1392

Sergius, the most beloved of all Russian saints, was born at Rostov, Russia, c.1314. Driven from his home by civil war at the age of twenty, Sergius, with his brother Stephen, took up the life of a hermit and was, in time, joined by others. He was noted for his respectful attitude toward nature and his use of his influence to preserve peace among quarreling princes. Offered the metropolitan See of Moscow in 1378, Sergius refused it. He died at Holy Trinity Monastery, Moscow, in 1392.

9/29: St. Michael and All Angels

Michael is a popular archangel among both Jews and Christians. According to Revelation 12, he led the heavenly army against Lucifer before the creation of the world, and according to a very old belief, it is Michael who receives the souls of the departed. His festival has its fifth century origin in the dedication to him of a small basilica six miles from Rome, the first church so dedicated. The day became especially popular in northern Europe and England and was of such importance that it marked the beginning of the last cycle of the Pentecost season. In England, Michael-mas still marks the beginning of the fall term in the law courts and the fall academic terms at Oxford and Cam-bridge. In the Roman calendar the archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael are commemorated together on this Day. Read: Rev. 12:7-12. Prayer of the Day: Almighty God, creator of humans and of angels, in many ways beyond our understanding you make your will known to us and give us your protection. May we see your ways with wonder, accept the messages of your will, and trust in the loving care you provide; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Statue of Archangel Michael slaying Satan in the form of a dragon, University of Bonn

9/30: Jerome, translator, teacher, 420

Jerome was born Eusebius Hieronymus Sophronius, in 342, at Stridon near Aquileia. He studied in Rome and was baptized there. After traveling, he devoted himself to the ascetic life with his friends at Aquileia. In 374 he went to Palestine, settling as a hermit in the Syrian desert for four or five years, where he learned Hebrew. He was ordained a priest at Antioch and spent time in Constantinople and Rome. In 386 he settled in Bethlehem. Working in a large rock-hewn cell, he translated the Bible into Latin, then the language of the people. This translation, the Vulgate, remained the standard Latin version for fifteen centuries. Jerome died September 30, 420, and was buried in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.