Today in the church year

The Lutheran Church, like many other historic churches, has a sanctoral calendar that assigns remembrances of important saints and figures in the history and life of the Church to particular dates.  Learn more about these figures and heroes of the faith here!

  • October 9

    + Abraham, Patriarch +

    "Abraham (known early in his life as Abram) was called by God to become the father of a great nation (Genesis 12). At the age of 75 and in obedience to God's command, he, his wife Sarah, and his nephew Lot moved southwest from the town of Haran to the land of Canaan. There God  established a covenant with Abraham (15:18), promising the land of Canaan to his descendants. At the age of 100 Abraham and Sarah were finally blessed with Isaac, the son long promised to them by God. Abraham demonstrated supreme obedience when God commanded him to offer Isaac as a burnt offering. God spared the young man's life only at the last moment and provided a ram as a substitute offering (22:1–19). Abraham died at the age of 175 and was buried in the Cave of Machpelah, which he had purchased earlier as a burial site for Sarah. He is especially honored as the first of the three great Old Testament Patriarchs—and for his “righteousness before God through faith” (Romans 4:1–12)." (Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod Commemoration Biographies)

    A prayer for the commemoration of Abraham:

    "Lord God, heavenly Father, You promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations, You led him to the land of Canaan, and You sealed Your covenant with him by the shedding of blood. May we see in Jesus, the Seed of Abraham, the promise of the new covenant of Your Holy Church, sealed with Jesus’ blood on the cross and given to us now in the cup of the new testament; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen." (1097)

    (Image: Russian icon, Public Domain.)

  • October 7

    + Commemoration of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, Pastor +

    "Moving from the Old World to the New, Muhlenberg established the shape of Lutheran parishes for America during a 45-year ministry in Pennsylvania. Born at Einbeck, Germany, in 1711, he came to the American colonies in 1742. A tireless traveler, Muhlenberg helped to found many Lutheran congregations and was the guiding force behind the first American Lutheran synod, the Ministerium of Pennsylvania, founded in 1748. He valued the role of music in Lutheran worship (often serving as his own organist) and was also the guiding force in preparing the first American Lutheran liturgy (also in 1748). Muhlenberg is remembered as a church leader, a journalist, a liturgist, and—above all—a pastor to the congregation in his charge. He died in 1787, leaving behind a large extended family and a lasting heritage: American Lutheranism." (Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod Commemoration Biographies)

    Muhlenberg's influence resounds throughout American Lutheranism, especially in the polity of American Lutheran churches. C.F.W. Walther used Muhlenberg's polity as a template when drafting the constitution of the nascent Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. Muhlenberg also fathered an American dynasty. All three of Muhlenberg's sons served as pastors, but also had great influence in the early days of the United States. His eldest son Peter became an officer in the Continental Army commanding the Virginia 8th "German" Regiment (later commanded by Col. Abraham Bowman whose family owned the land that later became Pastor Niemeier's hometown, interestingly enough), and later served as a representative and senator for Pennsylvania in the US Congress. His son Frederick joined the Continental Army after the British burned his church; Frederick later became the first United States Speaker of the House. His third son, Gotthilf Henry Ernst, was a pastor and botanist (he also first described the bog turtle, which is named for him), as well as the first president of Franklin & Marshall College.

    A prayer for the commemoration of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg:
    "Lord Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd of Your people, we give You thanks for Your servant Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, who was faithful in the care and nurture of the flock entrusted to his care. So they may follow his example and the teaching of his holy life, give strength to pastors today who shepherd Your flock so that, by Your grace,Your people may grow into the fullness of life intended for them in paradise; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever." (1096)

    (Image: Bust of Muhlenberg published in George Unangst Wenner, "The Lutherans of New York, their story and their problems," New York: The Petersfield Press, 1918.)

  • September 30

    + Commemoration of St. Jerome, Translator of the Vulgate Bible +

    "Jerome was born in a little village on the Adriatic Sea around AD 345. At a young age, he went to study in Rome, where he was baptized. After extensive travels, he chose the life of a monk and spent five years in the Syrian Desert. There he learned Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament. After ordination at Antioch and visits to Rome and Constantinople, Jerome settled in Bethlehem. From the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, he used his ability with languages to translate the Bible into Latin, the common language of his time. This translation, called the Vulgate, was the authoritative version of the Bible in the Western Church for more than 1,000 years. Considered one of the great scholars of the Early Church, Jerome died on September 30, 420. He was originally interred at Bethlehem, but his remains were eventually taken to Rome." (from The Treasury of Daily Prayer, p.771).

    "We are righteous, therefore, when we confess that we are sinners, and our righteousness does not consist in our own merit, but in God's mercy." St. Jerome, 'Dialogue against the Pelagians' I.5.

    "In quoting my own writings my only object has been to prove that from my youth up I at least have always aimed at rendering sense not words, but if such authority as they supply is deemed insufficient, read and consider the short preface dealing with this matter which occurs in a book narrating the life of the blessed Antony. "A literal translation from one language into another obscures the sense; the exuberance of the growth lessens the yield. For while one's diction is enslaved to cases and metaphors, it has to explain by tedious circumlocutions what a few words would otherwise have sufficed to make plain. I have tried to avoid this error in the translation which at your request I have made of the story of the blessed Antony. My version always preserves the sense although it does not invariably keep the words of the original. Leave others to catch at syllables and letters, do you for your part look for the meaning." Time would fail me were I to unfold the testimonies of all who have translated only according to the sense." St. Jerome, "To Pammachius on the Best Method of Translating," (§6)

    A prayer for the Commemoration of St. Jerome:
    "O Lord, God of truth, Your Word is a lamp to our feet and a light on our path. You gave Your servant Jerome delight in his study of Holy Scripture. May those who continue to read, mark, and inwardly digest Your Word find in it the food of salvation and the fountain of life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever." (1093)

    (Image: "St. Jerome Writing" (1607/1608) by Caravaggio (1571-1610). St. John's Co-Cathedral, Valletta, Malta. Heritage Malta. Public Domain.)

  • September 29

    + Feast of st. Michael & all Angels +

    "The name of the archangel St. Michael means 'Who is like God?'  Michael is mentioned in the Book of Daniel (12:1), as well as in Jude (v.9) and Revelation (12:7).  Daniel portrays Michael as the angelic helper of Israel who leads the battle against the forces of evil.  In Revelation, Michael and his angels fight against and defeat Satan and the evil angels, driving them from heaven.  Their victory is made possible by Christ's own victory over Satan and His death and resurrection, a victory announced by the voice in heaven: "Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come" (Revelation 12:10).  Michael is often associated with Gabriel and Raphael, the other chief angels or archangels who surround the throne of God.  Tradition names Michael as the patron and protector of the Church, especially as the protector of Christians at the hour of death." (Scott R. Murray, A Year with the Church Fathers, pp. 309-310)

    A prayer for St. Michael and All Angels:

    Everlasting God, You have ordained and constituted the service of angels and men in a wonderful order.  Mercifully grant that, as Your holy angels always serve and worship you in heaven, so by Your appointment they may also help and defend us here on earth; through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen (F29)

    Illustration of St. Michael by Michael Wolgemut and Wilhelm Pleydenwurff from Hartmann Schedel's Nuremberg Chronicle (Liber Chronicarum) (f 141 v 2) (1493).

  • september 22

    + Jonah the Prophet +

    "A singular prophet among the many in the Old Testament, Jonah the son of Amittai was born about an hour's walk from the town of Nazareth. The focus of his prophetic ministry was the call to preach at Nineveh, the capital of pagan Assyria (Jonah 1:2). His reluctance to respond to God's insistence that His call be heeded is the story of the book that bear's Jonah's name. Although the swallowing and disgorging of Jonah by the great fish is the most remembered detail of his life, it is addressed in only three verses of the book (Jonah 1:17; 2:1, 10). Throughout the book, the important theme is how God deals compassionately with sinners. Jonah's three-day sojourn in the belly of the fish is mentioned by Jesus as a sign of His own death, burial, and resurrection (Matthew 12:39-41)." (Scott R. Murray, A Year with the Church Fathers, p.303)

    Jonah has historically been believed to have been buried in Nineveh, now the modern city of Mosul, Iraq, and his tomb was a place of pilgrimage for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. An Assyrian Church was erected over his tomb, which was also on the site of a palace built by the Assyrian king Esarhaddon (681-669 BC). Following the rise of Islam in the region, the Prophet Yunus Mosque was built over the church and dedicated to Jonah (Yunus being Jonah's name in Arabic; Jonah is venerated as a prophet in Islam). In 2014, the terrorist group ISIS destroyed the mosque and tomb and sold artifacts from the rubble on the black market to finance their operations. However, portions of the ruins still remain.

    A prayer for the commemoration of Jonah:
    Lord God, heavenly Father, through the prophet Jonah, You continued the prophetic pattern of teaching Your people the true faith and demonstrating through miracles Your presence in creation to heal it of its brokenness. Grant that your Chruch may see in Your Son, our Lord Jesus, the final end-times prophet whose teaching and miracles continue in Your Church through the healing medicine of the Gospel and the Sacraments; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. (1092)

    Illustration of Jonah from the Bentivoglio Bible (ca. 1270) (Walters W151403V) by the Miniatore di S. Alessio in Bigiano, the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore.

  • September 20

    + Feast of St. Matthew,

    Apostle & Evangelist +

    "St. Matthew, also known as Levi, identifies himself as a former tax collector, one who was therefore considered unclean, a public sinner, outcast from the Jews. Yet it was such a one as this whom the Lord Jesus called away from his occupation and wealth to become a disciple (Matthew 9:9-13). Not only did Matthew become a disciple of Jesus, he was also called and sent as one of the Lord's twelve apostles (Matthew 10:2-4). In time, he became the evangelist whose inspired record of the Gospel was granted first place in the ordering of the New Testament. Among the four Gospels, Matthew's portrays Christ especially as the new and greater Moses, who graciously fulfills the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17) and establishes a new covenant of salvation in and with His own blood (Matthew 26:27-28). Matthew's Gospel is also well-known and beloved for its record of the visit of the Magi (Matthew 2:1-12); for the Sermon on the Mount, including the Beatitudes and the Our Father (Matthew 5-7); and for the institution of Holy Baptism and the most explicit revelation of the Trinity (Matthew 28:16-20). Tradition is uncertain where his final field of labor was and whether Matthew died naturally [reported by Clement of Alexandria] or a martyr's death [per the Babylonian Talmud]. In celebrating this festival, we therefore give thanks to God that He has mightily governed and protected His Holy Church through this man who was called and sent by Christ to serve the sheep of His pastures with the Holy Gospel." (Scott R. Murray, A Year with the Church Fathers, pp.301-302)


    A Prayer:

    O Son of God, our blessed Savior, Jesus Christ, You called Matthew the tax collector to be an apostle and evangelist. Through his faithful and inspired witness, grant that we also may follow You, leaving behind all covetous desires and love of riches; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen (F28)


    Illustration of St. Matthew from the Ebbo Gospels (Ms. 1 f 18 v.), Carolingian, 9th Century.  Bibliothèque municipale de Épernay, France.