“A light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” Luke 2:32
Dear Redeemer Family:
The Season of Epiphany is the “Season of Light.” God’s light breaks into our world in His Son Jesus Christ. And now, we are to bear that light into the world. So, this month, let’s look at some of those light bearers who are commemorated this month, so that we may see what that might entail.
First, St. Ansgar, Bishop of Hamburg, missionary to Denmark and Sweden, he died on February 3rd, 865. Where I grew up, one of the Lutheran churches (there were three) was St. Ansgar’s Lutheran Church. So, he has always been of interest to me. Ansgar was a monk who led a mission to Denmark and later to Sweden, where he built the first church. His work ran into difficulties with the rulers of the day, and he was forced to withdraw into Germany, where he served as a bishop in Hamburg. Despite his difficulties in Sweden, he persisted in his mission work and later helped consecrate Gothbert as the first bishop of Sweden. Ansgar had a deep love for the poor. He would wash their feet and serve them food provided by the parish.
On February 14th, we commemorate St. Valentine (who I won’t go into), but also St. Cyril, monk; and St. Methodius, bishop and missionaries to the Slavs. St. Cyril died on this date in the year 869, St. Methodius in 885. These two brothers (yes, they were brothers) were from a noble family in Thessalonika, a province of Greece. Both were priests, as well as missionaries. After some early initial missionary work by Cyril among the Arabs, the brothers retired to a monastery. They were later sent to work among the Slavs, the missionary work for which they are most known. Since Slavonic had no written form at the time, the brothers established a written language with the Greek alphabet as its basis. It is still in use, known as the Cyrillic Alphabet. They translated the scriptures and the liturgy using this Cyrillic alphabet. The Czechs, Serbs, Croats, Slovaks and Bulgars regard the brothers as the founders of Slavic literature. The brothers’ work in preaching and worshiping in the language of the people are honored by Christians in both East and West.
And finally, some guy named Martin Luther, Renewer of the Church. On February 18th in the year of 1546, Martin Luther died at the age of 62. For a time, he was an Augustinian monk (of the Minor Order), but it is his work as a biblical scholar, translator of the Bible, public confessor of the faith, reformer of the liturgy, theologian, educator, and father of German vernacular literature that holds him in our remembrance. In Luther’s own judgment, the greatest of all of his works was his catechism, written to instruct people in the basics of faith. And it was his baptism that sustained him in his trials as a reformer.
These are but a few whom the Church remember in February. May we learn from their lives and examples, and carry on their work in our lives, in our ways, to the glory of God. Share the light of Christ.