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Sunday, July 22, 2007

July 22, The Feast of Mary Magdalene

This was the first time I preached on the Feast of Mary Magdalene. The festival seems to have been retained by the Reformation in the Lutheran liturgical calendar, but apparently only some of the Lutheran churches in Renaissance Europe kept the feast day during Luther's lifetime.

This feastival is "new" for American Lutherans, only showing up in our hymnals and liturgical calendars since 1978 (LBW). Lutheran Worship (1982) and Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary (1996) also list the festival.

The Gospel Reading for this festival is great as we are in the early part of the long season of Pentecost. We are about four months removed from Easter Sunday, and John 20 redirects our attention back to the empty tomb and the risen Christ. How many Christians are even thinking about Easter at the end of July? The Gospel Reading reminds us of the liturgical truth, namely, that every Sunday is a little Easter celebration. Even the hymn of the day for LSB was an "Easter" hymn, Now All the Vault of Heav'n Resounds (LSB 465).

We see, however, that this day is not really a focus on Mary, but rather a focus on Jesus Christ. The Gospel Reading emphasizes that Jesus is risen and victorious over sin, death, and the devil. This gospel strengthened Mary’s faith and enabled her to go and tell others. This dovetails nicely with our recently concluded Missouri Synod convention in Houston that had the theme One Message---Christ. Such was the proclamation of Mary to the disciples. And what Christ is this? The Christ who suffered, died, and rose again for the forgiveness of sins and the salvation of the world. The Apostle Paul said it this way: We proclaim Christ crucified. And so we proclaim even today, and will continue to proclaim until Christ returns from heaven.

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