June 29–St. Peter and St. Paul, Apostles

From the Treasury of Daily Prayer:

The festival of St. Peter and St. Paul is probably the oldest of the saints’ observances (dating from about the middle of the third century). An early tradition held that these two pillars of the New Testament Church were martyred on the same day in Rome during the persecution under Nero. In addition to this joint commemoration¬†of their deaths, both apostles are commemorated separately: Peter on January 18 for his confession of Jesus as the Christ (Matthew 16:13-16) and Paul on January 25 for his conversion (Acts 9:1-19).

The New Testament tells us much about both apostles. Peter was with Jesus from the beginning of His ministry and served as a leader among the disciples. Despite his steadfast faith, Scripture also records some of his failures, such as his rebuke of Jesus (Matthew 16:21-23) and his threefold denial of his Lord (Matthew 26:69-75). Following Jesus’ ascension, Peter continued as a leader in the Church (Acts 1:15; 2:14; 15:7).

Paul, a devout Jew also known as Saul, entered the scene as a persecutor of the Church. Following his miraculous conversion, in which the risen Christ Himself appeared to him, Paul became a powerful preacher of the grace of God. During his three missionary journeys (Acts 13-14; 16-18; 18-21), Paul traveled throughout modern-day Turkey and Greece. The New Testament account of his life ends with Paul under house arrest in Rome (Acts 28:16), though tradition holds that he went on to Spain before returning to Rome.

Hymn of the Day–“By All Your Saints in Warfare”

I love the versatility of this hymn…there are 24¬†separate¬†verses appropriate to different feasts and festivals throughout the church year, (plus one verse for saints and martyrs in general). And while each verse does tell us something about the saint, the real focus of each verse is on Christ’s work through said saint–great hymn-writing! Today’s verse reflects today’s festival–The Confession of St. Peter.

By all Your saints in warfare,
For all Your saints at rest,
Your holy name, O Jesus,
Forevermore be blest!
For You have won the battle
That they might wear the crown;
And now they shine in glory
Reflected from Your throne.

Praise for Your great apostle
So eager and so bold,
Thrice falling, yet repentant,
Thrice charged to feed Your fold.
Lord, make Your pastors faithful
To guard Your flock from harm,
And hold them when they waver
With Your almighty arm.

Then let us praise the Father
And worship God the Son
And sing to God the Spirit,
Eternal Three in One,
Till all the ransomed number
Fall down before the throne,
Ascribing pow’r and glory
And praise to God alone. Lutheran Service Book #517, verses 1, 10, and 3

January 18–The Confession of St. Peter

From the Treasury of Daily Prayer:

The confession of St. Peter did not arise in the imagination of Peter’s heart but was revealed to him by the Father. The reason this confession is important is seen Jesus’ response: “You are Peter [Greek Petros], and on this rock [Greek petra] I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). As the people of God in the Old Testament began with the person of Abraham, the rock from which God’s people were hewn (Isaiah 51:1-2), so the people of God in the New Testament would begin with the person of Peter, whose confession is the rock on which Christ would build His Church. But Peter was not alone (the “keys” given to him in Matthew 16:19 were given to all the disciples in Matthew 18:18 and John 20:21-23). As St. Paul tells us, Peter and the other apostles take their place with the prophets as the foundation of the Church, with Christ Himself as the cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). The confession of Peter, therefore, is the witness of the entire apostolic band and is foundational in the building of Christ’s Church. Thus the Church gives thanks to God for St. Peter and the other apostles who have instructed Christ’s Holy Church in His divine and saving truth.