ONESIMOS NESIB, TRANSLATOR, EVANGELIST, died 1931
Onesimos was born in Ethiopia. Captured and taken as a slave to Eritrea, he was there freed by Swedish missionaries. He translated the Bible into his native Oromo and returned to preach there.
NATIVITY OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
John the Baptist was highly revered by the early Christians as the forerunner of the Christ and the last of the Old Testament prophetic line. The celebration of his birthday is one of the earliest festivals in the calendar of the church and can be read in the Gospel according to Luke 1 – 2.
PRESENTATION OF THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION
The Augsburg Confession, the principal doctrinal statement of the theology of Martin Luther and the Lutheran reformers, was written largely by Phillip Melanchthon. At its heart it confesses the justification of sinners by grace alone, through faith alone, for the sake of Christ alone. Signed by leaders of many German cities and regions, the confession was formally presented to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at Augsburg, Germany, on June 25, 1530. A few weeks later Roman Catholic authorities rejected the Confession, which Melanchthon defended in the Apology of the Augsburg Confession (1531). In 1580 the Unaltered Augsburg Confession was included in the Book of Concord.
PHILIPP MELANCHTHON, RENEWER OF THE CHURCH, died 1560
Though he died on April 19, Philipp Melanchthon is commemorated today because of his connection with the Augsburg Confession. Colleague and co-reformer with Martin Luther, Melanchthon was a brilliant scholar, known as “the teacher of Germany.”
CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA, TEACHER, died 444AD
Cyril (376 – 444 AD) became archbishop of Alexandria, Egypt in 412. Throughout his career, he defended a number of orthodox doctrines, among them the teaching that Mary, the mother of Jesus, is rightly called Theotokos, the “God-bearer.” In 431 AD the Council of Ephesus affirmed this teaching that the Son of Mary is also true God. The writings of Cyril on the doctrines of the Trinity and the person of Christ, for example his On the Unity of Christ, are classic works of theology.
IRENAEUS, BISHOP AND TEACHER
This important early church leader tried very hard to hold to the faith handed down by the apostles. An opponent of the movement known as Gnosticism, Irenaeus was one of the first to speak of the church as catholic, or linked together.
PETER AND PAUL, APOSTLES
These two strong willed apostles are the pillars of the church in the first generation after Christ. Peter was one of the Twelve, one who both offered a glorious confession of faith and later denied knowing Jesus. Paul once led the persecution of Christians, then was converted and helped bring the faith to non-Jewish people.
CATHERINE WINKWORTH AND JOHN MASON NEALE, HYMNWRITERS
Neale was an English priest who specialized in the translation of Latin and Greek hymns into English. Winkworth lived in Manchester, England, and devoted herself to translating German hymns. Almost all English speaking hymnals include many of their translations.
Though frequently remembered as “doubting Thomas,” this apostle also demonstrated a willingness to suffer and die with Jesus (John 11:16), and finally claimed the risen Christ as “my Lord and my God!” By tradition, he later worked as a missionary in India.
ISAIAH THE PROPHET
Isaiah son of Amoz is considered to be the greatest of the writing prophets and is quoted in the New Testament more than any other Old Testament Prophet. His name means “Yahweh the Lord saves.” Isaiah prophesied to the people of Jerusalem and Judah from about 740 B.C. to 700 B.C. and was a contemporary of the prophets Amos, Hosea, and Micah. Isaiah was a fierce preacher of God’s Law, condemning the sin of idolatry. He was also a comforting proclaimer of the Gospel, repeatedly emphasizing God’s grace and forgiveness. For this he is sometimes called the “Evangelist of the Old Testament.” No prophet more clearly prophesied about the coming Messiah and his saving kingdom. He foretold the Messiah’s miraculous birth (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6), his endless reign (Isaiah 2:1 – 5; 11:1- 16), and his public ministry (Isaiah 61:1 – 3), but most notably his “Suffering Servant” role and atoning death (Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12). The Apostle John’s description of Isaiah, that Isaiah saw Jesus’ glory and spoke of Him (John 12:41), is an apt summary of Isaiah’s prophetic ministry.
JAN HUS, MARTYR, died 1415
Hus was a Bohemian (present-day Czech Republic) priest who spoke against abuses in the church, and was seen by Martin Luther as his predecessor in the reforming movement. He was found guilty of heresy by a council of the church, and burned at the stake.