JOSHUA, LEADER OF THE CONQUEST
Joshua, the son of Nun, of the tribe of Ephraim, is first mentioned in Exodus 17 when he was chosen by Moses to fight the Amalakites, whom he defeated in a brilliant military victory. He was placed in charge of the Tent of Meeting (Exodus 33:11) and was a member of the tribal representatives sent to survey the land of Canaan (Numbers 18:8). Later, he was appointed by God to succeed Moses as Israel’s commander-in-chief. He eventually led the Israelites across the Jordan River into the Promised Land and directed the Israelites’ capture of Jericho. He is remembered especially for his final address to the Israelites, in which he challenged them to serve God faithfully (Joshua 24:1 – 27), concluding with the memorable words, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).
Hannah was the favored wife of Elkanah, the Ephraimite, and the devout mother of the prophet Samuel. He was born to her after years of bitter barrenness (1 Samuel 1:6 – 8) and fervent prayers for a son (1:9 – 18). After she weaned her son, Hannah expressed her gratitude by returning him for service in the House of the Lord at Shiloh (1:24 – 28). Her prayer (psalm) of thanksgiving (2:1 – 10) begins with the words, “My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in the Lord.” This song foreshadows the Magnificat, the Song of Mary centuries later (Luke 1:46 – 55). The name Hannah derives from the Hebrew word for “grace.” She is remembered and honored for joyfully having kept the vow she made before her son’s birth and offering him for lifelong service to God.
NIKOLAI GRUNDTVIG, RENEWER OF THE CHURCH, died 1839
Grundtvig (1783 – 1839) was a Lutheran bishop who reformed the Danish church of his day focusing on the Apostles’ Creed as the standard of orthodox faith.
Moses was born in Egypt several generations after Joseph brought his father Jacob and his brothers there to escape a famine in the land of Canaan. The descendants of Jacob had been enslaved by the Egyptians and were ordered to kill all their male children. When Moses was born his mother put him in a basket and set it afloat in the Nile River. He was found by Pharaoh’s daughter and raised by her as her own son (Exodus 2:1 – 10). At age 40 Moses killed an Egyptian taskmaster and fled to the land of Midian, where he worked as a shepherd for forty years. Then the Lord called him to go back to Egypt and tell Pharaoh, “Let My people go, that they may hold a feast to Me in the wilderness” (Exodus 5:1). Eventually Pharaoh gave in and, after the Israelites celebrated the first Passover, Moses led them out. At the Red Sea the Egyptian army was destroyed and the Israelites passed to safety on dry land (Exodus 19 – 40). But because of disobedience they had to wander in the wilderness for forty years. Moses himself was not allowed to enter the Promised Land, although God allowed him to view it (Deuteronomy 34). In the New Testament Moses is referred to as lawgiver and prophet. The first five books of the Bible are attributed to him.
MOTHER TERESA, RENEWER OF SOCIETY
Teresa, born Agnes Bojaxhiu in Macedonia in 1910, felt a strong call from God at age twelve to spread the love of Christ. She became a nun and was sent to serve as a teacher in Calcutta, India. Seeing the poverty and suffering there, she dedicated her work to help the poor against the original commands of her superiors. In 1950, Teresa received permission to found “The Missionaries of Charity” which now has spread throughout the world in areas of need. Teresa received the Noble Peace Prize in 1979. Her example of service shared the love of Christ with the entire world.
PETER CLAVER, PRIEST AND MISSIONARY, died 1654
Born into Spanish nobility, Claver became a Jesuit missionary, and served in present-day Colombia. His ministry was focused on the slaves that arrived there. He gave them food and medicine, learned their dialects, and taught them Christianity.
JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, BISHOP AND TEACHER, died 407
Given the added name of Chrysostom, which means “golden-mouthed” in Greek, Saint John was a dominant force in the fourth-century Christian church. Born in Antioch around the year 347, John was instructed in the Christian faith by his pious mother, Anthusa. After serving in a number of Christian offices, including acolyte and lector, John was ordained a presbyter and given preaching responsibilities. His simple but direct messages found an audience well beyond his home town. In 398, John Chrysostom was made a Patriarch of Constantinople. His determination to reform the church, court, and city there brought him into conflict with established authorities. Eventually, he was exiled from his adopted city. Although removed from his parishes and people, he continued writing and preaching until the time of his death in 407. It is reported that his final words were: “Glory be to God for all things. Amen.”
HOLY CROSS DAY
Helena, mother of Constantine, made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and found what may be the actual site of Jesus’ crucifixion. Her son built two churches there, and the dedication of one of them gave rise to this celebration of our Lord’s victory on the cross.
CYPRIAN OF CARTHAGE, BISHOP AND MARTYR, died around 258
Cyprian (A.D. ca. 200 – 258), was acclaimed bishop of the North African city of Carthage around 248. During the persecution of the Roman Emperor Decius, Cyprian fled Carthage but returned two years later. He was then forced to deal with the problem of Christians who had lapsed from their faith under persecution and now wanted to return to the Church. It was decided that these lapsed Christians could be restored but that their restoration could take place only after a period of penance that demonstrated their faithfulness. During the persecution under Emperor Valerian, Cyprian at first went into hiding but later gave himself up to the authorities. He was beheaded for the faith in Carthage in the year 258.
HILDEGARD OF BINGEN, ABBESS, TEACHER AND NUN, died 1179
A mystic who was widely influential within the church, Hildegard advised and reproved kings and popes, wrote poems and hymns, and produced treatises in medicine, theology, and natural history. She was also a musician and artist.
DAG HAMMARSKJOLD, RENEWER OF SOCIETY, died 1961
Hammarskjold (1905 – 1961), son of Sweden and the Lutheran church, was the United Nations secretary-general who died in a plane crash on the way to negotiate a cease fire in Zambia. His diary, devoted to a study of his soul and his relationship to God, called Markings is a classic devotion to Christ.
NELSON WESLEY TROUT, BISHOP, died 1996
A native of Ohio, Trout served parishes in several parts of the United States before being elected bishop of the South Pacific District of the American Lutheran Church, the first African American Lutheran to serve in such a capacity.
MATTHEW, APOSTLE AND EVANGELIST
Matthew was a tax collector for the Roman Empire in Capernaum. He is called Levi in the accounts of his call to discipleship, although in the lists of the Twelve he is called Matthew. One of the Gospels is attributed to Matthew and he is usually represented in art as a winged man. According to tradition, he evangelized among the Hebrews and was martyred.
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 1:1). His reluctance to respond and God’s insistence that his call be heeded is the story of the book that bears 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 (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).
SERGIUS OF RADONEZH, TEACHER AND MONK, died 1392
Sergius (1314 – 1392) established a monastery to the Holy Trinity that became the spiritual center of Christian Russia. He was known for his love of animals, detachment from worldly goods, and his missions for peace.
MICHAEL AND ALL ANGELS
Angels, spiritual beings who do the will of the LORD, are mentioned throughout Scripture as watching over us (Matthew 18:10), praying for us (Zechariah 1:12 – 13), rejoicing over repentant sinners (Luke 15:10), and protecting us (Exodus 14:19 – 20, Isaiah 37:36 – 38). The Archangel Michael (Daniel 12:1, Jude 9, Revelation 12: – 12) is a warrior of Jesus Christ. The teaching on angels depicts a vast creation of which humanity is only a part.
JEROME, TEACHER AND TRANSLATOR, died 420
Jerome (342 – 420) translated the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into Latin, which was then the dominant language of the Roman Empire. This translation is known as the Vulgate. It was the standard Bible in the West for almost 1,500 years.