Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Reprint from 2007

I'm at a blogging lull these days, so here's a reprint from earlier days:

"Imitate Me"

(March 5, 2007)

So says St. Paul in Philippians 3:17. Likewise, he exhorts us the same in 2 Thes. 3:7-9:

For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. (ESV)

And most pertinently,

Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. (Hebrews 13:7 ESV)

Thus the Church kept the stories of the holy lives of the Saints and Martyrs.

As we discussed this Sunday morning in Sunday School, I met with a feeling of a little resistance. It was a feeling and could have been only that, but I sensed thoughts like, “Oh, Pastor’s going all Catholic on us again.” I tried to point out that knowing, honoring and imitating the stories of the “heroes of faith” is the practice of the Church since the beginning; we even have the Protestant Foxe’s Book of Martyrs: A History of the Lifes, Sufferings, and Triumphant Deaths of the Early Christian and the Protestant Martyrs (Hendrickson Christian Classics)

We have a Lutheran version as well, found in the Feasts & Commemorations Calendar in the new Lutheran Service Book. Brief biographies can be found here and you can sign up for them to be emailed to you here.

It is not difficult to see the reason for such things: the Apostles call us to imitate them and “our leaders,” imitating their faith and life. How can we do this if we do not know who they are or what they did? Now our families and parishes all have stories of the saints who walked among them: Grandma Swanson who prayed for an hour every morning; Pastor Schmidt who worked tirelessly; the Founders of the Synod and so forth. But keeping our Justice League’s membership to such few localized examples impoverishes us to the “cloud of witnesses that surround us” (Heb 12:1). And what a cloud it is!

That many parishioners today know more about the life and works of Brittany Spears or Peyton Manning is argument enough that Satan has been at work. That protestants should not blink twice at knowing the biographies of their favorite athletes and entertainers but believe the stories and biographies of those who gave their life for Christ is somehow “Catholic” and “un-Biblical” is a tragedy worthy of our tears and repentance.