Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ignatius of Antioch, Pastor and Martyr - 2012

Commemoration of Ignatius of Antioch, Pastor and Martyr
Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Lord be with you

Ignatius was the bishop of Antioch in Syria at the beginning of the second century ad and an early Christian martyr. Near the end of the reign of the Roman Emperor Trajan (98-117 ad), Ignatius was arrested, taken in chains to Rome, and eventually thrown to the wild beasts in the arena. On the way to Rome, he wrote letters to the Christians at Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralles, Rome, Philadelphia, and Smyrna, as well at to Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna. In the letters, which are beautifully pastoral in tone, Ignatius warned against certain heresies (false teachings). He also repeatedly stressed the full humanity and deity of Christ, the reality of Christ’s bodily presence in the Lord’s Supper, the supreme authority of the bishop, and the unity of the Church found in her bishops. Ignatius was the first to use the word catholic (which in English means “universal”) to describe the universality of the Church. His Christ-centerdness, his courage in the face of martyrdom, and his zeal for the truth over against false doctrine are a lasting legacy to the Church.

Ignatius was apparently born in Syria around 35 ad and was a convert from paganism. He calls himself Theophoros, the God-bearer. Tradition identifies him with the child Jesus held in his arms at Capernaum (Mark 9:36), but this seems to be based on a misunderstanding of Theophoros as the “God-borne.” His letters provide us with a vital look at the church and its faith at a time when the leadership was changing hands from the Apostles to the “Apostolic Fathers” (those leaders who became Christians during the lifetime of the Apostles and carried the Christian Faith beyond the death of the Apostles).

Collect for the Commemoration of Ignatius of Antioch, Pastor and Martyr: Almighty God, we praise Your name for Ignatius of Antioch, pastor and martyr. He offered himself as grain to be ground by the teeth of wild beasts so that he might present to You the pure bread of sacrifice. Accept the willing tribute of all that we are and all that we have, and give us a portion in the pure and unspotted offering of Your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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