by Dr. Greg Wismar

For many people, the days of summertime have a slower pace and provide opportunities for discovery and reflection. Family vacations often entail visiting new sites and learning more about either family or national history. One place where that kind of learning happens in a special way is in cemeteries. Military cemeteries, community cemeteries, church cemeteries, family cemeteries—all are filled with remembrances of those whose earthly lives have been completed. Each of these resting places (for that is what the word cemetery means) is filled with memories as well.

In some cemeteries, commemorative plaques help the visitor learn about those who are buried there. That kind of plaque can also be found in churches and at other historical locations as learning aids. The plaques assist those who read them in remembering the people of times past and the contributions their lives made.

In their own way, the lists of commemorations included in the hymnals of the church are like a memorial plaque on paper. (In Lutheran Service Book, the list of commemorations is located on pages xii and xiii at the front of the pew edition.) Under the heading of each month on the calendar, there is a sequence of people of faith to be remembered.

The reason for that remembrance is well expressed in the Augsburg Confession (21): “Our churches teach that the remembrance of the saints is to be commended in order that we may imitate their faith and good works according to our calling.” The commemorations help us remember not only outstanding people but also some significant happenings in the life of the Church.

The June and July list of commemorations serve as good examples of the riches of remembrance found throughout the year. Eight of the 16 commemoration days designated for these two months are people from the pages of the Bible. June brings us Elisha and Jeremiah; July features Isaiah, Ruth and others—all great people of faith that you can discover on your own. Doing a little research on each of these people of God through the use of a Bible concordance can expand your understanding of how amazingly God works through people like you.

The other people on the commemoration calendar are from the centuries since the time of the apostles. There are missionaries like Boniface of Mainz in Germany; martyrs like Justin, a Roman church leader from the second century; and Robert Barnes, an Englishman from the 16th century. In June, two special events are also commemorated: the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea (6/12) and the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession (6/25).

This summer season, let the list of commemorations invite you to travel to the past and lead you into discovering and learning from the blessed, ongoing history of God’s people of faith.

About the Author: Dr. Greg Wismar is pastor emeritus of Christ the King Lutheran Church, Newtown, Conn.

Go to for helpful biographical materials.

June/July 2011


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