Dear Saints of Concordia,
This coming Sunday (September 27th, 2020) we will be celebrating the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels. While this Feast Day has a set day in our Church Calendar (Sept. 29th), we often move these special days to the nearest Sunday.
The Feast of St. Michael and All Angels is just one of many Feast, Festival, and Commemoration Days we have to celebrate notable events and individuals in the Scriptures and in church history. For some, this practice may sound Catholic, but our Lutheran heritage has always understood a proper way to give thanks to God for the Saints of old.
Rather than us “worshiping” these Saints, we recognize that they are only notable because of Jesus’ relationship to them. In that sense, all of our Feasts, Festivals, and Commemorations are ultimately of Christ! But it is helpful to recognize these distinct and specific days to learn more how our Savior has saved us and works through us. A great example of recognizing saints is from Hebrews 11, where many heroes of the faith are detailed.
I hope to include more of these festivals and feasts like I have with St. Michael and All Angels, observing them on the nearest Sunday if they happen to fall during the week. This is especially helpful in the Summer months, as it is easy to lose track of the many Sundays that follow after Pentecost. I’ll include at the bottom a schedule of our Churches’ major Feast and Festivals, or you can also look it up in our LSB hymnal in the front, page xi.
We call some of these days “Feasts”. While we think of a feast as simply a large meal, originally it was a term for a special day, which often, as we still do today, was celebrated with a grand meal. “Festivals” on the other hand lasted more than just one day. Think of the Twelve Days of Christmas, which means it is a festival, even if the American norm is to treat it as a single day. Christmas and Easter are naturally celebrated in our Church Calendar as festivals or seasons of their own, as we have several Sundays of Christmas or of Easter.
Tradition reserves the title of “Feast” for those events and saints intimately connected to Jesus’ earthly Ministry (St. John the Baptist, St. Michael, The Annunciation, etc.). The church has especially made sure to have the Lord’s Supper (feast) on these days if it is not always had.
The other days for saints and events (like the Confession of St. Peter, St. Stephen – Martyr, Reformation Day) are called commemoration days. Whether Feast, Festival, or Commemoration, these days help us to focus on various specific events and people, and help give a sense of time to our Church Calendar.
Interested in learning more about this topic or our Church Calendar in general? Our Synod website has great information online here: