This Month at St. Mark

Birthdays This Month

Recognizing our congregation members who were born this month...

Jan 03

Scott Miller

Jan 04

Ken Wagner

Jan 05

Sally Hershey

Esther LeGore

MacKenzie Naill

Jan 06

Carol Greening

Leonard Stambaugh

Jan 07

Cayden Jones

Jan 09

Hollis Long

     Happy Birthday!

Jan 10

Melanie Brady

Brooklyn Hull

Jan 11

Kelly Dube

Jan 12

Carly Miller-Carbaugh

Jan 14

Kaitlyn Naill

Jan 15

Allison Hardin

Robert G. Miller

Jan 16

Penelope Spalding

Daniel Weber

Jan 17

Rick Pado

Jan 18

Jody Boyers

Bill Reese

Jan 19

Cara Lynn Clabaugh

Jan 20

Glenn Mummert

Abby Shermeyer

Pat Wagner

Jan 21

Patty Warehime

Jan 22

Sandra Haymaker

Jan 24

LeeAnn McDermitt

Jan 25

Irene DeMart

Jan 28

Anna Cromer

Jan 29

Mary Berry

David Gates

Ashley Teal

Jan 31

Evelyn Barnhart

Current Church Season

Our Church Seasons for January are

Christmas and Epiphany

Christmas begins with Christmas Day, December 25, and lasts for Twelve Days until Epiphany, January 6, which looks ahead to the mission of the church to the world in light of the Nativity. The one or two Sundays between Christmas Day and Epiphany are sometimes called Christmastide....

Page Footnotes

You have probably noticed the red boxes at the bottom of several pages (Welcome, Events, Christian Education, Evangelism, Fellowship, Social, and Worship & Music). In these small spaces, we will post information about many facets (history, etc.) of the church and the Bible. The subjects and information promises to be quite varied. But, all will be enlightening and fun. If you want to check them out, click the Start at Welcome Page link.

Currently, the red boxes show how "Happy New Year" is spoken in various languages. So, "Blwyddyn Newydd Dda" to you.

Spotlight on

Apostles & Saints

This month, we highlight the Apostle Luke.


Luke the Evangelist is one of the Four Evangelists—the four traditionally ascribed authors of the canonical Gospels. The Early Church Fathers ascribed to him authorship of both the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, which would mean Luke contributed over a quarter of the text of the New Testament, more than any other author. Prominent figures in early Christianity such as Jerome and Eusebius later reaffirmed his authorship, although the fragile evidence of the identity of the author of the works has led to discussion in scholarly circles, both secular and religious.


The New Testament mentions Luke briefly a few times, and the Pauline Epistle to the Colossians refers to him as a physician (from Greek for 'one who heals'); thus he is thought to have been both a physician and a disciple of Paul. Since the faith's early years, Christians have regatrded him as a saint.

He is believed to have been a martyr, reportedly having been hanged from an olive tree, though some believe otherwise.

The Roman Catholic Church and other major denominations venerate him as Saint Luke the Evangelist and as a patron saint of artists, physicians, bachelors, surgeons, students and butchers; his feast day takes place on 18 October.

Many scholars believe that Luke was a Greek physician who lived in the Greek city of Antioch, Turkey in Ancient Syria, although some other scholars and theologians think Luke was a Hellenic Jew. Bart Koet, a researcher and professor of theology, has stated that it was widely accepted that the theology of Luke–Acts points to a gentile Christian writing for a gentile audience, although he concludes that it is more plausible that Luke–Acts is directed to a community made up of both Jewish and gentile Christians because there is stress on the scriptural roots of the gentile mission…

Epiphanius states that Luke was one of the Seventy Apostles, and John Chrysostom indicates at one point that the "brother" Paul mentions in the Second Epistle to the Corinthians 8:18 is either Luke or Barnabas.

If one accepts that Luke was indeed the author of the Gospel bearing his name and also the Acts of the Apostles, certain details of his personal life can be reasonably assumed. While he does exclude himself from those who were eyewitnesses to Jesus' ministry, he repeatedly uses the word "we" in describing the Pauline missions in Acts of the Apostles, indicating that he was personally there at those times.

There is similar evidence that Luke resided in Troas, the province which included the ruins of ancient Troy, in that he writes in Acts in the third person about Paul and his travels until they get to Troas, where he switches to the first person plural. The "we" section of Acts continues until the group leaves Philippi, when his writing goes back to the third person. This change happens again when the group returns to Philippi. There are three "we sections" in Acts, all following this rule. Luke never stated, however, that he lived in Troas, and this is the only evidence that he did.

The composition of the writings, as well as the range of vocabulary used, indicate that the author was an educated man. A quote in the Epistle to the Colossians differentiates between Luke and other colleagues "of the circumcision."

My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. 11: Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews among my co-workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me. ... 14: Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings. (Colossians 4:10–11, 14). This comment has traditionally caused commentators to conclude that Luke was a gentile. If this were true, it would make Luke the only writer of the New Testament who can clearly be identified as not being Jewish. However, that is not the only possibility. Although Luke is considered likely to be a gentile Christian, some scholars believe him to be a Hellenized Jew. The phrase could just as easily be used to differentiate between those Christians who strictly observed the rituals of Judaism and those who did not.

The gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles make up a two-volume work which scholars call Luke–Acts. Together they account for 27.5% of the New Testament, the largest contribution by a single author. The earliest manuscript of the Gospel, dated circa AD 200, ascribes the work to Luke; as did Irenaeus, writing circa AD 180, and the Muratorian fragment from AD 170.

In traditional depictions, such as paintings, evangelist portraits, and church mosaics, Saint Luke is often accompanied by an ox or bull, usually having wings. Sometimes only the symbol is shown, especially when in a combination of those of all Four Evangelists.


Notable People This Month

Each month we introduce people and other things that are notable for us Lutherans. Some will be saints. Some will be recognized as having made other significant contributions. Some will be interesting seasonal information.

In January, we learn about the great German hymnwriters of the 1600s.

One of the great treasures of the Christian church is its hymns, and one of the greatest contributions to that treasure is that of the early Lutheran writers, beginning with Martin Luther and reaching a peak with J S Bach. On 26 October, the Lutheran church remembers three outstanding hymn-writers from Germany in the 1600's. Since that date is already taken on my Calendar, I here place them on 24 October.


Philipp Nicolai, Hymnwriter (1556-1608)

Philipp Nicolai was born in 1556 in Germany, son of a Lutheran pastor. He studied theology at the universities of Erfurt and Wittenberg, 1575-1579, and became a pastor himself. It was a time of religious wars in Europe, and several times he had to flee or go into hiding and minister to his congregations secretly in house meetings. He was a theological writer, defending Lutheran theology chiefly against Calvinistic opponents. He also preached with great power and effectiveness. In 1588 he became pastor at Altwildungen, in 1596 he became pastor at Unna in Westphalia, and in 1601 pastor in Hamburg. But he is remembered today for writing two hymns.

While he was pastor in Westphalia, the plague took 1300 of his parishioners, mostly in the latter half of 1597, 170 in one week. To comfort his parishioners, he wrote a series of meditations which he called Freudenspiegel (Mirror of Joy), and to this he appended two hymns, both of which have become world-famous.


The first hymn was, "Wake, awake, for night is flying" (Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme). It uses the image of the watchman on a city wall (Isaiah 52:8), and of the Parable of the Bridesmaids welcoming the Bridegroom to the Marriage Feast (Matthew 25:1-13), and of the Song of Triumph in Heaven (Revelation 19:6-9). It is a favorite Advent hymn.


The second hymn was, "How bright appears the morning star" (Wie schoen leuchtet der Morgenstern). This also, with a wealth of imagery, hails Christ as our deliverer, and celebrates his triumph. It has become a favorite wedding hymn, but is also sung for Advent, for Christmas, for Epiphany, and and as a general hymn of praise.


Nicolai wrote both the words and the tunes, but the arrangements we know are due to Bach. The earliest English translations are those of Catherine Winkworth, but there have been many translations since, some of them (especially for the second hymn) content to reproduce the general spirit of the original words rather than their specific meaning. In addition, several hymnwriters have set their own words (in various languages) to one of Nicolai's tunes. If pure quality, without respect to quantity, were our criterion, Nicolai would have to be ranked as history's greatest chorale-writer, and one of its greatest hymn-writers.

Nicolai died 26 October 1608 after a brief (four-day) illness.


Johann Heermann, Hymnwriter (1585-1647)

Johann Heermann was born in Silesia in Germany in 1585, the fifth and only surviving child of his parents. As a child he suffered a severe illness, and his mother vowed that if he lived he would be trained for the ministry. He became a minister, and taught at the university, but was forced to stop in 1607 because of an eye infection. In 1611 he became deacon and then pastor of the Lutheran church in the small town of Koeben near his birthplace. The Thirty Years' War was then in progress, and Koeben was burned in 1616, plundered four times between 1629 and 1634, and ravaged by pestilence in 1631. Heermann several times was forced to flee, narrowly excaping death and losing all his possessions. In 1634 a throat problem forced him to stop preaching, and he retired in 1638 and died in 1647.

During the preceding century, during and immediately following the Lutheran Reformation, most Lutheran hymns had been "objective," affirming the doctrines of the faith, but not explicitly stating an emotional response. Heermann's hymns move toward the expression of the feelings of the believer.


His best-known hymn (in English circles) is "Ah, holy Jesus, how hast thou offended?" (Herzliebster Jesu, was hast du verbrochen), a chorale used by Bach in the St Matthew Passion. It is loosely based on a Latin verse (beginning "Quid commisisti, dulcissime puer, ut sic judicareris?"), variously attributed to Augustine and to Anselm, but now to Jean de Fecamp (d. 1078). The tune, by Johann Crueger, is perhaps indebted to Psalm 23 of the Geneva Psalter. Other hymns of his include:


  • "O gracious God above, true fount of joy unending" or "O God, my faithful God" …
  • "Oh, what precious balm and healing, Jesus, in thy wounds I find" (based on a Latin hymn of Bernard of Clairvaux);
  • "O Christ, our Light, our Radiance true";
  • "Lord, thy death and passion give Strength and comfort at my need" (based on a Latin hymn of Bernard of Clairvaux);
  • "Lord, grant thy servants grace" (an ordination hymn);
  • "Praise God, this hour of sorrow Shall bring a brighter morrow" (a funeral hymn).


Paul Gerhardt, Hymnwriter (1607-1676)

Paul (Paulus) Gerhardt was born in 1607 near Wittenberg in Germany, and studied theology at the University of Wittenberg from 1628 to 1642. In 1651 he was ordained and made pastor of a church in Brandenburg, near Berlin. In 1657 he became third assistant at St Nicholas Church in Berlin. In his sermons, he maintained the Lutheran position against the Calvinists. He refused to sign a pledge not to bring theological argument into his sermons, and was deposed by Frederick William of Brandenberg-Prussia in 1666. His wife and four of his children died. In 1669 he was made archdeacon of Luebben, and died there 7 June 1676.


Despite personal suffering and the horrors of the Thirty Years War, Gerhardt wrote over 130 hymns, expressing both orthodox doctrines and emotional warmth in response to them. His work, like that of Heerman cited above, is counted by hymnologists as transitional between the Confessional and the Pietistic periods of Lutheran hymnody. He has been called he greatest of Lutheran hymn-writers. (Note that when we say "hymns," we are talking about words. The composing of hymn-tunes is another matter.)

His hymns include the following:


  • "O sacred head, sore wounded" (O Haupt voll Blut), a translation of the Latin "Salve caput cruentatum," attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux. This hymn, known as the Passion Chorale, is used with great effectiveness by Bach in the St Matthew Passion, where eleven stanzas of it are interspersed through the account of the Passion of Christ, all sung to the same tune, but with different arrangements suited to the words of the different stanzas and to the contexts in which they appear. It is one of the best-known and best-loved of Good Friday hymns.
  • "Awake, my heart, and render" (Wach auf mein Herz, und singe), a morning hymn.
  • "The duteous day now closeth" or "Now all the woods are sleeping" or "Now rest beneath night's shadow" (Nun ruhen alle Waelder), an evening hymn.
  • "All my heart this night rejoices" or "Once again my heart rejoices" (Froehlich soll mein Herze springen), a Christmas or Nativity hymn.
  • "Commit thou all that grieves thee" (Befiehl du deine Wege), often sung to the same tune as the Passion Chorale. It is a hymn about trust in God in time of trouble, and is based on a poem of Martin Luther which in turn is a metrical paraphrase of Psalm 37 ("Fret not yourself because of the evil-doer.... Commit your way to the Lord and put your trust in him, and he will bring it to pass.")
  • "O how shall I receive thee" or "How shall I fitly meet thee" or "O Lord, how shall I meet you" (Valet will ich dir geben), a hymn welcoming the newborn Christ, used during Advent and Christmas, and in Bach's Christmas Oratorio.
  • "Awake, my heart, with gladness, See what today is done" (Auf, auf, mein Herz), an Easter hymn;
  • "Evening and morning, sunset and dawning";
  • "Jesus, thy boundless love to me" (translated by John Wesley);
  • "Since Jesus is my friend, and I to him belong";
  • "Put thou thy trust in God, in duty's path go on";
  • "A Lamb goes uncomplaining forth" or "A Lamb goes forth, our griefs to share", a Good Friday hymn;
  • "Blest is he that never walketh", a paraphrase of Psalm 1;
  • "If God Himself be for me, I may a host defy" (Ist Gott fuer mich);
  • "Emmanuel, we sing thy praise", a Christmas hymn;
  • "Holy Spirit, source of gladness! Come with all thy radiance bright";
  • "O enter, Lord, Thy temple, be Thou my spirit's Guest";
  • "O draw me, Saviour, after Thee! So shall I run and never tire", tr. J. Wesley;
  • "Give to the winds thy fears", tr. J. Wesley;
  • "A pilgrim and a stranger, I journey here below";
  • "I will sing to my Creator, Unto God I'll render praise";
  • "I'll praise thee with my heart and tongue, O Lord my soul's delight";


Joachim Neander, Hymnwriter (1650-1680)

To these Lutheran hymnwriters, we may add a Calvinist, Joachim Neander, born in Bremen in 1650. After a rowdy life as an undergraduate, he underwent conversion and amendment. He became a schoolteacher, then undertook a life of solitary meditation. There is a cave named for him near Mettman-am-Rhein, which he perhaps used as his hermitage, until his death at the age of thirty. He is accounted the principal Calvinist poet in Germany, but only a few of his hymns are known in English. The best-known is "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation", based on Psalms 150 and 103:1-6.


Neander was originally surnamed Neumann (New man). However, like many others of his time (such as Martin Luther's colleague Philip Schwartzerd, whose name means "black earth," and who changed it to "Melanchthon," which means the same thing in Greek), he adopted a Greek surname with the same meaning (Ne- meaning "new" as in "neo-Marxist" or whatever, and Ander meaning "man" as in "android, polyandry, andrology," and so on. In Greek, Anthropos means "man (gender-inclusive)" while Aner, Andr- means "man (gender-specific)". Thus, "anthropology" is the study of humans in general, while "andrology" is the medical study of the male body, just as "gynecology" is concerned with the female body.… When Joachim Neander went to live in a cave by a river, the river came to be named for him as the Neander River, and the valley of that river was called the Neander Valley, or Neander Dale. The German word for "dale" is "thal" (the "th" is pronounced much like English "t"), and so the valley and general region is the Neanderthal. It is here that remains were first found of an early European population that have accordingly come to be called Neanderthal Man.



Do You Know

This month's quiz focuses on how people in othert countries say Merry Christmas. How many greetings can you correctly match with the country?

The answers can be seen by clicking the Show Me... button below.

Can you match the language with the Merry Christmas greeting? If not, click Show Me the Answers.

Chinese                                                             Fröhliche Weihnachten

Dutch                                                                 Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadida

Egyptian                                                            Merīkurisumasu

French                                                               Feliz Navidad

German                                                            S̄uk̄hs̄ạnt̒ wạn khris̄t̒mās̄

Hindi                                                                  Krismasi njema

Iraqi                                                                   Wesołych Świąt

Iriquois (native American)                             Ojenyunyat Sungwiyadeson Honungradon Nagwutut

Italian                                                                Shèngdàn jié kuàilè

Japanese                                                           eid milad saeid

Polish                                                                 schastlivogo Rozhdestva

Russian                                                              god Jul

Spanish                                                              krisamas kee badhaee

Swahili                                                               joyeux Noël

Swedish                                                             vrolijk kerstfeest

Thai                                                                    Buone Feste Natalizie