The Christian Almanac records that June 29 is remembered by the Church as the day the apostle Paul was beheaded with a sword in the city of Rome. Some place his execution as early as 62 A.D. and others as late as 67 A.D. Nevertheless, from the earliest times in the Church, this day has been celebrated as a feast day in honor of both Paul and Peter, who tradition also remembers as being executed in the city of Rome. For many centuries, boys born on June 29 were given the name Peter or Paul, and more often than not, both names! In many ways Peter and Paul are remembered and honored as symbolizing the foundational figures of the Christian Church after Christ. Peter is remembered for his great confession of faith declaring that Jesus was the Son of God. He is also honored as a prominent leader in the early Church in Jerusalem and later in Rome. Paul, an apostle born out of due time, as he describes himself, is honored as the greatest early missionary. His ministry to the gentiles of the first century laid the foundation for an early church that would grow and fill the entire Roman Empire. Paul’s pastoral efforts also gave us a significant portion of the New Testament found in the many letters he authored to the first Christians and which are still a major source of encouragment and instruction for the Christian Church today.
I would encourage you to remember these two giants of the faith, two saints and martyrs who followed Jesus their master with such faithfulness and courage. Hebrews 12 says that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, and it is a great comfort and encouragement that among that great cloud stand Peter and Paul, fathers and brothers in the faith, who now stand directly before God offering their prayers and praise. May God give us grace to follow in their steps, and may we honor them as mighty warriors of God.
The lessons for this Sunday will be Exodus 13:1-22, Galatians 3:23-4:7, and Luke 8:26-39.