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Devotion for the Commemoration of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg

Today we remember Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, who made a large impact in establishing the first Lutheran synod in North America. As we remember him, we take our devotional reading and prayer from Treasury of Daily Prayer. We also take a reading from the Book of Concord, as suggested in the Treasury of Daily Prayer.

Devotional Reading

Moving from the Old World to the New, Henry Melchior Muhlenberg established the shape of Lutheran parishes for North America during a forty-five-year ministry in Pennsylvania. Born at Einbeck, Germany, in 1711, he came to the American colonies in 1742. A tireless traveler, Muhlenberg helped to found many Lutheran congregations and was the guiding force behind the first Lutheran synod in North America, the Ministerium of Pennsylvania, founded in 1748. He valued the role of music in Lutheran worship (often serving as his own organist) and was also the guiding force in preparing the first American Lutheran liturgy (also in 1748). Muhlenberg is remembered as a church leader, a journalist, a liturgist, and—above all—a pastor to the congregation in his charge. He died in 1787, leaving behind a large extended family and a lasting heritage: American Lutheranism.

Prayer of the Day

Lord Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd of Your people, we give You thanks for Your servant Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, who was faithful in the care and nurture of the flock entrusted to his care. So they may follow his example and the teaching of his holy life, give strength to pastors today who shepherd Your flock so that, by Your grace, Your people may grow into the fullness of life intended for them in paradise; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Reading from Apology of the Augsburg Confession XV (VIII) 38–42

We cheerfully maintain the old traditions made in the Church for the sake of usefulness and peace. We interpret them in a more moderate way and reject the opinion that holds they justify. Our enemies falsely accuse us of setting aside good ordinances and Church discipline. We can truly declare that the public form of the churches is more fitting with us than with the adversaries. If anyone will consider it in the right way, we conform to the canons more closely than the adversaries. Among the adversaries, unwilling celebrants, and those hired for pay, and very frequently only for pay, celebrate the Masses. They sing psalms, not that they may learn or pray, but for the sake of the service (as though this work were a service) or, at least, for the sake of reward. Among us many use the Lord’s Supper every Lord’s Day. They do so after they have been first instructed, examined, and absolved. The children sing psalms in order that they may learn. The people also sing so that they may either learn or pray. Among the adversaries there is no catechizing of the children whatever, about which even the canons give commands. Among us the pastors and ministers of the churches are encouraged publicly to instruct and hear the youth. This ceremony produces the best fruit.

Devotional reading and prayer adapted from Treasury of Daily Prayer, page 791. © 2008 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved. 

Book of Concord reading adapted from Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, Second Edition, page 193. © 2006 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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