The Battle-Ready Lion

Rev. Bramwell’s Letter for May of 2022

Grace, mercy, and peace to you, in the name of our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Two things happened on April 26, 2022. Our denomination, the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, turned 175 years old and our congregation turned 116. In some of my spare time, I’ve looked through our church records in search of why our founders chose the name, St. Mark. I have yet to find anything definitive.

This year it dawned on me that the answer may rest with the calendar. Our congregation was officially formed on April 26, 1906. Do you know which saint is remembered on April 25? That’s right, St. Mark. Could it be that the date is the answer? Did our ancestors have an appreciation for the proximity of the two dates? Your guess is as good as mine. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter.

The name, however, is important. Your name communicates information about who you are, and the same is true for our congregation. Thank the Lord that our predecessors chose a good one. Right?

So, who is St. Mark? He is the author of one of the four gospels, which is why we refer to him as St. Mark, the Evangelist. Matthew, Luke, and John bear this title, too. Already we understand what our name communicates about us. We are people of the Gospel, like St. Mark. We are evangelists! Mark was a companion to both Peter and Paul, traveling with them and helping them share their apostolic teaching with the world. All these years later, that is what we’re about, isn’t it?

But there is more!

As Rev. William Weedon writes in his book, Celebrating the Saints, Mark’s gospel is a “fast-paced action account” that has been called “a Passion narrative with a preface.” Mark’s gospel “provides a beautiful picture of Christ as the conquering King, who battles and drives out the enemies of the human race (the demons) …” How fitting then, that the Church came to symbolize St. Mark with the kingly and ferocious (battle-ready) lion with wings and an open Bible.

Obviously, lions don’t have wings. They identify the evangelists as messengers of God, sharing the same Good News of Jesus Christ that the angelic messengers do. That is to say, they communicate the heavenly origin of the Gospel. This message is shared through the Word of Holy Scripture, and so St. Mark’s winged lion is presented with the Good Book.

St. Mark was bold in the face of persecution, which resulted in his martyrdom in AD 68. Why? Because he was unashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. By the grace of God, this is who we are, too! It’s for this reason that I thought it fitting to create our own version of St. Mark’s symbol which will prove helpful in communicating who we are as a congregation: Bold evangelists who, like our namesake, are unashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I pray you will find the image a fitting representation of our congregation’s name, and who you are as Christians. You have been baptized into the one true King, saved by His cross. Yours is a heavenly identity, revealed through the Holy Bible. We are bold disciples of Christ Jesus following in the footsteps of believers who in 1906, on the day after the commemoration of St. Mark’s martyrdom, took action to form a congregation that would save the lives of their current and future neighbors, in Ferndale and throughout all of Humboldt County.

Your servant in Christ,

Pastor Bramwell

2 Cor. 12:10