Commemoration of Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr
The Lord be with you
Today we remember Lawrence, who was the chief deacon of the Church at Rome, being in charge of administering the church budget, particularly with regard to the care of the poor, and a martyr. The year 258 was not a safe year to be a pastor of the Church. The emperor Valerian began a persecution aimed chiefly at the clergy and the laity of the upper classes. All Church property was confiscated and meetings of Christians were forbidden. On August 7, Roman troops broke into a worship service and murdered the bishop of Rome, Sixtus II, and most of his clergy. Laurence, who was present, was the only one of the leadership who was arrested instead of killed.
The Emperor (Prefect) knew that Lawrence was the treasurer, and believed the church had a large store of money and other valuables (how else could they give so much to the care of the poor, lame, etc.). He offered Lawrence his freedom in exchange for the “treasures of the church.” Lawrence told the Prefect he would need three days to gather the “treasures of the church,” which Lawrence was granted. In those three days he transferred his responsibilities to his successor and then gathered as many of the sick, the aged, and the poor, the widows and orphans of the church as he could. On the third day he appeared before the Prefect with these outcasts of society. Pointing to them, Lawrence said these were the “treasures of the church.”
According to tradition, the Prefect was so enraged that he ordered Lawrence to be roasted alive, slowly, on a gridiron. Tradition says he bore his death with great calmness, even joking with his tormentors saying, “I’m done on this side. You can turn me over.”
His martyrdom left a deep impression on the young Church. Almost immediately, the date of his death, August 10, became a permanent fixture on the early commemorative calendar of the Church.
Prayer: Almighty God, You called Lawrence to be a deacon in Your Church to serve Your saints with deeds of love, and You gave him the crown of martyrdom. Give us the same charity of heart that we may fulfill Your love by defending and supporting the poor, that by loving them we may love You with all our hearts; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Other appropriate prayers include:
• For those who maintain and care for the property of the church
• For those who serve the poor and needy
• For a recognition of the true treasure of the church
• For courage and good humor to get us through times of frustration, misunderstanding, or persecution
• For the persecuted Christians in the world
• For the leaders of the Church, that they may bear a good witness for the Lord
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert