On this day in 1521, famed Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan passed through the pearly gates of heaven. The devout Christian met his untimely death at the hands of the indigenous people of the present-day Philippines while on a voyage to circumnavigate the world. Upon Magellan’s death, Juan Sebastian Elcano took over the leadership of the Spanish-sanctioned expedition to complete the first trip around the Earth.
Before his demise, Magellan was the first European to discover a natural passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. That discovery occurred on All Saints’ Day, November 1, 1520, and the faithful Magellan named the pathway the “Strait of All Saints.” However, within seven years, the route became known as the Strait of Magellan to commemorate its founder. That navigable waterway in southern Chile still remains a valuable gateway.
A gate or gateway is an entry to or from an enclosed space. The word is derived from an old Nordic term, “gat,” meaning road, path, or port. It originally referred to a gap or a hole in a wall or fence, not a barrier to close it. Today, those movable barriers may be called gates or doors. Nonetheless, entrances and their controlling devices are significant.
In honor of Magellan, let’s consider how entrances can shape our lives, both literally and metaphorically. In the literal sense, Magellan’s sense of direction helped him discover an opening in the land to enable his journey. Likewise, his faithfulness in Christ helped him find his way to eternal life. We may consider his faith a portal through which he was able to navigate the difficulties in his life and lead him on his true path. May we all use our faith in this way.
This coming weekend we commemorate Good Shepherd Sunday. In this Sunday’s assigned Gospel lesson (John 10:1-10), Jesus – the Good Shepherd – tells us that he is the gate (or the door, depending on your Bible translation). He is not a barrier but the passageway to eternal life. Jesus is the entrance explorer Magellan navigated five centuries ago when he exited this world. We welcome you to pass through the doors of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church for worship this Sunday, April 30th, at 8:00 AM (spoken), 10:15 AM (traditional and celebrating Holy Baptism and First Communion), or 6:00 PM (healing). The gatekeeper, Jesus, welcomes you!