Discovering Spiritual Truths & Celebrating God's Grace in the Every Day Happenings of Life.
Ready for a history lesson? I’ll try to make it brief. 😉 This coming Sunday we will thank God for our roots—both our Lutheran heritage (Reformation) and our congregation’s history (65th Anniversary). For many people, October 31st is a day to dress up in costumes and travel from door to door asking for candy. In some traditions, it is even required that kids tell a joke before receiving candy! For many Christians, especially those of the Lutheran tradition, it is Reformation Day. On this day we celebrate God’s work through his servant, Martin Luther, to preserve the message of the gospel as the free gift of God’s grace in Jesus Christ through faith alone. It is a day to celebrate the re-discovery of the Gospel, the identity of our church.
On October 31st, 1517, tradition holds that a young monk, Martin Luther, nailed 95 theses or disputes on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, the location of the University at which he taught. The theses were written against the teachings of indulgences, purgatory, and other beliefs and practices of the church that were inconsistent with the clear teaching of the Bible. Luther had concerns and he wanted to address them. He saw that the church had become distracted by non-biblical things. It was time to return to the Word.
As a pastor of Wittenberg’s Town Church, Luther was concerned about the large number of believers who no longer came to confession and would justify this with the indulgence that they bought. Indulgences were slips of paper, sold by officials of the church and signed by the pope. These slips of paper granted God’s forgiveness of sins and reduced time in purgatory for the purchaser. The church was selling God’s gift of forgiveness of sins that was intended to be free! Luther’s resistance to the practice of indulgences and others was seen as a threat by the leaders of the church and led many in the Christian church at the time to disagree with him. The church eventually labeled him as a heretic and excommunicated him. As a result, Luther took his reform movement outside of the church in order to preserve the true teachings of Scripture. The Reformation movement and indeed the whole Christian church are founded on the following biblical teachings:
If you’d like to learn more about the “birth” of our church, here is a movie to watch. Martin Luther was not perfect, but he insisted that the church always be about Jesus. 500+ years later, this continues to be our battle cry—it’s still only about Jesus! Reformation celebrations thank God that the core teachings of Christianity were rediscovered through the protestant reformers. These beautiful Gospel truths should never be forgotten or overshadowed. Be comforted by the fact that God continues to work through particular people in particular places to turn people from sin and error so that they might flee for refuge and safety in Jesus Christ alone. Take solace in the truth that God continues to curb you from sin and error and preserve your life in Christ alone through his holy Word and Sacraments. As Luther said in stanza two of his famous hymn, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God: “For us fights the valiant one, whom God himself elected. Ask ye, who is this? Jesus Christ it is, of sabaoth Lord. And there’s none other God; he holds the field forever.”
"“Anyone who is to find Christ must first find the church. How could anyone know where Christ is and what faith is in him unless he knew where his believers are?” (Martin Luther)
H/T for this post to an article I found online, from a Lutheran church somewhere, about 8 years ago. Unfortunately, I can't remember any further details to give proper credit.
Pastor Steve Vera