Monday after Pentecost 19
October 12, 2009
The Lord be with you
In a post on October 9 I suggested one way Christians might celebrate October 31 was by remembering the communion of saints of which all believers in Christ are a part of, including all those who have preceded us into Glory. I also said that for Protestants, especially Lutheran, there was another reason to celebrate October 31. That reason is the Reformation.
On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his now famous 95 Theses to the castle church door in Wittenberg, Germany. This was a call for an academic debate on the topic of Indulgences. Each thesis was a topic to debate. Such debates were common in academic circles of the day. Posting such notices on the church door was also common; it was kind of like a community bulletin board. What happened is that an enterprising printed made copies of the 95 Theses and sold them. Soon they were circulating far and wide, sparking conversations that challenged the whole idea of indulgences. The idea that forgiveness is a free gift from God’s grace was radical. When Luther and the other reformers were excommunicated, they did not simply dry up and blow away. Instead they continued on, with the support of their rulers, and formed what in Germany was called the “Evangelical” Church, but in America is called the Lutheran Church. The Augsburg Confession was the first publicly accepted confession of these Christians. After Luther came other reformers who, while disagreeing with Rome like Luther, felt Luther didn’t quite get it right. So other “confessions” came along, some in the lifetime of Luther. All these churches, lumped together, are called Protestants. Because the 95 Theses were posted on October 31, that day is recognized by Protestants worldwide as Reformation Day. While I can understand why Roman Catholics and Orthodox churches don’t want to celebrate Reformation Day, a Protestant church certainly can have a Reformation Fair as a Halloween substitute. (The Orthodox and Roman Catholics split about 500 years before the Reformation and so the Reformation doesn’t mean much to the Orthodox historically speaking.) Again it could include costumes like knights, kings, emperors, monks, bishops, and other period things. You could include any sort of ethnic background from your denomination. You might even want to show the movie “Luther,” which was in the theaters a few years back.
There is yet one more way for Christians to celebrate on October 31, but that will have to wait for Halloween III.
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert