Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Reformation Day Worship - 2010

Wednesday after Pentecost 22
October 27, 2010

The Lord be with you

The date for this coming Sunday is October 31. For those who do not know their Church history, this day is remembered as Halloween. For those who do know their Church history, October 31 is Reformation Day. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his now famous 95 Theses to the castle church door in Wittenberg, Germany. This was the accepted way to begin a theological debate on a topic. The topic was Indulgences. The debate never happened, at least formally. The debate did rage, though, informally. From this simple action the Reformation was sparked.

It is hard to overestimate the impact the Reformation. Its accent on the vernacular produced Bible translations which then had a profound norming impact on the languages. The desire to read the new Bible translations, as well as the wealth of other new religious material flowing from the printing presses, spurred literacy. Its understanding of the “priesthood of all believers” continues to vest all legitimate occupations with dignity. The duties of daily life were seen in a whole new light. Personally I very happy that the Reformation restored the idea that pastors can be married.

Of course the chief contribution of the Reformation was the rediscovery that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus, and not by our good works. This was the pearl of great price that drove and shaped this movement of God’s. This is what we will be celebrating Sunday.

The appointed lessons for the day are: Revelation 14:6-7, Romans 3:19-28, and John 8:31-36. The sermon text is Romans 3:21-22 and the sermon is titled “Here I Stand.”

We will be having a special liturgy which will accent God’s activity throughout human history, but especially during the Reformation. Because of the special nature of the liturgy I cannot provide the regular information about the service. Some portions of the liturgy will be replaced historical quotes while other portions with hymns. We will be singing: “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name,” “Kyrie – II,” “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus,” “Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Thy Word,” “The Church’s One Foundation,” “Lord of Glory, You Have Bought Us,” and “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”

There are two well know arrangements of “A Mighty Fortress.” One was written by Martin Luther. Luther, of course, wrote the words and music to the hymn. The second is by the famous Lutheran musician JS Bach. Quite naturally both arrangements could be considered “Lutheran.” We will use Luther’s arrangement on Sunday. Somehow it just seems appropriate. The following video is of this engagement.

Preview of the Lessons
Revelation 14:6-7: This lesson, like the rest, is a traditional Reformation Day reading. In this reading from Revelation there is an “angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth …” Already in Luther’s lifetime, and for centuries after his death, identified this angel with Luther. Such enthusiastic supports were not completely wrong. It is not so much that this angel is Luther as it is that this angel is all who call the Church to repentance and faithfulness when the Church wanders from her Lord. Luther just happens to be one of those who, over the centuries, have issued the call. By-the-way, the word angel literally means “messenger.”

Romans 3:19-28: This was the passage Luther was struggling with when he had his “tower” experience (understood the Gospel). The key phrase was “the righteousness of God.” What does it mean? By God’s grace Luther discovered that it didn’t mean what he had be taught it meant.

John 8:31-36: One of the great rallying cries of the Reformation was “Sola Scriptura,” which means “Scripture Alone.” The Roman Church had lost sight of the Bible under all its traditions. Luther rediscovered the power of the Word of God. This passage speaks of that power, the power to set us free. No wonder Luther translated the Bible into the language of the common man.

Adult Bible Study

We continue our series “Puzzlers and Questions about the Bible.” The next question is, “Paul had the thorn in the flesh= (The things I don’t want to do I do, the want to do I don’t do …)?: The battle with the flesh:? The Bible says he who says he has no sin lies, but it also says be holy for I am holy.? Before we come to Christ we must acknowledge our sin but afterwards we walk in the spirit & don’t sin?” There is a lot to this question! Class begins at 9:00 AM. Everyone is invited.

Well, I hope to see you Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert


  1. Is Half of The Story Sufficient For Salvation?

    How many sides are there to a story? If you say two, then you are wrong. If you had one side and I had one side that would make two sides. However, there is a third side, the side of truth.

    Rule # 1... One half of truth does not a truth make. Neither does one half of a story make the full story. No intelligent person can hear one side of a story and decide which side has the truth.

    Both sides have to be heard, then analysed, and then a decision has to be made as to which side (if either) has a valid story, and after that, the right side(s), or truth side, can be determined.

    This thinking holds true for discerning what Holy Scripture tells us.

    Throughout the Bible there are double standards, yet the fundamentalist thinking shows only one standard, or one side of the story, or only one half of the truth.

    Their thinking is in violation of rule # 1. With only one half of truth, you do not have truth. Anything less than the whole truth is error.

    In the following examples, side 'A' is the first side, side 'B' is the second, and side 'C' is the right, or truth side.

    Example # 1... Sola Scriptura...? Only the Bible. Fundamentalist thinking is that the Bible is sufficient and nothing else is needed for salvation.

    First of all, in order to believe in the 'Bible Only' philosophy, you have to show that Scripture says it. Is that not true? The doctrine of 'Sola Scriptura' is not to be found in Scripture.

    A. Tradition is condemned in many places in Scripture, such as Job 22:15, Matthew 15:6, Mark 7:3-13, Galatians 1:14, Colossians 2:8, 1Timothy 1:4, Titus 1:14, and 1Peter 1:18. Look at these verses and grasp their meaning.

    They all address 'vain' human traditions and are rightly condemned. This is one half of the truth.

    B. Tradition is supported in more places in Scripture than it is condemned. Study Isaiah 59:21, Luke 1:2, 2:19,51, Luke 10:16, 2Thessalonians 2:14-15 - "Stand firm and hold the traditions you have learned..", 2Timothy 1:13,2:2, 1Peter 1:25, 1Jn 1:1,2:24, 2Jn 1:12, Revelation 12:17,19:10.

    These are different traditions than mentioned in 'A'. These are the Traditions of GOD, or 'Apostolic' Tradition.' Again, this is only half of the truth.

    C. The truth is, yes, we do condemn the vain tradition of men, as shown in 'A', and we must keep the Tradition of GOD, as shown in 'B'.

    Thus we have half the truth in 'A', and the other half in 'B', and combined we have the full truth.

    The false doctrine of Sola Scriptura adds A and B together and puts the total in A, rejecting all of tradition. A+B=C.

  2. Wow, I never saw this comment before today. My bad.

    I’m not sure what I wrote above that brought on his complaint against Sola Scriptura. Perhaps it was my observation that the Reformation had an accent on translating the Bible into the vernacular. Perhaps it was just that we commemorate the Reformation. At any rate, a church that celebrates and uses the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds can hardly be said to reject or obscure “tradition.” The principle of Sola Scriptura does not mean a rejection of creeds. In deed, as the Reformers understood it, it meant accepting and affirming those creeds which were in harmony with the Scriptures. Sola Scripture is not false doctrine. This writer seems to not understand what is meant by it. To put it another way, he is fighting a phantom, at least as Martin Luther and the Lutheran Reformation understood the principle.