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 LessonsRevelation 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 StudyWe 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