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October 18, 2016, 2:48 PM

Reformation for Beginners

Happy 499th Birthday, Lutheran Church! 

You may not have even realized that we're entering the 499th year of our existence, counted from the day that Martin Luther nailed 95 Theses (adademic statements) on the castle church door in Wittenberg, Germany. That day was Hallow's Eve, as he wanted it to be read by most of the educated folks as they went in to church the next day, All Hallows/All Saints Day.

This opening paragraph has possibly raised a few questions for you. If so, I think that is okay. Instead of curiosity killing the cat, I'm sure you know, it's also said that "you don't know if you don't ask," and "those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it"! 

And so, sinning boldly, allow me to explain several terms: 

1. Martin Luther - a friar of the Augustinian order who was teaching "Romans" at the University of Wittenberg, Germany, when he wrote his 95 statements. 

2. By most of the educated folks - What do I mean by that? Well, Dr. Luther wrote his statements in Latin. Most of the people attending church the next day could not read Latin, except for the Latin in the church service--and even then, comprehension was touch and go. His intention was to start a scholarly debate on the topics of the forgiveness of sins and the sale of Indulgences (papers that the Pope in Rome was selling, said to release people from sin and a place of discipline after death (purgatory). Obviously, he disagreed with indulgences and when he was swiftly condemned by the Pope and his Cardinals instead of listened to and engaged academically, the stage was set for the Reformation of the Western Church.    

3. Hallow's Eve - in these words you can hear the modern English/American version, "Halloween." Maybe your kids' costumes could reflect great saints of the past, then? And speaking of "saints"....

4. Saints - ANY baptized believer. You are a saint when you confess Jesus as Lord and Savior, and are baptized for the forgiveness of sins. The practice of "canonizing" various people as saints based on number of miracles performed and other factors is a Roman Catholic error and found no where in Scripture.

5. All Saints' Day - A day to celebrate all of the "holy ones"/hallowed who have gone before us into death. Our teaching, with the Apostles, is that they are asleep in Jesus now (I Corinthians 15:20-21) awaiting the Resurrection of all flesh from the dead (I Corinthians 15:51-55). We cannot pray to or venerate them because they cannot hear us. Only God receives prayers through Jesus Christ, the one Mediator between God and men (I Timothy 2:5-6).

6. Reformation - each year we celebrate this church festival that marks the week of Luther's bold action on October 31st, 1517. Much happened after that Halloween, much music was written, many papers were written, and many wars fought. This year Reformation Sunday is October 30th. The color on the Altar and up front in church is always red, for the work of the Holy Spirit who came as tongues of fire on the Apostles on the day of Pentecost. 

I know this can be a lot of church jargon and history, but bear with us, please! This really is a fantastic heritage and a wonderful doorway to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I love our national church body's theme for this: "Reformation 500: It's STILL all about Jesus!" 

And it is.

In Him, 

Pastor Dieterichs



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