Greetings to all my fellow Saints and Sinners through Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior:
While many are not venturing out due to Covid-19, Peace Lutheran will try to stay in touch and share what is happening.
This past week, October 18, Peace held a congregational meeting following one worship service at 10AM. This was the first time more than 65 people attended worship and the most people I’ve been around in over seven months.
The meeting was uneventful (which is always a good thing at a congregational meeting), and the vote to list up to 10 acres of unused property passed 57-1. Now we wait and see what happens.
Our worship times for the unknowable future will remain at 9AM and 11AM. We will continue to practice social distancing and plead for masks to be worn until this virus is under control.
Sunday November 1, we celebrate All Saints Sunday honoring all those who have died during the past year. If anyone has a loved one they would like to lift up during the worship service, either place their name in the offering plate this Sunday or email the office with the information. firstname.lastname@example.org
This Sunday is Reformation Sunday, marking 503 years ago when Martin Luther posted the 95 Thesis, challenging the Roman Catholic Church and their teachings regarding “indulgences.”
Indulgences were pieces of paper offered/sold to parishioners for forgiveness of sin, release of loved ones from purgatory—the place between heaven and hell—and if you gave enough, one could receive a ticket/indulgence to heaven.
Many of funds raised in Germany at the time of Luther were being used to pay for Sistine Chapel in Rome. You know, the one Michael Angelo painted the ceiling? That one—that time frame. Luther felt that the church needed to clarify its teachings regarding indulgences and also purgatory.
You see, all people in 1517 were ignorant of the Bible. I don’t say that mean spiritly. Only the Pope and Cardinals could touch Scripture, much less read Scripture. First of all, the Bible, while originally written in Greek and Hebrew, was now in Latin, which only the highly educated could read in the first place. Anything regarding Christianity came from the Pope and his Cardinals only.
Martin Luther, a future law student turned monk/priest and eventually professor at the top university in Wittenberg Germany, now had access to these sacred writings and could actually read them in all the languages of Latin/Greek and Hebrew. He began to teach and preach what these Sacred Words taught his conscience, sometimes contrary to the Roman Church.
Four years later in 1521, at what is call the Diet of Worms, (growing up, I thought how gross), but at this assembly in the city of Worms, Martin Luther stood in front of the most powerful organization in the world—the Roman Catholic Church—and was commanded to recant his teachings or be found a heretic and put to death.
He stood up and said the following:
“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. Here I stand, I can do no other. May God help me. Amen.”
The assembly hall erupted, Luther was escorted out, and right away he was abducted by Prince Frederick, the Duke of Saxon, to hide him away until things blew over. Luther, believing he was being taken to his death, came up with the words to Almighty Fortress—our opening hymn this Sunday.
Through this one man’s faith and courage the world was changed—the world mind you—was changed forever through simple Word and Sacrament.
Luther would translate all Scripture, not from the Latin version, but from the original language of Hebrew and Greek and into the language of the people—at that time German. The printing press had just been invented and now all people, not just the elite priests had access to the Living Word of God.
Luther transformed worship, were for almost 1000 years it had served as a type of entertainment, with the priests reenacting the Mass of Sacrifice. The services were performed in Latin, which the people did not understand. Luther instituted or started Liturgy—which simply means the work of the People. Now people hear and proclaim the Word, in their own language.
They participated in the worship with the creeds of the ancient church, bringing in hymns of praise from some of the greatest composers known, and including prayers Jesus himself taught. This was a worship in which ALL people where welcome at the Lord’s Table.
Luther stressed education. Writing the Small Catechism for parents so they could teach their young ones the foundations of our faith, and the Large Catechism so that later in life adults could continue in their thirst for God’s revelations.
Luther urged the Biblical concept of the Priesthood of All Believers—where we are all equally—and at the same time— Saints and Sinners who are to use their talents and gifts for the work of the church in the world.
Like I said, these reforms did not only effect the church, they had their impact upon the entire society. In the realm of education, churches took the lead in educating young Christian minds in law, medicine, teaching and other professions. The Lutheran Church currently has 39 top colleges and universities in the country.
His concept of the Priesthood of all Believers brought huge changes in economics (with fair trade), in government with his sharp distinction between church and state, separate yes, but always working together, leading to huge social reform, leading to public hospitals and organizations working toward ending world hunger and oppression.
All this was a mysterious by-product of Luther’s struggle of with Scripture.
Immediately following the diet of Worms, the emperor issued this statement. “We forbid anyone from this time forward to dare, either by words or by deeds, to receive, defend, sustain, or favor the said Martin Luther. On the contrary, we want him to be apprehended and punished as a notorious heretic…Those who will help in his capture will be rewarded generously for their good work.”
Luther lived another 25 years, preaching, teaching and helping to set up the foundations of church to come. He died February 18, 1546 in the same town he was baptized.
Martin Luther gave you and I the opportunity to read and study God’s Holy Word. Please that advantage of this blessing.
Happy Reformation Sunday!
PS: This Sunday I will not be focusing upon the Reformation, but instead examining the most difficult combination of words in the human language. “God and Human Suffering.” If you can’t come to church, watch at www.peacelutheranpb.org