Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, October 29, 2017
Martin Luther and #Reformation500
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran minister, theologian and seminary professor. I am not certain, but I suspect he might have been pleased to celebrate with much of the Protestant world this year. Celebrate what? Martin Luther and his posting of the 95 theses, of course.
Today is a festive day in the church. Reformation Sunday, the last Sunday in October every year when we remember the bravery and determination of Father Martin Luther, Professor of Theology at the University of Wittenberg in Germany. He was brave and determined for nailing up the 95 theses (or, grievances) against the Catholic Church on the door of the Wittenberg chapel on All Hallow’s Eve, October 31, 1517.
500 years! A huge anniversary, indeed. I care very much about this celebration. I was baptized and confirmed a Lutheran and spent two full years studying Luther’s Small Catechism in confirmation preparation. Yes, Martin Luther and his theology are important to me and to my personal history of faith.
I’ve preached on the five “Solas” (or, “onlies”) of the Protestant Reformation throughout the month of October. I started the month with Sola Scriptura, then Soli Deo Gloria on October 8th. Solus Christus on October 15th, Sola Gratia on October 22nd, and today—Reformation Sunday—my text was Romans 3:28, and I preached on Sola Fide. These phrases are the hallmarks of the Reformation! I was so pleased to research these important scriptural ideas and preach messages on them to commemorate such a foundational event.
The posting of the 95 Theses was not supposed to cause a rift in Christianity. No, Martin wanted to reform his beloved Church from the inside. However, due to many internal and some external reasons, it did not happen. Luther founded the denomination that bears his name to this day. (Also, several other streams of Protestants sprang forth at this turbulent time of the 1500’s. Sadly, many bloody battles were fought over religious and theological differences. This has not stopped today. However, new cries for ecumenism have been heard for the past few decades. After several hundred years of separation, now, at least, there are also calls for joining together.
Perhaps fractured Christianity might come closer together, in our time. One can dream. One can hope.
Let us pray, using the words of President Abraham Lincoln (adapted): “Grant, O merciful God, that with malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as You give us to see the right, we may strive to finish the work we are in, to bind up the world’s wounds….to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all the world, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
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