Reformation Sunday (10/29/2017)

Jeremiah 31:31-34
Psalm 46 (7)
Romans 3:19-28
St. John 8:31-36

Prayer of the Day:
Almighty God, gracious Lord, we thank you that your Holy Spirit renews the church in every age. Pour out your Holy Spirit on your faithful people. Keep them steadfast in your word, protect and comfort them in times of trial, defend them against all enemies of the gospel, and bestow on the church your saving peace, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

8:31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”  34 Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

St. John 8:31-36 New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Happy Anniversary, You Lutherans! 

On October 31, 1517, as the story goes, a young German monk from the Augustinian order in Wittenberg, Germany made his way to the entrance of the Castle Church. On the doors there, often used as an unofficial bulletin board for the college community, he posted what has come to be known as his 95 Theses — — 95 statements describing the ways in which he wanted his church, the Roman Catholic Church, to turn back to a more Biblically grounded Christian faith, and a bolder proclamation of the grace of God that can be known in Jesus Christ.

Wittenberg was packed to the rafters with pilgrims, making their way from all over Germany to celebrate All Saints Day (Nov. 1st). Luther’s 95 Theses were quickly reproduced (thanks to the inventive genius of Johannes Gutenberg, and the efforts of Wittenberg students who had a printing press in the basement), sent home with these pilgrims, and the Protestant Reformation was off and running.

The faith, passion and commitment of Martin Luther and a number of the other early reformers would give shape to this new movement. Lutheran Christians have continued to be inspired, throughout these past 500 years, by the conversations they began. Word Alone. Grace Alone. Faith Alone. Christ Alone. Justification and Sanctification. Theology of the Cross. Law and Gospel. Sinner and Saint. Priesthood of All Believers. These are themes that have engaged and challenged Lutherans and other Christians along the way.

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of the Lutheran movement is the belief that while the church has often strayed, the Holy Spirit continues to call it back to faith and truth through the power of the Word of God. As Luther himself said at an assembly of church leaders in Worms, Germany on April 18, 1521:

Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures or by evident reason… I consider myself convicted by the testimony of Holy Scripture, which is my basis; my conscience is captive to the Word of God. Thus I cannot and will not recant [what I have previously written], because acting against one’s conscience is neither safe nor sound. God help me. Amen.

Lutherans commemorate the Reformation each year on the last Sunday in October, known as Reformation Sunday. This year, at the 500th anniversary of the 95 Theses, it is a fitting time to acknowledge the legacy of Martin Luther, the history of the Lutheran movement, and the hope that the Word of God will continue to reform our proclamation of the Gospel, so that all people might come to know the grace and new life we have experienced in Jesus Christ.

So Happy Anniversary to all you Lutherans! And if you happen to be in the Denver area, come celebrate it with us during worship — 8:30 and 10:45 am this weekend.

David J. Risendal, Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Gospel:

  1. What does Jesus mean by saying, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free?”
  2. What do I see in Luther’s teaching that might help to set believers free?
  3. When have the actions of my church, or my denomination, seemed to set people free?

Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:

  1. What do I value most about the contributions of the Lutheran Church?
  2. Which aspects of my faith life set me free? Which ones bind me?
  3. How might I share with someone what the grace of God has meant for me?