“Celebrating the Reformation”
A little Reformation history. The year was 1517, and it was October 31 (All Hallows Eve or All Saint’s Eve) when Martin Luther approached the doors to Castle Church in Wittenberg. Reaching the door, he nailed a document known as The Ninety-Five Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences to the door. The issues leading Luther to write these Theses were the following problems: the sale of indulgences; an insistence that the pope had no authority over purgatory; and that the catholic doctrine of the merits of the saints had no foundation in the gospel. As he walked away from the door, the Reformation was born. And of course, out of the Reformation, the Lutheran church was born.
Ever since, each year as we come to October 31 we remember and celebrate Martin Luther and his efforts to reform the Church. One of the key doctrines we celebrate is the scriptural truth that we are “saved by grace through faith, not works.” Lutherans are quick to lift up this truth by living as a people who know it is not our deeds or actions that bring about our salvation, but it is the saving action of Christ on the cross that makes salvation possible. Most Lutherans wear on their hearts and minds a banner proclaiming “saved by grace through faith,” and we are more than happy to share that truth with anyone willing to listen.
Over the years a popular practice has been for Lutherans to gather in special worship services at Reformation. Often these services are “joint” services where all Lutherans from the various churches within a community will come together in celebration. There’s nothing better than a host of Lutherans joining their voices together to sing the hymns of our faith. For most of my ministry, I have enjoyed this annual opportunity to gather in worship with fellow Lutherans excited to celebrate the Reformation.
This year there will be a Joint Reformation Service held on Sunday, October 26, at 4:00 PM. It is with great anticipation that I look forward to this service and celebration. First, because Charleston Lutherans have not always done this each year. And second, because we at St. John’s have volunteered to be the location for that service. All the Lutheran churches in the greater Charleston/Mt. Pleasant/Summerville (Coastal Conference) area have been invited to participate. There will be a joint choir directed by our own Todd Monsell and a reception following in our social hall. Martha Harken will be organizing that reception.
I don’t know if you have anything else planned for Sunday, October 26th, but I encourage you to put this worship service on your calendar. Join us that day and be a part of a wonderful tradition and a great worship opportunity. As Lutherans, let’s lift high the cross and celebrate our place in the history of the Christian Church.
Don’t forget – Sunday, October 26th at 4:00 PM – Joint Reformation Service here at St. John’s Lutheran Church. I look forward to seeing you there.
Pastor Butler +