As I begin to write this article it has occurred to me that we are only 7 days away from the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. I don’t know if this means a whole lot to any of you, but as for me it seems pretty awesome and spectacular. Why do I make such a statement concerning this upcoming anniversary event? I make this kind of comment because we, as people of God and Christian Lutherans, have the wonderful opportunity to highlight the amazing work that God did through Martin Luther and the other reformers. The movement that was triggered by God 500 years ago, in Wittenberg, Germany, was nothing less than earth shattering. The dynamics surrounding the Reformation proved that it was something which could only have been brought about by Divine intervention. This event was definitely not an idea which developed out of a brainstorm that Martin Luther had. No, the Reformation was a plan, set in place by our Lord Almighty, to reform and renew His Church on earth.
Let us never think about the Reformation solely in light of what the man Martin Luther did. In fact, as we develop a better understand of Luther and who He was, it should be quite obvious to us that he was a mere man who was simply used as a tool in the hand of God. Even Luther himself admitted to being nothing more than a sinner deserving of hell and damnation. Yet, this man of God also realized the wonderful blessing he enjoyed in being a redeemed child of His Heavenly Father. What a joy it was for Luther to know this precious Gospel message and to trust in Jesus Christ for his salvation. Not only did the Holy Spirit instill Luther with the saving news of the Gospel, but he was specifically called by the Lord to stand up for it in the world of his day and age.
Is it O.K. for us, as Christians in the 21st Century, to make a big deal out of a religious movement that took place 500 years ago? Yes it is! By remembering and celebrating how God used Luther to carry out positive change in His Church long ago, we can be encouraged to open ourselves up to God’s leading, so He can make use of us in 2017. And, if you have not taken notice lately of what is going on in our country, then you have surely missed seeing the decline of Christianity and Christian values in today’s America. Statistics show that across the board worship attendance has dropped in Christian Churches. More and more Christian Churches are struggling financially and are cutting back areas of ministries to stay afloat. A significant number of individuals in the U.S. claim to be Christian, yet fewer and fewer are committed to practicing their faith by attending church regularly or studying the Bible. For many in America, professing to be a Christian is one thing, living out one’s faith in the world can be another story.
Is it time for another Reformation? Has the Christian Church drifted far enough off the path towards the ways of the world? Is God calling you and me to stand up as His people to help bring reform to His Church? The Lord used Luther to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to His generation. And guess what, these are the same saving words you and I have been given to share 500 years later to our world. In Scripture Alone (Sola Scriptura), we know that we are saved by Grace Alone (Sola Gratia), through Faith Alone (Sola Fide), in Jesus Christ Alone (Sola Christus). It is a message for all ages. So let’s celebrate and then get back to work.
On another note, we will be celebrating Thanksgiving with a Thanksgiving Eve worship service. As we remember how richly God has blessed each of us, let us respond by setting our schedules to be in worship for this special service of thanksgiving. Also, we will once again be sponsoring an ingathering of non-perishable food items for the Britton Food Pantry. The donations will be collected that evening after the service and they will be delivered to the Food Pantry thereafter. I pray generosity fills your hearts as we share with those less fortunate.
God bless and an early Happy Thanksgiving,