The righteous will live by faith. Romans 1:17
It’s October. It’s time for celebrations. In Germany, Thanksgiving and German Unity Day are celebrated on October 3rd. But the biggest celebration, Halloween, comes at the end of the month. The Germans, and indeed, many countries all over the globe, have fully embraced that holiday. Stores begin stocking decorations, candy, and costumes as early as September. Pumpkins and spider web decorations begin to appear. Although I have yet to see pumpkin spiced lattes in the coffee shops, I did spot some bottles of pumpkin-flavored Sekt at a local winery. Lavish parties are planned and people work on creating the scariest costumes. At the same time, many Lutheran churches are celebrating the festival of Reformation. But how did all this begin??
An ancient Celtic seasonal festival was held at the end of October. It marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the dark days of winter. The people would feast, prepare offerings for their gods, and light fires to ward off ghosts. Guising was part of the celebration. People would wear costumes and go door-to-door reciting poems in exchange for food. In the 8th century, Pope Gregory III declared November 1 to honor all saints—All Saints Day. The evening before was called All Hallows Eve. It was eventually shortened to the word we are most familiar with, Halloween. Eventually the general populace, including Christians, adopted some of the Celtic and Gaelic customs and people began wearing costumes to go trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, and enjoying festive gatherings.
In 1517, a professor of theology and Roman Catholic monk knew full well that many Christians would be coming to church to celebrate All Hallows Eve and All Saints Day. That is probably why he chose October 31st to post 95 theses on the door of the church in Wittenberg. His main dispute was with the practice of selling indulgences that could release people from purgatory. His goal was to challenge and change the false teachings and practices in the church. The preface to his theses states: “Out of love for the truth and from desire to elucidate it, the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and Sacred Theology, and ordinary lecturer therein at Wittenberg, intends to defend the following statements and to dispute on them in that place.”
Martin Luther’s overarching desire was to return to this simple truth: We are saved by grace alone, by faith alone, by scripture alone! Luther’s theses were very detailed regarding the issues at hand and included suggestions for what Christians should be taught. But the heart of his concern is stated in thesis #62: The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God. Luther wanted the leaders of his church to return to the Christ-centered teachings that we enjoy today. He faced many struggles and confrontations with those leaders, which resulted in his excommunication. Luther took a stand and would not be moved. He and his followers were responsible for what became known as the Reformation.
Remembering the Reformation is an October festival that confessional Christians throughout the world hold dear. On October 31 we remember the beginning of the Reformation. We are thankful for Martin Luther and all the faithful Christians who supported him and came after him. We are thankful for those steadfast believers who brought the saving Gospel to our generation. We show our thanks by conducting special services celebrating the restoration of pure Gospel preaching and teaching. May we continue to defend, treasure, and share that pure Gospel to God’s glory and to the salvation of many more souls.
God’s Word is our great heritage
And shall be ours forever;
To spread its light from age to age
Shall be our chief endeavor.
Through life it guides our way;
In death it is our stay.
Lord, grant while worlds endure,
We keep its teachings pure
Throughout all generations.
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Our Offerings in September
€105.00, £590.00, $45.00 and CHF300.00 were received in basket offerings. €23,498.20 were received as direct deposits.
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:7,8
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