Reformation Celebration | faith
A Clear Voice
For almost 200 years, voices in the church had been clamoring for religious reform. John Wycliffe (1320 c.-1384), seminary professor and Bible translator, opposed the opulent wealth of the clergy and called for them to give up their property. His conflict with the church continued even after his death. Wycliffe was posthumously declared a heretic; his remains were exhumed from sacred ground and burned. John Huss (1373-1415), university professor and priest, cried out against the church’s sale of indulgences. He was burned at the stake. Girolamo Savonarola (1452-1498), Dominican friar and preacher, also denounced the corruption of the church. When he was summoned to Rome by the Pope, Savonarola refused. After excommunication, he was hanged and burned. These were the predecessor voices to the Reformation. They denounced the church’s practices and criticized the church’s leaders. They condemned ecclesiastical exorbitance and the sale of indulgences. They supported Scriptural authority and Biblical translation into the vernacular. But, these faithful voices were muted and muzzled by ecclesiastical hierarchs, regional nobility, and the momentum of cultural tradition.
On October 31st, 1517, a new voice rang out. It was clear and strong, scriptural and specific. It articulated a list of grievances with the church, 95 Theses for debate. Throughout the country and across the continent, Dr. Martin Luther’s Theses denounced the impious practices of a sinful church. Luther abhorred the indulgence industry that terrorized God’s children with the fires of purgatory until they paid the church for the release of their souls. He railed against the false theology that claimed that the sacrifice of Christ and the benefits of the Cross could be purchased with money. He vilified those who used their churchly positions to defraud the poor and deceive the biblically uneducated. With the posting of his 95 Theses on the Wittenberg Church door, Luther began a career that would last almost 40 years, as the great reformer of the Christian church.
There are many things for which Luther is famous and many positive results of the Reformation. For the sake of brevity, let us focus on three. Luther taught that:
We are justified by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, apart from any works of our own. All of the work that is necessary for salvation has been accomplished by Jesus Christ on the Cross and there is nothing that should be or can be added to it. There is nothing lacking in His all-sufficient work of atonement. By faith in Christ, God conducts “the great exchange.” God imputes to Christ all of our sin; God imputes to us the complete righteousness of Christ.
Every baptized believer is a member of the priesthood of all believers. As such, we each have a holy vocation or calling. The first vocation of every believer is faith. This is our first and greatest calling. But, God has not only called us to Himself, He has placed us in the world. There, we have multiple vocations. Luther spoke of three institutions: 1) the pastoral office or holy orders, 2) the household or family, and 3) society or civil government. A pastor is given a vocation from God, but so are a father, mother, sister, brother, husband and wife. These are holy vocations too. They are established by God and lived out through God. A third holy vocation involves servants and maids, builders and workers, judges and mayors. God has established and blesses these vocations as well. Instead of our faith removing us from the world, Luther proclaimed that our faith places us in the world, as the hands and heart of Christ.
The Holy Bible is God’s true and living Word, a personal Word to each one of us. It tells the story of God’s love and the truth of our disobedience. Most especially, it declares the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life to all believers through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God desires that none should perish, but that all should come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. For this reason, the Bible should be available to all people in a language that they can understand. God’s Word is inspired, infallible, and inerrant, and the highest authority in all matters of faith and life.
500th Anniversary of the Reformation
October 31, 2017 will mark the 500th Anniversary of Luther’s posting of the 95 Theses. We are grateful to God and to His faithful servant, Martin Luther, for reforming the church according to the teachings of the Holy Scriptures. Surely, every AALC pastor and congregation will be mindful of the significance of this celebration throughout the year. However, October 31st, Reformation Day and November 1st, All Saints’ Day, will be days of extraordinary thanksgiving and celebration!
The AALC has planned special festivities for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. Every pastor and every congregational member of our church body is invited! We will hold a two-day Festival Celebration: Tuesday, October 31st and Wednesday, November 1st, 2017. The event will take place at Grace Lutheran Church in Deephaven, Minnesota. Pr. Dan Sollie and the people of Grace Lutheran Church will host the event!
Though our plans are not fully formulated, this is the beginning of what we have in mind:
- Each day will begin with Coffee and Fellowship from 9:00-9:30 AM.
- Beginning at 9:30 AM, we will have two presentations.
- A luncheon will be provided.
- In the early afternoon, a third presentation will be given.
- (The first day, the presentations will focus on justification, the ministry, and the church. The second day, the presentations will focus on the beginning of the Christian life, living the Christian life, and the completion of the Christian life.)
- During the middle and late afternoon, folks will have free time to socialize or visit area locations.
- A choir practice will be held at 2:00 PM to prepare for the evening worship.
- (Pr. Eric Ishimaru will be our Choir Master. Special music is being selected and will be sent to every AALC congregation and choir. Any and all choristers are welcome to attend, rehearse, and sing with the Association Choir!)
- A Special Entertainment Surprise is being planned! Also, a Commemorative Gift will be given to every participant!
- Each evening will conclude with a Service of Worship at 7:00 PM, featuring a Brass Ensemble, the Association Choir, and your favorite Lutheran hymns.
Our hope is that this will be one of the largest gatherings of The AALC in all of its history. Information about registration, overnight accommodations, and cost soon will be forthcoming!
Make plans now to attend! Registration will be limited to the first 330 people!