Pastor Chris Tweitmann
This Sunday is Reformation Sunday, the day in which we remember our Protestant heritage and commemorate the 16th century Reformation which took place just a little over 500 years ago. Way back when, Christianity had lost its way as political expediency overtook faithful observance of the Word of God. Abuses of power and greed were running rampant within the Roman Church. While there were several manifestations of such activity in the Church, by far the most egregious was the selling of salvation.
To increase its wealth as well as to maintain its base of power, the Roman Church began to offer the purchase of forgiveness certificates called indulgences. It was claimed these certificates granted the purchaser two significant benefits. An indulgence granted either the right to secure full and perfect remission of all one’s sins or the relieving of poor suffering loved ones in purgatory who had not received full absolution before their death. Skilled salesmen represented the Church by offering these indulgences all over Europe. One such salesmen was a Dominican monk named Johann Tetzel, who boosted his sales with a catchy but disturbing jingle, “As soon as the coin into the coffer rings, the soul out of Purgatory springs.”
A fellow monk of the Roman Church named Martin Luther was disturbed by this practice of selling salvation. As he studied the Bible carefully, Luther became convinced salvation was not at all accomplished by doing good works or by means of a purchase. Particularly fixated on Paul’s letter to the Romans, Luther recognized our salvation is a matter of grace alone, received by faith alone and found in Christ alone. Inflamed with a passion to share this insight as well as to address other shortcomings and abuses within the Church, Martin Luther nailed 95 theses or talking points on the door of the Wittenberg castle. What he intended as a detailed memo to start a conversation sparked a widespread revolution within the Church and much of the known world. This part of history known as the Protestant Reformation is why a church like ours, the Lutheran church, and countless other Protestant churches, exist today.
This weekend as we consider the next two guiding principles for living out our future as Grace, the focus of our attention will dovetail quite well with the spirit of our Reformation heritage. Last Sunday, paying close attention to Jesus, we learned that everyone is welcome in the Kingdom of God. Additionally, we came to appreciate that we, as the Church, honestly and fully extend that welcome by loving without conditions – just like Jesus does.
This Sunday, come ready to learn more about HOW we, not only live out the vision of our future together, but also faithfully represent Christ to each other and to the world. Let us be prepared to be stretched in order to grow. Let us realize if we are witnesses of the love, grace, and truth of the Gospel and the Kingdom, there ought to be evidence of both in and through our lives.
Grace to you!