Reformation Day is All About...

As a baseball fan, when I think of October, I think of the World Series.

As a Lutheran, when I think of October, I think of Reformation Day.  

October 31st means a lot more than trick or treating, because was on that day in 1517 that Martin Luther nailed the 95 Thesis (95 points proposed for theological debate) to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany; thus he started the great Reformation.

But what is it that we celebrate on Reformation Day? Is it just a day to say in true Pharisaical style, “Thank God I’m not a Roman Catholic?”  Is it a day to beat our chests as Lutherans and declare how proud we are to be Lutherans?  Is it a day that is all about the past and a reminder that the best days of Lutheranism are behind us?

Sadly, I’ve seen all of those attitudes in connection to Reformation Day.  But that’s not at all what Reformation Day is about.

Reformation Day is about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is about right teaching, not for the sake of being right and proving others wrong, but because the right teaching of God’s law will lead sinners to know that they are entirely and thoroughly sinful and in need of a savior.  It is about right teaching because the right teaching of God’s Gospel shows that God has given that desperately needed Savior to us and that He has done EVERYTHING needed to make us right with God by taking the punishment we deserved for our sins and giving us His holiness.

Reformation Day is about the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is a day to be reminded of the means by which God delivers His great gifts of forgiveness, new life, and salvation.  Through the absolution spoken to a sinner who has confessed his or her sin, God the Holy Spirit truly does deliver the forgiveness Jesus won for us on the cross.  Through Holy Baptism, God the Holy Spirit brings us to faith and delivers to use that same forgiveness won for us by Christ on the Cross. Through Holy Communion, God delivers the very body and blood of Jesus, under the bread and wine, to us so that we can know His presence with us and (again) deliver that forgiveness won for us by Jesus.

Reformation Day is about the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is a day to remember God’s great love for sinners and how Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. It is a day to remember that God isn’t done seeking and saving the lost, but continues to work through us (believers, the church, pastors and laypeople together) to reach the lost and bring them into His kingdom so that they too can receive forgiveness, new life, and salvation.  Reformation Day isn’t a day to beat our chests and pretend that we’re better than anyone, but to humbly remember that God saved us when we were undeserving and be reminded that He would use to reach more people.

The great 19th century theologian Charles Porterfield Krauth was so excited about Reformation Day that he wrote this; 
"The Festival of the Reformation is at once a day of Christmas and of Easter and of Pentecost, in our Church year; a day of birth, a day of resurrection, a day of the outpouring of the Holy Ghost. Let its return renew that life, and make our Church press on with fresh vigor in the steps of her risen Lord, as one begotten again, and born from the dead, by the quickening power of the Spirit of her God. Let every day be a Festival of the Reformation, and every year a Jubilee." 

As we come to the 499th anniversary of the nailing of the 95 Thesis this October 31st, may we be reminded that this is a day that is all about the gospel of Jesus Christ so that
·         We are reminded that we have received the gospel of Jesus Christ when we were undeserving.
·         We might be a people who are strongly focused on the gospel of Jesus Christ.
·         We would make known to the world the gospel of Jesus Christ!


Salvation unto us has come, indeed!

This was my newsletter article for the October 2016 church newsletter

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