Almost 500 years ago, on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted 95 Theses, or statements for debate, on the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. While the debate Luther called for on the sale of indulgences was never held, this date is usually given as the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. Other reformers joined with Luther to challenge not only the sale of indulgences, but the power and authority of the Catholic church in general and the Pope in particular.
The impact of the Protestant Reformation on the Church were many! The “three solas” of the Reformation continue to be important today: sola gratia (faith alone), sola fide (faith alone) and sola Scriptura (Scriptura alone) which we often summarize this way: We are saved by God’s grace alone through faith alone as revealed to us in Scripture alone. Common people were able to read the Bible for themselves as Luther translated the Bible into German while others translated the Bible into English and other European languages. Luther sparked a renewal in worship as the people were actively involved in the worship service through the singing of hymns. Luther wrote many hymns for different parts of the church year and about 40 of his hymns have survived to this day. The most memorable of those hymns is “A Mighty Fortress.” Luther was also keenly interested in the education of his parishioners and wrote the Large Catechism for adults to study and the Small Catechism to be used by the head of the family to teach his household all the basics about the Christian faith as drawn from (where else?) the Bible!
Why all this information about the Reformation when it’s still almost three months away? Because this year we have the opportunity to put the spotlight on what Luther accomplished and stood for, and also let folks know a little bit more about us “Lutherns” down here in Middle Georgia! Maybe you can use some of the above information to tell your friends, classmates and co-workers more about the Reformation i this year in which the world is taking notice of this important event in world history.
I also hope we are all excited about the many things we’ll be doing here at Mt. Calvary to celebrate Reformation 500. You’ll be hearing about them regularly and often, but here are the highlights!
- On July 27th, just a couple days ago, we started our “95 Days through the New Testament” and put up the New Testament Tree in the Sanctuary. Copies of the reading schedule are available at the Information Desk and will be posted every day here.
- Also on the website, starting early this Fall, there will be daily quotes by Martin Luther.
- The new Luther movie will be shown at the Houston Lakes Cinema (Hwy 96 and Lake Joy), Monday, October 16th – this is a one night showing! You can get your tickets online (luthrmovie.link/calvary) or sign up at church and we’ll get them for you. The cost is $12. Let’s invite everybody we know to join us and make it an overflow crowd!
- Reformation 500 T-shirts (with our own design) are being ordered and are just $10 each. Sign up at the Reformation 500 Station table to reserve yours before we make the order!
- On September 24th we’ll have Polka lessons! If you already know how to polka or you just want to come and have fun, JOIN US!
- Purgatory, penance, prayers for the dead, the sale of indulgences – the church in the Middle Ages was pretty confused! Come to the special 6-week Bible study: “Luther – The Moment” as we discuss the Medieval Church vs. Luther with the help of well-known scholars. Starts Sunday, Oct. 5th.
- OKTOBERFEST! We’ll need lots of our folks to sign up and help us pull off what might be the biggest gathering ever at Mt. Calvary! On Saturday, October 28th we’re going to pull out all the stops! Oktoberfest will be on our church lawn (look for the huge tent!) from 2:00-6:00pm. We’ll have a live Polka band, genuine German brats, potato salad, cake with beer and soft drinks. Martin Luther’s “table talk” conversations will be in one corner, while the word is out that Luther himself will make an appearance! A “Walk through the Reformation” will highlight the events of Luther’s life and we’ll give people tours of the church to see our stained glass windows. State and local elected officials are being invited, our six Middle Georgia Lutheran congregations are co-sponsoring the event, and we expect 400-500 people to attend, so invite your friends and COME ENJOY THE CELEBRATION THAT’S BEEN 500 YEARS IN THE MAKING!