The legendary account tells us that on October 31st in 1517, the priest Martin Luther defiantly nailed his protest notice to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. These Ninety-five Theses were a list of abuses and errors that Luther understood to be a corruption of the purpose and mission of the Church. In reality, the Ninety-five Theses were not really a defiant protest as much as they were a sincere call for the Church to begin addressing some of its problems that Luther felt had obscured the Gospel message.
Luther hoped that his reforms would be seen and discussed as a step toward the renewal of the Church, so that people might know the truth about God’s forgiveness for their lives. Romans 3:19-28 had fired his soul and Luther’s joy so overflowed that he had to share the truth with everyone. Little did he know the enormous impact on the world that his one simple act would have. His willingness to stand up in the name of the Gospel of Christ changed the face of history, and the face and direction of the entire Christian Church.
I bring this up for two reasons. First, because today is Reformation Sunday, and our congregation belongs to the Reformed Tradition of churches that trace its history to Martin Luther’s understanding of what is truly essential: Scripture alone, Grace alone, Faith alone. So it’s good for us to be reminded of our heritage and our beliefs.
Second, I mention this because a few weeks ago I presented a lesson entitled “Why Go to Church?” in which the group discussed the various reasons why people join or decline to join a congregation. The conversation, limited by time and script, left some participants wanting more; friends challenged me to dig deeper and to answer, personally, some questions about my ministry. 1) Why do I subscribe to the Protestant tradition and to the Presbyterian Church in particular? 2) Who are the greatest influences in my life and ministry? 3) What are some key scriptures that speak to me? 4) What was/is my personal calling to the ministry? 5) What is the future of this congregation? In the next few weeks I will begin to address these important questions more fully.
- Romans 3:19 - 28