Luther and the Reformation

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Freedom in Christ

Many Lutheran churches on this day will break out the red paraments, sing “A mighty fortress is our God,” and perhaps have a light history refresher, recalling the day Martin Luther posted his ninety-five theses on the door of the Castle Church of Wittenberg, which began the Protestant Reformation. This is a day to celebrate our Christian freedom.

     Freedom can mean many different things. It can be defined in terms of wealth: buying what you want; or in terms of time: doing what you want, when you want; or in terms of relationships: being with people you want to be with. Even Martin Luther breaking away from the Catholic Church could seem like a form of freedom; but this wasn’t at all the purpose of the Reformation. When Luther posted his theses, it was never his intention to leave the Catholic Church or begin a revolt. What he was doing, in fact, was demonstrating the freedom Jesus spoke about to his followers.

     When we commit a sin, we are enslaved to sin, and therefore not free. Jesus didn’t mean physical enslavement, but rather being disconnected from God. The intent of Martin Luther and the reformers was to invite Christians into freedom, into the possibility of a genuine relationship with God that wasn’t determined by church officials or doing certain deeds. God’s promise of grace and forgiveness is not about what we do; it is about what Christ has done for us. Only when we realize that we are completely dependent upon Jesus and what he has done for us will we truly be set free.  Being dependent upon someone contradicts our world’s definition of freedom.

The Reformation wasn’t a one-time event, but still going on today. Let us take a page out of Martin Luther’s book and help others to experience true freedom; a freedom that only comes with complete dependence upon Christ.

Martin Luther’s Seal

The first thing in his seal is a black cross within the red heart, to remind us that faith in Christ crucified saves us….This heart is set on the center of a white rose to show that faith causes joy, comfort and peace.  This rose is set in a sky-colored background to show that such joy of faith in the spirit is but a promise and beginning of heavenly joy to come.  Around this background is a ring to show that such happiness in heaven is endless.                   

Martin Luther’s Evening Prayer

(one of his favorites)

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen 

I thank you my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, your dear Son, that you have graciously kept me this day.  And I pray that you would forgive me all my sins where I have done wrong and graciously keep me this night.  For into your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things.  Let your holy angel be with me that the wicked foe may have no power over me.  Amen