(I extracted this from the online newsletter of First Lutheran in Idaho Falls. It speaks volumes.)
Dear Ones of First Lutheran,
When October comes, many start planning for Halloween and Confirmation Sunday. Many are thinking about hunting, fall fishing, or last outdoor outings for the fall. I always come to October and think “Reformation! Thanks be to God.” You have a Bible in your hands, in your homes, in large part due to Martin Luther who protested (Protestant) for reform in his church which had fallen away from the truth. It was his questions, his doubts, his wonderings, his fear of judgment, his guilty conscience that eventually led him to study the Scriptures in both his church’s Latin Bible and the original Hebrew and Greek texts. As he discovered in his study that salvation was by faith in Jesus and not by works to be performed, he set out to share this Gospel discovery with his church – which wasn’t very receptive. He didn’t set out to destroy his church, but to reform it. They wouldn’t hear of it. They tried to bully him into submission. They tried to shame him into silence and going along to get along. But his study of the Scriptures had so calmed his conscience that he couldn’t give up the effort to proclaim the Gospel.
Eventually on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther had written up his 95 Theses and nailed them to the front door of his Wittenberg church. The theses were concerns about the state of the church, about which he wanted to enter into discussion with church leaders. The theses were taken as an unacceptable challenge to the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church. In about 5 years Luther would be excommunicated from his church and hunted as an outlaw, wanted dead or alive. Thus, this day became the official beginning of the Reformation, from which the Lutheran and Protestant churches were formed.
The gift of the Scriptures that you can hold in your hands has come to each of us freely at great cost to others. You and I should never take the cost of this free gift for granted. Especially when it holds within its pages the story of a God who so loved sinners, like you and me, that he gave the life of his Son, Jesus, so that we can know a God of love, forgiveness, the promise of his Spirit’s presence in our lives and the gift of eternal life. Where else will you find such a story, such a promise, that blesses your life in such a way? Nowhere. You may very well find yourself being shamed for believing that it is true. Others may try to bully you into another way of thinking. Just know that when that happens, those who do that have lost the strength of their argument and are becoming desperate to force you into thinking their way. You will show your appreciation for all that others have gone through for you to hold a Bible in your hands, by opening it and reading the word the Lord has for you there. May we all be faithful in doing so. Lip service will not suffice. Open that book up and discover the treasure God has for you there. After all Jesus said, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” A wonderful treasure indeed.
So, October. It’s Reformation Day Month. Thanks be to God.
Sincerely, Pastor Larry