Fall is here… The signs are all around us. The leaves are turning, the nights are growing, the temperatures are cooling, and Pumpkin Spice abounds everywhere. I prefer Egg Nog myself though.
We begin the month of October and enter into the fullness of the Fall season, as we enter into also that wonderful festival season of the Church Year, and so for us of course, we look to this ever-important day, Reformation Day, which this year actually falls on a Sunday, so God be praised indeed.
But why do we make such a fuss about the Reformation? Well, how often do you celebrate a birthday? An anniversary? How many times do you think of that first date? That first kiss? How often do you desire to be told “I Love You? Or do we tire of this as well? No of course not, and that is why we make a fuss over the Reformation. For those of who know, the Reformation is like the very gift of life itself. The gift of Eternal Life that is. OK, to be more specific, the reformation IS NOT the gift, but it’s like the gift had been there all along, wrapped up and tied with bows that nobody dares open, and was never revealed fully. We were told it existed, and we were told what was in it, but we dare not untie it or tear its wrapping, or damage it in any way, and so we became lost. The reformation came when Luther dared to rip open the wrappings and expose the contents inside and God’s wonderful gift of the Gospel came in its Glory to common man and changed everything. The gift of life could now be seen, enjoyed, and embraced. God so loved the world, that He gave us the gift of His Son, to live our lives and to die our death and to bestow on us His righteousness and the gift of His resurrection… God’s Grace, through Faith that brings about our salvation through Christ, THAT is the gift.
Maybe the implications of this great revelation is too subtle in our day and time, but when you place this in the context of the time and place, we learn. At the time of Luther, human mortality was well known by all. People died much earlier in age. Infant mortality was a common occurrence. Wars raged, and scarcity, Poverty was rampant. In this time, God WAS known by all and was feared by most humble men. God’s Love and mercy was not revealed much if at all. The people lived in fear, not of life, but that the perils of this life would result in death and the thought of death terrorized most for how could a sinful man possibly have any hope of garnering eternal life and so life on earth, no matter how brutal, was to be coveted over the thought of impending doom and destruction from a wrathful God who hates sin. Every thought was consumed by how can I do more to be sure that I might find favor with God… and so you see right there from this phrase that we weren’t then too bothered about other people’s problems. I’ve got my own…
And so now this is why the reformation is a big deal. Luther, in his study of the scriptures (Editorial note, very few copies of scripture existed at the time, so very few people ever actually got to read any of the scriptures themselves, let alone a whole Bible. Now back to the story…) Found that ever important text that changed the Christian World forever: “The righteous shall live by Faith” and this righteousness from God. By faith we are saved, by the Grace of God as revealed by God in His Word, and NOT by works.
Knowing now that we are now and always will be at peace with God and righteous in His eyes, we have no need to fear death or dread its coming, and we have every joy to allow us to live these days joyful, and we have every gift needed and every opportunity to be worried about the fate of our neighbors. Quite a reversal from the medieval days. God, through the Word (Scripture Alone), bestows faith in God’s Righteousness bestowed (Faith Alone), Purely our of His love and mercy (Grace Alone), by the vicarious satisfaction of our sins by Jesus’ life and death (Christ Alone), to grant us eternal life and peace in this world and the next. (For the Glory of God Alone).
So it is that these five “Solas” are the heart of this revealed gift from God, and the foundation of our faith and heritage as followers of Christ and His Word. More than Beer and brats, the reformation is a celebration of freedom and life, but beer and brats we will have… We still eat cake at birthdays right?
Grace be unto you, and peace; from God our Father and through His Son, Jesus Christ, by the Power of the Holy Spirit. Immanuel, Amen.