October 30, 2022
What is reformation?
Every year, Lutheran Christians celebrate Reformation Day on or about the last Sunday in October. It is the day we recognize and commemorate Martin Luther’s nailing his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany in 1517.
So why should we care?
The History of Reformation Sunday
What follows is a simplified explanation of complex theological, political, and economic events that all coincided. Across Europe, the Roman Catholic Church was engaged in one of the greatest fundraisers in all of history in the 16th century.
The church at that time taught that even those bound for heaven had to be cleansed of their earthly sins and this cleansing (purging) in the afterlife took place in a place called Purgatory. The certificates offered by the church (called “Indulgences”) promised to lessen this time of cleansing for oneself or others who have already died.
There were some very nuanced explanations of this practice at the time. Basically it amounted to people paying to be forgiven.
The church in Luther’s day taught that one was saved by what one did or contributed through financial or other good works.
November 1st was an important day for the selling and buying of these indulgences, known as All Saints Day on the church’s calendar.
The day before a German Monk named Martin Luther posted a list of 95 Theses – 95 reasons that he objected to this practice of selling indulgences. Along with other writings by Martin Luther, those 95 Reasons went viral.
Luther reminded Christians of his time that we are not forgiven because of anything we do. We are forgiven because of who God is – a God of grace and mercy.
His teachings and writings got Martin Luther kicked out of the church. But he didn’t go alone. Others agreed with him, and after his death those who agreed with Luther became known as Lutherans and also as Protestants. Many Protestant church traces their roots back to this moment in history.
Celebrating Reformation Day means more than celebrating the one event thought to have sparked the Protestant Reformation. It celebrates what that event was truly all about — the proclamation of the good news: that we are saved by God’s grace through faith in the Son of God, Jesus Christ.
"Photo courtesy of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod."
At LCLC, we celebrate Reformation Day to remind ourselves of the Biblical truths restored in the 1500’s and to let others know the basis of our faith.
Photos from LCLC 500 year celebration.
City Hall in Wittenberg, Germany and the memorial of Martin Luther illuminated when marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. In 2022, we celebrate the 505th anniversary.
Want to know more? Here are some resource links: