As we commemorate the Reformation of the Church we give thanks we have been rescued from the false ways of salvation that could only lead us to ruin and doom. We owe God thanks for that rescue accomplished by his grace alone, on account of Christ’s merit alone, and through the means of grace alone. At the same time we remember that apart from unqualified commitment to his Word, grace can be lost and with it the saving faith created through the Word in the one and only Christ, our one and only Savior. Therefore let us hear the Word of the Lord! Prompted by his grace let us recommit ourselves to purity of doc-trine that comes alone from the Word, and to a life that reflects our devotion to the Savior who gives himself for us and then to us in his pure Word and Sacraments.
Lord, keep us faithful to your Word! On October 31, 1517—498 years ago—a Roman Catholic monk named Martin Luther nailed 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. Luther, in an effort to reform, the church, actually sparked a movement that would rise up into a revolution against the church. The 95 points which he nailed to the door were doctrinal points in which the church had fallen away from the Word of God. He pointed out that the church’s sole responsibility is to remain faithful to the Word of God—something which the church during his time had forgotten.
Today, in our celebration of the Festival of the Lutheran Reformation of the Church, we emphasize the true Church’s unfailing reliance on the Word of God and unflinching testimony to it in the face of persecution. Jesus promised to pour out his Spirit on the Church that we might be God’s mouthpiece even before kings. Today the Church prays that the Lord give us the strength to be faithful and the peace of knowing our lives are safe in his hands.
The service that we follow today is an adaptation of the Deutche Messe, authored by Martin Luther in 1526. The hymns of the liturgy (most written by Luther) will give you a feel for what Lutherans heard and sang almost 500 years ago as they worshiped the same Savior who gathers with us. While the settings may be somewhat unfamiliar and difficult to sing, the words teach the Scriptures beautifully. This service was the basis for many Lutheran orders of service over the past generations. You will, undoubtedly, find the general flow of the service to be rather familiar.