Sunday, October 18, 2015

Time in the Word - Reformation (Observed)


The theme for the Reformation Sunday is Freedom in Christ. Over the course of centuries, the institutionalized church led by the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, had become extremely corrupt. The Gospel had been obscured, and, in its place, a system of works-righteousness, treasuries of merits of the saints, and the buying and selling of indulgence had arisen.

God used an Augustinian monk, Martin Luther, to reform His Church. Luther searched the Scriptures, and found in them liberty, rooted in the three-fold office of Christ (Prophet, Priest, and King.)

Christ is our Priest, our Mediator, who justifies us by His blood. He is our Prophet, who reveals to us the Gospel, which is the ‘power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes’ (Rom 1:16). Christ is our King, whom we follow by the clear and simple meaning of His Word.

By His death, Christ has set us free from the bondage of sin, death, and the devil. Through Luther and other Reformers, he has set us free from the tyranny of Popes and Councils. We have Freedom in Christ, indeed!

Luther’s explanation of his seal (from a letter he wrote to Lazarus Spengler, city clerk of N├╝rnberg, in July 1530):

Honorable, kind, dear Sir and Friend! Since you ask whether my seal has come out correctly, I shall answer most amiably and tell you of those thoughts which now come to my mind about my seal as a symbol of my theology.

There is first to be a cross, black and placed in a heart, which should be of its natural color, so that I myself would be reminded that faith in the Crucified saves us. For if one believes from the heart he will be justified. Even though it is a black cross, which mortifies and which also should hurt us, yet it leaves the heart in its natural color and does not ruin nature; that is, the cross does not kill but keeps man alive. For the just man lives by faith, but by faith in the Crucified One. Such a heart is to be in the midst of a white rose, to symbolize that faith gives joy, comfort, and peace; in a word it places the believer into a white joyful rose; for this faith does not give peace and joy as the world gives and, therefore, the rose is to be white and not red, for white is the color of the spirits and of all the angels. Such a rose is to be in a sky-blue field, symbolizing that such joy in the Spirit and in faith is a beginning of the future heavenly joy; it is already a part of faith, and is grasped through hope, even though not yet manifest. And around this field is a golden ring, symbolizing that in heaven such blessedness lasts forever and has no end, and in addition is precious beyond all joy and goods, just as gold is the most valuable and precious metal.

May Christ, our dear Lord, be with your spirit until the life to come. Amen.

Collect for Pentecost 21Almighty and gracious Lord, pour out Your Holy Spirit on Your faithful people. Keep us steadfast in Your grace and truth, protect and deliver us in times of temptation, defend us against all enemies, and grant to Your Church Your saving peace; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Prayer for defending the Church from error: Almighty and everlasting God, You would have all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. By Your almighty power and unsearchable wisdom break and hinder all the counsels of those who hate Your Word and who, by corrupt teaching, would destroy it. Enlighten them with the knowledge of Your glory that they may know the riches of Your heavenly grace and, in peace and righteousness, serve You, the only true God; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Monday, 19 October 2015Psalm 34:1–2, 11, 22; Antiphon, Psalm 119:46—The Antiphon for next Sunday’s Introit proclaims, I will speak of Your statutes before Kings O Lord, and shall not be put to shame. This verse also serves as the inscription for the Augsburg Confession, one of the documents in the Lutheran Book of Concord. We need fear no earthly kings or powers when we make confession of our faith, for we have been set free from fear by the Gospel. Let us make bold our proclamation of confidence in the Lord, who redeems the life of His servants. For this, we bless the Lord at all times.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015Psalm 46—This psalm of David expresses complete confidence in God, no matter the circumstance. It depicts scenes of turmoil: natural disasters (vv. 2, 3), political persecution (v. 6a), and even the end of days (v. 6b). The one who trusts in God can withstand such troubles, and be still and quiet, for God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015Revelation 14:6–7—This first angel of John’s vision has often been interpreted by Lutheran commentators as Martin Luther, because of his clear proclamation of the eternal gospel to…those who dwell on earth. Certainly God worked through this man, as He works through others, to bring His message of freedom in Christ to every nation and tribe and language and people.

Thursday, 22 October 2015Romans 3:19–28—Theologians use a Latin phrase that describes our relationship with God’s Holy Law: Lex semper accusat, that is, ‘the Law always accuses’. This is because none of us sinful humans can obey God’s Law perfectly. Both our original sin and our actual sin condemn us. But there is a righteousness before God apart from the Law and apart from ourselves and anything we do. This righteousness is the righteousness of Christ, which is imputed to us through faith in the propitiating death of Christ on our behalf. Because of Christ’s fulfillment of the Law, and His blood which He shed for us, God declares us ‘not guilty’

Friday, 23 October 2015John 8:31–36—Sunday’s Gospel speaks of the freedom we find in the Truth of Jesus Christ. All of us were born into slavery—the slavery of sin. But Christ has set us free from our bondage by His atoning sacrifice. The One who declares, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life tells us here that the Truth shall set us free. The Truth has set us free: the Truth which embodied in Christ Jesus and the Truth which He declares to us in His Word. We are free, indeed!

Saturday, 24 October 2015—Sunday’s hymn of the day, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God (LSB 656) is Luther’s great battle hymn of the Reformation. Based on the Psalm of the day, Psalm 46, it reflects complete confidence in God, even when faced by a host of devils and the earthly adversities they bring. They can harm us none, for they have been felled—defeated—by one little Word, the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ our Savior.


Explanation from Luther’s Works, American Edition, vol. 49, pp. 358-359.
Prayer from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House.

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