Reformation Sunday

Welcome! I hope you enjoyed last week’s 80-degree weather. Wasn’t it amazing? I kept thinking it was summer – I even caught myself thinking I should go swimming one afternoon. Red, orange, and yellow leaves, along with nightfall at 6:30 p.m., remind me that it really is autumn.

Fallowfield United Methodist Church is preparing four bushels of apples for freezing on Monday, October 31. We froze four bushels of Cortland apples on October 3. This time we’ll do Northern Spy. One apple pie might taste a little different from another next year at the Crawford County Fair, but both will be yummy.

Next Sunday is Reformation Sunday. It honors the Protestant Reformation and the life of Martin Luther, who started the movement. He nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, on October 31, 1517. I hope my Catholic readers will understand I mean no offense toward you or your church. I am writing only about the 16th-century Roman Catholic Church in this column.

The Reformation signaled a breaking away from the Roman Catholic Church and its 16th century unbiblical teachings, such as the selling of indulgences. The church sold indulgences to people who wanted to ensure their sins had been forgiven. People called pardoners traveled from region to region selling papers signed by the pope. These were called indulgences. Once purchased, the pope would forgive your sins and help you get into heaven. You can understand why such a practice infuriated Luther. He knew, just as I know, that only God forgives sins. No man can forgive sins. For further explanation, read Matthew 26, where Jesus gives the first Holy Communion (Eucharist) at the Last Supper. Verse 28 reads, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (NIV)

Luther was a monk and a professor of theology. He was a brilliant man who translated the New Testament from Latin to German, something considered heresy at the time. The Catholic Church might’ve burned him at the stake for this, but friends hid him in Wartburg Castle. It was there Luther translated the New Testament into German.

It’s amazing how God can use one life to alter history. Were it not for Luther’s courage, we may still only have Latin Bibles, and aside from a few academic types, how many people can read Latin these days? I can’t imagine not having a Bible in my own language.

This is one reason I believe the Bible truly is the world of God. How many people would risk a terrible death to translate a book they didn’t believe in? Martin Luther believed in the Bible enough to give his life in exchange for translating it into the common language of his community.

You may sing “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” on Reformation Sunday in church. Martin Luther wrote this song in 1529. Some people consider this the great hymn of the Reformation. Some of the lyrics are “Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing, were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing. You ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is he….”