Friday, October 31, 2014

Reformation Day

Reformation Day

October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the castle church door of Wittenberg.  This was a common way of making announcements at the time, and since November 1st is All Saints day, a day of special observance, crowds were guaranteed to see the announcements.  

At the heart of the 95 theses was a custom of the day, selling indulgences in order to raise money for the church.  The general idea was that one could buy more rapid exit from purgatory for one’s self or a relative.  In the famous words of  Johann Tetzel, “Sobald der G├╝lden im Becken klingt, im huy die Seel im Himmel springt,“  (as soon as the guilder in the box clings, hurriedly the soul into heaven springs.“)

The Pope was rebuilding St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome, and needed money to work on it.  He sent Tetzel and others to raise money through the sale of indulgences. Martin Luther found this reprehensible, and nailed his objections to the church door.  (The 95 Theses can be found at:

Several points made by Luther:

If the pope had this power than he should let all people out of purgatory.

Money spent on charity would do us more good than money spent on indulgences.

Repentance is necessary.

The Pope had enough money to repair St. Peter’s, and should have used his own money.

Martin Luther’s theses were extremely important to the church and to Europe and eventually the world.  They lead to challenging the Roman Catholic Church in other areas (such as holding church services in languages which the people understood, the marriage of clergy and many other factors.  Most of the Protestant Churches we have today are a direct or indirect result of this challenge to the Roman Catholic Church.  The Roman Catholic Church indeed reformed itself to some extent, to win back people lost to protestant churches.  Europe itself, became divided between the Protestant North (Great Britain, Scandinavia, Prussia, Holland, Latvia and Estonia), and the Catholic South.  Among the Protestants was a great desire to know God’s word in one’s one language and to apply it to one’s life.  Europe was transformed, not only religiously by the reformation, but economically as well.  Religious wars changed the face of Europe, and indeed had a great affect on those who wrote the constitution of the USA.  George Washington feared sectarian wars, and for this reason the USA did not recognise any one form of Christianity. 

Tonight is also Halloween, from All Hallows Even, meaning the evening before the feast of All Hallows (i.e. All Saints Day).  This feast was originally held in May but was moved to counteract the Celtic Holliday of Samhain. 

Jeremiah 31:31-34                                                                                                                     Psalm 46                                                                                                                                      Romans 3:19-28                                                                                                                          John 8:31-36

Collect:  Heavenly Father, on this day Martin Luther nailed his theses to the door of the Wittenberg Cathedral, not to challenge the church, but to transform it into a true body for mission.  Grant us zeal in reforming the church and translating scripture and liturgy so all may understand your word, and be enabled for mission to the entire world.  This we ask in the name of our Lord Yeshuah.  Amen.  (white)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Alfred the Great (transferred from Sunday)

            Born in 849 at Berkshire, Alfred wished to become a monk.  Instead he became king at the death of his father and four older brothers in 871. At this time the Danes controlled the northeast coast of what we call England today, which was called the Danelaw.  Alfred was able to defeat the Danes, and as part of the terms of that defeat, the Danish King, Guthrum became a vassal to Jesus Christ, and therefore so did his nobles.  Obviously the baptisms that resulted from this conversion may not have been heartfelt, but, because of this conversion, priests and missionaries were allowed in the Danelaw and in Denmark (which at this time included a portion of Sweden), which in time resulted in legitimate heartfelt conversions. 
            After defeating Guthrum,  Alfred devoted his time to rebuilding the kingdom of Wessex, fortifying it against attack, building schools (including Oxford) and libraries.  Enamoured of the Torah’s treatment of the poor, Alfred sought to put such protections in his laws as well.  He also translated books and fifty of the Psalms into Anglo Saxon. 
            The laws which Alfred promulgated are based very much on the Old Testament.  In addition to his other talents, Alfred also designed the ships used to defeat King Guthrum.
            There are many reason for calling Alfred the Great.  Among those not listed above was the protection of England from the Vikings and restoring the peace, allowing British and English Christianity to carry on unmolested.  Once King Guthrum had converted he received respect from his Christian subjects in the Danelaw, leading to peace there as well.  King Alfred was a man who knew the Bible well, and sought to use it in his life, in the laws and in all he did.  Would that our politicians would do likewise.

Collect:  Heavenly Father, as Alfred rebuilt England and restored the church, he also witnessed to his enemy Guthrum and persuaded him to receive Messiah.  Grant that we too, would pray and witness to all the world, whether they be our friends or our enemies.  This we ask through Yeshuah who lives and reins with you and Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting.  Amen.  (white)

Friday, October 17, 2014

St. Ignatius, Bishop

            Ignatius is one of the Apostolic fathers (early leaders in the church who knew the apostles).  He is said to have been one of the children that Jesus blessed.  He was born around the year 35 and died between 98 and 117.  He is counted to be the third Bishop of Antioch (after St. Peter and St. Evodius who died in the year 67.  It is said that he knew St. Peter and may have known St. John the Apostle, and it is said that St. Peter appointed him to the see of Antioch.  Ignatius is most known to us for the letters he wrote on the way to Rome, where he was martyred by being partially consumed by lions.  His remains are in Rome to this day, buried under St. Peter’s Basilica.
            Ignatius wrote six letters to churches and one to a bishop.  His letters emphasise loyalty to one Bishop per city, who is aided by his presbyters and deacons, the earliest letter to emphasise this.  He called the Eucharist the medicine of immortality and looked forward to his martyrdom to be with Jesus face to face.  St. Ignatius also is the first to emphasise celebrating the Lord’s day (although Acts 20:7-11 suggests the practice first) saying, “We fashion our lives after the Lord’s day.”
            These letters are very important, because we have very little written information about this time in the churches history, guiding us in how we should imitate the primitive church.

For more see:  (note the first seven are those alleged to be genuine.)

            Collect:  Heavenly Father, as you raised up your servant Ignatius to be Bishop of Antioch and to suffer and die for his faith.  Grant that we may gather more frequently to celebrate the Eucharist, sharing the medicine of immortality, and that we would follow the bishop, as Jesus followed the Father, follow the presbytery as we would follow the apostles, and respect the deacons as we respect God’s law.  This we ask through our Lord and Saviour Yeshua haMoshiach, who lives and reins with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting.  Amen.  (red)