“If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:31-32
Dear Redeemer Family:
It seems that summer is almost over. Yes, I know that it is towards the end of October, but yesterday it hit 90 degrees. Let us hope that summer it over. We are supposed to be in autumn. And with autumn, we get a new set of holidays.
The first one, which lands on October 31st is not really Halloween (although it is the second most popular holiday in this country), rather I am thinking of Reformation Day. If you are Lutheran, and if you are receiving this, you probably are. This is seen as the beginning of our church. And, next year, worldwide, there are big celebrations planned for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. It is the day we remember Martin Luther’s nailing of his “Ninety-five Theses” to the church door at Wittenberg. It started as a rather small affair. They were just ninety-five things (mainly abuses of the then Church) that he wanted to publically debate. It started simply. It had an unexpected response. It ended with the first major split in the Western Church, and a group now called Lutherans. Although, Luther himself preferred to call his group the Evangelical Church (Evangelical means “Gospel”). And, worldwide, that heading forms the largest Protestant group. It started quite small. But, its portents were huge, for with it we say, the Gospel was reclaimed by the Church. It was reformed. That is a much bigger day in my mind than sending our children door to door to receive candy from our neighbors. Rather, it is the day when we celebrate the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. We “continue in his word.”
Later this month, there is a similar holiday. We call it Thanksgiving. The original Thanksgiving was also a small simple event, if we recall the Pilgrims’ version. After a very hard year, the Pilgrims had managed to raise enough food to get them through the year. In celebration (if the Pilgrims believed in celebrating, they were a rather austere group), they decided to give thanks to God for the blessings received, and hold a communal meal as part of the occasion. And, having read a couple of versions of the menu, it was quite simple. While they were doing this, the neighboring Native tribe showed up, and really kind of invited themselves. Hearing that there was no meat (sorry, no turkeys), the chief sent out 16 of his best hunters to get some deer (another November activity in Missouri). And yes, they had venison added to their largely vegetarian fare. From this simple act, and meal, has grown the feast that is now known on the fourth Thursday of November. The foundation of which is not to eat ourselves until overly sated, but to give thanks to God for blessings received. Remember this foundation.
Two holidays, with humble beginnings, but they are of great importance. Enjoy them. And thank God!