“For the beauty of the earth, for the beauty of the skies, for the love which from our birth over and around us lies.” ELW Hymn #879, verse 1, lines 1 & 2.
Dear Redeemer Family,
October in Missouri is my favorite month. The weather cools and becomes enjoyable. The heat of summer has finally ended. We hope. The leaves on the trees change color in wonderful displays. One of my neighbors has a maple tree which turns into the most beautiful shade of red. Some of the late blooming wildflowers begin their show. I noticed that the Ox Eyes have begun to flower (although I write this in the end of September). Thoughts of coming winter may begin. People begin their preparations for the holidays in a few months. My wife is already ordering Christmas presents. I will think about it around Christmas Eve. It is really a lovely time.
For Lutherans, October is also a special time. At the end of the month, we celebrate Reformation Day. While the rest of the world celebrates Halloween, we remember Martin Luther going trick or treating at the Castle Church in Wittenberg on the evening of October 31, 1517. We remember Luther’s nailing of his “95 Theses” on the church doors. Actually, he probably pasted them up, nailing them up would have marred the doors. It was really a fairly innocent act. The “95 Theses” were really a call to debate the practice of selling “Letters of Indulgence.” All 95 of the theses are aimed against the practice, which Luther saw as a selling of the gospel. He wanted a scholarly debate on the subject. He was a university professor. That’s what they do. He got an unexpected response. We call it the Reformation.
Events quickly got beyond Luther’s control. But he was prepared. Although we say that the Reformation started with the 95 Theses, I believe that Luther’s thoughts on the matter really started forming earlier. I have stood at Luther’s study in Wittenberg. I think that it was while Luther was preparing his lecture notes for a class on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, reading Romans in the monastery garden that the light bulbs started flashing above Luther’s head. “For the beauty of the earth, for the beauty of the skies, for the love which from our birth over and around us lies.” Many of Luther’s reformation insights are found written centuries earlier by St. Paul in that “book.” And because of that, Luther’s vengeful God was turned into Luther’s gracious God. That brings us to the refrain of the above hymn, #879, “Christ, our God, to thee we raise this our sacrifice of praise.”
That’s a slightly different take on the events of the beginning of the Reformation, but ones which are highly probable. We can even celebrate them with song in the setting of the month of October. Yes, October is a beautiful month. There are all the beautiful things going on around us, as well as the things to be remembered. Enjoy it! And praise God for it.