It may be December, but it is not Christmas parties that I am writing about. Instead I want to tell you about a very special party that we had this October. We called it a Reformation Party.
Reformation. That sounds rather a dusty cause for a party – surely it is to do with history and theology. True, but it has very much to do with our present experience, and though it began 500 years ago, (hence the celebration) it concerns a reformation that needs to be ongoing.
I remember reading a historical novel about an everyday family who lived in Germany in the times of Martin Luther and how their religious experience changed from one of fear and repression to a joyful relationship with Jesus Christ, even though it cost some their lives.
For a party we need guests, and apart from the ever present workers who gave us our invitations, we all were invited. But guess who else arrived? Yes, Martin Luther himself, still bare foot and tonsured. No sign of his wife, Katherine, so obviously not liberated yet. (It was our Richard in disguise.)
But then we had an interview, and there was Martin again, this time with hammer in hand, from where he had nailed his 95 theses to the door of the great church at Wittenburg, to show where the church had wandered from simple faith in the word and gospel of Jesus Christ. (It might have been our pastor, Tom.)
It was a party, so we had to have some games. I know we had some coffers so that we could throw in our money in order to purchase indulgences which might buy time off our condemnation to purgatory.
There were other games too but sadly I, who used always to be so competitive, felt I was in the way and maybe I should not have come. (Yes, there is an enemy always ready to whisper in our ears.)
But now it was time for food, - German food of course for this special occasion. I found I was given a seat of honour at a table of young people, for there was to be a quiz for each table, and though my legs may not be much good, they hoped my brain, and memory was in good working order. They did not expect me to queue up for my food and, as always in the family of Grace, I was reminded that I am well loved.
And how well loved we all are by God. In the weeks previous to this special party, while we had been reminded of the story of the Reformation, we have been taught of the wonderful truths which Martin Luther had so wonderfully rediscovered through his study of the bible; that we are not working for our salvation, but that we are saved by Christ alone, that truth comes to us through Scripture alone, and that it is by grace alone and through faith alone. And, of course, it must all be for God’s glory alone.
Another fundamental truth of which we have been reminded is that we are not only looking back to the beginning of reformation, but that we are part of this movement. Martin Luther stepped into the glorious liberty of the children of God, but though so greatly used by translating the Bible for the common man, we know even he was far from perfect.
Maybe we are looking back to our special Reformation Party, but we too must live in the spirit of reformation and go on being reformed.
It’s Christ alone! To him be all the glory,
who paid the price that sinners might go free.
Forgiveness, joy and peace! Redemption’s story!
Through Christ alone God’s love now reaches me.
By faith alone I dare approach the Father.
No works of mine can buy for me his love.
He sent his Son, to die for my salvation.
This price alone secures my place above.
God’s word alone; that speaks of true salvation;
Saints gave their lives to bring to us this word.
Then let us eat and live and share with others,
that they may know that Christ alone is Lord
By grace alone! No works can buy my ransom.
No deed of man can bring me near to God.
God’s gift alone has purchased my forgiveness.
My sins forgiven, I’m saved through Jesus’ blood
To God alone be worship joy and glory.
It is to him we raise our songs of praise.
While angels bow in wonder at the storywe’ll join heaven’s anthem through eternal days