Reformation day celebration
While much of society was focused on candy and things that go bump in the night, the congregation at Grace Covenant Church had something far more significant to celebrate. It was Reformation day, which commemorates what was perhaps the greatest move of God’s Spirit since the days of the Apostles.
In years past, the GCC youth have put on a play reenacting the nailing of Martin Luther's ninety-five theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517. This past year, we watched the Luther movie together. Luther's act would soon be heard around the world and lead ultimately to the greatest transformation of Western society since the apostles first preached the Gospel throughout the Roman empire. In contrast to the extra-biblical traditions and works-based practices of Roman Catholicism, Luther called the Church back to the good news of salvation by grace alone through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). Martin Luther’s act provoked a debate that culminated finally in what we now call the Protestant Reformation.
The real main character in Reformation Day, however, is not Luther. It’s the Word of God. In 1516, the Greek New Testament was published by the humanist scholar Desiderius Erasmus. And when Luther read the Greek New Testament, he realized that the Latin Vulgate--for centuries, the official text of the church--was wrong. The Vulgate had translated the Greek word "metanoia" as “do penance.” instead of the proper rendering "repent". This translation had served for centuries to support the Roman Catholic sacramental system.
What Luther discovered as a monk is that for centuries, the true teachings of the Word of God had been hidden by century upon century of tradition. That’s what Reformation Day is about: it’s about pulling back the covers and releasing the power of the Word of God and the beauty and the truth of the gospel. That’s why we celebrate Reformation Day.