October 31, 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation when Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses to the door of the Church in Wittenberg 1517. On Oct 4th the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Francis, who in his own way help reform the Church some 200 years earlier. This October I encourage you to think about the ways God’s Holy Spirit might be reforming us today using these great reformer as examples.
St Francis was born into a rich family and was called to give up everything, as Jesus said to the rich young man in Luke 18:22 “There is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” He became poor and urged others to do the same. Francis was called by Christ to “repair the church” when he received a vision from the Cross at San Damiano. Through him and his followers (known as Franciscans) he sparked a spiritual renewal in the church that focuses on the poor, outcast and broken. He lived a life of joy and reflected the truth that many had forgotten that “God, so Loved the world.” He modeled a simple life in which all creation took part in the Gospel. For St. Francis we are thankful.
One of the reason I bring up St. Francis is because I am part of the Order of Lutheran Franciscan. This order is a group of like minded Lutherans who find the life St. Francis and his teachings inspirational. We find spiritual renewal and fellowship through the gifts he brought to the church. A devotion to simple living, daily prayer and solidarity with the poor and outcast. For me, it helps keep me humble and accountable as I live to follow Jesus in my life and be the Shepherd of this little flock here. I look forward to sharing my journey together in mission in this place.
Of course our patron saint as Lutherans is Martin Luther. Martin Luther’s wanted him to be a lawyer but during a thunderstorm was so scared by God, Martin promised to become a monk if he was spared. He became an Augustinian monk and through his training and study he came to realize the God was never angry with him but that God truly loved him and the rest of humanity as well. He saw that the foundation of the Christian life was the Word of God and faith in Christ . This revelation convicted him to reform the many of the things the church that blinded people from the Grace of God. He taught that God’s grace was a gift and not something that could be earned through works or bought (like indulgences). He also translated the Bible into German so that all people could read God’s word and discover God’s grace for themselves.
In October will celebrate these reformers in worship by singing a piece based on St. Francis Canticle of Creatures and a special liturgy on Reformation Sunday. We have also being studying the Augsburg Confessions in our Bible Study. We will also being have a public viewing and discussion on Rick’s Steve Germany and the Reformation video. Date and Time will be posted soon. Check the church Calendar.
I leave you with some questions to ponder this October: Where might God be reforming your life? Where might God be reforming our congregation? Who are the people in your life that inspire you to understand God in new and exciting ways?
Pastor Mark Molter OLF/n