After a one week hiatus from Holy Cross, I was pleased to see that our soundboard man, Brad, had been found and returned safely to his duty desk as electronic page flipper. Yay! Aleksandrs, Susan and I made our ways into a pew near the back. It’s a fact, at least with Lutherans (minus those extra friendly ELCAs, of course) that if there were only two rows of pews in a church, the back row would look like a human pyramid. Except for Sunday school teachers leading their kids in the Christmas show, no one in his right mind ever sits in the front row.
Today was Reformation Sunday Saturday and with it we opened with a rousing rendition of “How Great is Our God” with Pastor McClean on acoustic guitar backed by drums, bass, and piano. Other songs included “Thy Word” (offering), “Feed Us Now” (communion), “Your Love is Amazing” (recessional), and or but, we had a pleasant surprise with, the best I can call it, a Coldplay version of “A Mighty Fortress” (pre-sermon). It had a mildly syncopated beat but was easily sung. Now that was a way to be ‘different’ without being difficult.
Our lesson was about sin, as they all should be, and about grace, as they all should be. Pastor told the story of Martin Luther and his issues with sin and how he felt doomed to hell because he couldn’t go a moment of his life without sinning in some way. His ‘sin’ line went as follows:
If I sin, I go to hell ==> I sin ==> I can’t stop sinning ==> I am going to hell
Martin was so beside himself with the thought of eternal torment that he began to hate God. How could God make him the way he was with no chance of redemption? Help came from his teacher who urged Martin to become a teacher. By doing this, he would have to study Scripture scrupulously and by doing so he discovered the deep love embedded in God’s word,
Romani, III: xxi,xxii
nunc autem sine lege iustitia Dei manifestata est testificata a lege et prophetis
iustitia autem Dei per fidem Iesu Christi super omnes qui credunt non enim est distinctio
Naturally, since the Universal Church was based out of Rome, all Bibles were written in Latin. It was after Brother Martin was shoo’ed out of the Church that he wrote the first Bible in German, thus his soul saving Scripture read
Nun aber ist ohne Zutun des Gesetzes die Gerechtigkeit, die vor Gott gilt, offenbart und bezeugt durch das Gesetz und die Propheten.
Ich sage aber von solcher Gerechtigkeit vor Gott, die da kommt durch den Glauben an Jesum Christum zu allen und auf alle, die da glauben.
By now I’m sure you’re thinking, “Just get on with it!” OK, sourpuss. Here it is in English.
Righteousness Through Faith
But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile,
Martin had no issue with believing Jesus is the Son of God but until he seriously studied scripture, and through prayer, did he come to the realization that his salvation only required a simple faith in Jesus as his Savior. Because of his salvation, Martin Luther became a saint. Because of his constant sinning, Martin Luther remained a sinner. If you have a faith even as small as a mustard seed*, don’t worry, you are secure in The Lord. As members of The Church if we carry this confidence of salvation with us it will show to others. Our hopeful nature can put people at ease and help them be more receptive to The Word (Jesus) of The Father (God) through The Holy Ghost (The Holy Ghost) indwelt in us, nearer than our thoughts.
*a mustard seed is 1 to 2 millimeters in diameter (translation: itty bitty). If you ever stumble across a witch hovering over her cauldron and she adds “eye of newt”, it’s just a mustard seed. If it was a real eye of a real newt she’d never get anyone to sit around the dinner table.