As we continue on our sermon series on the 5 Solas of the Reformation this month, both Pastor Mark and I have referenced the 95 Theses Martin Luther nailed to the church doors in Wittenberg. As you read the document (you can find a copy online with a handy Google search), you may notice something: Luther doesn’t really say anything extraordinary. The fact of the matter is that Luther wasn’t trying to drive a wedge between himself and the Catholic Church. He was a Biblical scholar and his posting the 95 theses was an open invite to his fellow scholars for debate on the topic of indulgences.
Indulgences were pieces of paper granted by the Catholic Church (under the authority of the Pope) to help release people from purgatory (a somewhat terrible, middle-ground where people went before heaven after they died). These pieces of paper granted people forgiveness of their sins – for a small monetary price. This wasn’t something the German people were overly-fond of, especially since the money was being carted away to Rome to help with the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica. But there was nothing they could really do; they couldn’t read the Bible (which was only in Latin) and it was foolish to openly oppose the Catholic Church. Any who did so didn’t do it for long as they were labeled as heretics and excommunicated or executed. On top of all that, there was a man named Johann Tetzel who basically threw gas on the fire as he went around the German countryside, preaching fear and terror to help boost his sales of indulgences. He would talk about the agony of people in purgatory and offer people an opportunity to help not only themselves, but their already deceased family members escape the clutches of pain after death. He even had a catchphrase: “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.” So Luther began to write his theses.
One of the main points he makes is that the Pope has no authority over purgatory. The Pope has no power to forgive people’s sins unless they are sins that come from disobeying his own rules. Those who have passed on were beyond the need to ask for forgiveness since they were no longer able to sin. Those who were using fear tactics to sell indulgences (a nod to Tetzel’s work) were abusing not only their authority, but also appeared to be doing so without permission from their superiors in the church. It seemed that if the Pope had any authority to empty purgatory, he would have done so out of love instead of for money. It falls more in line of Christian charity to freely show grace and forgiveness than to offer it at a price.
The second point was that the money wasn’t being used to really help people. It was being used to erect the symbol of the faith: St. Peter’s Basilica. Why should the German people help fund the construction if they weren’t viably able to attend? Luther didn’t believe it was God’s will for the poor to spend all their money to gain entrance into heaven. Why should the rich be in a better position to be saved than the poor?
Finally, indulgences gave people a false sense of security when it came to their salvation. Instead of using their money to help those around them, they purchased pieces of paper that meant next to nothing. As if the grace and mercy of God could be purchased with anything other than the blood of Jesus! How much more precious and sacred is the forgiveness that He gives compared to what is offered by human hands. Any who said otherwise would have to answer for it before the throne of God.
Although this is a brief overview of the 95 theses, there’s nothing exactly profound or heretical with what Luther said. The context and timing of its publication, coupled with the sheer amount of copies that were made via the printing press, was what made the people begin to discuss what was going on – a discussion that snowballed into the reformation movement we historically recognize today. We ought to celebrate what the Reformation did rather than the man we recognize as starting it. It drove people to the Word of God. It caused them to leave man’s traditions and to hold fast to the doctrines of Scripture. It decluttered the Gospel, clarifying that it was Christ alone who saved people from their sins, not their own ability to earn or pay for it. This is why we ought to celebrate the Reformation.
Pastor Dan Hurner
Ladies Study at Tordenskjold
Allladies of the parish are invited to come to Tordenskjold each Tuesday at 4:30p.m. The study is Chip Ingram’s study on Romans 12 called “True Spirituality.” All women are welcome to come for fellowship and may participate at any level that you are comfortable.
Preaching Rotation& Worship Texts
Series: “Five Truths of the Reformation”
9:00 Tordenskjold (Pr. Mark) – “The Word Alone”
10:30 Kvam (Pr. Dan) - “Faith Alone”
10:30 Z/S (Pr. Mark) - “The Word Alone”
9:00 Tordenskjold (Pr. Dan) – “Christ Alone”
10:30 Kvam (Pr. Mark) - “Grace Alone”
10:30 Z/S (Pr. Dan) – “Christ Alone”
9:00 Tordenskjold (Pr. Mark) - “Grace Alone”
10:30 Kvam (Pr. Dan) – “Christ Alone”
10:30 Z/S (Pr. Mark) – “Grace Alone”
October 22 – Parish Worship at Zion-Sarpsborg – 10:30
“The Reformation: Does it Really Matter?” (Pr. Dan)
9:00Tord. (Pr. Dan) – “To the Glory of God Alone”
10:30Kvam (Pr. Mark – “To the Glory of God Alone”
10:30Zion-Sarps (Pr. Dan) “To the Glory of God Alone”
Joan Reynolds Davenport, age 88
Sept. 30 – Service at Olson Funeral Home
Lloyd Schuur, age 74
October 4, 2017 - Kvam
Parish Movie Night
On Wednesday, October 25th, we will be showing the movie, "Luther" at Zion-Sarpsborg at 7:00pm after Confirmation. The movie begins with Luther becoming a monk and follows him through the early years of the Reformation, covering death threats, persecution from other church leaders, assassination attempts, disdain from governing officials and more. The movie is about 2 hours long. Everyone welcome
Faith Faith Focus…Family Fun Day!
We are excited to come together as a Parish on Sunday, October 22 for our Fall Faith Focus Family Worship Service at 10:30 a.m. at Zion-Sarpsborg in Dalton. Following the worship service there will be a lunch served by the Parish Hospitality Committee, the Youth will hold a Dessert Auction, followed by a hayride for the whole family. Let’s come together and set aside the morning and early afternoon for fellowship. Everyone is welcome, invite a friend!
Bible Study Opportunities
Zion-Sarpborg Adult Sunday School@ 9:00 a.m Why I Believe: Finding Answers to Life’s Most Difficult Questions?” By Chip Ingram
Tordenskjold Adult Sunday School Class @ 10:30 a.m. - “The Lord’s Prayer”
Men’s Bible Study, Tuesday’s @ 7 a.m. (Underwood Café) “The Book of Amos”
Zion-Sarpsborg WMF @ 2 p.m. October 5th
Tordenskjold Ladies Bible Study, Tuesday’s@ 4:30- “True Spirituality: Romans 12” by Chip Ingram
Tordenskjold Ladies Aid @ 2 p.m. October 17
Reformation Hymn Festival
Friday, Nov. 10, 2017 – 7:00 p.m.
AFLC Schools Chapel, Plymouth, MN
All are invited to a hymn sing and choral presentation commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. You are invited to be a part of the congregation of to join the festival choir.
PSeveral Reformation hymns by Martin Luther
PA festival choir, including AFLBS students, alumni and friends
PJosh Bauder’s five piece set, “Five Solae of the Reformation”
Registration deadline for the festival choir is Friday, October 27. If you have questions, contact Andrew Hanson at email@example.com or 763-544-9501.
Parish Council Notes…
The Parish Council met together on Tuesday, September 26 at Zion-Sarpsborg. During this time council members from our three churches gather annually to discuss the ongoing work together which includes the upcoming ministry schedule, salary and benefits for our Pastors and Parish Secretary and other topics related to our cooperative effort. Below are highlights for the meeting:
Reports were given by Pastor Dan and Pastor Mark reflecting different aspects of their letters of call and visionary thoughts for the future. Both expressed their thankfulness for being able to serve the Lord in our churches.
-Decision was made to contribute $700 per church for our yearly VBS ministry.
-There was discussion about working together with labor or funds to help with remodeling the youth room at Zion-Sarpsborg to accommodate the growing youth group.
-The trustees met in a breakout season to discuss discuss salaries and benefits for staff.
-The deacons met with the Pastors to discuss the upcoming yearly schedule at it relates to Parish scheduling.
-Following the breakout session the full parish council adopted the ministry schedule and also adopted the following financial considerations: Increase the pastor’s salaries by 3% based on cost of living increases and increase funds given to parish office support by $25/church.
-The trustees also reviewed a draft of propose Parish Council By-Laws to be reviewed by each church in hopes of acting on them in September of 2018.
-Election of officers for the upcoming year: Mark Vukonich, Chair; David Anderson, Vice-Chair.
*** A special thank you to all who faithfully service positions of leadership in our Parish. Let’s continue to pray for and support each one as we are in this precious ministry togethe
Upcoming Council Meetings
Z-S. – Saturday, Oct. 7, Deacons at 7:30 a.m. Council at 8:30 a.m.
Tord. –Tuesday Oct. 10, Deacons at 6:00 p.m., Council at 7:00p.m.
Kvam – Thursday, Oct. 12, Deacons at 6:00 p.m., Council at 7:00 p.m.
Reminder: The fiscal year ends on Oct. 31!