“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” – Jesus (Matthew 16:24-25)
This week I’m walking in solidarity with our Confirmation Students who will affirm their faith this Sunday in Celebration of Reformation Sunday.
In preparation, the confirmation students were given a cross to carry. Hopefully they will wear it, sparking questions and conversations, for they will be making a public profession to continue in their faith in which they were baptized.
“I do. And I ask God to help and guide me.”
Martin Luther’s cross to bear happened on Oct. 31, 1517. Luther posted his 95, sparking a conversation about reforming extra-Biblical church traditions and church-instituted teachings and activities that he believed had no basis in Scripture. He believed those traditions and teachings made salvation dependent on good works or, worse, church-sanctioned indulgences, buying your way or a loved one’s way into heaven.
Luther argued that the Scriptures were clear – salvation was achieved by “faith alone.” Good works were a response to this gift given by God in Jesus.
Luther had struggled trying to please God to achieve his salvation. However all that changed when he read in Romans 1, “The righteous shall live by faith.” This is the heart of Luther’s theology.
For three years, Luther was told to recant his statements – the “95” and his other writings and teachings. He refused. In January 1521, Luther was excommunicated by Pope Leo X. By April, Luther was being charged with heresy at the now-famous Diet of Worms, an assembly of princes and prelates overseen by the Holy Roman Emperor. At stake for the 37-year-old excommunicant, if found guilty he could be burned at the stake. All Luther had to do was “recant,” and all would be “forgiven”.
Instead Luther announced,
“Here I stand. I can do no other.”
So you are invited upon reading this to wear a cross in solidarity with our confirmation students. And then join us on Sunday, to stand and make public profession of your faith.
Pastor Rob Norris-Weber