Pastor's Notebook

 

Dear Friends in Christ,

Every October I feel that this month's article should somehow be related to the Reformation. You may recall that two years ago we, along with Lutherans around the world and others, celebrated the 500th year of the event when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenberg All Saints' church door. You know, not everyone thinks so highly of Luther. For some Christians he is the great disrupter of a unified Christianity.

 

I believe that Luther wanted nothing more than to bring Christ to the forefront in the life of the Church. In history he was a preacher like John the Baptist, pointing to Christ: "He must increase; I must decrease." Or St. Paul, "we preach Christ crucified...I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified." Luther encapsulated his (and the Bible's) teaching as "the cross alone is our theology."


So, this article too will be about the Reformation. Yet, it won't be about some historical feature of 500 years ago, or on the personality and work of even the great reformer himself. Rather, it gets to the heart of what Christianity is all about, the center and Life Source of everything: Jesus.

 

Here's the thesis: Christianity is simple!

 

That is, it really isn't complicated. Oh sure...we can complicate it plenty. Theologians can mine the depths of God's Word, delighting in all that is revealed therein. We can use all sorts of jargon. But I have found that the deeper I go, the complexities I am allowed to somewhat understand, only make me delight more in the simplicity of what even the youngest can receive.


Jesus spoke simply and to the point. Open your Bibles (or look it up online!) and read these quotes of Jesus: Matthew 20:28; Luke 12:32; John 11:25-26; John 3:16-18.


Jesus crucified for our sins (that is the punishment we rightly deserve); Risen for our Righteousness (the gift given through His Word and Sacraments). Sins forgiven! 


Someone has said, "Jesus uses the absolute minimum number of words to make the most straightforward point: 'I have come to seek and save the lost.'"


Jesus doesn't complicate matters.

 

The Lutheran Reformation wanted to get the church back to such simplicity. It's all about Jesus. All the Goodness God gives is a Gift: that's Grace. We receive it all simply by faith. We can't add a bit to our salvation. We know the one and Only True God from the Holy Scriptures. Therein, not only do we learn how much He loves us, but also how we thank and praise him with our lives...loving the Only True God and loving all people as ourselves—we, who are the baptized and believing, recipients of such Eternal Love.


Rejoice, Dear people of God for such simplicity! Share this good news! That's what the Reformation is about.

                                                                                                             Blessings in Jesus!

                                                                                                             Pastor Engler

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