Celebrating Reformation Sunday
Reformation Sunday this year is October 29, the Sunday preceding October 31. It marks the 506th year since Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenburg, protesting beliefs and practices of the medieval Catholic church — sparking the Reformation.
Ways to Observe Reformation Sunday
There are so many ways!
- It can be an opportunity to celebrate the distinctiveness of your theological tradition, to connect your congregation with their roots in the Reformation and to those afterward who carried the torch up to the present. This will look different for every congregation and allows for a lot of creativity.
- It is a fantastic opportunity to connect with the theological fundamentals of the Reformation: scripture, faith, and grace. As familiar as these are to your congregation, recalling them to the place where theology meets their individual and corporate connection to God through Christ is as powerful and liberating now as it was 500 years ago.
- Theological confessions played an important role in Protestant churches after the Reformation. Consider congregational readings of affirmations of faith from your denomination or historical Protestant confessions.
- The readings for the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost offer a few opportunities to connect with Reformation themes: Dt 34:1-12 (our connection to history), Ps 90:1-6, 13-17 (God’s sovereignty), Lv 19:1-2, 15-18 (the demands of the Law and the need for free grace), Ps 1 (centralty of scripture), 1 Thes 2:1-8 (proclaiming the Word), and Mt 22:34-36 (the demands of the Law and the need for free grace). Also, consider checking out Stu Strachan’s lectionary guide for this week.
- The legacy of the Reformation is bittersweet. Jesus wanted his disciples to be one, just as he and the Father were one. Since the Reformation, Protestants and Catholics have been divided. Not only do we not worship together, but we have persecuted each other and fought wars over our divisions. Further, theological controversies have divided Protestants into hundreds of further denominations. Lament for our continuing divisions is appropriate, even as we celebrate.
TPW’s Reformation Sunday Worship Guide
We have put together a guide to help you plan sermons and liturgies for Reformation Sunday.
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