October is one of my favorite months because we get to celebrate Reformation Day. Did you know that we celebrate Halloween and the birth of the Lutheran Church on the same day? On October 31st, in the year 1517, Martin Luther posted his 95 theses concerning indulgences in the Catholic Church. At one time, all people in Europe were a part of the Roman Catholic Church. Even Martin Luther was a monk and a preacher in the Catholic Church. As a university professor in Wittenburg, he noticed that many church officials were trying to sell salvation. By buying an indulgence, people could supposedly shorten their time to wait to get into heaven. The church was selling salvation so that they could make money and build buildings.
Martin Luther thought it was wrong for church officials to try to sell salvation in the form of indulgences. He remembered that it was Jesus Christ alone who saves from sin, death, and the devil. Luther wanted to have a debate with other religious leaders about how people receive salvation.
To start this debate, Martin Luther wrote up 95 statements arguing that all people are saved by Jesus Christ alone. These statements are known as the 95 Theses. Luther intentionally posted these on the doors of the castle church on Halloween. The following day was All Saints Day. It was a day that many people were going to the Castle Church to pay money to pray to relics of saints that have died so that they may buy their way into heaven. Martin Luther knew there would be many people to see his argument against the very thing they were doing.
This event shifted the course of history! On Halloween, Martin Luther jump-started the Protestant Reformation. Through the decades-long reformation, many people protested the Roman Catholic Church at that time. So, they left the Catholic Church and started their own. Because Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on Halloween day, there is now a wide diversity of Christian Churches. All are unique and special.
As we celebrate Halloween and the birth of the Lutheran Church, remember why we are Lutherans. We are Lutherans because we believe it is Jesus Christ alone who saves all people. Jesus sets you free from the bondage of sin, death, and the devil. Jesus also sets you free so that you may share the love of God with one another. It is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ alone that gives you new life. Remember that salvation from Christ is not a trick. The saving love of Jesus Christ is a treat for you.
Pastor Tyler Hoey, October 2021