Sermon for October 31

Let the words my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to you O Lord, our strength, and our redeemer. Amen

On the eve of All Saints’ Day, October 31, 1517, a young Roman Catholic Priest named Martin Luther posted on the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, a list of 95 theses, or statements, and requested a meeting of the church leaders to discuss and debate the substance of these 95 theses concerning church practices. Luther desired that the church would reform its practices to be more in keeping with the Word of God as contained in the Bible. What started as an academic debate – mostly over the selling of indulgences and the Grace of God – touched off a chain reaction that resulted in the events that we now call the Protestant Reformation. Luther had no idea what changes this simple act would bring upon the church.

So, why do we wear RED clothing on Reformation Sunday? We invite everyone to wear the liturgical color RED, on October 30th, because RED represents the Holy Spirit. Luther believed that the Reformation was a direct result of the Holy Spirit moving him and others to action. This day is a celebration of the Holy Spirit that continues to move us toward the grace and mercy of God even today.

Luther was tormented by how he could never be “good enough” to enter the kingdom of heaven. How could he do enough things to overcome his everyday sinfulness, much less the evil bottled up in his heart. He would spend hours confessing his sins in front of his priest. It got to the point that the priest told him to go out and commit some real sins, then come back and confess.

What got Martin Luther all up in the air? There was the idea of indulgences, or the selling of. The theory was the saints, during their lives had more than enough good works to get into heaven. So a person could purchase some of these good works, assuring the person a place there. But Luther knew well the passage from Romans 3:21-22. Also in John 8, verses 34 and 36.

The people of the time of Jesus and Paul knew the Law; they knew it forwards, backwards, sideways. The Pharisee knew it so well he could judge others by it and proclaim he was thankful because he was not like other men. But Jesus tells us in John that it is through the law comes the knowledge of sin. So, it was the tax collector who realized this and could only beat his breast and confess, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!” He knew there was nothing he could do to pay retribution. But here Jesus is telling us, as well as Paul, that it has already been done. Luther discovered it was not he that was climbing up the ladder to God, but it was God coming down to him—and it was a free gift! And the only thing we need is faith, and God even provides us with the strength and the wherewithal to even have faith! So now the case has been made that God has done everything for us and the question now becomes: What do we do when we don’t have to do anything? What do we do when we don’t have to do anything?

We allow the Holy Spirit to move us, move us toward action, move us toward the grace and mercy God makes available to us. It moves us toward reforming our lives, reforming them in the way god wants us to live. The Holy Spirit moves us to reform this congregation, continually reforming so that we may be the beacon on the hill that reaches out with the light of the Good News.

What do we do when we don’t have to do anything? We become Christ’s body working for those around us who have less than we—in mind, body and spirit. We share the Good News by the little things we do—we make people aware that the red we wear on Reformation Sunday is a symbol of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives and that we want to share the gifts God has given us with them.

So, what do we do when we don’t have to do anything?