Reformation Day commemorates the day in 1517 when a German monk named Martin Luther (1483-1546) strode up to the church in Wittenburg and nailed his 95 ‘theses’ (or propositions) to the church door.
Luther’s intention when posting his theses was to highlight the practice of indulgences in the Roman Catholic Church. Indulgences were pardons from sin that could be bought, meaning that those who were rich enough could buy forgiveness for all manner of sins.
Luther had hoped that pinning his protestations would spark wider debate and harden public opinion against the practice. However, so many people agreed with his ideas that they quickly spread across western Europe, helped by the recent invention of the printing press, leading to the religious revolt known as the Reformation.
The reformation led many Christians to break off from the Roman Catholic Church and establish new, independent churches of their own, such as the Lutheran Church.
Reformation Day was first celebrated in the Germanic region in the seventeenth century and between 1949 and 1967, Reformation Day was a national holiday in East Germany.
The confessions and preaching of the Reformation and the eighteenth-century evangelical revival have an important part in the Uniting Church’s tradition. The Uniting Church stands with the church through the ages and with churches of the Reformation in its essential belief and teaching. It worships one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It sees the church as the fellowship of the Holy Spirit under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, living as a pilgrim people and moving towards the promised goal.
(See The Basis of Union, the document used as the foundation of the Uniting Church in Australia)
Our God, We Are a Church Reformed
Tune: AZMON 188.8.131.52 (“O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing”)
Our God, we are a church reformed,
A church reforming still:
We long to grow in your true Word,
And follow more your will.
How awesome is your sovereign rule;
You reign from heav’n above.
Yet you knelt down in Jesus Christ,
In sacrificial love.
In love, you bring your people here
And call your church to you,
That we may know salvation’s joy
And serve in all we do.
You call us to community;
By faith our hearts are stirred.
In church, we seek an ordered life,
According to your Word.
As faithful stewards we find joy;
We need no rich display.
Lord, teach us all to use with care
The gifts you give each day.
The world makes gods of lesser things,
And wrongly uses power;
So by your Spirit may we work
For justice every hour.
(This hymn is based on “Faith of the Reformed Tradition”. Text: Copyright © 1998 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved)