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On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted 95 Theses on the Castle Church doors in Wittenberg. On the eve of All Saints day he posted these items for debate, which was a common event in the academic environment of Wittenberg. All Saints Day would be one of the busiest days at the Castle Church as many pilgrims would arrive to view the large relic collection that Frederick the Wise had collected. The posting of these 95 theses was both ordinary and extraordinary at the same time. Luther sought an ordinary academic debate that pursued the freedom of Christians from the tyranny of power. Luther was also doing something extraordinary because the power that he protested was being exercised by the church itself through a system of penance that kept Christians in doubt and despair.

There are a number of great resources developed over the last few years because of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Concordia Seminary in 2017 prepared an hour long documentary to illustrate the power of Martin Luther's actions on October 31, 1517. This documentary took four years to make, with portions shot on location throughout Germany where the actual Reformation events occurred.

Luther desired there to be a debate on the topic of the indulgences. Indulgences were sold for money or distributed in reward for pious works. A person that received an indulgence gained forgiveness and so release from the sufferings of purgatory. The church, under the authority of the pope, distributed indulgences to people. The indulgences transferred the merits of the saints to other parties, above all those in purgatory.

The sale of indulgences were a means for the church to obtain financing for large projects. They were like selling bonds and the payoffs of the bonds were found in the reduction in time from purgatory. Luther initially stated that he was not attacking the system of indulgences but only their abuses. The pivot from attacking abuse to attacking the system did not take long. The system of indulgences bypassed salvation by faith in the grace of Christ and instead supported a system of merits that could be earned by pious works.

On October 31 we remember the moment when a hammer and a nail broke down the institutional controls of power and restored the confidence that salvation is in Christ.

Posted by Evan Gaertner

Trunk or Treat - Friday, October 25th, 5:30-7:30 PM

Friday, October 25th
5:30 – 7:30 PM
Our Shepherd Lutheran Church
2225 E. 14 Mile Road, Birmingham MI  

You’re invited to our third annual Trunk or Treat Event! Join us for Trunk or Treating, petting zoo, pony rides, and Silly Me the Clown! Food will be available for purchase. Bring family, friends, and neighbors.

Adults and High School students. Shifts available from 4-8 PM. Lutheran Northwest students will receive JOY hours too! Please register at bit.ly/OSLTrunkorTreatVolunteers





Posted by Steve Woodfin

St. Michael and All Angels

September 29 on the church calendar is a day to honor St. Michael and All Angels.

The readings for Michaelmas are Daniel 10:10-14; 12:1-3, Psalm 91, Revelation 12:7-12, and Luke 10:17-20. The liturgical color for this festival is white.

Michael, according to Revelation 12, led the heavenly army against Lucifer before the creation of the world. This festival has its origins in the fifth century when a church, six miles from Rome, was dedicated to him. The day became popular in Europe and England because it marked the beginning of the last cycle of the Pentecost season. The importance of this festival was not only liturgical but also related to its civil context. In England, Michaelmas marks the beginning of the fall term in the law courts and fall academic terms at Oxford and Cambridge. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael are commemorated together on this day. A history magazine from the United Kingdom has an online article describing some of the civil observations that take place on Michaelmas.

The day falls near the equinox, the day associated with the beginning of autumn and the shortening of days. The festival has served as a reminder to people that in the darker and colder days of life we are encouraged to find protection in God and His holy messengers. It was believed by some that this protection was especially needed during the days that had less sunlight because negative forces were stronger during the darkness. Nonetheless we have confidence in both the power and grace of our Lord God to keep and guard our bodies and souls. Romans 8:31ff remind us that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.

The practice of annual commemoration of local martyrs began early in the church during the middle of the second century. The celebrations were often at the place of burial. The liturgical calendar of the church over the years became overloaded with festivals and commemorations. Lutheran reformers tried to reduce the overloaded calendar. They retained feasts of our Lord, the days of the apostles and evangelists, St. Stephen the first martyr, Holy Innocents, St. John the Baptist,  St. Michael the Archangel, and All Saints.  Two of these feast days remained widely celebrated during the Reformation because they enjoyed the status of serving as civil holidays as well: The Nativity of St. John the Baptist (June 24) and St. Michael and All Angels (September 29). Among Lutheran preachers, St. Michael's Day has provided an occasion to preach on the doctrine of angels and to give thanks for their ministry.