Reformation Day – October 30, 2022
“God loves us all, both big and small,” a child’s verse declares. The sins of the world are covered. We are able to stand tall before God our righteous judge because in the person of Jesus “salvation has come to this house”—to our house today. In Christ Jesus God seeks us out to save us.
Learn to do good, seek justice, and rescue the oppressed
All the faithful will make their prayers to you in time of trouble.
Faith and love amid persecution and adversity
Zacchaeus climbs into a tree to see Jesus
Prayer of the Day
Merciful God, gracious and benevolent, through your Son you invite all the world to a meal of mercy. Grant that we may eagerly follow his call, and bring us with all your saints into your life of justice and joy, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
GOSPEL MESSAGE - Who Needs to Be Freed?
Martin Luther disliked the idea that adherents to his ideas would call themselves “Lutherans,” preferring the term “Christians” instead. Luther wanted the focus to be on what Christ had done, not on what he had done. So perhaps Luther would be distressed to see so many faithful people not only calling themselves Lutherans five centuries later, but also celebrating Reformation Sunday as a church holiday! Lucky for Luther, the focus of Reformation Sunday is not on Luther’s writings or accomplishments but on the freedom in Christ that is at the heart of the gospel message.
In today’s text from John’s gospel, Jesus’ audience also quibbled over terminology. When Jesus told them, “The truth will make you free” (John 8:32), they were suspicious about what exactly he meant by “free.” They rejected any implication that they or their ancestors might previously have been slaves in need of being set free. However, Jesus wasn’t talking about politics or history. He was referring to a kind of slavery that transcends context: the slavery of sin. All people have been enslaved by sin, and all people need God’s mercy. We are bound by the individual sin of personal choices and by the societal sin of complex systems that are beyond any one person’s control.
The weight of all that sin can feel crushing, but at the heart of the Reformation message is the truth that, through Christ’s death and resurrection, God has already offered us unconditional forgiveness for all our sins, no matter how heavy. We don’t need to earn God’s mercy because it is a gift offered without reservation or requirement. God’s grace is given to us for free and to make us free. Thanks be to God, the chains are gone! That is the good news at the heart of Luther’s teachings, and it is the good news at the heart of our celebration on Reformation Sunday and every day.
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