Today the church remembers Martin Luther, Theologian, 1546.The catalyst for change in the life of Martin Luther was, of all things, a trip to Rome. There he saw the excesses of the church. As he studied the scriptures, Luther came to believe that the church was not preaching the fullness of the gospel. In 1517, he nailed a set of debating points (95 Theses) to the church door in Wittenburg. Not only did Luther strike a nerve with his proposals for church reform, but new printing technology made his ideas the talk of Europe. Luther did not set out to found a new church. But it was not long until he found himself at odds with church leaders. Summoned to explain himself and invited to recant, Luther is said to have declared, “Here I stand, I can do no other.” Within a short time, Luther was excommunicated. By then, his critiques of the church had taken hold, and many people embraced Lutheran ideas. Originally a term of derision, soon “Lutheran” described a church. Most of the world"s Christians owe Luther a great debt: he popularized the idea of reading scriptures in one"s own language, so that any Christian could read the Bible, not just scholars. Luther himself translated the entire Bible into German. Throughout Europe, others were inspired to translate the Bible into many other languages. Luther"s passion was that people might know the gospel of love which frees us from the tyranny of sin. Give us a zeal for the gospel and a desire continually to reform the church that Christ"s love may be known by all people. Amen.
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O God, our refuge and our strength: You raised up your servant Martin Luther to reform and renew your Church in the light of your word. Defend and purify the Church in our own day and grant that, through faith, we may boldly proclaim the riches of your grace which you have made known in Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.