So far in the history of the Church, it seems that every 500 years or so, there is some sort of course correction or major shift and change:
- The period from 325 to 787 witnessed the Seven Ecumenical Councils
- The East-West Schism (or so-called "Great Schism") of 1054
- The Reformation, 1517 - 1529
Are we currently in the midst of another such period of transformation?
This Sunday the church observes the Festival of the Reformation. We'll remember the Reformation of the 16th Century. And we'll also discuss the Reformation of the 21st Century. And, believe it or not, this all fits in well with our ongoing consideration of Martin Luther's Small Catechism.
Below is an image of what is known as Luther's Rose or the Luther Seal. Following it is Martin Luther's own explanation of its meaning. If you were to compose an image that would represent your faith or the Faith of the Church, what would it look like?
Explanation of Luther's Rose
Grace and peace from the Lord. As you desire to know whether my painted seal, which you sent to me, has hit the mark, I shall answer most amiably and tell you my original thoughts and reason about why my seal is a symbol of my theology.
The first should be a black cross in a heart, which retains its natural color, so that I myself would be reminded that faith in the Crucified saves us. For one who believes from the heart will be justified" (Rom. 10:10).
Although it is indeed a black cross, which mortifies and which should also cause pain, it leaves the heart in its natural color. It does not corrupt nature, that is, it does not kill but keeps alive. "The just shall live by faith" (Rom. 1:17) but by faith in the crucified.
Such a heart should stand in the middle of a white rose, to show that faith gives joy, comfort, and peace. In other words, it places the believer into a white, joyous rose, for this faith does not give peace and joy like the world gives (John 14:27). That is why the rose should be white and not red, for white is the color of the spirits and the angels (cf. Matthew 28:3; John 20:12).
Such a rose should stand in a sky-blue field, symbolizing that such joy in spirit and faith is a beginning of the heavenly future joy, which begins already, but is grasped in hope, not yet revealed.
And around this field is a golden ring, symbolizing that such blessedness in Heaven lasts forever and has no end. Such blessedness is exquisite, beyond all joy and goods, just as gold is the most valuable, most precious and best metal.
This is my compendium theologiae [summary of theology]. I have wanted to show it to you in good friendship, hoping for your appreciation.
May Christ, our beloved Lord, be with your spirit until the life hereafter. Amen.
Letter to Lazarus Spengler, July 8, 1530.
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October 26, 2014
Prayer of the Day
Almighty God, gracious Lord,
we thank you that your Holy Spirit renews the church in every age.
Pour out your Holy Spirit on your faithful people.
Keep them steadfast in your word,
protect and comfort them in times of trial,
defend them against all enemies of the gospel,
and bestow on the church your saving peace,
through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen