But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:4-9)
Some days I get it. The crushing combination of an aching body, longing heart, restless intellect, and shame filled soul overwhelm my vain self-reliance to remind me just how desperately I need God’s grace, and just how blessed I am by the incomparable love of God poured out on the cross for my redemption in Jesus. If we feel like misfits in this world, it is because we have been raised with Christ and no longer truly belong here. If we are ambivalent about the future, it is because only our death or Christ’s return can completely rid us of all failures and fears. If we are unsure how to respond to the challenges of life, it is because we do not yet see the same grace that saved us in the past as also preparing good works for us to discover and enjoy in the future.
Yet we always get it. Even when we are discouraged, distracted, deceived, or disgusted with ourselves—especially then—God’s Word assures us of His great love for us, enacted in the reckless abandon of His Son, and enables us to believe that He will sustain us through His Spirit. The remarkable story of the Reformation, sparked 500 years ago this week, is also our story. Like Martin Luther, we are continually rediscovering God’s grace, and continually called to step and speak out in faith, confident that He who called us is faithful.
“Heavenly Father, strengthen our hearts to grasp Your grace, especially when we feel undeserving or overwhelmed. Remind us of Your continuing love and purpose for us; sustain us in all our struggles until we stand in Your presence, beloved in Christ Jesus, amen.”
THE REFORMATION POLKA by Robert Gebel
(To the tune of "Supercalifragilistic-expialidocious")
When I was just ein junger Mann I studied canon law;
While Erfurt was a challenge, it was just to please my Pa.
Then came the storm, the lightning struck, I called upon Saint Anne,
I shaved my head; I took my vows, an Augustinian!
Chorus: Oh, papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation
Speak your mind against them and face excommunication!
Nail your theses to the door, let's start a Reformation!
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation!
When Tetzel came near Wittenberg, St. Peter's profits soared,
I wrote a little notice for the All Saints' Bull'tin board:
"You cannot purchase merits, for we're justified by grace!
Here's 95 more reasons, Brother Tetzel, in your face!" (chorus)
They loved my tracts, adored my wit, all were exempleror;
The Pope, however, hauled me up before the Emperor.
"Are these your books? Do you recant?" King Charles did demand,
"I will not change my Diet, Sir, God help me; here I stand!" (chorus)
Duke Frederick took the Wise approach, responding to my words,
By knighting "George" as hostage in the Kingdom of the Birds
Use Brother Martin's model if the languages you seek,
Stay locked inside a castle with your Hebrew and your Greek! (chorus)
Let's raise our steins and Concord Books while gathered in this place,
And spread the word that 'catholic' is spelled with lower case;
The Word remains unfettered when the Spirit gets his chance,
So come on, Katy, drop your lute, and join us in our dance! (chorus)
(Don’t get it? Join one of our Reformation studies!)
The grace of God be with you! Joy in Jesus,
As Pastor at Pilgrim, Kirk is fueled by a passion for God's Word and a lot of good coffee.