Happy belated REFORMATION DAY

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Originally I wanted to put this post up on the 31 October 2005, Monday. Somehow I was “disconnected”. So this is a kind of delayed post.

For starters, I really liked this gift I got and placed it at my rear view mirror in my little green car. Kind of a reminder for myself of my Christian identity even as I drive in our crazy KL traffic … it’s also a reminder of the Lutheran heritage I’m part of which I’ve grown increasingly appreciative the past 5 years. I think it’s possible to be appreciate the Lutheran heritage without being sectarian and superior. I find myself more interested in Martin Luther the person rather than Lutheranism as a belief system or denomination. Particularly because I see him as a pre-enlightenment theologian and pastor which has increasing relevance in a post-enlightenment era like today. There’s a kind of rawness in reading some of his writings that captivates me (check this other English Luther site).

I showed clips of the Luther Movie on Sunday and tried to use it as a “conversational” sermon picking on some of the themes illustrated in the movie especially the Reformation slogans – i.e. Christ alone, Scripture alone, grace alone, faith alone.. I found explaining the Luther Rose (or Luther’s Seal) helpful too. We even printed the 95 theses and read a couple during the message. Some sample thesis below,

1. When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.
2. This word cannot be understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, that is, confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy.
3. Yet it does not mean solely inner repentance; such inner repentance is worthless unless it produces various outward mortification of the flesh.

45. Christians are to be taught that he who sees a needy man and passes him by, yet gives his money for indulgences, does not buy papal indulgences but God’s wrath.
46. Christians are to be taught that, unless they have more than they need, they must reserve enough for their family needs and by no means squander it on indulgences.
47. Christians are to be taught that they buying of indulgences is a matter of free choice, not commanded.

94. Christians should be exhorted to be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, death and hell.
95. And thus be confident of entering into heaven through many tribulations rather than through the false security of peace (Acts 14:22).

I was struck by the last one … with the words “false security of peace” which I hear so often in different forms from the lips of people I meet as well as marketed through media. When it penetrates our mindsets that’s when we find it so hard to hear the good news of God’s liberation and salvation (BTW, reading the book of Ecclesiates puts things in perspective too when it comes to wealth, health, pleasure and even knowledge or wisdom). Our trust in Christ and his work past, present and future frees us from illusions and flase promises.

There are 5 denominations in Malaysia which are part of the Federation of Evangelical Lutheran Churches in Malaysia and Singapore. They are:

In East Malaysia –> The Basel Christian Church of Malaysia, The Protestant Church Sabah.

In West Malaysia & Singapore –> The Lutheran Church in Singapore, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malaysia, and … The Lutheran Church in Malaysia (which I’m part of)

As far as I now the Lutheran denominations in West Malaysia and singapore are relatively smaller compared to the other mainline counterparts and evangelical-charismatic-pentecostal churches (we have around 60 congregations big and small – no mega churches even by Malaysian standards which is perhaps above 1000 people). I find being part of a less powerful and lesser known denomination a fertile ground for thinking and doing ministry. Being out of the limelight means being out of unnecessary pressure to allow myself to develop unnoticed. It also means there’s a sense of realism in seeing who we are and where we are heading (more on that in a nother long delayed post on our recent convention in August!) It’s hard to boast when you are smaller 🙂 NO point boasting because we are older too! But then again, nowadays what’s new is more popular than what is ancient.

Anyway, Reformation Day has become part of my own yearly Christian pilgrimage reminding me of the importance of grace, Christ, Scripture, and faith – and I found this connection to these themes tremendously liberating and I feel even more empowered to do good works .. *grin*

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