Here I Stand...
The month of October brings with it many things. The fields that were green with promise are now empty at the harvest. The baseball season that had so much promise for an entire league is now down to a handful of playoff teams. School is well under way. Even the weather has started to change. The humidity of summer has given way to the crispness of autumn.
Even in the Church the change of season has impact. In October we mark the celebration of the Reformation. On All Hallowís Eve, 1517 (Thatís October 31st) an Augustinian monk by the name of Martin Luther posted a list of debating points on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. This was a common way of inviting people to debate an issue. But the focus of the debate was something different. The target was Mother Church. Luther saw many abuses and confusion of the historic teachings of the Scriptures. While there were 95 theses on Lutherís list, they all dealt with the same thing: the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In Lutherís learned opinion, the Church had all but abandoned the truth of the Gospel.
This is a major part of our Christian heritage. We are descendents of Luther. While there were many things that Luther wrote and said that might make us uncomfortable, there is one thing that we share with Him. That one thing is a commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We still confess to a world, and even to an increasingly unfaithful Christian Church, that there is only ONE way to eternal life with our Lord. That one way is Jesus Christ. We boldly confess that you canít make a decision to follow Jesus. We boldly confess that we do not cooperate with God in our salvation. We boldly confess that the Bible is Godís Word. We boldly confess that baptism is the means of salvation to infant and adult. We boldly confess that Christ is truly and bodily present under the bread and wine of the Lordís Supper. We donít nail our convictions to the door of the Church to invite debate. But when we confess that we are faithful Lutheran Christians, we are saying with Luther as he stood before the Holy Roman Emperor with his very life in the balance, ďHere I stand, I can do not other. God help me!Ē
October and the Reformation are not times for us to be foolishly proud of our Lutheran Heritage. That would be sinful. However, it does give us the opportunity to take a firm stand and tell the world the truth of the Gospel. We realize that this may not sit well with some of those in the other Christian denominations. However, we need to be true to what God says. Now is not the time to apologize for who God called us to be. Now is not the time to turn red and somewhat bashfully say, ďIím Lutheran.Ē No, October is a time when we take our firm stand and say, ďThis is what God says!Ē
So here we stand. To waver in one item is to waver in the Gospel. For the sake of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us, we stand. We stand as a bold confession to a sinful world and a wayward Church. We stand as a beacon to the entire world for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We point them to a cross and an empty tomb. We point them to a Savior that speaks in Word and Sacrament. We point them here because we can do no other! Here we stand! God help us! Amen.