This October is a big month for Lutherans around the world. On 31 October, we commemorate the 500th Anniversary of Martin Luther’s publication of the ‘95 Theses’.

In this document, Luther challenged a number of practices in the church of his time that concerned him and that he felt were putting barriers between God and ordinary people. Luther intended the Theses to be discussion topics to encourage constructive debate. For a variety of reasons, the debate never happened and instead the Theses sparked a wave of reform that swept through the Western world.

This movement, known as the Reformation, had far reaching consequences for both the church and secular society. It would not be an exaggeration to suggest, as many have, that the world we know today is built on foundations laid at the Reformation. Certain things we take for granted today, such us freedom of religion, the ideal of universal education for boys and girls, and the rise of vernacular languages, like German and English, can all be traced to developments during the Reformation.

This year at St Peters, both the College and the congregation have been marking the Reformation in a number of ways. We have been part of a lecture series together with other churches in Indooroopilly. It has been valuable to remember that the Reformation is not a Lutheran movement, per se. All Western Christian churches underwent a process of Reformation in the 15th Century, including the Roman Catholic Church. An Ecumenical Evening Service on 31 October at 7.00pm will give us another opportunity to commemorate the Reformation with the wider church.

We also enjoyed the music of the Reformation in the Combined Schools Concert in July. Another musical feast will be on offer on Saturday 28 October at 3.00pm at the St Peters Chapel, when the congregational choir will join with Pro Musica and an ensemble of professional musicians. This will include a rendition of Bach’s great Reformation Cantata BWV 80, ‘Ein Feste Burg’.

Our regular 9.00am service on Sunday 29 October will offer something more classically Lutheran, with a service of Reformation chorales, including many by Martin Luther himself. The music of the Reformation has been described as the ‘gospel in song,’ and there is a lot of truth to this when you consider the extent to which song writers of the Reformation infused their songs with the hope and joy that Jesus had won for them.

In many parts of the world, the Reformation 500 will go largely unnoticed. And that’s understandable in that the Reformation is not a major church festival. Quite rightly, it should never be held on the same level as Jesus’ birth, death, and rising to life again! It’s also true that the Reformation also brought in an era of pain and conflict that affected millions and, in some cases, we are only now beginning to see healing and reconciliation 500 years later. Nevertheless, the churches of Indooroopilly felt that this was a good opportunity to remember how God works, often in surprising ways, to renew and shape the Church and the world around us.

God bless. 

Pastor Matthias Prenzler