So today is Halloween. It’s just now beginning to be celebrated here in Europe. Megan and I are in Trieste, Italy (the closest airport to where we were in Slovenia) for our early flight back to Belgium tomorrow. Tonight we had a humorously stereotypical Italian dinner of calzones, tiramisu, and cappuccinos; all the while there were little witches, ghosts and ghouls running around the pizzeria. While Halloween is celebrated a little here in Europe, oddly enough, something else actually claims the day: the reformation.
In Slovenia, October 31 is a national holiday celebrating the day when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany in 1517. Can you believe that happened almost 500 years ago? I think most would agree that Luther was not going on an anti-Catholic campaign; his goal was not to create a new “religion” or even a denomination, but to draw people to Christ. One of his main complaints was that the church was falsely telling its members that entry into heaven could be purchased for the right price. This enraged Luther, who stood firmly on what the Bible says – that faith in Christ alone will make men clean in the eyes of God, and therefore acceptable into heaven. 500 years later, we face, in many ways, the same battle. The target may not be as easy as the selling of indulgences, but in many ways men condense God into “religion” and often try to work for approval, status, and even salvation. There is nothing we could ever do to earn approval in God’s sight, yet he offers to completely free us of our bondage to evil if we would turn from the ways of the world to him. There’s something about our human nature that feels this is too easy, and the toiling goes on…
In Slovenia, the celebration of the reformation is often tied to one man, Primoz Trubar. Most of our work in Slovenia this past week centered around Trubar and the legacy he has left after almost 500 years. I’m going to post a little more about Trubar in the next few days because his story is too interesting to not be told. Until then, celebrate reformation – not Protestantism, Catholicism, or any other methods or structures created by men. Celebrate what God has done for us: rather than giving us the dreadful punishment we deserve, he sent his son – perfect and holy – to bear the full load of our punishment so that we could stand before God – not only after death, but NOW - and say that the price has been paid in full and that we’ve been purchased with a price that no man could ever repay.
If that isn’t reason to celebrate, I don’t know what is.