So, in honor of Reformation Day, the sermon at church on Sunday was all about the life, teachings, and music of Martin Luther. It took a sermon like that to remind me just how monumental Luther's actions were. I feel like we should be reminded of what he did more than once a year, because it was kind-of a big deal. : )
Can you imagine sticking up for your beliefs in a way that so drastically and completely changes the course and vehicle for the beliefs of others for generations upon generations to come?! (I know there are plenty of others who have done so over the course of history, but I'm going to stick to Luther, for now.) I wonder how fully he understood/realized the implications of his actions at the time. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Luther's "actions," here's an explanation in a nutshell: He believed salvation cannot be bought with money or earned through good deeds, but rather, it is freely given by the grace of God. This was a new concept in his time, and it went against the Roman Catholic Church's teachings. Luther stood firm in his beliefs, though, and went public with them, resulting in his excommunication. Subsequently, he went into hiding and too this time to translate the Bible from Latin to German, making it much more accessible for the people. Basically, he initiated the Protestant Reformation. Wohoo!
This all led me to another thought: Why do we have so many denominations within the Protestant church? I know, of course, there is plenty of explanation to be found in history, research, and others' commentary - some of which I have heard/read - but I'm looking to dig deeper. Are these divisions something Satan caused, or were they prescribed by God? Were they meant to cause conflict and bitterness among believers, or were they created to allow for a variety of traditions, music, etc. for believers to choose from and ultimately find their niche? Maybe there is commentary on this, too, that I should seek out. For now, though, I'm just speculating "out loud."
I don't believe in a hierarchy of denominations, mostly because I don't know the answers to the questions above. All I know is this: We are all sinners and are saved by the grace of God through the death of His Son on the cross. The choice of whether or not to accept this grace is ours to make. Upon accepting this gift of eternal life, our life on Earth should be a reflection of God's love and mercy.
I'll leave it at that, for now. I hope none of this offended anyone - it certainly was not meant to. I'd love to hear your thoughts on any and all of this, as usual. At the very least, I hope it made you think a bit...and maybe be thankful for Martin Luther. : )
On a lighter note, here's a student story for you:
After taking pictures in our Halloween costumes, one of my students said, "There's two kinds of cheeses: the kind you say when you smile for a picture and the kinds you eat. I like the kind you eat best. cheddar jack is my favorite, and then just plain cheddar. What's your favorite?" This was the kiddo, by the way, who dressed up as Beaker from the Muppets. Best. costume. ever. Here's a link to his picture on Boo at the Zoo's contest site (I think you might have to copy and paste it): https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/383428_10150335277191160_57153231159_8401525_1582657471_n.jpg
AND here's a link to the video he sang/acted out for me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpcUxwpOQ_A
P.S. FYI - voting for the costume contest ends tomorrow (Friday).