Reformation Day

When Evangelical Germany celebrated Reformation Day for the first time, on the eve of the outbreak of the Thirty Years War, October 31st, 1617, the sermon text in many churches was our epistle text from the 13th chapter of Hebrews. We can read in the old reports of this festival, and the later commemorations in the 17th century, how our fathers then understood the festival of Reformation Day and how they commemorated it. It certainly wasn't then what it was to become in the 18th and 19th centuries, that is, a celebration honouring the work of man. No, they didn't celebrate the Reformation as a human accomplishment, but as the work of God. If people thought of Luther, it was not as a national hero, nor a genius, but as the instrument of God, the faithful servant through whom God restored the Holy Gospel to Christendom. Because they didn't honour the man, but gave the glory to God, this festival was a day of praise and thanksgiving, just as the 17th century - the most difficult time in German history - was the century of great praise and thanksgiving hymns.

From a sermon given in Erlangen, Germany, on Reformation Day, 1943.

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