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Reformation Sunday, October 29, 2017 A Parting Gift from Pastor Paul Appel
GLORY AND GRACE - We have all done some preparing to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation this month. We have watched one of the Luther movies or documentaries. We have read a Luther biography. We have visited important Reformation sites in Germany. We have used Luther's Small Catechism for daily devotions. We have studied with others the 95 Theses, those statements Luther offered as guide to discuss the place and purpose of the sale of indulgences in the life of the Church. As a final act of preparation for the celebration to come, let's consider Theses # 62. Luther wrote, "the true treasure of the Church is the most holy Gospel of the glory and grace of God. "

God's glory and grace, Luther would consider Gospel. Glory serves as an English translation of the Hebrew word, shekinah. Shekinah in the Old Testament refers to the physical presence of God. Hence, God's glory or shekinah came and settled upon Mt. Zion or later came and filled the Temple. God's glory gave proof of God's presence.

When young, Martin Luther pictured God as an angry judge. Luther wondered how he could stand in the presence of an angry judging God and not receive condemnation for his many sins. Luther actually did express fear and dread of God almighty. Yet, as Luther continued to study the Scriptures, the Spirit opened Luther's eyes to see, his mind to know and his heart to believe that God did not want to condemn him as a sinner but to save him from the eternal consequence of his sin. God was gracious. God, the almighty creator of heaven and earth, gave his only begotten Son Jesus Christ to save sinners. God's own dear Son Jesus Christ gave his life up to death upon the cross of Calvary on every sinner's behalf and rose from death to life on Easter for every sinner's' benefit and became that savior. God's Holy Spirit gives every believer that faith which clings to Jesus Christ as Savior and follows Jesus Christ as Lord in this life, through physical death to eternal life. This was all grace. God Father, Son and Spirit acted graciously. And God's glory, God's very presence, no longer frightened Luther. Rather God's glory, God's very presence, filled Luther with joy, gave him hope, offered him peace., He counted it a privilege to read and study. to preach and teach the Scriptures filled with and revealing the glory of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit to all. Through the Scripture God actually reached out touched and grabbed those who believed. He eagerly accepted Jesus' invitation to partake of the Holy Supper. Luther gratefully. received Jesus his Savior and Lord in, with and under those forms of bread and wine and in receiving Jesus reaped the benefits of Jesus' own cross death and Easter triumph; namely forgiveness, life and salvation. All this giving by God, Luther named as grace. Hence the glory and grace of God, Luther could describe as the most holy Gospel. Let's celebrate this treasure of the Church, "the most holy Gospel of the glory and grace of God.'" Let's celebrate together!