St John Lutheran Church Dickinson, ND

             
500 YEARS OF CHANGE
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Five hundred years ago in the small town of Wittenberg, Germany, a man writes feverishly. Filled with equal parts anger, frustration, and hope, he writes until his hand is utterly cramped.

 

He is angry because, as a priest, he cannot bear to watch his impoverished parishioners shell out their meager wages to Johann Tetzel. This church official sent from the Vatican came through their region recently to sell indulgences. He was selling the chance for people to reduce their punishment in purgatory. But all our priest could see were people giving their money to a wealthy church in Rome when they should have been spending it on food for their families. Angrily he writes, “`Why doesn't the pope, whose wealth is today greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build this basilica of St. Peter with his own money rather than with the money of poor believers?’' (Thesis 86)

 

The man is also frustrated because of his work as a professor. He studies the Bible every day. He translates passages in the Bible from their original languages. The man subscribes to a way of learning called “ad fontes” (to the fount). Basically, if you want to learn something, you have to go back to the original sources. That is what the professor was doing. He was studying the sources (the Bible in its original languages) and in the sources he could find no justification for the practice of indulgences or even the concept of purgatory. He is frustrated that his beloved church would promote non-biblical practices that negatively impacted real people.

 

But at this point in the man’s journey - a journey that would radically alter the course of history - the man has hope. He loves the Catholic Church. He was a monk, a priest, and a professor in the Catholic Church. As a good and loyal Catholic, he thought his ideas would make a change. He thought his insights would open the eyes of the church. And so he writes feverishly. He writes until his hand is cramped, trying to open the minds of his colleagues and friends. So, on October 31, 1517, he presented the church with his criticisms. These were his 95 thesis - his 95 attempts to change the church.

 

The man is Martin Luther, the namesake of our church. As we usher in 2017, five hundred years later, we begin a year of celebrating the work of this man, who with the help of many others, radically changed the church and politics of western civilization. As we celebrate this year together we invite you to dive deeper into this man’s story and the history of the reformation movement. In January, Pastor Lisa and I will begin teaching a course called Reformation 1.0, looking at the history of the movement in ways you may have never experienced before. Then, during Lent, we will teach Reformation 2.0, looking at ways the reformation movement continues today and is heading into tomorrow. We hope you’ll join us!

 

Joe Natwick, Associate Pastor

 


WORSHIP TIMES
September - May
Sundays 8:00 & 10:30 am
Wednesdays 6:30 pm (Camp-style service)
Thursdays 7:00 pm

June - August
Sundays 8:00 am & 9:30 am
Thursdays 7:00 pm
CONTACT INFO
St John Lutheran Church
146 6th AVE W
Dickinson, ND 58601

Phone: (701) 225-6747
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