Reformation 500

October 31, 2017 (All Saints' Eve) marked the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, which was ignited by Luther's posting of "The 95 Theses" on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, in 1517. A small committee worked on commemorative publications, projects, and events for St. Mark's, which culminated in our own festival worship on the morning of October 29 (Reformation Sunday). The Washington DC Metropolitan Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) sponsored a Reformation Service at 4:00 PM that afternoon (October 29) in the Washington National Cathedral. ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton preached. The previous Sunday, October 22, the National Lutheran Choir under the direction of David Cherwien presented a concert in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington at 7:00 PM.

At the end of our Reformation service, a commemorative booklet was distributed to each worshiper as a memento of this anniversary year. Thanks to the Reformation 500 Committee for bringing this project to fruition, especially our "editor in chief" Cheryl Dwyer and Ron and Abby Johnson, who researched and wrote LutherFacts. All members of the committee contributed to this and other projects throughout the year. They are Joan Enerson, Sandy Lind, Tim and Ginger Lutz, and Dino and Linda Vretos. Their generosity of time, thought, and enthusiasm has made it an exciting journey. Thanks to these and all other members of St. Mark's who in any way contributed to our 500th!

~ Chris Michaelsen, Chair

Reformation Reverberations

Soli Deo Gloria! This Sunday is the last Sunday of the church year, the feast of Christ the King. It is also the last in a series of sermons on the "Five Solas" of the Reformation. The Hymn of the Day is, appropriately, Soli Deo Gloria by Marty Haugen (Holden Evening Prayer), a hymn addressed to God the Father for all the blessings of this life, for the Word and Sacraments, for witnesses to the Gospel, for music, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus, "best gift divine." The last stanza is a universal song of praise invoking "every culture and style and key," in which we, but a fraction of the "billion voices," join in the "one great song."
At the other end of the spectrum, we sing the final stanzas of "Salvation unto Us Has Come," by Paul Speratus, Luther's colleague, who assisted him in compiling the first Lutheran hymnal. To end this church year, in which we observed the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, it seems fitting to end communion with praise and prayer, words that are nearly 500 years old, but the message timeless. The penultimate stanza is a doxology (hymn to the Trinity). The last stanza is a paraphrase of the Lord's Prayer, ending in Amen. (There was a time, as many of you may remember, when nearly all of our hymns ended with Amen.)
Soli Deo Gloria! -- Glory to God Alone! -- is a familiar refrain to church musicians. J. S. Bach, whose music we hear often, often wrote these words at the top of his musical compositions. In some cases he wrote Jesu, juva (J.J.) -- Jesus, Help -- because he knew who he was glorifying and from whom he received his gifts. Putting these words to the paper with pen and ink was a humble act by a man of faith, sometimes called "the fifth evangelist" (following Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). So this Sunday's service contains music from the time of the Reformation all the way to the present (though its roots reach much farther back into the past). It is our doxology, our Amen, and the continual song of the Church Universal.


            Martin Luther (1483-1546)

          Martin Luther (1483-1546)