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Homily: Martin Luther: Reformer, Hymnist

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Martin Luther: Reformer, Hymnist
A Homily
By Peter Menkin
Church of Our Saviour (Episcopal)
Mill Valley, CA USA
Wednesday Eucharist, 10:30 a.m.
February 18, 2009

Lesser Feasts and Fasts, 1994
Isaiah 55: 6-11
John 15: 1-11
Psalm 46

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

Our readings today are rich, and so is the life of Martin Luther. This remarkable and great man of history did, as God’s instrument, reform the Christian Church throughout the world. Who does not know the name? Those of the Christian faith, certainly do.
If you come away with any good news from this Homily, let it be that God works in history. That Martin Luther, a man of God, was a man of God in history. That God still speaks. He speaks to us in many ways. As Luther so ardently said 500 years, ago, the Bible speaks to us. As we know, the Holy Spirit is a guide.

Martin Luther, man of history, was a writer of hymns, famous for music that we sing today. He is a reminder of a Christ-inspired, a Christ-filled life, and a Christ-gifted man of faith. His most notable and memorable hymn is, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” Here is a part of the hymn played for us. (Some of the hymn is played on a musical instrument, no voice.)

These are some words from the hymn:

“A mighty fortress is our God
A bulwark never failing;
Our helper He amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe –
His craft and power are great,
And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.”

One commentary says: “Luther’s hymn was sung boldly as an affirmation of God’s power over forces that sought to disrupt the truth of God.”

Martin Luther was born November 10, 1483, at Eisleben, Germany. He studied at Mansfeld, Magdeburg and Eisenach, Germany. At the age of 18, he entered the University of Erfurt intending a career in law. But dropped out almost immediately, believing that law represented uncertainty. Almost at the same time he received his Master’s degree, he became a monk. This was 1505. He had entered the Augustinian monastery at Erfurt to prepare for the priesthood.
He was appointed professor at the University of Wittenberg in 1508. After his ordination, he was awarded a Doctor of Divinity and attracted large congregations by his preaching.

In 1511 he visited Rome, became critical over the corruptions in the church and agonized over the problem of salvation–that it was not won by indulgences, but was a gift of God’s grace.

On October 31, 1517, Luther posted his 95 theses of denunciation in Wittenberg with a view to begin a public debate. This started a quarrel

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