Oct. 31 is a big day for the Lutheran Church.
It’s been 500 years — a half a millennium — since a rather feisty German monk named Martin Luther published and nailed his 95 theses on the door of the “castle church” in Wittenberg, Germany, and launched the Protestant Reformation.
This was a religious revolution of epic proportions that still reverberates today. Scholars have written volumes upon volumes about the Protestant Reformation, but for me Luther’s message, pure and simple, has always been that we are saved by God’s grace alone and not any earthly good deeds.
But I’ll leave the preaching up to the clergy. What I really want to let fellow Lutherans, or anyone else for that matter, know about is the Old Lutheran website that offers a wide array of products that celebrate the church’s heritage, often with a light-hearted approach.
The website calls itself “The Center for Lutheran Pride! (but not too proud),” making a reference to Lutherans’ conservative, non-boastful tendencies.
Old Lutheran isn’t the only commercial venture that’s capitalizing on the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s bold move. Travel companies are offering special tours to Germany to walk in Luther’s footsteps. And there are plenty of opportunities to buy T-shirts, coffee mugs and all kinds of Protestant Reformation memorabilia. Old Lutheran just happens to be my favorite, because who wouldn’t want to purchase a life-size Martin Luther sticker for $72, or a limited edition Martin Luther bobble-head doll for $19.95.
Other fun products: the “Hot Lutheran” potholder; a poster of the 95 theses with the slogan “Nailed it!”; the “Sin Boldly” 16-ounce beer glass; “Saint/Sinner” Nalgene water bottle, (large-mouth, of course); and the “This is Most Certainly Brew” coffee mugs that are currently sold out.
For those of you who have not gone through the process of being confirmed in the Lutheran church, as I was, the phrase, “this is most certainly true” comes from Luther’s Small Catechism, which we all had to pretty much memorize and recite when we professed our faith on Confirmation Day. For most of us Lutherans, confirmation was our first public-speaking debut, and back in the day it was not for the faint of heart. We were called upon by the pastor to recite from memory entire portions of the Catechism and Bible verses, but somehow we muddled through and it didn’t scar us for life, I don’t think.
There will be a lot of celebrating among Lutherans in the coming days and week as we honor this important anniversary and the man who is our denomination’s namesake. No, we most likely won’t be out in the streets partying; that’s not our style. We’re more apt to sing a little louder (but not too loud), greet our fellow parishioners will a little more zeal and quietly know that we are part of a reformation that is still changing — and saving — lives by grace alone 500 years later.
“This is most certainly true.”
Features editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or firstname.lastname@example.org.