October 31st is marked by falling leaves, buckets of candy, and adorably dressed children parading down neighborhood streets as animals, a favorite character, or, as I was for many years, a pumpkin. The anticipation of the 31st begins as early as stores release costumes and candy corn in the late summer months. But the 31st actually marks two holidays, and one – though lesser known – is extremely significant and exciting for all Christians. The final day of October is known as Reformation Day, where a surprisingly monumental decision was made in a little town in Germany in 1517 that would impact generations. And this year is the 500th anniversary.
Maybe you’ve never heard of Reformation Day or maybe you’re wondering how this relates to motherhood in 2017. Here’s really brief history lesson:
Five hundred years ago, the church was corrupt with power. Instead of welcoming people through its doors with grace, the church created a list of rules that kept people from the word of God. The church insisted that people only needed to hear the Bible at mass and it had to be in Latin. Since people didn’t have Bibles written in their spoken languages or in their homes, they became deceived about the true gospel and tried to earn their salvation rather than accept it as a free gift. So a monk named Martin Luther did a seemingly small thing that sparked a movement to bring the true and transforming gospel into the lives of Christians around the world: He bravely defied culture and the corrupt church, and stood up for the truth of God’s word. He nailed a list of 95 biblical reminders (known as Luther’s “95 Theses”) to the church door in his city to remind people of what the Bible truly teaches. He wanted everyone to know that Christ had died so that they could have abundant life through him. And this free gift from God is still ours today. This grace is what all of motherhood – and all of life – is built upon.
Against all odds, this moment in church history marked a domino effect of many other men and women who courageously suffered to share the hope found in Jesus, bringing reform (hence, “Reformation Day”) to the church. There were amazing changes in the church because of these men and women! For the first time ever, the word of God was translated into the people’s language – the language of farmers, teachers, and yes, moms. Christians were able to read the Bible and learn for themselves, which meant families were being taught the gospel in their homes.
The reformers wanted the truth of the gospel to be known by everyone, but many of the arguments from the Reformation were long and nearly impossible to memorize. So five points were drawn as conclusions for easy learning by adults and children alike. These are technically called the “Five Solas,” but they’re really just simple reminders of big theological truths that still matter to Christians everywhere today.
Sola Scriptura (scripture alone): God gave us the Bible as our ultimate authority here on earth. Even today, as we hear one hundred different opinions about how to be a mom or raise a child, we can look to God’s word as our ultimate source of wisdom and encouragement.
Sola Fide (through faith alone): We need only our faith in Jesus to have abundant life. We do not need to be perfect, we do not need perfect children, and we do not need perfect homes! Our faith is the only thing that makes us righteous before God.
Sola Gratia (by grace alone): Our salvation is a free gift of God’s grace, which means we don’t earn God’s love or forgiveness. When it seems like we are failing in every moment or when we’re doing everything “right,” God’s love for us never changes. He gives us grace upon grace each and every day.
Solus Christus (in Christ alone): Jesus paid for all of our sins, so we never have to earn our place in God’s kingdom. When we sin, God remembers Jesus and never holds it against us.
Soli Deo Gloria (to God’s glory alone): And lastly, it’s all to the glory of God. Every diaper change, every swept floor, every moment of discipline, and how we show our children God’s love is eternal work that brings him glory. Our work as moms may not always been seen by others, but our daily faithfulness - even when it’s unseen - brings God glory forever.
So today, on Reformation Day, we celebrate the the courage, strength, sacrifice and joy of those who went before us. The church transformed because of the reformers’ faithfulness to God’s word and the truth of the gospel. We are reminded by their work that we rest freely in the love of a good God because of the death and resurrection of his son, Jesus. We no longer strive for perfection or worth. Instead, we are offered grace again and again. It's because of the Reformation that we can open the scriptures on our couches, play the audio book of the Bible in the pick-up line, speak candidly of Christ's death and resurrection to our children at the park, and best of all, rest freely in the grace of God, worshipping him as our supreme treasure as we go about our daily lives.
You may have caught a quick glimpse of our Instagram story yesterday when we shared about Diet of Worms Apparel. In celebration of Reformation Day, they are offering 10% off the goods in their shop to Risen Motherhood listeners with the code “risenmotherhood”. The code is available until November 6th and valid for one use per customer. You can find their shop at @dietofwormsapparel. Enjoy dressing up your little reformer!