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A Lamp to Guide Us

Yesterday was Halloween and my family had a blast trick or treating in our neighborhood. But did you know that yesterday was also Reformation Day?

Kind of slips under the radar, doesn’t it?

Reformation Day commemorates the day Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517. This moment launched the reformation of the church.

The theses were 95 things Luther believed the church needed to do differently. In the 1500s, the church had grown quite corrupt. For example, worship services were conducted in Latin— even though most people didn’t speak Latin. Can you imagine coming to church on Sunday and not understanding what was said? Also the church sold indulgences as a way of buying God’s forgiveness.

Luther ended up being something of a spokesperson for a large group of reformers who were seeking to heal the church. Eventually, five central tenets emerged for what’s become known as Reformed Theology (i.e. the roots of what presbyterians believe). These five statements created the foundation of the reformed faith.

1. Scripture Alone

2. Faith Alone

3. Grace Alone

4. Through Christ Alone

5. All To The Glory Of God Alone

I’d like to spend a couple of weeks exploring these central tenets. Let’s begin with Scripture Alone.

Presbyterians believe that God has revealed God’s self through the scriptures. The Old and New Testaments share with us the grand story of how God has interacted with creation over time. The Bible (a collection of 66 books) records the way humans moved away from God and the way God chose to save and redeem them in return.

The Bible includes poetry, historical narratives, gospels, songs, and letters spanning thousands of years.

Presbyterians believe that the Bible is one of the primary ways we can learn about God.

That’s why Pastor Dana and I spend so much time in our sermons exploring scripture. We believe that studying the Bible— together, as a community of faith— is one of the best practices we can have to get to know God.

There are other ways to get to know God— through personal experience, through the traditions of the church, through reason and logic. Yet Presbyterians believe these are all secondary to scripture.

Here’s how one psalm expressed this truth:

Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.
—Psalm 119:105

God’s word is truly a light in a darkened world. It is a lamp that guides and directs our steps. It explains who God is and who we are at our most true essence.

Thomas Merton, an American monk, experienced deep inner renewal by reading the scriptures.

“By reading the scriptures I am so renewed that all nature seems renewed around me and with me. The sky seems to be a pure, a cooler blue, the trees a deeper green. The whole world is charged with the glory of God and I feel fire and music under my feet.”
—Thomas Merton

Allow the scriptures to renew you and guide you, as a light to your path.

We are in the home stretch of our Stewardship campaign. We hope to have all of the Estimate of Giving Cards turned in by this Sunday, Nov. 6. Thank you to all who have supported Unity this year and plan to do so again in 2023.

If you still need to turn in your estimate, you can fill one out at church on Sunday or on our website: https://unitypres.elvanto.net/form/31381eda-dd5f-4747-a524-dae95c13611d

This Sunday we’ll continue our series titled Things We Think The Bible Says (But It Doesn’t). This Sunday’s incorrect statement: God won’t give you more than you can handle.

We will also celebrate the sacrament of communion.

See you on Sunday!

—Pastor David

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