It was a time late in the Middle Ages, when lords lived in castles and serfs toiled in the fields. The Catholic Church was as powerful or more powerful than many kings, holding sway over lord and serf alike.
Unfortunately, men who lived for themselves rather than for serving others were in control of the church, and the Gospel was overshadowed by the Law. People were taught they could earn salvation by giving money to the church, performing pilgrimages, penances, and good works.
One man who earnestly sought to earn his salvation was a young German monk by the name of Martin Luther. He followed, indeed went beyond every edict of his monastic order, punishing himself physically and mentally until he gave up in despair. He felt utterly broken and destroyed when he realized that no matter how hard, how desperately he tried, he could never be righteous enough to please God and "earn" salvation. He moved on from the monastery, becoming a professor at the University of Erfurt where he spent much time studying the Bible.
His studies took him deep into the Bible, where, guided by the Holy Spirit, he came to a new understanding. He realized that salvation is not something that can be "earned". It is a gift, freely given. Jesus died to pay the price for everyone, and all are covered by His righteousness.
Luther also realized that the Catholic Church was continuing down the wrong road, and indeed had been making a great deal of money selling what the called "indulgences". A person could go to a parish priest and buy a scrap of parchment that said his sins would not count. One could see how the idea was attractive - want to go out and get drunk and rob someone? Simply buy this piece of paper ahead of time and no problem! No guilt!
The practice of selling indulgences was just one of the church practices that didn't sit right with Luther, and he tried to work from within to make the needed changes. Finally, on October 31st, 1517, he wrote the Ninety-five Theses, and nailed them to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg. A simple act, a fairly common act of the time when men wished to set up a meeting to debate issues; yet with far-reaching consequences that Luther could not have foreseen.
The Protestant Reformation is a fascinating historical study, but I won't take your time with it here. Suffice it to say that God used Luther to bring Law and Gospel, Word and Sacrament back to the people, and to this day we celebrate Reformation Day.
Meanwhile, back on the homestead, we've survived the high winds on the edge of Hurricane Sandy with some minor power outages. So sad to see all the destruction on the coast! Hope the area recovers quickly. I've been busy lately, putting up over four dozen quarts of potatoes, a few dozen jars of green tomato relish and hot pepper jam, two dozen pints of carrots, and putting a bushel of apples through the dehydrator. I'm so pleased to have the carrots! The first sowing didn't come up this Spring, so I replanted them but thought the entire crop lost to the weed epidemic I had this year. What a pleasant surprise to find a really nice crop peeking out from behind the tomato plants.
They look even nicer put up in a jar!