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Grace Notes
SSunday, October 25, 2020                    Reformation Sunday
Alleluia. If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. Alleluia. (John 8:31-32)
 
Prayer of the Day
Gracious Father, we pray for your holy catholic church. Fill it with all truth and peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in anything it is amiss, reform it; where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in need, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.
Readings and Psalm
Sunday            October 25                  Reformation Sunday
            Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 46; Romans 3:19-28; John 8:31-36
Monday           Psalm 119:41-48; Deuteronomy 6:1-9, 20-25; James 2:8-13
Tuesday           Psalm 119:41-48; Deuteronomy 10:10-22; James 2:14-26
Wednesday     Psalm 119:41-48; Proverbs 16:1-20; Matthew 19:16-22
Thursday         Psalm 43; 1 Samuel 2:27-36; Romans 2:17-29
Friday              Psalm 43; Ezekiel 13:1-16; 2 Peter 2:1-3
Saturday          Psalm 43; Malachi 1:6—2:9;   Matthew 23:13-28
Sunday            November 1                All Saints Sunday
Revelation 7:9-17; Psalm 34:1-10, 22; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12                                  
GOSPEL MESSAGE                                Before the Truth Is Finished
“You will know the truth,” Jesus said, “and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32).
“The truth will set you free,” David Foster Wallace wrote, “but not until it’s finished with you.”
Before the truth is finished with us, it demands that we admit that we are not already free. We are enslaved to sin. This is the part of the truth that Luther called the law: the hard part that points out that we are controlled by our fears and desires, our self-absorption and self-doubt, our addictions and facades.
Here’s the truth: You are not your Sunday best or your Facebook profile. You are broken, and enslaved by your attempts to cover it up. That can be hard to hear, but until it sinks in we are unable to be released and receive the truth of the gospel, the good news of grace.
Today we celebrate Reformation Day, and in the spirit of Martin Luther the church must be always reforming, always pointing beyond itself to God’s grace. The temptation is always there to settle for so little: a cozy collective of our most presentable selves, the right side of social issues, pat answers to incomprehensible mysteries of the universe.
Jesus’ invitation is to bring the mess that we’re in, the mess that we are. We are called to show up as our true selves, fears and regrets and doubts and all. God can handle it. The communion of saints—that is, us, the people of God—can handle it. You are loved. You are forgiven. You are free.
The truth of God that sets us free first tears us open. Church can and must be a place where we bring our broken-open selves and encounter the healing power of a God who sees us, knows us, loves us as we are, and sets us free.
Visual Art
Considering using an image of a stained-glass window at St. Matthew's German Evangelical Lutheran Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The window depicts the Augustinian monk Martin Luther with the Ninety-Five Theses (1517), scenes from the Diet (imperial meeting) in the city of Worms (1521) and the Diet of Augsburg (1530), and the Luther rose.
A Hymn for the Day
Each year we celebrate the work of Martin Luther, for whom the Lutheran Church was named. Luther translated the Bible into a language that the people around him could understand. He also wrote a lot of hymns. One of Luther’s hymns that we often sing on this day is “A mighty fortress is our God” (ELW 503–505). The words of this hymn are based on today’s psalm, Psalm 46. Find Psalm 46 the first verse: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Saying (or singing) “A mighty fortress is our God” is like saying “God is our refuge and strength.”
Comments from the Cloud of Witnesses
Every renewal of the church essentially consists in an increase of fidelity to her own calling. Undoubtedly this explains the dynamism of the movement toward unity. Christ summons the church, as she goes her pilgrim way, to that continual reformation of which she always has need, insofar as she is a human institution here on earth. Consequently, if, in various times and circumstances, there have been deficiencies in moral conduct or in church discipline, or even in the way that church teaching has been formulated—to be carefully distinguished from the deposit of faith itself—these should be set right at the opportune moment and in the proper way.
—Decree on Ecumenism, Second Vatican Council
[Vatican Council II, The Basic Sixteen Documents, Revised Translation in Inclusive Language, ed. Austin Flannery, OP (Northport, NY: Costello Publishing Company, 1996), 507-508.]
  From sundaysandseasons.com.                     Copyright © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.
Upcoming Commemorations
Philipp Nicolai, died 1608; Johann Heermann, died 1647; Paul Gerhardt, died 1676; hymnwriters
Monday, October 26, 2020
These great hymnwriters all worked in seventeenth-century Germany in times of war and plague. Nicolai, a pastor, lost 1,300 parishioners to plague, 170 in one week. He wrote "O Morning Star, how fair and bright" and "Wake, awake, for night is flying." Heermann's hymns, including "Ah, holy Jesus," often express the emotions of faith. Gerhardt, perhaps the greatest Lutheran hymnwriter, was a pastor in Berlin.
 
Simon and Jude, Apostles                                                    Wednesday, October 28, 2020
We know little about these apostles. Simon is listed as "the zealot" or Cananean in New Testament lists. Jude, also called Thaddeus, asked Jesus at the last supper why he had revealed himself to the disciples but not to the world.
 
Reformation Day                                                                  Saturday, October 31, 2020
By the end of the seventeenth century, many Lutheran churches celebrated a festival commemorating Martin Luther's posting of the Ninety-five Theses, a summary of abuses in the church of his time. At the heart of the reform movement was the gospel, the good news that it is by grace through faith that we are justified and set free.
From sundaysandseasons.com.
                                                TAKING FAITH HOME 10/25
TAKING FAITH HOME 10/25
SCRIPTURE VERSE FOR THIS WEEK:
Whoever is the greatest should be the servant of the others. If you put yourself above others, you will be put down. But if you humble yourself, you will be honored. Matthew 23:11-12 (CEV)
 
 A Prayer for the Week: Lord, send out your light and your truth. Let them lead us today. Amen.
Mealtime Prayer: Lord, by your grace we eat and drink, by your grace we live. May we say thanks to you this day by how we serve and give. Amen.
A Blessing to Give: Jesus has chosen you to be part of his kingdom. May his love be at work in you, so that your life pleases him. Amen. 
 
CARING CONVERSATION:  Discuss in your household or small group:
Change is often terrifying, but in the past it was much easier to glorify. While we praise the changes that took place during the Reformation from a safe 500-year distance, we may fail to appreciate how challenging and even horrifying it would be to experience the same kind of change today. Discuss When have things changed? What had to be let go of? What was scary about it? And what grew in its place?
 
DEVOTIONS: October 31 is Reformation Day. The central message of the sixteenth century reformers like Martin Luther was that we are saved through faith in Jesus, not by our own works or efforts. In your household devotional times this week, light a red candle (red is the church color for Reformation) and say together these words: “God’s grace has saved you because of your faith in Christ. Your salvation doesn’t come from anything you do. It is God’s gift.” (Ephesians 2:8). If possible, read a short story of the life of Martin Luther or another Reformation figure, or watch the movie Luther.
 
SERVICE: Jesus said, “Whoever is your servant is the greatest among you.” Let your
home chores become acts of service to one another this week. Have each household member choose one daily chore they will commit to this week to serve other household members in Jesus’ name.
 
 RITUALS AND TRADITIONS: The psalmist writes with confidence that God is our refuge and help even in the midst of powerful and destructive natural disasters. The earth is a bounteous planet, but it can also be a dangerous place to live. The earth quakes and wars rage. In a time when climate change is causing more frequent, severe storms and warming global temperatures, we know that more extreme weather events are on the way. Yet if we can be still and pay close attention, we will be able to discern the presence of God at work for the good of people and the planet. On this Sunday when we celebrate the importance of reform in our church, we can be encouraged by the psalmist’s faith in a God who calls us to be a part of the change that God envisions for the world. Take a fall walk to enjoy and observe the changes of the season.
© 2010 Vibrant Faith Ministries. All rights reserved. Written by Pr. Greg Priebbenow and edited by Vibrant Faith Ministries
 
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