Many are making reading for their neighborhood Halloween parties as well as "Hallelujah nights" and other Halloween alternatives. Yet there is an alternative that many, and I believe most, ministries do not consider. Why? Simply because they don't know. Heck, I didn't know about it until a few years ago. It's called Reformation Day.
Reformation Day marks the day that a German Augustinian monk named Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses, a series of grievances against various Catholic practices, to the Wittenberg Castle Church door. This bold act took place on October 31st, 1517. I have been to that door, and I have seen where the fires of reformation were earnestly and humbly began in that nation. Luther never set out to create a division in the Catholic Church, but to improve it. Now, we have Protestantism with numerous denominations under that umbrella around the world.
Ligonier.org marks this day as "[commemorating] what was perhaps the greatest move of God's Spirit since the days of the Apostles," ("What Is Reformation Day All About?") What a wonderful movement to celebrate! This humble monk with his heart for God was plagued by the compromising religious practices of the day. Practices such as indulgences which, for a fee, could supposedly spring your dearly departed loved ones from the Catholic invention of Purgatory into Heaven. When in actuality, the funds were going toward the building of the new St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City which was the pet project of Pope Leo X, a member of the ruthless Medici family who represented much of the money behind the papacy. (The family produced four popes and two queens of France including Clement VII, Leo XI, Pius IV, Catherine de' Medici, and Marie de' Medici.) The finding and merchandising of certain religious relics, the majority if not all of which were false, and all of which were instruments of idolatry was another great, deceptive practice of the Catholic Church at the time.
Throughout history and even to date, sadly, corruptions seems to run through the lifeblood of the Catholic Church. There is even a new movie starring Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, and others made about the conspiracy to cover up countless acts of pedophilia in Boston, Massachusetts called Spotlight. It hits the theaters November 6th.
While the historical Reformation Day commemorates the holy boldness and righteous indignation of one determined monk, it is a marvelous time for Christians around the world--Protestant and Catholic alike--to put aside their syncretic practices of Halloween festivities and instead, choose to honor the spirit of reformation instead. After all, it did not start with Martin Luther and it did not end with him either. Old Testament kings such as Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and others including Nehemiah, although not a king, implemented religious reformation in their nations. More modern examples include yet another Martin Luther, aptly named, (Martin Luther King Jr.); President Abraham Lincoln; and even ministers such as Bill Johnson, pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, California. The first two reformed government and society while Bill Johnson has reformed how we do church.
"Well, how about a Reformation Day party at your church?" suggests Brad Winstead. "I know that many churches have a 'Harvest Day Celebration' or other such event where kids get dressed up as Bible characters and the fellowship hall is full of games to keep the kids off the streets. But I'm suggesting going a step further. Let's make it a day where we can learn more about our Reformation roots," (CBN.org). He goes on to suggest party ideas that can be tailored to your local church.
Martin Luther's rediscovery of this truth led to a whole host of other church, and societal reforms, and much of what we take for granted in the West would have likely been impossible had he never graced the scene. Luther's translation of the Bible into German put the Word of God in the hands of the people, and today Scripture is available in the vernacular language of many countries, enabling lay people to study it with profit. He reformed the Latin mass by putting the liturgy in the common tongue so that non-scholars could hear and understand the preached word of God and worship the Lord with clarity. Luther lifted the unbiblical ban on marriage for the clergy and by his teaching and example radically transformed the institution itself. He recaptured the biblical view of the priesthood of all believers, showing all people that their work had purpose and dignity because in it they can serve their Creator.
Today, Luther's legacy lives on in the creeds and confessions of Protestant bodies worldwide. As we consider his importance this Reformation Day, let us equip ourselves to be knowledgeable proclaimers and defenders of biblical truth. May we be eager to preach the Gospel of God to the world and thereby spark a new reformation of church and culture. (Ligonier.org)
It may be too late for you this year, but how about considering a new Halloween alternative for your local church next year? Lord knows the American Church at large could use a good dose of reformation.