Reformation 500 Celebration!

Reformation Sunday, 2017, was the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses on the door of the Castle church in Wittenberg, Germany. At Good Shepherd we have been celebrating this historic event in various ways to focus on what the Reformation means.

We began our celebration year on Oct. 30, 2016 at Thatcher Woods Pavilion where we shared a meal, had some fun dressing up and taking pictures with a photo booth, and held a silent auction. We held a potluck and Jell-O cook-off in November. What is a Lutheran potluck without Jell-O? During the Education hour, adults started at the beginning with a Lutheran Basics class and discussed how the German political scene at the time influenced Luther.

We continued talking about Lutheranism in America with resident historian Peggy Sinko giving a talk about Lutherans in Illinois and in the Chicago area. Throughout the year, Anna Johnson led a book discussion group on Being Lutheran. Our readings ranged from works on Martin Luther and his ideas on vocation, to Garrison Keillor’s Life Among the Lutherans, Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a book on Katharina von Bora and Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint by Nadia Bolz-Weber. The book group wraps up this month with a short work by Bishop Mark S. Hanson titled Faithful Yet Changing. Die-hard readers will meet one last time in January to discuss Mission at Nuremberg by Tim Townsend, a book about the Lutheran chaplain who ministered to Nazi officers on trial at the end of World War II.

We celebrated with a Rio Mardi Gras party and float-making contest before going on a Lenten Journey with Luther. We enjoyed a Duo Organ/Piano concert in March. We looked outward at how Lutheranism survives in a global world. We celebrated our Lutheran heritage with a little Swag in October 2017.

And throughout the year 20 of us prepared for a trip to Germany. In July, 20 Good Shepherd members immersed ourselves in the Germany of Luther’s time–participating in a short worship service at the Castle Church in Wittenberg including singing "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God," visiting Luther’s home where we saw the table around which many of Luther’s Table Talks happened, and churches where he preached. Visits to Luther’s and Katharina’s birthplaces and places of death, the Augustinian monastery where he studied to be a monk, Wartburg Castle where he translated the Bible into German while hiding out, a concert in the church where Bach was music director for many years and a visit to Buchenwald Concentration Camp all enhanced our trip.

We ended our celebration with the confirmation of our ninth graders on this year’s Reformation Sunday.

We have celebrated our past. We look to the future! How do we take what we learned this year and move our church forward? How can we fill this time – after all we are now halfway to the 1,000th anniversary celebration of the Reformation!
—Gail Frost, member of the Reformation 500 Planning Team

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