“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5.1.
I don’t know if you’ve ever thought this, but I find it susprising that after reminding people that they are free, Paul’s instruction to them is to stand firm. Not, “run around, then, and do a dance of freedom.” Sometimes that is totally appropriate, of course, but Paul is writing to people who are being told that if they really want eternal life they need to be circumcised. So in the face of that, the Galatian believers needed to stand firm in the freedom they’d been given in Christ.
As I wrote last week, I am so grateful for the likes of John Wycliffe and William Tyndale, who put God’s word into English so that common folk like me could read it for ourselves. And the best thing about this is that it means we can know the true gospel, straight from God’s word. I want to celebrate the Reformation with my children because if it weren’t for those brave men and women, many of whom gave their lives or their livelihoods, we would still be relying on priests and icons to tell us about God.
The Bible in my tongue means true freedom, the gospel of grace that has saved me from hell and brought me into a relationship with the Mighty God, my Heavenly Father.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no-one can boast.” Ephesians 2.8-9.
It is by grace, through faith in Christ, to God’s glory.
I don’t need to confess my sins to a priest, because Jesus is my Great High Priest. (1 Timothy 2.5).
I don’t need to do good works in order to be saved, because Jesus has done all the work for me. (See Ephesians 2.8-9 above.).
I don’t need to pray for the dead, because the Lord is just and will judge everyone fairly (Hebrews 9.27-28.), and Jesus paid the price in full for those who trust in him.
It’s not just that I don’t need to do these things, but that by doing them I take away from Christ, as if he didn’t do enough: “Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” 1 Peter 3.18
I can’t be saved by baptism, or pilgrimage, or charity, or taking communion – only by faith in Christ. (Romans 1.17 and Galatians 3.11 are just two examples.)
So in light of all that, I thought I’d let you know what we’ll be doing to celebrate. I’m using the book pictured above, which – as the title suggests – has a different character from church history for each letter of the alphabet. I’ve chosen six of these*, and between now and Monday we will look at one per day (we’ll just read their page from the book and thank God for them). We’ll do Luther last because I have a separate book about him (the little lights one) and it means we can dress up and pretend to nail something to the door, plus eat worm sweets and learn about his trial at Worms.
I drew a map (I’m not good at drawing but who cares really?), so that when we learn about a reformer we can cut out their head (so to speak) and stick it on the map. This will hopefully make it more fun and help the children remember it.
At some point, probably Sunday or Monday (31st is officially Reformation Day), we will do this craft to help them learn the “five solas” which are five phrases that help to sum up the Reformation. (I don’t think I’d heard of these before, thanks Rebecca Croft!). Here is a picture of the craft. If only I were good with technology I could let you download it, but if you have a compass and protractor you could make it yourself. A photocopier may help, depending on the size of your brood. (I will see if I can upload it but am away now until Saturday so it may be too late by then, sorry.)
So there you have it, I hope this is helpful and has inspired you to get excited about the Reformation (not just Ian Dury and the Blockheads).
*we’ll be looking at Lady Jane Gray, Zwingli, Ridley, Knox, Calvin and Luther.