CHAIRMAN’S ADDRESS ON REFORMATION DAY 2023
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ!
Today the entire Lutheran world celebrates one of the most significant dates – Reformation Day! Back in 1517, on this day, Dr. Martin Luther nailed the famous “95 Theses” to the temple, which served as the beginning of reforms in the Church.
We all know that for a Christian the highest gift from God is Salvation, eternal life in Paradise. Speaking against indulgences and other abuses of the Roman Church, Martin Luther again revealed to believers a previously hidden fact – one can only be saved by faith, and no extra merit will help a person in the matter of his salvation. But what does this mean for us?
Many of us go to church for Mass on Sundays and bring offerings. And having sacrificed, they feel that they have fulfilled their duty as a Christian, having then received Communion and gone home. And in response to a neighbor’s request for a cup of rice and a pinch of salt, whose pension did not last for a month, they refuse, believing that it is not a Christian thing to help one’s neighbor. Many generally believe that since we are saved only by Faith and Grace, then we can no longer do anything at all. But is it?
In James 2:17-20 we can read: “Even so faith, if it does not have works, is dead in itself. But someone will say: “You have faith, but I have works”: show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith without my works. You believe that God is one: you do well; and the demons believe and tremble. But do you want to know, unfounded man, that faith without works is dead?”
Thus, a Christian should under no circumstances give up good deeds. On the contrary, all good deeds must be the fruits of Faith. But is it worth counting these deeds and expecting that we will receive salvation for them?
In Luke 17:7-10 we read: “Which of you, having a slave ploughing or tending, when he returns from the field, will say to him, Go quickly and sit down at table? On the contrary, will he not say to him: prepare my supper and, having girded yourself, serve me while I eat and drink, and then eat and drink yourself? Will he thank this servant for carrying out the order? Don’t think. So you too, when you have fulfilled everything commanded you, say: we are worthless slaves, because we did what we had to do.”
It turns out that a good deed is a must, which every Christian does according to his Faith. This is also stated in Article 20 of the Augsburg Confession. He gave a smile to a sad person, and this is a good deed; he helped his neighbor in difficult times, and this is good! I restrained myself from swearing, and that’s the Christian way. And a whole lot of examples can be given.
Our Salvation is not given to us by default or by predestination. The Lord has been watching us all our lives, testing our Faith, looking at our deeds. Until the end of our days we cannot know whether we will be saved, but we can only believe and strive for it. And wish the salvation of others, sincerely participating in this.
Luther’s contribution to the salvation of Lutherans is immeasurable. He did not know whether he himself would be saved, he struggled with his passions in his life, but the strength of his spirit and the steadfastness of his Faith bore fruit in his deeds. And remembering the day of the Reformation, we remember this contribution and become a little better ourselves!
I sincerely congratulate you on the Day of the Reformation, and I wish you to preserve and enhance the legacy of Lutheran theologians! God bless you!
With love and prayers,
Chairman of the Synod of the ECAC
fr. Alexius (Suvoroff)