We are now only two months away from the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. This is the final countdown to the night when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Thesis to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg. On the morning of November 1st, All Saints Day, the town awoke ready to attend church and saw Luther’s critiques of the current Church practice of the selling indulgences. The Church, and life of faith, would never be the same.
For 500 years the Reformation and Luther’s theology of God’s love and grace as a gift and not earned by works has transformed individuals and communities lives. In this early fall season we are going to explore the lives of Luther’s contemporaries and their encounters with this new message of grace. We hope the stories of Luther’s contemporaries also helps each better articulate the significance and meaning of our own encounters with God’s grace.
While we explore these different voices we are going to try and support one of Luther’s most important initiatives: the education of young children. During the next couple of weeks we are going to try and raise $1,000 in order to buy 500 books for the children at Graham Road Elementary School. We are raising money to buy books not only for the children to have a variety of reading options, but for them to come to love learning.
Below is a the concluding paragraphs of an article titled: Reflections on Martin Luther and Childhood Education by Marilyn J. Harran from the Journal of Lutheran Ethics. The words are incredibly relevant to the current events of today.
Writing in times far different than ours, Luther underscored the importance of a curriculum that truly engages young people and that inspires them to a genuine love of learning in all its many forms. In particular, Luther stressed the study of history which teaches by example. History helps us to find our place in the world, to learn from those who have preceded us--in short, history helps us to find our "own place in the stream of human events."
By this statement, I think, Luther urged us to be cognizant of our values and to have the courage to articulate them in even the most trying of circumstances. In home, school, church, and community, fostering that awareness and understanding is the purpose of education and the responsibility of educators. No challenge is more urgent than empowering young people courageously to step into the stream of human events, refusing to stand upon the shore as bystanders. In my own teaching, I share with my students the example of the White Rose movement in Nazi Germany. In the midst of a nation where the many were silent and obedient bystanders, a few students, empowered by their faith, chose to speak out. They proclaimed: "We must attack evil where it is strongest, and it is strongest in the power of Hitler.” They urged their fellow citizens to "cast off the cloak of indifference you have wrapped around you." They challenged the authority of an evil regime not with physical weapons but with spiritual ones, with the power of words. Sentenced to death, they faced execution with remarkable faith and courage, young people who had found their "place in the stream of human events" and who, guided by conscience, refused to be separated from their ideals.