October 31: The No-Trick-All-Treat Celebration of the Reformation

Rev. Brandt Hoffman

Do you want to hear a scary story? That's a good question for this time of year. As we get closer to October 31, many Americans will celebrate by dressing up as Batman, Wonder Woman, a ghost, a witch or even a zombie.

They will spend their evening walking from house to house, saying "TRICK OR TREAT" and then collect candy from their neighbors. Later they might sit around the house and watch some sort of horror movie. That's the fun with Halloween. The monsters aren't real, the ghosts aren't real, none of that scary stuff is real, except, thankfully, for the candy.

As Lutherans, we have another perspective on October 31. For us it is remembering the day in 1517 that Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. This is when Lutherans celebrate the beginning of the Reformation. Back then, they dealt with some very scary monsters indeed—unholy monsters that sought to devour the Christian Church on earth. Monsters that brought suffering and pain and left nothing but spiritual death in their wake.

At a time when the Christian Church was struggling with who we are and what we do, the Reformation was focused on delivering Christians out of fear and death, and delivering them over to the comfort and salvation of the Gospel in both Word and Sacrament, because the most frightening thing in the world is a Christian who believes he or she has no hope.

So this year, as we celebrate Reformation Sunday (October 30th this year), I hope you see it as a joyous day! On the day that began the restoration of so many good things in Christ's Church, I hope it is a reminder of the gift we have in our Lutheran heritage of being strengthened by God's good promises of forgiveness, life and salvation. God bless your Reformation Day, and watch out for the little goblins and ghouls roaming around your neighborhood on the 31st.

Rev. Brandt Hoffman is the Pastor and School Administrator at Christ Lutheran Church and School in Coos Bay, Oregon.

Created: October 27th, 2016