It is rare that I deviate from speaking of my Curse of the Eraser series on my blog. But as it is as much a part of the protagonist and his kin in the books as it is with me, I will do so today, so that you get to know me and they a little bit better.
The first time I walked into the church at Wittenberg to hear Martin Luther proclaim the Good News, I was taken aback as to the simplicity of the words. Now that I have your attention, because you know I am not that old, I would like to make a bold statement- the Reformation is still at the doorsteps.
Today at all Lutheran Churches in the states, congregations celebrated the beginning of the Reformation, where dug from the Word of God once more the words of Paul were proclaimed, "For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law." This verse is the signature verse of the Reformation, of the church and of me.
The first time I walked into the church at Lovell, Wyoming to hear Pastor Floyd Schwieger proclaim the Good News, I was taken aback as to the simplicity of the words. I know it was not Reformation Sunday, but for me, it was the beginning of my reformation. I say that, because the first time I heard the Good News, the real Good News that Jesus Christ's death and resurrection was all sufficient for me to be saved, was a revelation and the beginning of the reformation of my life. In that same signature text Paul had said I was under the law. I was a slave to sin and the law. Jesus said that same thing to me in the Gospel text for today when He said, "Truly, truly I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin."
As a young man, I was told I was still not good enough to enter heaven, that in some way, I had to help Jesus through my meritorious works to be allowed my eternal rest in heaven. It was me and Jesus. Yet, I knew what kind of person I was deep down in my soul. I was a slave to sin and Jesus, well, He was not. I knew He could do it, but as for me, I couldn't and that was a problem. I knew that if I had to help Him, I was in for a very large disappointment. And in fact, I was so disappointed in this condition that I fell away from the Roman church.
That was when I began to search. I read the Word of God. I did comparative studies of all the denominations. I even played with the philosophies and heresies out there, only to find that there was really nothing better out there, because they all relied on man. Man to be self-made men. Man to pull himself out of the pit, even the pit of hell to finally achieve that place he so sought after- heaven. They all seemed to rely on those mysterious meritorious works. Those works that I knew I could not accomplish. So, after that long exercise, I still despaired.
When you hear something simple and yet so freeing, do you believe it at first? When I listened to Pastor Schwieger that first time back in 1975, I almost didn't believe. It was, like I said, tooooo simple. To free. I said to myself, "You mean I don't have to do anything? I am saved by grace through - faith?" ( He may have been in Eph. 2) Then the light bulb went off in my head, (and, yes, I have used that cliche' for so many years when it comes to this story that I can't stop now) and now I finally felt freed. Freed from that sin that bound me. Freed like Jesus said, "The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."
Pastor Schwieger went on to confirm me and then marry me to the woman that brought me to the doors of St. John's. But it was there I began my Reformation and still to this day, as I continue to read and learn, I and millions across this earth are reformed day by day when the Good News is preached. And for this I am eternally grateful.