In his comments on the Official Opening of the Reformation Room on Thursday evening past, Rev. Brown addressed the reason why we were meeting on that specific night – 4 May – and also outlined the aims of this entire project:
Why not after the Prayer Meeting some night? Last night? And why a Thursday night of all nights?
(i) We needed a Deadline.
As with any project, if you don’t set a target date (and announce it), everything tends to drag forward interminably.
(ii) We chose this one as a reasonable target.
Given the amount of work we knew needed to be done, this seemed achievable - or close to it.
(iii) This date has significance in Martin Luther’s life.
It was the day on which he entered the Wartburg Castle.
On 4 May, 1521 German Elector (Prince) Friedrich the Wise arranged for Luther to be brought to the Wartburg Castle near Eisenach. The powerful Elector hoped that taking Luther out of the limelight would weaken the constant attacks against the Reformation. Luther lived undetected at the Wartburg, with his own special quarters, and under a new identity: to anyone who visited, he was Junker Jörg (Knight George) - a nobleman. To disguise himself, he “grew his hair and a beard." While here, Luther translated the Bible into German, completing the New Testament within an astonishing period of 11 weeks.
WHY THIS PROJECT?
On this the 500th anniversary of Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg (looked upon by many as the signal for the start of the Protestant Reformation), it would seem incredible for a Reformed Protestant Church not to commemorate this hugely important event. This is the biggest Christian anniversary in our lifetime.
When Luther nailed those theses to the church door (the notice board of the town), he was hoping to spark a debate on the misuse of Indulgences within the Catholic Church. His opening, introductory line was: “Out of love for the truth, and the desire to make it plain.”
Though an Exhibition could become nothing more than a slab or two of ancient history in which few are genuinely interested, I felt there was colossal potential in this one as far as getting the Gospel out was concerned. In other words, it is a prime opportunity for us to communicate the truth to our current confused age.
This is our aim: to make the truth of faith alone in Christ alone plain to this neighbourhood; to help people to a love for the truth. We have been treated to so much ‘fake news’ in recent times, it is high time that the truth from God was presented and promoted in a tangible way.
I am so glad that our Presbytery is marking this anniversary year – in a significant, meaningful way. Under the leadership of our Moderator, Rev. Thomas Murray, it has:
- Elected a 500th Anniversary Committee (chaired by Rev Ron Johnstone):
- produced a new website, information booklets, posters, a CD of Reformation Praise,
- organised meetings and rallies (27 October 2017 here in Martyrs),
- spearheaded an evangelistic outreach across Northern Ireland by which 780,000 homes will receive a special truth on the theme of Justification by Faith Alone.
I still felt we could do something locally. Especially given the fact that God has blessed us with space and resources, and gifted us a team of willing, enthusiastic workers.
This will therefore become a vital arm of our evangelism into this neighbourhood this year. Already we have a footprint in several of the local schools through the efforts of Phil Hartin (helped this year by Alana Wilkinson) and I am conscious of the need to develop these contacts while the opportunity is still there. (Notably, the schools which have signed up to visit our Reformation Room are those in which Phil and Alana have been working). Personal contact is always the key that opens many a door in evangelism.
Please pray with us that the Lord would richly bless this Reformation endeavour.