Only Five People

At our church on Sunday, we celebrated Reformation Sunday, joining with thousands of Christian sisters and brothers around the world singing “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” and remembering Martin Luther and other faithful ones who helped form the church we have today.

Luther lived in Wittenberg, Germany during most of his adult life, and it was in Wittenberg that he posted the Ninety-Five Theses to the door of Castle Church on October 31, 1517, igniting the Protestant Reformation.

Luther's Pulpit

Luther’s Pulpit

Luther was a fiery preacher, and It is estimated that he preached 7,000 sermons between 1510 and 1546.

Very near the end of his life, Luther returned to his hometown, Eisleben, to negotiate a dispute between local magistrates. Four days before his death, Luther – the renowned and sometimes reviled Reformer – preached his final sermon in Eisleben, and only five people were present!

Luther was angry and disappointed. He wrote to a colleague that he feared he had been involved in a failed Reformation. In those moments, Luther could not have envisioned the Protestant Christians who would follow through the centuries.

At times, I am disappointed because things do not turn out as I hoped they would — or people seem not to care about things that I feel are very important. Luther’s final sermon is a good reminder for me — good things can emerge even if I do not know it and cannot see it.

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