Vision Partners: Minnesota Orchestra – New Reformation Symphony

Sa 11/4 6pm Dinner, 8pm Concert. In 1830, Felix Mendelssohn composed Symphony No. 5, commonly called the Reformation Symphony to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession. In 2017, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Luther posting the 95 Theses on the Wittenberg church door, a new work entitled Re-formation by Sebastian Currier has been commissioned by the Minnesota Orchestra thanks to the generosity of Mount Olivet members Kathy and Charlie Cunningham. Both symphonies will be performed by the Minnesota Orchestra on Saturday, November 4, 2017. Invitations to this special event will be mailed to all Mount Olivet Vision Partners (see box below). For more information or for questions mcarlson@mtolivethomes.org.

 

Reformation Play: Martin Luther on Trial

Su 11/12 2pm, Pantages Theatre 710 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis. In this new original play Luther’s beloved wife Katarina defends him as witnesses including Sigmund Freud, Rabbi Josel, St. Paul, and Pope Francies take the stand – and the prosecutor is the Devil. Even as 2017 marks 500 years since Luther ignited the Protestant Revolt against Rome, he continues to spark intense debate. You be the judge in this witty, provocative exploration of one of history’s most explosive personalities and the religious and political controversies he unleashed. Tickets $55 (discounted price). $15 for optional bus from WEST, Mpls, or 7500 York .

Questions Carol Throntveit carolt@mtolivet.org

As we wrap up Reformation 500, be present, be engaged, and be together!

 

Reformation 500  Sermon Series  Begins September 17!

Grace in Action: Making Sense of Martin Luther’s Life-Changing Theology

During the final weeks leading up to the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther posting his 95 Theses, our pastors will treat us to a sermon series that draws us more fully into Luther’s Reformation insights.

For those interested in diving a little deeper, you can read Making Sense of Martin Luther, a conversation-style book written by Pastor Lose and soon-to-be published by Augsburg Fortress. Running from September 17 to Reformation Sunday, October 29, the sermon series follows the outline of Pastor Lose’s book and pairs a theological theme with biblical passages which inspired Luther.

Summaries of, and questions for further reflection about, each chapter will be in the This Week email and handouts at Mpls & West.

 

WEEK 1 SUN, SEP 17
The Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Freedom! Justification By Grace Through Faith
Romans 1:16-17; Luke 15:1-7

 

SUMMARY

 

Martin Luther spent much of his early life agonizing over the question of whether he could ever measure up to God’s expectations. Practicing his faith relentlessly, confessing his sins for hours at a time, making pilgrimages beyond what most of us can imagine, Luther still could not find assurance that he had ever done enough and was downright terrified by the notion of God’s righteousness because he feared it set a standard he could never meet. Eventually, Luther discovered that while we often think of “righteousness” as a synonym with virtuous, it actually means to be in “right standing” with someone. So rather than being a moral term, “righteousness” is a relational one. And just as we get to decide whether someone who has wronged us can still be in relationship with us, so also God is free to decide to restore us to “right relationship” with God. In fact, one of God’s favorite activities is doing just that – forgiving us by grace and thereby restoring us to right relationship. All that is left is for us to trust God’s grace and mercy and accept, or actualize, that forgiveness. The term summarizing Luther’s insight is that we are “justified by grace through faith.”  

 

While Luther’s primary concern revolved around the question of whether God was merciful or judgmental – and therefore perhaps not something we worry too much about today – his sense of being justified by grace can still be powerful. In many ways, we still struggle to justify ourselves, perhaps wondering if we are smart enough, good enough, attractive enough, rich enough and so forth. Many, many people struggle daily with feelings of inadequacy, that they just don’t measure up and are not worthy to be loved. In our situation, the promise of God in Jesus isn’t only that we are forgiven for mistakes we make – which continues to be a powerful promise – but also that God believes we are totally enough and that we deserve to be loved and accepted for who we are. Justification – the promise of God’s unconditional acceptance and love – continues to set us free from the fear of not measuring up and not being deserving and to set us free for sharing God’s love and acceptance with our neighbor. Imagine what the world would be like if rather than worrying about whether we were enough, we simply believed it and helped others to do the same!  

 

REFLECTION QUESTIONS

Do you every wonder if you are “good enough”? What situations make you worry most that you aren’t or give you confidence that you are?

 

What difference would it make if you heard and believed God tell you that you are totally enough - totally loved, totally accepted, totally worthy? What might you feel able to risk, dare, or attempt?

 

 

WEEK 2 SUN, SEP 24
The Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost

The Present-Tense God: Law and Gospel
Hebrews 4:12-16; Mark 10:23-31

 

SUMMARY    

Luther's discovery that we are justified by grace through faith changes everything he once thought he knew, including his picture of God. In short, rather than seeing God as incessantly demanding, Luther now sees God as primarily gracious, eager to give God's children all manner of gifts. One of the gifts that God gives people is the law. Summarized in the Ten Commandments, the law shows us what kinds of behaviors will help us get the most out of our life in this world. When talking about the law, Luther often stressed its function - that is, the effect it had on people. In particular, he spoke of two functions, or uses, of the law. The first and primary use of the law is to restrain us from looking out only for ourselves and in this way encourages us be more civil to each other. The second way the law functions in our lives is to make us aware of our need for grace and forgiveness. When we make mistakes and fall short of God's hopes for us, the law points out our shortcomings and makes us aware of our need for forgiveness. Luther called this second use of the law the "theological use" because it drives us to Christ so that we can be assured once again that we are forgiven, accepted, and loved. This brings us to the gospel. The word "gospel" literally means, "good news." The gospel, therefore, summarizes the good news that God loves us, forgives us, and accepts us as we are.

 

Law, in its second use, and the gospel work together to create a "present-tense" experience for us of God. If the law shows you that you are sinful, the gospel announces forgiveness. If the law raises the question of whether life is meaningless, the gospel offers meaning and purpose through service to others. If the law reminds us of how frightening the world can be, the gospel promise of God's providence and presence creates courage. Law and gospel, in this sense, tell us two important truths, the first when God says, "I know you," and the second when God says, "And I love you just as you are." In this way, the phrase "law and gospel" describes an active and ongoing experience of the living God who comes to us to tell us both the truth about ourselves and the truth about God's love for us.

 

REFLECTION QUESTIONS

While we often experience the law negatively - no one, for instance, likes getting pulled over for speeding - what would the world be like absent a law that forces us to be more civil toward each other?

 

If the "confession and forgiveness" of Sunday worship is actually a time to tell the truth about what has been hard or broken or difficult in your life and then to hear God's complete acceptance and forgiveness of you, what would you confess? What, that is, do you need to tell the truth about in order to hear God's greater truth of love and acceptance?

 

WEEK 3 SUN, OCT 1
The Ambidextrous God: The Two Kingdom’s and God’s Ongoing Work in the World

Ephesians 4:11-13; Luke 3:7-14, 18

 

 

WEEK 4 SUN, OCT 8
Called for Good: Vocation, Sinning Boldly, and the Respiratory System of the Body of Christ

 

1 Corinthians 12:12-18; Matthew 5:13-16

 

 

WEEK 5 SUN, OCT 15
God Hidden and Revealed: Luther’s Theology of the Cross

 

I Corinthians 1:18-25; John 1:1-5, 14-18

 

 

WEEK 6 SUN, OCT 22
Physical Words: The Sacraments

 

Romans 6:3-5, 8:14-17a; Matthew 26:26-30

 

 

WEEK 7 SUN, OCT 29
REFORMATION SUNDAY! Becoming Christian: The Ongoing

 

Reformation; Romans 3:19-28; John 8:31-36