St. John Lutheran Church
Story: Martin Luther
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. --Ephesians 2:8
Luther taught us that we cannot earn our way to heaven by doing good things. Heaven is a free gift to all who believe in Jesus.
Workshops Offered (with brief description)
- Cooking: The students will snack on various food items that represent parts of the story of Martin Luther. They will then decorate a cupcake or cookie to look like the Luther Rose.
- Drama: The class will discuss four key scenes in the life of Luther. They will then act them out.
- Video: The students will watch and discuss the DVD: The Martin Luther Story (The Torchlighters Heroes of the Faith).
Storytelling: The students will hear the story of the Reformation from Martin Luther and "nail" various stickers representing parts of the story to their "doors".
Martin Luther was born in Eisleben, Germany in 1483 (9 years before Columbus discovered America). At first, Luther wanted to be a lawyer but God had other plans for him. One day, he was caught in a violent thunderstorm and feared that he would die. He promised that if he survived the storm he would become a monk in the Catholic church (which was the only church at the time). He became a monk and then a priest and then a professor who would teach about God's word. At that time, the Catholic church taught Luther to be afraid of God because of his sins. Luther thought that he had to work hard to make God love him. He had no peace of mind about his relationship with God.
As a professor, Luther studied the Bible very carefully. He learned that God sent His son Jesus to atone for our sins through His death on the cross. God does more than command people to be good, He forgives us. Forgiveness and heaven are free--they don't have to be earned by good works. Luther found peace by believing in God's love.
Not everyone agreed with this thinking. The Catholic pope at the time--Pope Leo-- wanted to finish building his elaborate St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome. To raise money for this, the church sold indulgences. Indulgences were a piece of paper that said you could escape so many years of punishment in purgatory. (As the coin into the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs!) Luther was against indulgences because they were a lie and they led people to trust in other things instead of God's love.
Luther found a number of issues--95 in all--that he wanted to have a debate about. He wrote them down. They were called the 95 Theses. On October 31, 1517, he nailed them to the door of the church. This was the way of inviting others to discuss these ideas. Copies of these 95 Theses spread all through the land because of the new invention of the printing press. People everywhere wanted to read it. Many agreed with Luther and became his followers.
Not everyone agreed with Luther, though. Important Catholic church leaders said that Luther was a heretic--he was not teaching the truth about God's word. The Pope even excommunicated Luther--he was kicked out of the Catholic church.
The Emperor, Charles V, ordered that Luther be sent to trial at the city of Worms (this event was called the Diet of Worms). The Holy Spirit helped Luther to speak the truth. Luther said "I cannot take back my teachings unless you show me from the Bible where I am wrong. Here I stand, God help me!" The emperor put Luther under the Ban, which meant anyone could kill him if he didn't leave the empire after 21 days.
As Luther left the trial, he was kidnapped by a group of soldiers. However, they had been sent to protect Luther. They took Luther to Wartburg Castle, where he stayed in hiding. While he was there, Luther translated the New Testament into German so people could read God's word in their own language instead of not being able to understand it in a strange language.
Luther knew God's love and wanted the people of the church to enjoy it too. Therefore, he wrote a catechism so that children could learn about God's love. He wrote hymns--many based on popular tunes of the day--so that people could sing and take part in worship.
After leaving the Catholic church, Luther met and married a nun named Katie. They had 6 children.
We celebrate Reformation on October 31, the day that Luther nailed the 95 theses to the church door. The word Reformation is based on the word "reform”--because Luther wanted to debate and reform the teachings of the Catholic church. We are called Protestants because we protested against the teachings of the Catholic church.