500 Years Since the Beginning of the Reformation - 500 Years Proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Leader’s Guide for Luther Movie Showings

ONLINE – As congregations prepare for observances of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in October, some will likely be planning to watch a film adaption of Luther’s life. Many such congregations will turn to the 2003 film Luther starring Joseph Fiennes. Lutheran Church–Canada is pleased to provide a study guide that can be used to introduce the film and lead discussion following it. It can also be used for private reflection on the film.

The study guide was developed by Rev. Ted Giese, the award-winning film reviewer for The Canadian Lutheran, as well as Issues Etc. and KFUO. The guide comes in two parts: a presentation introducing the film to the audience as well as a leader’s discussion guide for after the film has been shown. A participant’s guide to follow along during the initial presentation is also available.

Congregations are reminded of the importance of respecting copyright law when it comes to the public presentation of films. Licensing for the 2003 film Luther is available in Canada from Audio Cine Films Inc. Churches can purchase annual licenses to show films, or they can submit a quote request for a single presentation license.


LCC releases Luther Liturgy for Reformation celebrations

CANADA – Lutheran Church–Canada has released a new “Luther Liturgy” service which congregations are invited to use as part of local celebrations of the five-hundredth anniversary of the Reformation in 2017.

The communion service celebrates the music of Martin Luther, and may be used at any time of the year during Reformation services. Congregations may wish to use it for October 29 or October 31 to coincide with Reformation Day observances. Alternately, the service can be used at another date of the congregation’s choosing.

“Luther once said: ‘The riches of music are so excellent and so precious that words fail me whenever I attempt to discuss and describe them,’ noted Rev. Paul Roggow, who planned out the Reformation-themed liturgy. “For Luther, music was ‘the greatest treasure in the world,’ second only to the Word of God.’ Let the church rejoice, during the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, in this great treasure of God—the music of Martin Luther.”

The festival communion service sets selections of the liturgy to music composed by Luther. The Gloria in Excelsis, for example, is set to A Mighty Fortress is Our God, while the Nunc Dimittis is set to the tune of Our Father, Who from Heav’n Above. The Alleluia is set to From Heaven Above to Earth I Come and the Agnus Dei is set to From Depths of Woe I Cry to Thee. Other Reformation pieces appear in the service as well, with the closing hymn being Luther’s most famous composition: A Mighty Fortress is Our God.

The service incorporates material from Concordia Publishing House, which has graciously granted permission to LCC congregations to use the service throughout the Reformation anniversary in 2017. Congregations using the service must have the Lutheran Service Book in their pews.

Download the Luther Liturgy here.


Experience the story of the Reformation anew with free video series

ONLINE – Delve deeper into the story of the Reformation with A Man Named Martin, a free video-based Bible study series from Lutheran Hour Ministries (LHM).

“In this Bible study, Luther’s life and times are examined through the lens of history, religion and theology,” notes promotional material for the series. “Expanding on commentary from Rev. Gregory Seltz, Speaker for The Lutheran Hour, numerous scholars add their expertise and perspective to render an illuminating portrait of the life of this extraordinary human being… A Man named Martin is a fresh and explorative look at an individual who, down through the centuries, has increased in importance and vitality to the Christian church.”

There are three segments in the video series: Part 1: The Man, Part 2: The Moment, and Part 3: The Movement. Part 1: The Man introduces viewers to the person of Martin Luther, a 15th century religious reformer from Germany who broke ranks with the Catholic Church. Part 2: The Moment examines the errant teachings and wayward traditions of the late medieval Church which sparked the Protestant Reformation, a theological overhaul set in motion by the publication of Luther’s 95 Theses. Part 3: The Movement traces how the Reformation transformed European society and eventually left a profound impression around the globe.

The three Parts are subsequently broken down into smaller sessions, providing enough video material for several weeks of group study in each Part. Alternately, viewers can enjoy each of the three Parts as a self-contained film.

You can watch the entire study of A Man Named Martin online for free on LHM’s website. See Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here. The website includes additional resources and links to complement each session.

You can also buy the series on DVD through the Lutheran Laymen’s League of Canada. Each DVD comes with a discussion guide to help groups gain even more from these well-received documentary studies. Congregations looking for ways to share the story of the Reformation with the community around them can also purchase the LHM booklet A Treasure Revealed: Martin Luther and the Events of the Reformation (in English, French, and Spanish) as well as the booklet What Lutherans Believe (in English, French, and Chinese).


Free Online Course on Luther’s Life

ONLINE – Concordia Lutheran Seminary (CLS – Edmonton) has announced that its next Quest Course will focus on “Martin Luther’s Road to Reformation, 1483-1521” and be taught by Rev. Dr. John A. Maxfield. The free course is scheduled for Wednesday nights in October 2017, with live-streaming online for those unable to attend in person.

“What better way to celebrate the Reformation 500 anniversary than to learn about the man who started it all?” asks promotional material. “In this course we will examine Martin Luther’s life and the development of his theology from his birth in 1483 to the controversy that developed thirty-five years later after his posting of the Ninety-Five Theses on Indulgences on October 31, 1517 that initiated the Reformation.”

Classes will take place October 4, 11, 18, and 25 at Concordia Lutheran Seminary in Edmonton from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. local time, with live-streaming online occurring simultaneously. Video from the lectures will be made available online later for viewing after the event.

The breakdown of classes is as follows:

October 4: Church Life and Spirituality in Germany on the Eve of the Reformation / Luther’s Family, Upbringing, and Education

October 11: Life in a Monastery and Student of Theology/ Luther as Professor of Theology and Maturing Theologian

October 18: Luther’s “Reformation Discovery” of Justification by Faith—Early Developments and His Reflections as an Old Man/A Theologian of the Cross and the Beginnings of Reform

October 25: The Controversy over the 95 Theses and the Development of a Reformer/A Wild Boar in the Vineyard? The Road to Luther’s Stand at Worms

Course instructor Dr. Maxfield is an ordained pastor of Lutheran Church–Canada and Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Concordia University of Edmonton. He teaches courses in the History of Christianity, Theology, and European History, specializing and publishing on the German Reformation and Luther Studies. Among other works, he is a contributor to the forthcoming Oxford Encyclopedia of Martin Luther, with an article on Martin Luther’s exposition of Old Testament texts.

Those interested in participating can do so either on campus or online (http://concordia.adobeconnect.com/quest). There is no cost to participate, but organizers ask people to register by email at admin@concordiasem.ab.ca or by phone at 1-780-484-1468 (ext. 225).


Schedule your showing of new Luther film

Padraic Delany stars as reformer Martin Luther in Martin Luther: The Idea that Changed the World. (Image: Courtesy Boettcher+Trinklein Inc.)

Padraic Delany stars as reformer Martin Luther in Martin Luther: The Idea that Changed the World. (Image: Courtesy Boettcher+Trinklein Inc.)

The radical events, compelling personalities, and exciting drama of the Reformation are brought to life in Martin Luther: The Idea that Changed the World. This new full-length documentary features thrilling reenactments of the sixteenth-century events with commentary from leading church-history experts. The film, which was sponsored by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, is now available to schedule for a showing in your community.

The film features narration by Hugh Bonneville, best known for his acting on Downton Abbey. Pádraic Delaney, known for his work on television series The Tudors and movie The Wind that Shakes the Barley, portrays Martin Luther in the film. Producing the documentary are Emmy-nominated Lutheran filmmakers Steve Boettcher and Mike Trinklein. Among the many experts who appear in the movie is Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, President of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

Showing the film is an excellent way to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in a local setting. Congregations have two options for setting up screening of the film, either by utilizing local theatre space or by showing the film in your church. Theatre options are limited to those available through partnership with Tugg, so this option is not available in many locations. Church showings are made available via DVD or Blue-ray through licensing. To set up theatre space, visit here. To set up a church showing, visit here (showings are also available for schools and libraries). Congregations are encouraged to work together in setting up a theatre showing for their city in order to ensure ticket sales reach minimum requirements.

[Update: One pastor has reported receiving an email from Tugg saying the film cannot be show in theatres in Canada. We are awaiting confirmation from Tugg on this matter.]

Publicity materials to promote the film are available here.

The film will air on PBS later in 2017.


Remembering the Reformation by preaching Luther’s sermons

Martin Luther (1520 engraving by Lucas Cranach the Elder).

Martin Luther (1520 engraving by Lucas Cranach the Elder).

CANADA – Throughout 2017, the East District of Lutheran Church–Canada is releasing abridged versions of some of Martin Luther’s sermons matched to various appointed Scripture readings from the three year lectionary, and encouraging congregations to use them as part of their own church services.

“Martin Luther’s sermons for the church year, called ‘postils,’ were among his most influential writings for both pastors and people alike,” notes promotional material for the series. Reading these abridged sermons of Luther is a fruitful way to observance the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the creators of the series explain, and is in keeping with the words of Hebrews: “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the Word of God” (Hebrews 13:7).

The sermons have been prepared by a team of six pastors throughout the East District, who have condensed each of the sermons from about an hour in length to 12-15 minutes.

The District has released a Luther sermon for March 5 (note that this sermon is unabridged and may need to be shortened before being preached). Following that, the series continues with regularly appointed, abridged sermons for April 9 (could be used any time in Lent); April 23; May 7; June 4; July 23; August 20; September 24; October 15; November 12; and December 31. (Some of these sermons have not yet been released. They will be made available to download from the District’s website as they become available; just visit the Calendar page, and select the designated date to find the download link).

A bulletin insert to announce the initiative is also available for congregational use.

Previous sermons for the series were also prepared for January 1 and February 12.


A Fun Reformation: Celebrating with Lego, Playmobil, Plushies, and More

Playmobil's popular Martin Luther figurine.

Playmobil’s popular Martin Luther figurine.

CANADA – With 2017 well underway, Lutherans across the world are preparing to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. That can be a lot of work. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun doing it! Here are a few items to help you keep the fun in your own Reformation observances.

In 2015, German toy company Playmobil introduced a figurine of Martin Luther. The toy, which comes with a quill and a Bible, quickly became the fastest selling Playmobil toy ever, selling out its first 34,000 production run in less than 72 hours. That popularity caught Playmobil off guard, but it shouldn’t surprise the millions of Lutherans around the world. After all, who wouldn’t want a little Luther taking a stand on their own book shelf?

Martin Luther plushy from Reformation Gear.

Martin Luther plushy from Reformation Gear.

The figure was difficult to come by in North America for several months after its introduction, but the Bible Society of Montreal currently carries the item for $9.95 CAD (with free shipping on orders of 20 or more). You can also order the Playmobil Luther from Concordia Publishing House in the United States.

If you’re looking for something a little more cuddly, you might be interested in the Martin Luther plushy. Recently released by Reformation Gear, the 10-inch plushy can stand on his own, and comes with a Bible, as well as Luther’s Morning and Evening Prayers. Reformation Gear is affiliated with Lutheran Hour Ministries, and a portion of all proceeds goes to support Gospel proclamation and humanitarian efforts around the world.

Sadly, the plush figure isn’t available for shipping to Canada yet, but maybe an American friend can pick one up for you? It’s $25 USD direct from ReformationGear.com as well as from Amazon.com.

Luther's Rose in Lego.

Luther’s Rose in Lego.

But maybe you’re looking for something that more directly fosters group fun. In that case, you might want to try your hand at building a Lego mosaic of Luther’s Rose. Engage your whole church family and community in a fun Reformation event. “This could even be made into a community outreach event,” notes Rev. Ron Mohr, Mission Encourager of Lutheran Church–Canada’s East District. “Get permission to set up the project in a local mall. Invite passersby to put a square of the mosaic together. Have handouts available that explain Luther’s Seal, its message of Law and Gospel, sin and grace, and that give information about your congregation.”

The design was developed by Mike Ripley and Suzanne Eaton of Massachusetts, and they have made instructions and template files a free download here. You can watch a video of the mosaic’s creation here. Those interested in helping to put together a loanable Canadian kit of lego for building the mosaic are encouraged to contact Rev. Ron Mohr at rmohr@lcceast.ca.

Luther's Rose snowflake.

Luther’s Rose snowflake.

If Lego isn’t your thing though, you can always make a Luther Rose paper snowflake. Designed by Kelly Klages of Morden, Manitoba, the Luther snowflake is a fun way to commemorate the Reformation at home. All you need is paper, a pencil, and a pair of scissors. Get the instructions here. The project is provided free of charge for individual use. If you’d like to use the project for a large group, class, Vacation Bible School, Kelly asks you to contact her at kellyklages@mymts.net for permission.

These are just a few of the ways you and your congregation might inject a little fun into your Reformation commemorations. What way will you choose?


LCC artist featured in Reformation 2017 resources

The LCMS logo for Reformation 2017 commemorations.

The LCMS logo for Reformation 2017 commemorations.

MORDEN, Manitoba – Kelly Klages, a member of Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) and a gifted artist and hymnwriter, has seen two of her songs recently featured in resources for 500th anniversary commemorations of the Reformation by The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS).

“What an honour, and what fun, to work on creative projects for this particular Reformation anniversary,” Klages said. “Remembering and celebrating the renewal of God’s Word and the Gospel will, I pray, inspire us to do the same now, 500 years on.”

Klages’ hymn “Jesus Came a Babe Among Us” was featured in LCMS worship resources for use during services commemorating the birth of Martin Luther. “We remember Martin Luther’s birth,” the materials note, “in order to help us remember Jesus as our only Savior.” For that reason, the church was encouraged to recognize Luther’s birthday by focusing on the birth of the Christ he preached.

Another of Klages’ songs is featured in the 2017 Vacation Bible School curriculum from Concordia Publishing House, which is soon to be released. The theme for 2017’s VBS—Mighty Fortress: In Jesus, the Victory is Won!—draws inspiration from the Reformation anniversary year, and includes optional stories focusing on key events in the life of Martin Luther. One of the theme songs is by Klages, and is entitled “Thanks be to God.”

Klages is also developing artistic Reformation resources for use in Canada as well. She is currently working on a Reformation-themed banner design for use in LCC churches. She has also been commissioned to produce six pieces of art related to major events of the Reformation. This series will grace the covers of The Canadian Lutheran throughout 2017, and will be made available as posters for use in Lutheran Church–Canada congregations as part of their own Reformation commemorations.

Watch for these resources in The Canadian Lutheran and online at www.reformation2017.ca.