Synod begins 500th Reformation-anniversary year

Worshipers sing during the service for the Synod’s inaugural celebration of the 500th Reformation anniversary year in the Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus on the campus of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. (LCMS/Frank Kohn)

Worshipers sing during the service for the Synod’s inaugural celebration of the 500th Reformation anniversary year in the Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus on the campus of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. (LCMS/Frank Kohn)

By Kevin Armbrust  

ST. LOUIS — The Rev. Randall Golter, special assistant to the LCMS president, opened the inaugural event of the Synod’s 500th Reformation-anniversary year celebration Nov. 6 on the campus of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, observing, “Luther’s importance [for the Reformation] is only because of God’s work through him.”

The event included a lecture about “Martin Luther: The Idea That Changed the World” — the new film being produced for the anniversary, a worship service and fellowship around a light meal.

“This is the first time Lutherans get to tell the story of Luther,” Synod President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison said of the film, as he introduced the lecture.

Mike Trinklein, right, producer of the film “Martin Luther: The Idea That Changed the World,” and the Rev. Dr. Erik Herrmann, left, associate professor of historical theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, lead a lecture about the work required to produce it. The lecture that included showing clips of the film was part of the Synod’s inaugural event for its yearlong celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. (LCMS/Frank Kohn)

Mike Trinklein, right, producer of the film “Martin Luther: The Idea That Changed the World,” and the Rev. Dr. Erik Herrmann, left, associate professor of historical theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, lead a lecture about the work required to produce it. The lecture that included showing clips of the film was part of the Synod’s inaugural event for its yearlong celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. (LCMS/Frank Kohn)

Mike Trinklein, the film’s producer, and the Rev. Dr. Erik Herrmann, associate professor of historical theology at Concordia Seminary and consultant for the film, showed clips from the documentary and explained the thoughts, goals and issues faced during the filming of each scene.

Trinklein said that making the film involved both challenges and opportunities. The greatest challenge, he noted, was, “How do you visualize theology?”

He observed that since the Reformation was really a theological movement, the film must communicate the theology of Luther. Another challenge, Trinklein noted, arose because those who are familiar with the story have constructed images in their minds that are important to them when they think about the events of the story. He emphasized that presenting iconic moments and images requires forethought and precision.

Trinklein suggested that this film provides the opportunity to reach viewers who might never encounter Luther otherwise. For historical accuracy, he invited Herrmann to shooting locations in Europe to provide expertise on issues through Herrmann’s extensive knowledge of Luther and his times.

“So much of what Luther did was out of pastoral care,” Herrmann noted as one of the perspectives communicated through the film. “Luther truly cared for the people.”

A festival worship service in the seminary’s Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus followed the presentation about the film.

The Rev. Dr. Kent Burreson, dean of the chapel, led the service of Vespers and Harrison preached. Special music was provided by a choir made up of local LCMS congregation members and an ensemble of instrumentalists — under the direction of Dr. Mark Bender, minister of music at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Des Peres, Mo. James Marriott, director of musical arts for Concordia Seminary, played the organ, and the wind symphony from Lutheran High School South in Affton, Mo., provided additional accompaniment.

Harrison began his sermon by recounting events following Luther’s death. He noted that on entering St. Mary’s Church in Wittenburg, Germany, and seeing Luther depicted on the altar piece, Duke Alva said to the Holy Roman emperor, “Even in death, this beast rages on.” Harrison then said, “I like that. Indeed.”

The sermon employed a reading of Luther’s consolations, in which Luther encouraged his readers to find comfort and strength in God’s fatherly love and faithfulness. He pointed to Christ as the Rock in whom people find their strength and joy.

After that reading, Harrison encouraged all in attendance to “rage on in Christ” in every area of their lives and admonished the whole Church to rage on because “we have Christ.”

Burreson noted that music, so much a part of Luther’s life and the Lutheran church’s heritage, was a highlight for many in attendance. Burreson observed, “In word and music, we offered, in the words of Wilfred Karsten’s 500th Anniversary hymn, ‘a symphony of grateful praise’ to the Triune God. As in the Reformation, so in the Church’s worship today in music and song we praised the God who has called us out of darkness and brought us home in mercy through Christ Jesus crucified and risen.”

Throughout the event, Concordia Historical Institute displayed a collection of Reformation-related artifacts and documents in the chapel narthex. The Concordia Seminary Library showcased the founding of the Synod and the Rev. Dr. C.F.W. Walther’s personal copy of the 1580 Book of Concord and Luther’s “Bondage of the Will” from 1591. Walther was the first president of the Synod and the seminary.

“We didn’t celebrate just a man [Luther], but our focus was on celebrating Christ and the purity of the Gospel; the fact that we do not and could not do anything to be saved. Martin Luther would have been proud,” noted Esther Dunlop, a member of St. Paul’s, Des Peres, who attended the celebration. “In addition to being spiritually fulfilling, the fellowship aspect of the celebration was also very encouraging.”

“It’s Still All About Jesus” is the theme of the Synod’s yearlong celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. For more information about that celebration, visit the Synod’s anniversary website.

Dr. Kevin Armbrust (kevin.armbrust@lcms.org) is manager of Editorial Services with LCMS Communications.

Posted November 17, 2016

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7 Responses to Synod begins 500th Reformation-anniversary year

  1. Don Sundene November 18, 2016 at 12:15 pm #

    How do I order a copy of the video

    • LCMS Church Information Center November 28, 2016 at 10:01 am #

      Thanks for asking! The DVD is not yet available but will likely be so this coming Spring. We will communicate to the church of its availability. Please note also that the two-hour documentary will be shown over PBS the Fall 2017, quite wonderful.

      Cordially in Christ,

      Randy

      Rev. Randall L. Golter
      Special Assistant to the President
      Reformation 2017: It’s (Still) All About Jesus

  2. Patricia Behrends November 19, 2016 at 6:34 am #

    Can this documentary be purchased for personal showing in private homes? If,so, where do we purchase it from?
    Thank you!

  3. Jennifer Mills November 21, 2016 at 11:07 am #

    My son is performing next spring in Germany/Austria for the Reformation Anniv. with Concordia University Irvine Choir. I’m looking for a calendar or DVD (Christmas gift) of the sites in Germany during the Reformation to help prepare him. Is the LCMS offering any such “souvenirs?”

    • LCMS Church Information Center November 29, 2016 at 10:36 am #

      Thank you for your comment. Any resources we have to offer would be available on our website at http://www.lutheranreformation.org so keep checking back.

  4. Rev. Herbert Marshall, November 22, 2016 at 12:29 am #

    Thanks a lot for the very meaningful information about the inaugural celebration of the 500th Reformation anniversary.
    I would like to comment on the theme of the Synod’s 500th anniversary of the Reformation celebrations. It is not about Jesus. It is a person Jesus. “It’s Still Jesus”
    Shall our congregation in India adapt the theme It’s Still Jesus” for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation celebrations.? If so, the St Paul’s Lutheran Church, Ernakulam, Kochi-682 016, Kerala, South India will be celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation under the theme “It’s Still Jesus”
    Thanking you,
    Yours in Him,
    With mutual prayers,
    Regards,
    Rev. Herbert Marshall,
    St.Paul’s Lutheran Church,
    Ravipuram,M.G.Road,
    Kochi-682 016
    Ph:0484 2358466
    Mob:9746528628
    Please visit : http://www.lkmission.org

    • LCMS Church Information Center November 28, 2016 at 9:48 am #

      Pastor Marshall,

      Advent greetings in His name.

      Thank you for your insight on Synod’s theme: It’s Still All About Jesus!

      The “about” should be understood not as downplaying at all the person of Jesus as both God and Man. Of course, as you and I gladly confess, we don’t follow certain principles or rules but a person, THE person, Jesus Christ. We know God in the man, Jesus of Nazareth, the Second Person of the Trinity.

      If you desire to change the theme to “It’s Still Jesus” this is very appropriate and is totally up to you, as you know your context better than us.

      Cordially in Christ,

      Randy

      Rev. Randall L. Golter
      Special Assistant to the President
      Reformation 2017: It’s (Still) All About Jesus

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