In the on-going book study group, our saint for the week is Martin Luther. You may remember him as the one who ignited the Protestant revolution by nailing those 95 Theses on the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg on the 31st of October, 1517. He was also a theologian, composer, priest and monk. He was an ardent critic of the excesses of the Roman Catholic Church in his day. His particular disagreement was with the purchasing of indulgences. By purchasing an indulgence, you could guarantee your place in heaven or that of a loved one by paying the church. Martin Luther was a complex person. He could be antagonistic and some of his writings show a high degree of anti-Semitism. He also had a very pastoral and practical side that came out of his own struggles with faith, sin and anxiety. Martin Luther lived in a time of turmoil and unrest. We have our own version of chaos in our own day, from current events, to politics, to global pandemics. In the midst of all this uncertainty, it is easy to be overcome by despair or fear or anxiety. Here are some tips from the sometime saint and sometime sinner Martin Luther, with help from author Karen Wright Marsh for the compilation of ideas:
- Keep the center of the hope of our faith at your center. Jesus did indeed rise from the dead so that we all might have life. Remember this often.
- Find ways of being with others. Luther said that being by yourself is where “the worst and saddest things come to mind.” Even when you cannot be in person with people all the time, you can call them. Make every effort to speak to or see someone every day – even if it is only a virtual encounter.
- Be active. Spend time gardening or walking through a garden or forrest. Listen to music or make music. Go for a swim or play a game outside. The movement of the body lifts the mood of the spirit and the despondency of the mind.
- Pray. “You must learn to call,” Luther writes. “Do not sit by yourself or lie on a couch, hanging and shaking your head letting your thoughts torture you.” Call upon the Lord in moments of weakness and of joy. Read a Psalm. Join in Morning Prayer. Keep a favorite prayer nearby and use it often. God has given us free access to the holy at any time and in any circumstance.
If you are interested in reading more on Luther or on any of the saints we are covering in our Thursday afternoon Book Study, please check out Vintage Saints and Sinners by Karen Wright Marsh.