Weather Report OCTOBER 2017

Roughly one hundred and fifty years before Martin Luther, an Englishman named John Wycliffe translated the Bible into English. As large numbers of men and women achieved literacy, people began to read the Bible. This may be deemed the best outcome of the Protestant Reformation seeing that the study of scripture is transformative.
This October marks the Quincentennial of a most significant chapter in the story of Christianity. The changes initiated by the Reformation reshaped European society and culture. Those same changes inform our life as a Baptist congregation today. Preparations are underway to remember the 500th anniversary of the Reformation at Immanuel Baptist Church. Among other things, we will give thanks to God for the best fruit the revolution produced.  
The aforementioned Wycliffe has been called the “Morning Star of the Reformation.” Appearing on the scene a century and a half before Luther posted his Ninety-Five Theses on the church door in Wittenburg in 1517, Wycliffe is considered a harbinger of the reform to come. Christians everywhere and at all times have believed that scripture could yield a life-changing result. Yet this transformation is sorely handicapped if copies of scripture in the vernacular of the people are not available.
Herein rests one of the first of three walls to fall during the Reformation. Widely circulated at the time was the teaching that only the pope could interpret scripture. Luther found this claim to be unsubstantiated by Scripture and therefore turned his big guns toward this papal claim. Fittingly, he drew his barrage of attacks from the pages of the Bible. Without Wycliffe’s distribution in secret copies of Holy Scripture, Luther’s success would have been mitigated.
On the first three Wednesday nights of October, we will revisit the Protestant Reformation. One aim is to arrive at a deeper understanding of its import to the world and Christian Church. A parallel goal will be a search for possible applications of lessons learned 500 years ago in the life of the church today. Brenda Vantrease will lead us as we explore “Heroes of the Reformation: Who was Martin Luther and Why do Baptists care?” A listing of the specific topics for the corresponding Wednesday night can be found in this issue of The Light. This focus on Wednesday nights will set the table for our worship on Reformation Sunday, October 29. That evening, a special program of the music of the Reformation will be presented under the leadership of Mark Ring at 5 PM in the sanctuary. (Details on page 1) 
The world of John Wycliffe, Menno Simons, Martin Luther and John Calvin was marked adversity and flux. The invention of the printing press was revolutionary. In many ways, our world resembles their world. The creation of the internet is presently reshaping American society and culture, the world even. What is yet to be determined is how we will respond. Will we, like they, attune our hearts to the God of the Bible? How might hearing God speak in the pages of Scripture fit us for the living of these awe-inspiring days? Join me as we explore anew the age of the Reformation.
—Steven