Wednesday, April 18, 2012

"Here I Stand" Day

Today, 491 years ago, one of our Fathers, Martin Luther, quietly gave his reply to Emperor Charles at the Diet of Worms with these words:

“Since your sere Majesty and your Lordships seek a simple answer, I will give one. Unless I am convinced by the Scriptures or clear reason (rather than pope or councils who contradicted themselves), my am bound to the Scriptures and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. Here I stand.  I cannot do otherwise.  May God help me. Amen."

Our Parish meditation yesterday for the children centered around a remembrance of our elder brother, Martin, and his example of conscience and conviction.  We took some time to define conscience and conviction and then to remember many other Biblical examples of men and women who have taken similar "stands".  Martin was not "standing" there alone.  In fact, he was standing with a great cloud of witnesses who had gone before him - men and women of conscience and conviction, of whom the world was not worthy.  How many of our Fathers and Mothers can you name from this cloud? We recalled many with joy - Shiphrah and Puah, [the Hebrew midwives]; Daniel; Esther; the Apostles who obeyed God rather than men. The two stories we know Martin was thinking about during that time [from his letters] were Moses before Pharoah and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego [Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah].

The remarkable things is that all of these saints were not only called upon to take "stands" but were then blessed and delivered by God. After his speech, while leaving Worms, Luther was surrounded by a band of horsemen who kidnapped him and took him to a mountain fortress ... but it was Wartburg Castle, the home of his friend, Prince Frederick, who had sent those men to rescue him from prison and death. After giving up his life to God at Worms, God gave it back to Martin for 25 more years. At this castle, Martin was protected.  There he continued his work of translating the Bible into German and writing books and hymns, the best-loved of which is about God, our mountain fortress.  May we be people of conscience and conviction who stand there with Martin in the cloud.

The Name of the LORD is a strong tower, the righteous run into it and are safe.
-Proverbs 18.10

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