Happy Reformation Day

Reformation Day 2010

Yesterday was Reformation Day, the celebration of when, in 1517, an obscure and unimportant German monk named Martin Luther nailed his “95 Theses” to the door of the Wittenburg church. We celebrated God’s grace in His Church by holding a special worship service. The liturgy we used is posted below, following a quote concerning the Reformation rediscovery of grace:

Here’s a quote by Robert Farrar Capon:

“The Reformation was a time when men went blind, staggering drunk because they had discovered, in the dusty basement of late medievalism, a whole cellar of 1500-year-old, 200 proof grace—a bottle after bottle of pure distillate of Scripture, one sip of which would convince anyone that God saves us single-handedly. The word of the gospel—after all these centuries of trying to lift yourself into heaven by worrying about the perfection of your own bootstraps—suddenly turned out to be a flat announcement that the saved were home-free before they started. Grace was to be drunk neat: no water, no ice, and certainly no ginger ale.”


Anyway, what follows is the order of service used when Zion Evangelical & Reformed Church worshipped with Garner Evangelical Free Church last Lord’s Day at 4 p.m.

Liturgy of Divine Service
Reformation Day
October 31, 2010

Prelude                                                                                Mary Etherington & Margaret Jass
Welcome & Explanation

Call to Worship from Psalm 121*

Minister: Church of Jesus Christ – lift up your eyes to the hills! From where does our help come from?

Congregation: Our help is in the Name of the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth! [1]

Opening Prayer of Praise*

O Eternal God, have mercy upon us. Through Your Holy Spirit, unite us with Yourself and kindle us with true light and righteousness. Your Son’s words tell us of Your loving-kindness, the gift of Your Holy Spirit, and Your earnest desire to help us; “How much more shall Your heavenly Father give you His Holy Spirit, when you ask it of Him.” From this we know, that when we ask, You will willingly give us this good Gift. We are confident, therefore, that You will hear our prayers and petitions. To You with Your Son and the Holy Spirit, be all honor and glory, forever and ever. Amen. [2]

Scripture Reading* Psalm 100
Singing of Psalms* “All People that On Earth Do Dwell”[3]                   Hymnal #29

The Law of God Exodus 20
Prayer for Confession and New Obedience[4]

Hymn of Praise* “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”[5]                                Hymnal #16

Old Testament Reading Exodus 19:1 – 14
Meditation “The Priesthood of All Believers”[6]                 Pastor Brian Lund

Singing of Psalms “Psalm 23″[7]                                                                       Insert

Prayer of Illumination
New Testament Reading II Timothy 3:14 – 17
Sermon “Give Me the Book of God!”[8]                    Pastor Haddon Anderson

Scripture Reading* Psalm 19
Singing of Psalms* “Behold the Lofty Skies”[9]                                          Insert

Closing Prayer of Thanksgiving*

O Eternal and Everlasting God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has commanded us to pray, and has promised to hear us – Magnify Your Name to us, when You deliver us from fear, and death, and danger. Mercifully You have heard our prayers, because neither in us, nor in our brethren, was there any cause, why You should have heard us and delivered us. O Lord, You who give good gifts, give us hearts, with reverence and fear, to meditate on Your wondrous works. Do not let your gracious deeds slip from our minds. O Father of mercies, as you have begun us in grace, may it please You to proceed with us in Your grace. For Christ Jesus, and for His sake, never let us depart from Your truth. Give us Your grace to live in Christian love. May we be stirred up by Jesus’ power, and live as becomes the sheep of Your pasture and the people that daily look for final deliverance by the coming again of our Lord Jesus: to whom, with You and the Holy Spirit, be all honor, glory, and praise, now and forever. Amen. [10]

Benediction* Hebrews 13:20 – 21

*Congregation, please stand, if able


[1] While the entire liturgy is largely based off of Calvin’s post-Strasbourg order, especially the Call to Worship from Psalm 121 reflects this influence. For more on how Calvin was affected by Bucer and Strasbourg, see Charles Baird The Presbyterian Liturgies.
[2] This opening prayer of invocation and praise was written and used by Philip Melanchthon, a 2nd generation German reformer. See Prayers of the Reformers ed. C Manschreck (London: Epworth Press, 1958).
[3] Calvin, specifically of the Reformers, was known for the insistence he placed on psalm singing. Both he and his successor, Theodore Beza, worked hard to versify the 150 pslams and put them to singable tunes. “The Old Hundredth” is one of the best known of Calvin’s psalter.
[4] The place of the Law of God and corporate confession was prominent in Reformed liturgy. See Baird, The Presbyterian Liturgies: Historical Sketches (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock).
[5] Martin Luther first composed this hymn as “Ein’ Feste Burg ist Unser Gott.” It was composed based on his meditations of Psalm 46, written in the late 1520’s.
[6] The concept of the “priesthood of all believers” was an important theological development of the Reformation. Rather than a mediated encounter with the risen Christ through a hierarchy of priests, cardinals, bishops, and ultimately the Pope, the Reformers argued that all believers in Christ have an immediate relationship with Christ in that, as Christ is our High Priest, we have access to the Father through Christ’s intercession. See also I Peter 2:9.
[7] This versification of the well known “The Lord is My Shepherd” accompanies another well known Protestant tune, “Amazing Grace.” The importance of psalm singing was carried on by John Knox (who was trained by Calvin in Geneva) to the Scots and Irish in the Reformation that was occurring in England.
[8] One of the five solas, this sermon concentrated on the Reformation principle of sola Scriptura. Rather than arguing that Scripture is the creation of the Church and thus to be interpreted in light of Tradition and the Magisterium, it is actually the Church that is the creatura Verbi (creation of the Word) and thus Scripture is the final and ultimate authority. See Mathison, The Shape of Sola Scriptura, (Moscow: Canon Press).
[9] This hymn based on Psalm 19 was written by Isaac Watts. Though Watts would prove contentious among Reformed churches for his paraphrases of Scripture, this hymn focuses on how Ps 19 is ultimately fulfilled through Christ and His revelation of the Gospel.
[10] This prayer was composed and utilized by Knox in Scotland; Prayers of the Reformers.

4 thoughts on “Happy Reformation Day

  1. Pingback: Latest Headline: Reformation Day 2011 | Brian J. Lund

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  3. Pingback: Reformation Sunday 2021 | Zion Evangelical & Reformed Church

  4. Pingback: Reformation Sunday 2022 | Zion Evangelical & Reformed Church

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