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18 February 2012
  + Martin Luther, Doctor and Reformer +
18 February AD 1546

Martin LutherMartin Luther, born on 10 November 1483, in Eisleben, Germany, initially began studies leading toward a degree in law. However, after a close encounter with death, he switched to the study of theology, entered an Augustinian monastery, was ordained a priest in 1505, and received a doctorate in theology in 1512.

As a professor at the newly-established University of Wittenberg, his Scriptural studies led him to question many of the church's teachings and practices, especially the selling of indulgences. His refusal to back down from his convictions resulted in his excommunication in 1521. Following a period of seclusion at the Wartburg castle, Luther returned to Wittenberg, where he spent the rest of his life preaching and teaching, translating the Scriptures, and writing hymns and numerous theological treatises.

Of course, Luther didn't work alone. First of all, he knew that the Holy Spirit, working through the Word, was principal actor in the Reformation, and said, "While I slept, or drank Wittenberg beer with my friends ... the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that no prince or emperor ever inflicted such losses upon it. I did nothing; the Word did everything." However, his "friends," including Philipp Melanchthon, Nicholas Amsdorf, Johannes Bugenhagen, and others contributed mightily to the cause. Meanwhile, his prince, Frederick III of Saxony, defended him. Finally, he probably received no earthly support greater than that of his beloved wife Katie.

We remember and honor his lifelong emphasis on the Biblical truth that for Christ's sake God declares us righteous by grace through faith alone. He died on 18 February 1546, while visiting the town of his birth.

Please visit Xrysostom for The Life of Martin Luther: A Chronology. A number of recommended books and web sites are included along with this biographical outline.

Lection

Psalm 46
Isaiah 55:6-11
Romans 10:5-17
John 15:1-11

Collect

O Lord God, heavenly Father, pour our Your Holy Spirit on Your faithful people, keep them steadfast in Your grace and truth, protect and comfort them in all temptation, defend them against all enemies of Your Word, and bestow on Christ's Church Militant Your saving peace; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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