Reformation Day: Celebrate the Light

What’s the first word or image that comes to mind when someone says October 31?

Maybe it’s the silly costume you wore last year or your favorite candy or the fall festival your church is sponsoring for the community.

For me, I think of my college Bible professor dressed in a long robe and hammering parchment paper to his office door.

You see, most people celebrate October 31 as Halloween, but few realize this day marks a milestone of Christianity and the Protestant Reformation. On this day in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses, or arguments, to the castle door in Wittenberg, Germany in defiance of the Roman Catholic Church’s sale of “indulgences.” The pope promised that buying indulgences for a deceased loved one would shorten the relative’s stay in purgatory, thus “buying” his or her way into heaven.

Those who sold indulgences created a clever ditty to drive home the sale: “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.”

Essentially, the organized church was robbing people to pay its debts and giving them false hope for forgiveness of sins.

Luther called the church out on this non-biblical teaching, and in doing so, sparked a flame that began the Protestant Reformation.

Many Reformers and those who held to Protestant beliefs were martyred for their faith and stand against the established church. Among them were John Huss and William Tyndale, both burned at the stake.

Their crimes? Both dared to share the Bible with ordinary people in their common English tongue, Huss through a chapel service and Tyndale through an English translation of the Bible. Many others suffered similar fates for spreading the light of the gospel.

A challenge for us today

Believers have different opinions about what is acceptable and not acceptable for Halloween. This post is not going to argue those questions of conscience.

However, I do think Luther’s actions those many years ago hold a challenge for modern believers.

share your faith, even if it’s unpopular.

The rebuttals and cold shoulders we may receive for sharing the gospel are nothing compared to the persecution of the Reformation Era. However, they can make us want to wait on the sidelines or keep our mouths shut.

Romans 1:12 dares us to stand up for what we believe and not be ashamed to speak out:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek (NKJV).

Celebrate Light, not darkness

Halloween tends to glorify the macabre and the grotesque. Oftentimes, this holiday presents sin as “fun” and something in which to revel. Never give in to practices that celebrate darkness.

There are plenty of other alternatives available. Local churches host fall festivals and community outreaches were children can safely enjoy clean fun and even learn about the gospel in the process. When my grandpa was alive, he used to give out gospel tracks with candy.

Whatever you do, be different, not dark. If you spread the light of the gospel, others will notice.

So if the cashier at the supermarket or your hairdresser asks what your Halloween costume will be, you can tell them (if you want to and have one) or just say, “Did you know that October 31 is also Reformation Day?”

Now, you’re ready to explain what Reformation Day means and why it’s worth celebrating. Who knows? You might even have a chance to tell someone about Jesus.

Happy Reformation Day!

~ Kristen



Celebrate light, not darkness on October 31 – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Reformation Day: Celebrate the Light of the World – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)