Never Losing Hope

I think I’ll let Professor David Lose of Luther Seminary in St Paul be our guest postwriter this week. May this story uplift you in your own life, especially those moments when we wonder what it all means.  A blessed Reformation Day to all.  -pastorhh

This past summer I was visiting Wittenberg and heard a story about Martin Luther I hadn’t heard before that seems appropriate for those observing Reformation Sunday this week. I knew that Luther died in Eisleben, the place of his birth, bringing his work and life, in a sense, full circle. And I knew that he preached his last sermon there after successfully negotiating disputes between several local magistrates. What I didn’t know was that only five people showed up for the sermon. What I didn’t know was that he was [angry]. He wrote a friend about the event, despairing over what we feared was a “failed” reformation.

While I can understand his dismay and disappointment, I nevertheless think that at that moment Luther forgot that much of our energy and effort will be given over to failed endeavors. He’d forgotten that is, Paul’s reminder that we have all sinned and fallen short … and will keep sinning and falling short. Moreover, he’d forgotten that our ultimate hope rests not in our successes but in God’s great failure on the cross, the failure that redeems all failures and successes, binding them together in the promise of resurrection. He’d forgotten, that is, his own words at the close of the hymn many of us will sing this week, “Were they to take our house, goods, honor, child, or spouse, though life be wrenched away, they cannot win the day. God’s kingdom is ours forever.” [A Mighty Fortress, stanza 4]

This is God’s doing, you see, and so we are free — free to risk, to dare, to love, to live, to work, to dream, to struggle, and even to fail…all in hope.

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