Jerusalem ‘Red’ Church celebrates the Reformation
The nailing of a list of 95 theses by Martin Luther to the Wittenberg church door led to discussions that began the Protestant Reformation.
The Rev. David Kistler attended Jerusalem “Red” Union Church’s celebration of the 500th anniversary of that event.
Kistler handed out a paper listing the major events in Luther’s life from his birth in 1483, marriage in 1525, and his death in 1546.
Kistler was also celebrating 60 years since he was ordained. Many of those years were spent at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Hamburg. While there, he worked with people with mental challenges.
He visited Jerusalem for its 250th anniversary.
Kistler said it was a Muhlenberg church, one of 50 organized by Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, who was sent to America when three men requested an ordained minister for the Lutheran church in America.
Muhlenberg married the daughter of Conrad Weiser, a German immigrant who helped coordinate Pennsylvania’s Indian policy.
Muhlenberg asked William Penn for a grant of 50 acres to build a church. Kistler said he was blessed by coming to the church because it was the same as the last time he was there.
“No one would not be thrilled by the church and its fellowship,” he said.
Kistler, dressed as Martin Luther, said on the 410th anniversary of Luther’s death he traveled to Germany.
His grandfather, W.W. Kistler started four churches in the Lehigh Valley and, in 1932, his father was ordained in a Muhlenberg church. Kistler’s mother was a Lutheran deaconess.
“I found a diary of when my father was a minister,” he said.
W.W. Kistler was a wealthy man who preached for 35 years and never got paid except for Christmas and Easter.
He had W.W. Kistler’s 25-page handwritten Reformation sermon from 1887.
Luther was born in Saxony. His father, who had a metal industry, wanted him to be a lawyer and, in 1505, he received his Master’s degree but did not like law.
Law was standard and he was a thinker, Kistler said.
One day, while traveling home there was a thunderstorm that almost knocked him off his horse.
Luther asked God for help and felt his request had been answered. He soon entered an Augustinian monastery. When he was ordained in 1507, he was told to think of what Christ had given him. He became a teacher at the University of Wittenberg where he studied and taught. By 1512, he had earned a Doctor of Theology degree and took responsibility for several cloisters.
Along the way, he learned from the Book of Romans in the Bible that freedom from sin was a gift from God and was justified by the grace of God.
This understanding was freeing to Luther. The selling of indulgences to gain freedom from sin was abhorrent to him because he knew it was a gift.
It is all about repentance. Christ gave the gift of salvation.
He was accused of heresy and was called before the Imperial Diet to defend himself.
Luther was called “a new Jan Hus,” a Czechoslovakian reformer from 100 years earlier.
Pope Leo said, “If you don’t stop this you won’t be a priest.”
In a second appearance before the Diet, Luther was asked to bring the books he had written and to recant was what in them.
Luther said he could not recant unless he heard the word of God.
An elector (legislator who could vote in the electoral college) helped him get safe passage out of Worms.
There is a big blotch on the wall where Luther threw an ink well. He worried if he was doing the right thing.
In 1522, he published a new testament and in 1527 he wrote “A Mighty Fortress.”
He published small and large catechisms to improve religious education and in 1534 he published a complete Bible translation.
He returned to Wittenberg where people were destroying everything from the Catholic church.
In 1525 he married Katherine, a brewer. Kistler said he has a bottle of her brew. Kistler said they used to make Katie Luther’s brew at the Philadelphia seminary he attended.