Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
June 25 is a very important, and too often overlooked, date on the calendar. It is the day that our Lutheran Fathers in the faith presented their confession of faith to the Holy Roman Empire and to the world. The following is an article from our LCMS website: http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=763
The Church’s calendar of minor festivals is filled with the names of apostles and evangelists. It also includes significant historical events surrounding the life of our Lord (e.g., His circumcision, presentation in the temple, the angel’s visit to Mary, etc.).
On Lutheran calendars, however, there is one event that calls us to remember a specific date in history: The Presentation of the Augsburg Confession.
The year was 1530. The day, June 25. The location was the imperial city of Augsburg, located in southern Germany. The occasion was a visit by the Holy Roman emperor, Charles V, who had summoned representatives of the “protesting” churches to appear and give a defense of their teaching.
What a contrast to a similar gathering before the emperor in the city of Worms in 1521. On that occasion, Martin Luther was called before the emperor not to defend his teachings but to retract them. The charge was that his new teachings were leading pious Christians straight to hell. But in the face of extraordinary pressure, Luther was immovable: “Here I stand. I can do none other.”
Nine years later the situation was much different. No longer was it a lowly monk who stood alone in the imposing presence of the emperor. On this occasion, it was the German princes who risked everything to defend the faith. More significantly, in those intervening years, the Lutheran reformation had taken hold. Much of the Bible had been translated into German; new hymns and catechisms were written; pastors were being trained in the truths of Holy Scripture.
The gathering in Augsburg in 1530 was a watershed event for Lutheranism, for it provided a forum for a public confession of the faith. “Our churches teach with great unanimity…”-these are the bold and confident words that began the Augsburg Confession. The words of the psalmist took on new meaning: “I will speak of Your testimonies also before kings, and will not be put to shame” (Ps.119:46 NKJV). And ever since, the Lutheran Church has recognized the necessity of confessing the true faith.
But why commemorate an event that took place so long ago? Precisely because the true faith still needs to be confessed. The Word of God and its faithful interpretation are under attack from every side. Increasingly our culture tries to convince us that truth is relative and changing. In the face of such opposition, we can find encouragement from the example of those confessors at Augsburg. They were willing to risk everything rather than deny the truth.
As the 20th century draws to a close, circumstances are vastly different than they were on June 25, 1530. Still, the enemy is the same, for Satan continues to plot against Christ and His Church. That’s why we set aside June 25, so that we might find encouragement to confess the truth.
The following hymn by Martin Luther was written in the early 1540s. It is a prayer that asks God to keep us in the true faith until our end.
Lord, keep us steadfast in Your Word;
curb those who by deceit or sword
would wrest the kingdom from Your Son
and bring to nought all He has done.
Lord Jesus Christ, Your power make known,
for You are Lord of lords alone;
defend Your holy Church that we
may sing Your praise triumphantly.
O Comforter of priceless worth,
send peace and unity on earth;
support us in our final strife
and lead us out of death to life.
(LW 334 TLH 261, public domain.)