The congregation of a local church held a special service to mark the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation on October 29.
The church family of St Comgall’s Church of Ireland parish in Rathcoole commemorated the milestone after many months of planning.
Rev Arlene Moore said: “Like many parishes, we chose to use the word commemorate rather than celebrate to reflect sorrow for the pain and division in the Body of Christ that has resulted. However, we did want to remember and thank God for our heritage and all the good that has issued from the Reformation.
“We wanted to do something in our day to mark this important historic milestone especially in a predominantly Protestant estate, such as Rathcoole. Naturally we would hold a special service, but wanted to do something more creative as well.”
Rev Moore added: “Mr Tom Nelson put together a commemorative booklet, with images and snippets from history about various key people and events. A special order of service was compiled and the liturgy crafted thematically around the Five Solas.
“Elements from various denominational traditions were used: the Lutheran prayer book, the Heidelberg catechism, material from Presbyterian CI, and MCI, as well as the Lund statement.
“Thanks to Rev Nigel Dunne, permission was given to use some of the liturgical material, lyrics and ecumenical readings from the 500th Reformation anniversary service in St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork scheduled to be broadcast by RTE that same day. It was lovely to be able to unite North-South in this way.”
People attending the special service were greeted by a colourful display in the foyer of the Coolderry Gardens church.
It was partly based on the Luther1517 project booklet ‘Luther’s life in Ten Objects’, put together as a joint initiative between the Linenhall Library and the Orange Order.
The display included books on Luther, his wife Katarina de Bora and other key players such as Calvin, Zwingli, Jan Hus and Erasmus, as well as on the outworking of the Reformation in various countries.
There were also DVDs, a copy of Tyndale’s 1526 New Testament; a special anniversary edition of Luther’s 1534 Bible in German, ink printing stamps, quill pens and calligraphy parchments; and other commemorative objects, toy figures and special memorabilia from Germany.
Commenting on the family friendly ethos of the service, Rev Moore said: “The children at the service were introduced to the symbolism of Luther’s rose and issued with the challenge of learning by heart the Scriptures contained in Luther’s pouches, which each child received to take home as a memento.
A total of 95 key facts about Luther’s life were woven into the sermon along with two challenges reflecting the Gospel lectionary reading (Matt 22:34-40).
Using a ‘Where’s Wally?’ image, people were invited to connect with the question ‘Where’s God?’, Luther’s personal quest and their own life experience. Then as individuals and a congregation, we were encouraged to consider how we might need to change to meet the challenges of presenting the Gospel in our context today.”
Rev Moore continued: “The 95 Acts of service challenge was offered as one way of beginning this journey of re-formation and calling Protestant Christians again to the Biblical way of Jesus.
“A scroll containing 95 ideas for random acts of kindness/service accompanied by 95 equivalent supporting Scriptures was unfurled and then taken by one of the Church wardens to be pinned to the outside of the front door as a statement of protest at our human self-centredness and as a symbol of our desire to change/repent, serving both God and neighbour as Luther and the Reformers had intended and the Gospel demands. Meanwhile the congregation inside stood to join in an act of commitment. So the Reformation was not only revisited, but begins again in Rathcoole!”
If you wish to participate, copies of the 95 Acts of Service are available on request from any member of St Comgall’s or Rev Moore via firstname.lastname@example.org