Reformation 500

October 31, 2017 (All Saints' Eve) will mark the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, which was ignited by Luther's posting of "The 95 Theses" on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, in 1517. A small committee is working on commemorative publications, projects, and events for St. Mark's, which will culminate in our own festival worship on the morning of October 29 (Reformation Sunday). The Washington DC Metropolitan Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) will sponsor a Reformation Service at 4:00 PM that afternoon (October 29) in Washington National Cathedral—mark it on your calendar! ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton will preach. The previous Sunday, October 22, the National Lutheran Choir under the direction of David Cherwien will present a concert in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington at 7:00 PM—mark it on your calendar!

As other events come to our attention, they will be posted to St. Mark's Web site. If you have ideas or would like to join the committee, please see committee chair Chris Michaelsen. He will be available after Easter services in the Fellowship Hall, or you can contact him via email or telephone (703-507-3817).


In the midst of increased peasant uprisings, Martin Luther addressed another challenging social issue:  the future of Christian-Jewish relations in Europe. In 1514, Luther broke with the practice of suppressing Jews and opposed the burning of Jewish writings. Then nine years later, Luther published an essay stating "That Jesus Christ was Born a Jew" (1523). He reminded his readers that Christianity had its roots in Judaism and that the Savior himself was Jewish at birth. He sought the conversion of Jews:  "I hope that if one deals in a kindly way with the Jews and instructs them carefully from Holy Scripture, many of them will become genuine Christians and turn again to the faith of their fathers, the prophets and patriarchs.” During the next decade, however, that call bore few results. Instead, members of the Jewish faith resisted Protestant efforts to convert them. Deeply disappointed, Luther realized his effort was in vain. Between 1538 and 1543, using harsh language, he reversed his earlier views and called for the expulsion of Jews from German society. His goal was to separate the dominant Christian community from contact with Jews. Unlike his later call for the violent suppression of peasants, Luther never called for the killing of Jews. Indeed, his last public words about Jews again called for their conversion. Nevertheless, the story of Luther and Judaism, as well as his response to the peasant uprisings, remain to this day as sad chapters in the life of a man otherwise dedicated to a free and just society.

Reformation Reverberations

Janet and I are on our way to Minneapolis for the national conference of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians (ALCM). The theme is "Rise:  Remember Well the Future" and will focus largely on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation as well as the future of the Church. Conference goers will take a field trip to Collegeville to commemorate the Reformation with the monks of St. John's Abbey, sharing with them a meal and evening prayer. Another field trip was to take us to Northfield and St. Olaf College, where the ALCM inaugural conference was held 30 years ago, but lightning struck the organ in Boe Chapel and repairs could not be made in time for the event (sound familiar!?). So instead, the opening Eucharist and Plenary will be at Augustana Lutheran Church in North St. Paul with the St. Olaf organist leading us. A hymn festival led by the National Lutheran Choir under the direction of David Cherwien is also on the schedule. Numerous workshops, some with intriguing titles such as "Here I.M.:  Engaging Multiple Intelligences through Song" and "In Sin My Mother Bore Me:  How Do We Save Our Inheritance of Early Lutheran Chorales?" will be offered. One that Janet and I are both particularly interested in is "Music Therapy in Ministry and Spiritual Care." For me, this is also an opportunity to reunite with old college friends and colleagues. I am looking forward to an inspirational and insightful week. Upon our return, I will provide a brief review of the conference. This is the first time in my 15 years at St. Mark's that I have been able to take advantage of the continuing education/personal development benefit. I am grateful to my church family (and employer) for this opportunity and look forward to sharing with you our adventures in music and worship.  ~ Chris Michaelsen, Organist

Oktoberfest to Celebrate Reformation 500?

Calling all brewers!

Yes, you did read that correctly. No, I'm not talking about baseball. I'm looking for men and women of St. Mark's who brew beer, or would like to learn.

To help celebrate the 500th anniversary of the reformation, home brewers in congregations around our Fairfax Conference are hoping to have an Oktoberfest with great home-brewed beer. Our friends at Lord of Life already have 25-30 brewers in their growing home-brew crew. I know we have some brewers at St. Mark's. (I myself brew.)

So, if you are a brewer or want to learn about it and possibly become one, send me an email at ‪ Someone recently told me that he doesn't brew beer but he does drink it; I responded, "What do you think we do when we brew?" ;-)

In all seriousness, brewing is a great social activity around which some wonderful conversations and relationships take shape. I look forward to receiving your email!

Until then, cheers!

+ Pastor Albert

          Martin Luther (1483-1546)

          Martin Luther (1483-1546)