31 October is always a significant date in the calendar

The Reverend Thomas Robson
The Reverend Thomas Robson

Halloween is now the second most significant commercial event in the West, after Christmas.

Personally, I'm not a big fan of halloween, but I am looking forward to a second series of Stranger Things arriving this week on Netflix. I love the blend of 80s nostalgia and super-natural suspense.

But this year 31 October also marks another significant event, albeit one with a smaller public profile.

The date is being marked as the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

On this day in 1517, Martin Luther (a German monk), nailed 95 Theses (forms of complaint against some of the church's faith and practice) to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg.

I admit, that doesn't sound particularly revolutionary.

As a commercial selling-point it clearly doesn't compete with wizards, sweets and trick or treating.

But it sparked off a huge change in the religious and political development of Europe and eventually North America as well.

Most historians agree that Martin Luther hadn't set out to form a breakaway church.

His intention was to address what he saw as abuses and errors within the Church of his day.

The consequences, however, went much further: the rise of Protestant Christianity which divided nations, lead to war and eventually found an official home in England under Henry VIII.

It kicked off a very turbulent, often unpleasant, but significant period in Europe and other parts of the world.

Now, that may sound like something of a history lesson, but the effects of that movement are still around us.

All of the Protestant Churches (Church of England, Baptist, Methodist, Evangelical Free, and many more) can trace their origin to the Reformation.

Nor is the Reformation's legacy solely within the religious sphere.

At various times scholars have made claim to its impact on democratic politics, philosophy, work, education, literacy, finance and more.

In fact, with 500 years of history now behind it, it’s fair to say that all sides of the Reformation divisions have learnt a lot, and changed significantly.

While not excusing the excesses, the recovery of the Bible’s message of God’s love coming as gift, not something earned, is a wonderful message to celebrate.

Faith Matters:

Animated Reformation Story

If you'd like to know a little more about Martin Luther and the history of the Reformation, but don't fancy wading through the numerous historical textbooks. Then you can see a short animated video on gochattervideos.com. It includes the use of the Playmobil figure of Martin Luther - which is now the largest selling individual Playmobil figure in history.

Reformation 500 Conference

On Saturday 4 November 2017 from 9:30am to 1:30 pm, Parkside Evangelical Church is hosting a free conference to mark the anniversary of the Reformation. It will include input and dialogue between Protestant and Catholic leaders as well as seeking to model an approach to disagreeing well. Everyone is welcome to attend and more details can be found from the Church's contacts - Tel: 01903 714 670 website: parksidechurch.org.uk