Bethlehem also observes other festivals associated with the life of Jesus and the mystery of our redemption.
Minor festivals celebrated annually include All Saints, Reformation, St Michael and all Angels, the Commemoration of the Augsburg confession, and Christ the King. Other festivals may be celebrated from time to time, particularly if they fall on a Sunday in the current year.
Commemoration of the Augsburg confession
The Augsburg Confession is the main confessional document of the Lutheran Church. Lutherans all over the world accept it as a true and correct exposition of the universal Christian faith as taught in the Bible.
A German lay theologian, Philip Melanchthon, prepared a clear and concise statement of Lutheran beliefs and practices, using documents previously drawn up by Luther and others. This was presented to the Emperor Charles V at the Diet (general assembly) of Augsburg on 25 June, 1530.
The Augsburg Confession consists of 28 doctrinal statements called articles. The first 21 articles present the core of the Christian faith as taught by Lutherans. The remaining 7 articles deal with medieval Roman Catholic practices and beliefs that the reformers believed were abuses. The confession stresses that Holy Scripture is the only source of Christian doctrine, and that salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ is the central doctrine around which all other teachings revolve.
The presentation of the Augsburg Confession is a uniquely Lutheran festival that draws our attention to one of the turning points in Christian history. The men who signed the Augsburg Confession were not bishops or pastors, but laymen who put their lives in danger by their public confession.
St Michael and all Angels
The festival of St. Michael and All Angels on 29 September is an opportunity to celebrate the role of God’s angels. All the angels serve God and point to Jesus Christ. They fight for us in the spiritual warfare that surrounds us, and help and strengthen us just as they supported Jesus in his suffering.
The archangel Michael is the leader of the angelic host of armies. In Revelation 12:7-12, Michael and his angels fight and defeat the dragon and his angels, casting them out of heaven.
This is an important liturgical festival celebrated by Lutherans as well Christians of many Protestant denominations. On Reformation Day, we thank God for what he accomplished in 16th century Germany through Martin Luther.
The Reformation was the great rediscovery of the doctrine of justification, the good news of the salvation of all sinners by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone. The Holy Spirit used Luther to restore this doctrine of justification by grace alone to its rightful place as the cornerstone doctrine of Christianity.
Reformation Day commemorates Martin Luther's posting of his ‘Ninety-five Theses’ on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany on 31 October, 1517, the act which triggered the Reformation. While the historical date for the observance of Reformation is 31 October, most churches celebrate it on the last Sunday in October.
All Saints Day
All Saints Day is a special festival that enriches our worship lives. It is a day on which we are encouraged and edified by the lives of the saints over many centuries.
The word ‘saint’ comes from the Latin ‘sanctus’, which means ‘holy.’ God declares that everyone who has been baptised and believes the promise of the gospel is justified, holy, and blameless. The ‘communion of saints’ includes both those still living on earth as well as all who have died in the faith and are now in heaven.
On All Saints Day we call to mind the faithful men and women of the Bible and praise God for their examples. We also remember the many faithful Christians throughout the history of the church.
Many congregations, Bethlehem included, remember parishioners and loved ones who were called to be with the Lord in the last year. An All Saints Day worship service can be a very personal celebration as each of us remembers friends and relatives now living in heaven and whose faith in Christ inspired us. Most importantly, this is a day when we glorify God, not just for the faithfulness of the saints, but for His faithfulness to the saints.
All Saints Day can be seen as the summation of the great church festivals and seasons of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Easter and Pentecost because it reminds us that it is only by the perfect life and saving death of Jesus Christ that Christians are made saints in the sight of the God.
The liturgical colour for All Saints Day is white. God's saints are those who have …
washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Christ the King
The last Sunday of the liturgical year is celebrated as the special festival of Christ the King. The Bible readings in the worship services for the last few Sundays beforehand focus on teachings about the final judgment, the last days and Christ's second coming. This emphasis culminates in the final Sunday of the church year as a celebration of the coming reign of Christ as King of the universe at the end of time.
Christ the King Sunday brings the liturgical year to an end, returning us to the season of Advent when we both anticipate and look back in time to the birth of Jesus our Saviour.