A Word from Pastor . . .
October 18, 2017
The Motto of the Lutheran Reformation
The art of a good motto is that it communicates a philosophy in a few easily-remembered words. Politicians use mottos to convey a certain vision or character to the voters. In the last decade, we have heard such campaign mottos as “Change We Can Believe In,” and “Make America Great Again.” Corporations use mottos to inform the public not only what they do, but also who they are and why. The old Burger King motto of “Have It Your Way” painted the fast-food corporation as one not interested simply in selling burgers but also in satisfying customers.
Did you know that the Lutheran Reformation had a motto? It was not a persuasive call to action nor a self-aggrandizing boast; instead, it was a simple statement of faith taken directly from Scripture.
Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum.
That Latin phrase was the motto of the Lutheran Reformation. It means, “The Word of the Lord Stands Forever,” and it comes from 1 Peter 2:24-25:
“All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.”
A statement of confidence that gives glory to God and comfort to us, this motto was soon turned into a logo as well. The four Latin letters, VDMA, were placed around a Greek cross. The logo was first used on the sleeves of officials in the court of Frederick the Wise, Martin Luther’s prince. Later, it found its way onto flags, swords, and armor used by the Lutheran Smalcaldic League.
Lutheran princes, soldiers, and peasants knew that they might lose their lands and their lives for the faith they confessed. However, they were fortified by the promise that though we wither and fall like flowers of the field, “The Word of the Lord Stands Forever.”
So the devil may accuse us of sin, but he cannot silence the Word of God, pardoning us for the sake of Christ. The devil may spill believers’ blood, but he will have no power to quiet the Savior’s shout on the last day, waking all the dead. The devil may make war on the Church, but he will not prevent the Word from being preached nor God’s Kingdom from coming until the end of time.
The Word of the Lord Stands Forever.
This is our confidence as Lutherans, just as Martin Luther expressed in his well-known hymn:
“The Word they still shall let remain,
Nor any thanks have for it;
He’s by our side upon the plain
With his good gifts and Spirit.
And do what they will –
Hate, steal, hurt, or kill –
Though all may be gone,
Our victory is won;
The kingdom’s ours forever!”
(A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, stanza 4)
In the name of Him who is the same yesterday, today, and forever,