From Our Rector: October 2014
By the Rev. Dave Johnson
Posted October 2, 2014
October has always been one of my favorite months of the year—the way the air feels, the colors of the leaves, the angles of the sun and shadows, the height of football season, Oktoberfest, scary movies, and lots of candy. Every October I break out one of my favorite U2 albums, the often overlooked gem October (1981). In the simple and moving title track Bono summarizes a lot in a few words: “October. And the leaves are stripped bare of all they wear. Do I care? October. And kingdoms rise. And kingdoms fall. But You go on.”
October is a rich month in church history. Of course it was on October 31, 1517 that Martin Luther posted The Ninety-five Theses at All Saints Church in Wittenberg, Germany, an event that sparked the Protestant Reformation. In the Anglican Church October is the month during which we commemorate several heroes in the faith: William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale on October 6, and Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley on October 16.
William Tyndale (1495-1536) was one of the early pioneers in translating the Scriptures into English so that, as he once told an esteemed churchman: “If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy that driveth the plough shall know more scripture than thou dost” (Lesser Feasts and Fasts, 2000, p. 388). Prior to his martyrdom on October 6, 1536, Tyndale managed to translate the New Testament and portions of the Old Testament into English. His work left an indelible mark on arguably the most influential English translation of the Scriptures ever, The Authorized (King James) Version of 1611.
Miles Coverdale (1488-1569) built on Tyndale’s work of translating the Scriptures into English, culminating with what became known as The Great Bible (1539), the first English translation of the Scriptures to be read throughout the Church of England. Moreover, Coverdale’s translation of The Psalter became an integral part of The Book of Common Prayer.
Bishops Hugh Latimer (1487-1555) and Nicholas Ridley (1500-1555) were two of the leading figures of the English Reformation. Their preaching and leadership played a major role in upholding the heart of the gospel—salvation by the grace of God solely through faith in Jesus Christ—in the Church of England. They were burned at the stake together in Oxford on October 16, 1555. In their final moments Latimer famously encouraged his friend, “Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man; we shall this day light such a candle by God’s grace in England as (I trust) shall never be put out” (Lesser Feasts and Fasts, 2000, p. 400).
The rich legacy of William Tyndale, Miles Coverdale, Hugh Latimer, and Nicholas Ridley continues to resonate around the world wherever the Bible is read or preached in English, and wherever The Book of Common Prayer is used in worship or devotion. Their work reminds us that although we live in a world in which kingdoms—on both the micro and macro levels—rise and fall, a world in which in different ways our lives “are stripped bare of all they wear,” we also have hope in the unchanging love of God in Jesus Christ, a love which indeed will forever “go on.”
Yours in Christ,