By Vicki Biggs
“Here I stand. I can do no other.” These words attributed to Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms in 1521 became the rallying cry of the Reformation and have since served to unite Lutherans in their shared Confession.
Drawing on the strength of that famous proclamation, the LCMS is introducing “Stand” — a theme for the current triennium around which special events and activities of the church will be unified to help focus awareness of LCMS mission and ministry as the world looks to the upcoming 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017.
The Rev. Bart Day, executive director of the LCMS Office of National Mission, conceived the idea of the theme.
“Knowing that significant events will be taking place in 2017 to mark the Reformation, I thought it would be good for us to adopt a common theme that would focus attention on the upcoming anniversary and what it means for LCMS Lutherans,” Day said.
The intention is that the overlapping use of the theme through 2016 by LCMS ministries will amplify for their audiences the significance of the milestone anniversary.
“At a thematic level, the Synod’s ministries can gather around ‘Stand,’ ” Day said. “Each ministry surely will add its own variation or unique expression, but by keeping the root word ‘stand’ we can show continuity and interconnectivity.”
“Stand” — a word that certainly points toward the Reformation — also has rich biblical significance.
“Our ability to ‘stand’ as Christians is grounded and rooted in our grace-based standing before God through faith in Christ,” said the Rev. Dr. Joel Lehenbauer, executive director of the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations.
“While ‘stand’ is not a major theological term in the Bible — at least in terms of quantity and frequency — it is an important one,” Lehenbauer added. “Paul especially makes good and forceful use of it. Paul teaches that through faith in Christ alone we receive a standing that is grounded in God, not in the world, and that confers fellowship and freedom.”
Day pointed out that Luther’s confession at the end of his life centered again on standing.
“Luther said, ‘We are beggars. This is true.’ That’s where Luther stood,” Day said. “We stand with Christ with nothing at all. We are the beggars, and He gives us everything. This exemplifies the Gospel confession that Luther stood for — that he discovered in the Reformation, remained faithful to and stood for all of his life.”
“Stand” will roll out later this year as LCMS ministries plan special events and activities.
“Our staff stands ready to help ministry leaders develop their materials to incorporate ‘Stand’ language,” said David Strand, executive director of LCMS Communications. “As the unifying theme rolls out over this year and the next, leading to a crescendo in 2016, we expect the singular message of the significance of the Reformation will ring loud and true.”
LCMS districts, congregations, schools and other partners also are encouraged and invited to use the theme.
For more information about the “Stand” theme or for help with implementing it, contact LCMS Communications at 888-843-5267 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vicki Biggs is director of Public Relations with The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.