Representing the Truth Together

2017. november 17., péntek

On October 31, many gathered at the László Papp Sports Arena in celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. Words of faith, renewal, thanksgiving, and love were shared by many Church leaders, including Prime Minister Viktor Orbán who said, “Reformation can be celebrated, not just as an issue of the community of a few denominations, but as a part of the common vocation that has been entrusted to all of us.”

On October 31, Zoltán Balog, Minister of Human Capacities, greeted the participants of the 500th Anniversary Celebration of the Reformation at the László Papp Sports Arena in Budapest with the words, “God brought you here!” the literal translation of the Hungarian “Welcome!” The Minister added that this greeting was more than a simple “welcome,” it was the certainty that the “creative and renewing God gathered the people from different parts of the Carpathian Basin to celebrate together,” This celebration is a chance for discernment, repentance and renewal, and it is also a time to be joyful for being together in community; we are not on our own, because the one who brought us together is here today.

Minister Balog wished that the ten thousand people present at the commemoration and the viewers on television experience “the power of faith that began with Jesus Christ, connecting us with Christian martyrs from two thousand years ago, with Apostles, Church Fathers, Hussites, Valdensiens, Germans, Dutch, Scottish and Hungarian church reformers, Protestant galley slaves, Transylvanian princes, and farmers - with our ancestors. "

The anniversary calls for repentance and renewal

Rev. Péter Gáncs, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary emphasised  the first paragraph of Martin Luther’s 95 theses, shared five hundred years ago, stating, “When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said, ``Repent'' (Mt 4:17), he willed the lives of believers to be one of repentance. The Reformation was an awakening, a spiritual revolution, a “Christ-feast,” which called us for repentance and renewal.

He said, "It restores our life-giving communities with the Creator, our Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ. Thanks to this, we are able to renew our relationships with our fellow human beings, and the whole creation, allowing us to find our place, our home, and our mission. In his prayer confession, the Presiding Bishop used the words of Martin Luther to apologize for our sins of misusing the transformative opportunity given by the conversion.

After the moment of repentance, Rev. Károly Fekete, the Bishop of the Transtibiscan Church District of RCH, led the congregation in prayer and thanksgiving by quoting the first question and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism, “I am not by own, but belong – body and soul, in life and in death – to my faithful savoir Jesus Christ.”

We are free, do not be ashamed!

Rev. József Steinbach, the Bishop of the Transdanubian Reformed Church District of RCH, as well as the President of the Ecumenical Council of Churches in Hungary, declared the Gospel to the audience in the Arena on Romans 1:16-17.

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed – a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” Romans 1:16-17.

He said, “The Spirit of God is saying that we live, and we will continue to live, because He is eternal Life. This gives meaning and everlasting guidance for earthly life and provides strength and joy in liberating us from the curse of meaninglessness.”

According to the Bishop, the fact that we have salvation is due to the enormous presence of God in our lives, and the fact that we live by faith means that Jesus Christ vitalizes us, like the water nourishes a cut flower, the soil nurtures a fruit tree, or air gives life to a person.

"We live through the redeeming love of Christ in whom God was embodied; he has come to us, redeemed us." Bishop Steinbach defined redemption as a definitive, permanent solution; as liberation, given to the helpless people, bound by various things. “We live by the redeeming love and righteousness of Christ and through His righteousness, like an eye-glass, God sees us as pure and true, although we are not, it is by grace.” We are not only saved, but also we are strengthened to adjust our lives to his eternal order. John Calvin called this the miracle of contemplation.

At the end of his sermon, the Bishop declared, “we must proclaim the good news to the Christian denominations together, in love and humbleness, even taking challenges and being ready for suffering and looking at everyone in hope, because there was never a bigger need for this certainty until now.”

Let's live a grateful life!

The congregation confessed to the faith of the Holy Trinity with Rev. János Papp, President of the Baptist Church in Hungary, Rev. Tamás Fabiny, Bishop of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Hungary, and Rev. Albert Pataky, President of the Pentecostal Church in Hungary, by saying together the Apostles’s Creed. Rev. József Csomós, Bishop of the Cistibiscan Reformed Church District of RCH, prayed for God to protect the Church from going astray.

"To give thanks declares our faith is learned certainty, we now have the knowledge of the salvation of God and we truly hope that our future is anchored in Jesus Christ. To be grateful means we can do what we have not been able to do because of our sins." –said Rev. István Szabó, Bishop of the Danubian Reformed Church District and Presiding Bishop of RCH, based on the second question and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism. The Presiding Bishop of the RCH Synod added, “the life of a Christian is a grateful life, because through faith, a person meets Jesus Christ and as the person’s hope builds in Christ, he or she does what connects him or her to God, doing the work of love. Let every minute and hour be spent giving happy thanksgivings to God!”

Lutheran Bishop, János Szemerei, Transylvanian Reformed Bishop, Béla Kató, and Hungarian Reformed Bishop from Slovakia, László Fazekas, delivered the benediction. László Kiss-Rigó, Catholic Bishop of Diocese of Szeged-Csanád, also attended the ceremony.

The nation in a festive community

After worship, Minister Zoltán Balog thanked the service of the Church leaders and the united choir for “they sounded the word of God so that we may take with us the strength and hope, arisen from it to be shared with everyone.” The community of worship then became a community of celebration of the entire nation, greeted by Prime Minister Vikotr Orbán.

"To serve man is as difficult in Government as in Church," began the Reformed Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on his speech describing the visible impact of the Reformation on current public affairs and nation-building. He also expressed his gratitude for the intellectual and spiritual support of Protestants and Catholics, especially their prayers.

"Our lives and work are determined by a higher power. He created us, and gave time and place for our lives." For us this is still the center of the Carpathian Basin, two thousand years after the birth of Jesus Christ, a thousand years after the founding of the Christian Hungarian State, and five hundred years after the spiritual Revolution of Reformation.

"Hungary, the Christian Europe, needs spiritual and intellectual renewal, and we may take part on our own free will,” Prime Minister Orbán clarified that the call of the church should not confused with that of their own, but instead, they protect the Christian communities to the best of their knowledge.

He said that the soul should never be played against the body, referring to the need to work for the material, social, and spiritual growth of the people that they may “live well, more just, cheerful, and wealthy, and with an uplifted heart. The good life glorifies the creator and redeeming God; it is the supreme good for man. This is true worship and service for humanity.”

“Reformation can be celebrated, not just as an issue of the community of a few denominations, but as a part of the common vocation that has been entrusted to all of us,” declared Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, “we have already experienced multiple fights for freedom throughout our history, and that recognized truth sets us free.” The millennial biblical force, which had gained such momentum five hundred years ago that it got to the smallest Hungarian community, entrust us to one more thing: we must learn how we to represent this truth while staying together.” For the ultimate unification of the nation, truth is needed, connecting and keeping not just the souls, but also the parts of our nation together.

The momentum of renewal

Hungarian Protestants were warmly welcomed by Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, President of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), and Gottfried Locher, President of the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches (FSPC). The most important events and programs that were organized by the Reformation Memorial Committee were also presented: the Opening Celebration of January 6th at the Palace of Arts, the presentation of the Händel Oratorio, the exhibition titled “Ige-igők” at the National Museum, the public space installation at Kálvin Square, the concert series called Confessions in Music, the secondary school education competition, and the memorial fountain erected in the Buda Castle. The aim of these events was to recognize the still influential values of the Reformation within our lives. In the afternoon, the celebratory performances, including the short films of the Jubilee Year, the classical, literary, and choral works, as well as the premier, aimed to demonstrate the same.

Written by György Feke

Translated by Györgyi Csiba

Photos by András Dimény, Vargosz

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