A few weeks ago a visiting preacher talked to us very enthusiastically about her recent visit to Wittenberg. This is the city where Martin Luther pinned his 95 declarations on the church door at the beginning of the Protestant Reformation on 31st October 1517. The preacher recounted how she was relieved of a weight of guilt when she recognised the force of the verse in the epistle to the Romans which led to Martin Luther’s rejection of catholicism. He emerged from a life of self-loathing and a sense of unworthiness, a conviction that he could never be forgiven. The verse (ch 1 v 17) ……reads: [the gospel] is the saving power of God for everyone who has faith…….because in it the righteousness of God is seen at work, beginning in faith and ending in faith.
The stand out story from the A level results has to be the story of Malala Yousafzai – a young woman who puts the achievement of all A level students into perspective. I’m sure many of us will be familiar with her story. At the age of 14 she was on the bus on her way to school with her friends, a school set up by her Father specifically for girls in the Swat region of Pakistan, who under the Taliban regime were not entitled to an education and had no access to schools. Armed gunmen stormed the school bus and shot Malala in the head and injured two of her school friends. She was lucky to survive and had to undergo multiple surgeries on her brain. It was a long recovery but, she settled into life in Birmingham, returned to school and achieved the grades needed to study PPE at Oxford this year.
This story about Jesus going up to a high mountain and meeting Moses and Elijah (Luke 9:28-36) was of course written about 40 years after Jesus had died. Luke, using material in Mark and Matthew’s gospel, had a larger literary vision than his two predecessors. He explains in the introduction to Acts that he wanted to record the facts of Jesus’s life and death, but he clearly wanted to put them into context, create a historical setting. Luke’s gospels are formed documents, shaped and influenced by events he lived through after the resurrection and filtered through the experiences, the challenges that confronted the early Christians.