Martin Luther’s Parish Announcements for Collection Sunday in Wittenberg

Martin Luther’s Parish Announcements for Collection Sunday in Wittenberg

Every Christian minister has his own way of making announcements to his congregation. Martin Luther, the great German reformer theologian, was no different except his manner was more memorable than most. One thing is certain, no one was left wondering what he thought. Below are his announcements, in part, from Sunday, 8 November 1528 (Julian calendar).

“I understand that this is the week for the church collection, and many of you do not want to give a thing. You ungrateful people should be ashamed of yourselves. You Wittenbergers have been relieved of schools and hospitals, which have been taken over by the common chest, and now you want to know why you are asked to give four pennies. They are for the ministers, schoolteachers, and the sacristans. The first labour for your salvation, preach to you the precious treasure of the gospel, administer the sacraments, and visit you at great personal risk in the plague. The second train children to be good magistrates, judges, and ministers. The third care for the poor. So far the common chest has cared for these, and now that you are asked to be four miserable pennies you are up in arms. What does this mean if not that you do not want the gospel preached, the children taught, and the poor helped? I am not saying this for myself. I receive nothing from you. I am the prince’s beggar. But I am sorry I ever freed you from the tyrants and the papists. You ungrateful beasts, you are not worthy of the treasure of the gospel. If you don’t improve, I will stop preaching rather than cast pearls before swine.

“And now another point: couples to be blessed by the curate before a wedding should come early. There are stated hours: in summer, morning at eight and afternoons at three; in winter, mornings at nine and afternoons at two. If you come later, I will bless you myself, and you won’t thank me for it. And the invited guests should prepare themselves in good time for the wedding and let not Miss Goose wait for Mrs Duck.”