Overcast skies and a chill wind off Lake Michigan in October, tells you that winter will
soon be here with a vengeance. It felt good to go down the steps to Lower Wacker Drive
and enter the Billy Goat Tavern. The regular crowd was there along with a couple of out
of town visitors from Waukee, Iowa.
I looked around and spotted them in the booth that was all the way in the back. As I
passed the bar I raised three fingers to the bartender and he nodded. A moment later I
arrived at their table. Philip Melancthon, who wrote the Augsburg Confession, was
reading the Trib. Across from him sat Dr. Martin Luther, the Reformer. The men looked
up and Luther slid over patting the seat next to him. “Sit down, Joe,” he said.
As I sat, Phil put down his paper. “So, the Cubs traded the ‘heart and soul’ of their ’16
World Series Championship team.” “They weren’t doing all that well,” I replied.
Melancthon smiled and said, “Is Justin Fields the real deal? Can the Bears ride his
shoulders to the play-offs?” I smiled and answered, “Only if Papa Bear Halas and Walter
Payton rise from the dead.”
As I finished the bar tender put down three frosty mugs of beer. Luther gave him a Jackson and told him to keep the
change. We hoisted our mugs and Luther said, “To better days.” We drank and the cool of the beer cut the parchment
caused by stale cigarette smoke. We put our mugs down and Phil said, “Well, what have you got up your sleeve for
sermons during October?”
I shrugged and said, “I’m not sure.” Luther took a sip and said, “Have you ever thought of doing a series on the 95
theses?” I replied, “I’m sure the folks all have them memorized!” To which Luther stuck out his hand and said, “A Ben
Franklin says they don’t have a clue what I wrote in the 95 theses.”
I pushed his hand away. “Then preach on them for the month of October. Let them see just how radical that stuff really
was. Let them see why good old Leo put out a flyer, ‘WANTED; DEAD OR ALIVE! Martin Luther of Wittenberg. Let them
see what started that whole little ‘dust up.’”
“A ‘dust up’ that changed the course of history and gave people the idea that there was no such thing in God’s eyes as
nobles and peasants. That clergy were not closer to God than the laity. That God wanted people to be free and
determine their own destinies. Tell ‘em that, Kid,” said Phil.
“Phil, stop it,” said Luther. “Martin,” replied Phil, “they need to know that the 95 theses laid the ground work for a
document that says, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,’ and the other document
which begins with the words, ‘We the people.’”
Then looking at me Phil said, “Tell ‘em kid. It’s time to re-teach what they take for granted, what they have forgotten. Remind them so that when the forces of evil try to erase all of history, they will remember. Remind them when they try to
erase God. Tell ‘em before it’s too late.”
We finished our beers, said our good byes, and I was ready for October.