This post was on our personal blog last year (a blog I am no longer keeping up). I am posting it again here to make it easier for folks to find ideas for Reformation Day Parties.
Our first experience with a Reformation Day Party was a good one.
Although my husband and I are complete novices when it comes to Church History, it was fun to study and learn in preparation for passing on the exciting stories to the little ones who came to the party.
On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the door of the Church at Wittenberg. Churches have picked this date to commemorate what God did to bring the gospel back into light and spread that light around the globe through the Protestant Reformation.
Because we are the type to take a tradition and tweak it to fit what God is doing in our own lives, we didn’t focus on the Reformers who seem to usually make the Reformation Day spotlight like Martin Luther or John Calvin (besides, we didn’t want to have our first Reformation Day steeped in controversy!).
Having recently grown in our awareness of how powerful the Word of God is to change society, cultures, and the hearts of men, we decided to spend the evening focused on what God did through William Tyndale — namely translating the Bible into English and getting it into the common people’s hands.
Here is hubby wearing a silly shirt I found on the Internet for him (he didn’t want to dress up) that reads: WILLIAM TYNDALE IS MY HOMEBOY.
We sent out an invitation letting folks know in brief what a Reformation Day Party was, and telling them they could dress up in Renassaince Era-type clothes or as Bible Characters if they wished. We had all sorts of folks show up: knights and maidens, barefoot peasant boys, gentlemen, and even princesses! Noah and one of his ark animals came to the party. There were even a few modern souls in attendance :)
We started the evening with 2 active old-fashioned games. The first was Barley Break, a fun group tag game (click here for lots more game ideas). We also played a bean bag toss game — with an incredible homemade board and bags made by our coolio Uncle David (pictured here with his darling peasant daughter Sandrea!).
Our third game, back inside the house, was called Hot Cockles. Apparently, this was a very popular Chrisitmas-time game, and was mentioned in one of the William Tyndale stories we read. A person is blindfolded, and kneels down with hands behind their backs while someone from the group sneaks forward and smacks their hands (we played a pretty gentle version).
After games, with the kids gathered in the living room, my husband did a power point presentation on William Tyndale (did I mention he’s a techie?). He went through a short history of Bible translating, mentioning folks like John Wycliffe. The bulk of his story focused don God revealing to William Tyndale that he was to translate the Bible into the common language of the day and have Bibles printed for distribution.
Ron read a section from the fictional account of Tyndale’s life called The Bible Smuggler where Tyndale is playing Hot Cockles with the children and falls into the fire. He has a sudden epiphany that those who have never read God’s Word are blindfolded, and headed for danger. He realizes God would like to use him to help take off the blindfold of the people. Tyndale left England so he could translate the Bible in relative safety, and spent years smuggling printed copies into England hidden in flour sacks and such. Though Tyndale was eventually martyred, a year after his death the King decided to approve the printing of Bibles and they really began to be sold, purchased and spread around — helping to light the fire that would become known as the Reformation!
Ron next introduced two people in our group who are working hard to get the Bible into the hands of others, today. The first was our dear friend Kathy, a missionary in Africa (the exact country shall remain nameless on the web!). The second was another friend, James, who heads up Bibles for Sacramento, a ministry of passing out Bibles on the streets of our city. The children (and adults) were fascinated by both Kathy’s and James’ experiences and encouragement. It was fun to see them connect the dots from history to today.
We next moved the party into the other room where our friend Tonya instructed the kids on crafting their own little individual Bibles from fancy card stock and old-fashioned-looking stickers (scripture and art). All the verses she picked for the stickers had to do with God’s word. The end products were just beautiful!!
Overall, it was a very fun party. We definitely felt like beginners at celebrating Reformation Day :) Ron says he’d like to do it again next year, with a different focus next time. This could be the start of a new family tradition!
For Further Study:
On Reformation Day and Reformation Day parties:
http://www.doorposts.net/reformation.asp (you can buy a party guide here)
http://homerealm.lifewithchrist.org/permalink/7041 (ideas from a gal’s blog)
http://www.oldlutheran.com/humor/reformationideas.html (more random ideas)
http://www.challies.com/archives/002169.php (Tim Challies on Reformation Day)
On William Tyndale —www.williamtyndale.com (click through the galleries for historical facts and really cool paintings)
http://www.greatsite.com/timeline-english-bible-history/ (includes a neat timeline of Bible translation history)
http://www.gentles.info/BibleHistory/BF2.pdf (really nice flow chart, a bit complicated, of Bibles through the ages)
The Bible Smuggler by Louise A. Vernon
10 Boys Who Made a Difference (one boy is Tyndale)
God’s Outlaw, a 93 minute drama on William Tyndale (I haven’t seen this)
On Western Civ and the movement of “liberty” in general —
How Should We Then Live? by Francis Schaeffer
The Story of Liberty by Charles Coffin
FYI:Did you know it was William Tyndale, translating the Bible, who introduced these words into the English language: “Jehovah,” “Scapegoat,” “Passover,” and “Atonement?” Pretty cool, eh?! He also coined the phrase “my brother’s keeper!”