This year marks the 450th anniversary of the first publication of the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), the unique, beautiful, and precious confession that arose out of the Protestant Reformation in Germany during the 16th century. This is a significant anniversary for all Christians, but especially for those of Reformed Christian heritage (and not just German!). The beloved “HC” makes up part of the “Three Forms of Unity” (confessional basis) for Dutch Reformed churches (embracing also the “Belgic or Netherlands Confession” and the “Canons of Dordt”). For a basic introduction to the “HC” visit this page on the PRC website.
There are many things being done to promote and publicize the commemoration of this anniversary in 2013 – tours of the city of Heidelberg, exhibitions (see below), conferences (including our own Seminary’s Oct.17-19 of this year – scroll down to bottom of page.), new books and articles, websites, etc. It is my intention to introduce you to a few today and then throughout this year call attention to other things as they become available. I also plan to quote from various works on the “HC” – all so that we may learn to appreciate even more the treasure we have in this Reformed instruction book.
The first item I call your attention to today is the website link above, due to launch in a few weeks. I don’t know much about it, or who is producing it, but it appears it could be an important source of information, so you will want to bookmark it and return to it in the months ahead. This is what the site is stating at this point:
Heidelberg-Catechism.com is coming soon! Our goal is to launch on Jan 19, 2013, D.V.
With the upcoming 450th anniversary of the Heidelberg Catechism, the site will seek to educate and promote this confessional Reformed treasure, which summarizes the fundamental teachings of the Bible.
Completed in 1563, the Heidelberg Catechism has been used in Reformed churches for almost 450 years. This new website will provide you with easy access to sermons, teaching outlines, journal articles, videos and other resources which will help you understand and use the Catechism.
Another significant place for information is this site based in Heidelberg, Germany. The organization responsible for it is preparing a number of exhibits on the “HC” and a major new publication in connection with the 450th anniversary. Here are a few paragraphs from the website on these things:
It is planned to celebrate the jubilee with a joint exhibition project on the subject of the Heidelberg Catechism at three locations: in the Heidelberg Palace, in the Kurpfälzisches Museum in the city of Heidelberg and in the Paleis Het Loo in Apeldoorn (Netherlands). The cooperation partners are Staatliche Schlösser & Gärten Baden-Württemberg (SSG), the Kurpfälzisches Museum of the city of Heidelberg (KMH), the Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg, the Paleis Het Loo in Apeldoorn, the Johannes A Lasco Library in Emden and the international Refo500 project.
…“Power of faith” is the title of an exhibition to be held from 12 May to 15 September 2013 featuring various top-ranking exhibits kindly lent from Germany and abroad and combined with items held in collections based in Heidelberg and the metropolitan region. It is to be accompanied by a publication in several languages containing articles on the history and adoption of the Heidelberg Catechism, along with a catalogue.
I could wish that I were part of a group visiting Heidelberg this year – what an exciting time it would be to travel there and see the sights and participate in some of these events! Perhaps another time, when it is not so busy. But at least we can participate from a distance. I hope you will join me in celebrating this significant anniversary. Perhaps we can commit to memorizing the wonderful 1st Q&A of the catechism:
Question 1. What is thy only comfort in life and death?
Answer. That I with [a] body and soul, both in life and death, [b] am not my own, but belong [c] unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who, with his precious [d] blood, hath fully [e] satisfied for all my sins, and delivered [f] me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me [g] that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair [h] can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be [i] subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, he also assures me [j] of eternal life, and makes [k] me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him.