Men’s Breakfast and the Affair of the Sausages

This morning the men of my congregation will join for breakfast as we often do. There will be bacon and sausage consumed. The choice of bacon and sausage is not a protest, but part of the regular menu.

Most won’t think about it at all but will joyfully consume the sausages.

In 1522, in Zurich, Switzerland, a young preacher named Ulrich preached a sermon called “Von Erkiesen und Freiheit der Speisen.” My wife would have to help me with the German, but its something to the effect of “On the choice and freedom of foods.”

The argument that young Ulrich Zwingli made was that Christians are free to eat meat or free to not eat meat and the church does not have the right to force God’s people to fast or to abstain from that which God does not command. It was a sermon against Lent.

This sermon went 16th-century-viral and a strangely titled piece of church history was born:

The Affair of the Sausages.

The affair of the sausages was an incident wherein a printer fed his workers, along with some local dignitaries, choice sausages during a March 1522 Lenten fast. This led to the arrest of the merchant-printer for violating the Zurich laws. His arrest led to outrage from those who understood that the Bible did not require fasting and as Zwingli said, it was a matter of personal piety and conscience, and not able to be required of people.

The affair of the sausages led not only to arrests, but to the reformation of the City of Zurich. The freedom to eat sausage led to a city turning to Christ. Three years later this same printer would print the Zurich Bible, providing the people of the city with a local translation of God’s Word.

So this morning we gather for breakfast and prayer. We also gather for sausage and bacon. The city of Los Angeles will not care that we are eating sausages. There will be no affair. But 495 years after this so-called “affair of the sausages” we gather to read God’s Word, sing God’s Word, pray, and enjoy the freedom purchased by Christ.

We are thankful for those who went before us that, used of the Lord to secure freedoms purchased by Christ–even the freedom to eat sausages during Lent.

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