The church reformed, always reforming.
Some thoughts as we mark the beginning of the Reformation 500 years later.
This week marks the beginning of our month-long celebration of Martin Luther’s famous 95 Theses. The story goes that he nailed this list of theological grievances to the castle chapel door in Wittenberg, Germany. There is some discussion about whether or not he actually nailed the document to the church doors (which did, in fact, act as a community notice board) or circulated his Theses to church leaders, but there is no discussion about the centrality of this moment in the life of the church. Martin Luther’s challenge to the church began a Reformation that spawned denominations and reformed the Catholic Church from the inside out. But, how does it inform who we are today – 500 years later in 2017?
Martin Luther’s first Theses reads, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ``Repent'' (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” The Reformation calls for both individual and corporate honesty about who and whose we are and a complete turning toward God. Although much of the document exposes the practice of indulgences, something specific to the time and context, much of it calls the church to practice honestly, integrity, peace and justice. Over the next four Sundays, we will be reflecting on the Reformation in worship and in Sunday School, and we will engage in our own Reformation reflection. Artist Wendy Aldwyn is making a Reformation Door that will stand in the narthex. Next to the door, you will find pens, paper and pins for you to “nail” your own these to the church door. This is your opportunity to answer the question yourself.
Ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda secundum verbi dei. The church reformed, always being reformed by God has been the motto of the reformation since the 15th and 16th century. After a week that included a shared World Communion Sunday between a historically African American congregation and a historically white congregation, what does it mean to see ourselves as constantly being reformed by God? After a week that included the largest mass shooting in US history, does Martin Luther’s 92nd Theses still ring true, “Away, then, with all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, ``Peace, peace,'' and there is no peace! (Jer 6:14).” Where do you see disconnects between what we believe to be true and how we live it out? How do you see God at work re-forming the church in our context? During this month, may we have the ears to hear and the eyes to see; the heart to be moved and the courage to speak.