On October 31, 1517 Martin Luther, a professor and monk posted what came to be known as the 95 Thesis on the door of the castle church in Wittenburg, Germany. This date has come to be the date that we commemorate as the begining of the Protestant Reformation. Luther was not the first to have objections to the way the Church and the Holy Roman Empire was organized and operated. Many before him and many after him gave up their lives for a rejection of excess, graft and unlimited power. In a way, we in the modern era are continuing in a very long and troubled tradition. Blessed by God’s unbounded grace to us and trying our best to live up to the gift of salvation and what it means in our lives.
Activist Mary Harris “Mother” Jones once said, “Reformation, like education, is a journey, not a destination.” We Christians, who live out our faith lives as Lutherans, remember the Reformation, but do so knowing that it is still occurring. lf we view the Reformation and what it means to be a reforming people of faith, as journeys, not destinations, then we have to be honest that, along the way, discomfort and challenges will accompany joy.
The journey we travel as reforming people is one that begins in the waters of our baptism, when we are immersed into a lifelong walk with God and God’s people- the church. What does it mean to be a member of this church? I think it means what it has always meant as a church of reformation – minded people; we are a church that is centered on the means of grace, one that deeply cares for the needs of our neighbors and one serving as the visible gospel to the world. As Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton has said, “We are not called to be the church of the past nor the church of some distant future, but to be the church right now. For whatever reason, we are the ones God is using at this time in this messiness. We are not going to get it right all of the time. We are broken and sinful creatures, but we are also redeemed creatures. In baptism we have already died the only death that really matters. Can we start to live like we believe that?”
Living like we believe this to be true means we live as baptized children of God who lead lives filled with great joy and great hope. Even in the moments of life when all seems lost, we are found by God’s prodigal, lavish love for each of us and for all of us. The lavish love pours over us, in us, and through us so that we may be visible, tangible signs of God’s great reformation journey to the entire world.
To live this love completely and to truly believe that reformation did not happen just in the past, we must live knowing that we are a reforming people and reformation is still happening. This can be accomplished by bow we live and how we work. This can be realized by how we pray and how we act. This can be achieved by how we treat our neighbors and love our enemies.
This can be done in how we have dialogue and conversations with people who offer differing views from our own. This can be lived out each and every time we gather around the word proclaimed, the bath, and the meal-in the gathered assembly in worship. — Kevin L. Strickland, ELCA Dir. Worship Formation and Liturgical Resources
We invite you to reflect with us on the significance and meaning of the gift of grace! We encourage you to participate in some way in reaching out as well as contemplating within so that God’s graceful gifts can be shared by all of creation. We are all sinful and we are all redeemed creatures. May we all live as if “this is most certainly true!”