Reformation: Then, Now, and Always
This coming Sunday, Oct. 28, most mainline Protestants, especially Lutherans will mark Reformation Sunday. This is the Sunday closest to Oct. 31, the date in 1517 that Martin Luther nailed his infamous 95 thesis to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg, Germany. Thus, the Protestant Reformation was sparked across the whole church.
I think it is important that Luther never wanted to create a new church body. He simply wanted to reform the church of his time. Over the past 501 years,(and before 1517, as well), the Christian church has had its ugly moments — to be sure. There also have been incredible moments and lives that have truly changed the world. Especially in the last decade or two, there has been more conversation, dialog, and action as to how faith communities can work together versus focusing on our differences and conflicts.
I am one to believe that the church today — in fact, all faith communities not just Christian — live in a re-formation daily. There is no doubt that in this 21st Century the world moves faster and faster. I again state it is no secret that faith and religion hold a different and lesser place in society today that it ever has. As faith communities strive to be relevant and offer life-changing moments, opportunities, and activities in order to bring a deeper sense of meaning to life in our times, we are living re-formation now.
Faith communities are changing — not looking inward — but looking outward. We look to the world around us and how our beliefs and call to love one another shapes us as people of faith. We see ourselves in and interacting with the world around us. People of faith do not have it all figured out, or have any sense of superiority over others. We confess a core of belief that centers us as to how we see and can be in the world for the good of a greater humanity.
That is not to say there are individual moments and components to a life of faith. As Lutherans, and most Christians, we confess in our creeds that we believe in the one holy catholic and apostolic church. Therefore, we believe that we are a church better together. We do this faith thing together — because together we can do more than what we can do apart.
In a world that wants to dissect and exploit our differences, perhaps today’s re-formation among faith communities has been learning about each other and focusing in on what unites and brings us together. Across all faith traditions we can serve the greater community outside of ourselves.
Faith communities are not perfect by any means. Life is often messy in a faith community. Yet, I believe faith communities across all traditions make our lives better as Broomfielders and as neighbors. They call us to think about our neighbor and our lives together, and then act.
That is a reformation and re-formation then, now, and always.
Pastor Scott McAnally is pastor of Lutheran Church of Hope