This Sunday we are celebrating Reformation Sunday. On Oct 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted 95 theses on the doors of Wittenberg Castle, which we mark as the beginning of the reformation movement. The reformation period itself, ignited by Luther’s act, was a time of religious, political, and cultural upheaval. What brought about all this upheaval was basically the question of who or what holds power and authority. For Luther, who was influenced by Augustine’s emphasis on scripture, that meant challenging the idea that it was the church who held the authority and power to bestow salvation. Luther, through his own Biblical study, came to believe that salvation was reached through faith and divine grace alone – it could not be earned and it could not be bought. The principles that Luther brought forward can be summarized by his “solas”, latin for “alone,” or “only.” They are: scripture alone, faith alone, grace alone, Christ alone, and glory to God alone. These principles have shaped our understanding of faith and grace today – that salvation is God’s act of unconditional love for us. Luther wanted people to know that there did not need to be a mediating force (the church) between people and God – because nothing can separate us from God’s love. That was good news in 1517 and it is good news for us today.
As reformation people, our history leads us to always be about the work of reformation so that we don’t bind up or limit God’s good news for all. Of course, reformation work is messy, it’s chaotic, it’s full of change, it causes all kinds of upheaval. Kind of like being the church in the midst of COVID. In what ways has this time of pandemic forced us to change how we live out and into God’s grace? In what ways has this time of pandemic sharpened our commitments to serving our neighbors? In what ways has this time of pandemic moved us to proclaim the hope that we have in the God of resurrection and new life? In what ways has this time of pandemic allowed us to live out being the church in new ways? Reformation work is hard, necessary, but hard. As we celebrate our history, may we also take this opportunity to be about the work of reforming so that all may know that nothing can separate us from the love of God.
In Peace, Pastor Ruth
Gracious God, you created us all in your image. Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil, and grant us grace to magnify your love for all creation. Through us give hope to the hopeless, love to the unloved, peace to the troubled, and rest to the weary. We come to you trusting in your mercy through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Friend. Amen.