From the Pastor’s Desk…
Dear Bay Shore Family,
This Sunday, we celebrate the tradition of Reformation Sunday—marking the anniversary when Martin Luther is reported to have posted his 95 theses on the doors of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany on Oct. 31, 1517. From this date on, the Church has been in a state of reforming ever since. 502 years of the Body of Christ reforming itself over and over to meet the needs of the people in many ways, like the Early Church did in its infancy. We Lutherans like a good festival though, so we tend to pull out all the stops (yes, that’s an organ reference) and enjoy the day with much pomp and circumstance.
I worked for 6 years in a non-Lutheran church who celebrated Reformation Sunday. Even there, we sang Luther-written hymns and talked about the Protestant Reformation. From that lens, I learned more than I ever wanted to about John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, John Knox and quite a few others. I learned that Martin Luther was not the only one who put his life on the line and fought for religious freedom, who spoke against indulgences, who translated the Bible into a common language and wanted priests to be married. I also learned in seminary that Luther was not as keen in leaving the Catholic Church as the younger Philip Melanchthon was. If Luther was the bullhorn of the Reformation, then Melanchthon was certainly its architect. In fact, it was Melanchthon who gives us the date “Oct. 31, 1517” first in writings, not Luther himself.
In truth, the Reformation is complicated. Like families at Thanksgiving. We all gather at the table for the sake of the day, but we don’t agree on everything. Churches today all over the world will mark this day, but there is a growing edge, and I am there, that wonders if lifting up the celebration impedes the unity of the Church. Because I want the Church to be united. I want all persons who believe in Jesus to be more together in mission than apart. I understand that churches all have different tones of theology—but I pray that these differences can be overcome enough for the sake of the Gospel.
Imagine the Spirit is calling us to a new Reformation. To reform the Church again overall so that we can gather around the same table and express the same love for Jesus Christ. That we can be united to serve our neighbor. That we don’t compete with one another but instead join together to be stronger and more whole.
Imagine it is time for the Church to reform again and address serious issues that face us all—like relevancy, apathy, and lack of connection to the Body of Christ. Believe that God is moving the Church now to have a new Reformation of great upheaval so that the church will again rise and thrive.
I am not a prophet with sackcloth, I believe that the Church will again prosper—but every October now, I feel the winds of change and Reformation pushing the Church and its people to consider itself and its future, and not look back so much to the past. I am no longer afraid of a new Reformation. In fact, I pray for it to come and reignite the fire of the Church once more.
Just like 1517, now is a time for boldness and truth, and a renewed commitment to the Gospel.
In fact, it’s past time. Now, the Church needs to catch up…