This Sunday is Reformation Sunday, a Lutheran festival day not celebrated by other denominations. It is a day Lutherans remember the legendary act of Martin Luther posting his 95 theses on the Wittenberg church door in 1517 calling the Church to re-form itself to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We, Lutherans, remember Martin Luther but reformation itself is a Christian not a Lutheran act. I think of Martin Luther King, Sr. whose original name and son’s name was Michael until he traveled in Germany and heard the story of Martin Luther. He was so inspired by Luther’s courage and faithfulness that he came home and changed his and his son’s names to Martin Luther. Was it mere coincidence or was something set in motion by that naming that led Martin Luther King, Jr. to become another great reformer in church and society?
At the heart of the gospel is this call to re-form our lives daily and weekly to the image of God in which we are created. We are called to die and rise with Christ every day so that it is Christ and his Word, and the Spirit that emanates from him that molds and shapes us rather than the world around us.
That re-forming is not just a reshaping of our individual lives but the re-shaping of our communal lives as well. There is a hymn that puts it this way: “The church of Christ, in every age beset by change, but Sprit led, must claim and test its heritage and keep on rising from the dead.”
When we celebrate Reformation this Sunday, it isn’t some glorious past we are remembering, but a call we are continually seeking and praying to answer - that we might conform our lives to Christ and thereby call others to join us in following, as the final verse of the same hymn sings, “. . .to serve in full obedience to our Lord; to care for all, without reserve, and spread his liberating word.”
That Word is what Martin Luther clung to and believed in so that he could write in his most famous of hymns, A Mighty Fortress is Our God: “Though hordes of devils fill the land all threatening to devour us, we tremble not, unmoved we stand; they cannot overpow’r us. This world’s prince may rage, in fierce war engage. He is doomed to fail; God’s judgement must prevail! One little word subdues him.
– Pastor Dianne