October 31st is not so much about pumpkins, trick-or-treating, and overdosing on those little tiny candy bars that seem to be getting smaller and smaller each year. No, this year October 31st is actually the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation. You see, back in 1517, the Church had gotten off track, and it needed to be recalled like a bad car part that didn’t work right. The Church needed to recall its mission of making disciples. It needed to recall that God is love and that grace abounds. It needed to recall the importance of the scriptures, and it needed to be reenergized by a new vision for the future.
In other words, the Church back then was a lot like it is today. For instance, we too need to be constantly reminded of our mission and why we exist. We too need to recapture a compelling vision for the future. By the way, we are going to be talking more about this vision for the future this month in worship, and I am really excited to share it with you!
Truth be told, the church back then and today is really a lot like me. I tend to go off track sometimes. I tend to forget what I’m supposed to be about sometimes. Just like my midsection gets soft and flabby, over time, so does my mind and allegiance to Jesus. I need to be reformed.
This desire to be reformed, drove Martin Luther’s hand on October 31, 1517, to nail his famous 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. That church door was kind of like the Facebook of their day were folks would post all kinds of statements and arguments on it. On that door, Luther posted a list of things he felt were wrong with the Church, complaining that the Church he loved had strayed from what it was supposed to be all about.
As we recall the 500th anniversary of that event, I invite you to imagine that church door in your mind and read the radical news it proclaimed: God is love and God’s grace abounds. You’re not good enough to deserve God’s love and grace, but that’s okay. You don’t have to get into indulgences or say prayers a certain number of times to fix that. Jesus already has.
You see, the reformation I need on a daily basis is to recall God’s love for me and grasp that God’s grace, no matter what I face, is more than enough for me. I need to recall that there is a whole lot more of God’s grace in me than there is sin. You see, grasping that reality, can be the most re-forming thing in our lives. It can change who we think we are. It can change how we think of ourselves. It can change how we believe God thinks of us, and that can all change how we treat others.
So, Happy Reformation Day! May God’s reforming Spirit continue to be at work in each of us, our Church, and our world!