REFORMATION…REFORMING OR BEING REFORMED
The Genesis story of creation tells of God taking a handful of dirt
and with great Spirit and imagination, forming it into a human being . . .
called Adam . . . which means “dirt”.
The liturgy of Ash Wednesday reminds us, also from scripture,
“from dust we have come, to dust we shall return.”
We are in the midst of a season of culture and a particularly political culture
where voices are screaming, promising, boasting
the power to “reform” our world into something “very good”. . .
in essence, to play God by re-forming the dust of society into something better.
This coming Sunday, Protestant denominations will celebrate what is called “Reformation Sunday.”
In the celebration, there is the recalled memory of that moment in the church’s time
when Martin Luther, 499 years ago, posted his “95 Theses” on the door of a German church.
It was apparently not his intention to demolish and rebuild the Roman Catholic Church,
but rather to raise questions about the distance the practices of the Church had come
from what Luther felt were the foundations of the Christian faith.
Whatever Luther’s intention or hopes or “dreams and visions” were for the practice of faith
as demonstrated by the church,
the past 499 years have seen the church’s Reformation reproduce itself in multiple forms,
into numerous denominations and the progeny those denominations have created
either by intentional mission or basic human disagreement.
Thus, we approach yet another Reformation Sunday, with a mixed bag of emotions . . .
pride in the place we have served in the midst of an ever-changing organism called “church”;
shamefulness for the ways we have distorted this organism;
humility for the ways we have been allowed to serve as instruments of this family of faith.
For the past 499 years, many leaders have boldly led the church into new ventures.
Some have changed the church drastically into almost unrecognizable creations.
Some have set loose reforms that have greatly improved life for creation.
Perhaps in the midst of the bold assumption of power as “change agents” and “reformers” in our day,
we might best remember the motto of Protestantism.
We often state that motto as “Reformed, Always Reforming”
as if we were the ones taking the ball of dirt and doing the shaping.
Instead, the motto is really this:
“Reformed, Always Being Reformed”
If we note, remember, and live by that motto,
then we humbly and gratefully take our proper place in the order of things.
We are not and never have been and never will be the ones who do the creating,
nor the forming, nor the reforming.
We are the ones, we are the bodies, we are the Body that the Triune God brought into being,
and the ones the Triune God will reform into the shape God chooses to make creation very good.