In just a few weeks, we will celebrate a momentous milestone as we honor our roots by marking the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther, a Roman Catholic monk, nailed to the door of his church a list of 95 changes he wanted to see the Church make. That list went viral, so to speak, and set a spark to the already smoldering embers burning for change. Thus the Protestant Reformation was born.
We Presbyterians trace our history back to this movement, continuing to hold before us a motto that reminds us of our denominational origins: We are the Church Reformed. We also acknowledge that reform did not happen in isolation, and that it is an ongoing process. Therefore we expand that motto, describing ourselves as The Church Reformed and Always Reforming! The Reformation instilled in us the reality that we were created by and serve a Living God who is always on the move doing a new thing. Why? Besides the Bible telling us that God is doing new things, we look around and see a world that is constantly changing. Each day, people of faith face new challenges and choices. Thankfully, we never face those challenges alone. Because of our faith in the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit, we might better understand our motto as: The Church Reformed and Always Being Reformed.
That understanding means that as a church, we should always be asking ourselves what is the most authentic and faithful way of following Jesus Christ right now. As each day dawns and we catch up on the latest news, begin our interactions with other people, and go about our business, we should be carrying with us the hope and expectation that God is in the very midst of our lives. How can a conversation, a gesture, a gracious demonstration yield a reformation in our own lives? Is that news headline crying out for us to look at the world a little differently?
Reformation does not always look the same from one iteration to the next. However, in Christ’s Church reformation always leads to authentic, faithful, and loving service in his name.