For by grace you have been saved through faith and this is not your own doing: it is the gift of God — not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. — Ephesians 2:8-10
On October 31, 1517 Martin Luther famously nailed his Ninety-Five Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. What followed were years of debate with church officials about reforms that Luther believed necessary. In particular, Luther was distressed by the church's selling of indulgences, where the people were told they could purchase saintly merits to reduce the amount of time they, or family members, would spend in Purgatory. By disputing the sale of indulgences among other things, Luther and his colleagues began the Reformation. Ironically, Luther never meant to start a new church. He simply wanted to reform the Catholic Church at the time. In fact, the term "Lutheran" was originally an insult coined by church officials to belittle Luther's followers!
Last month, we observed the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation. But when did the Reformation end? In Luther's mind the Reformation should never end! Rather, it is an ongoing process where the church is continually evaluating itself and its ministry to remain relevant to Jesus' disciples throughout the generations, while always keeping the Gospel of Jesus Christ at the center. So, as Lutherans today, what does ongoing Reformation mean to us? Here is a little word play to get us thinking: Re-Mark-Able Ministry!
RE: We really the spirit of the Reformation: the freedom to practice a relevant faith. At American Lutheran Church we are challenged to continue our own ongoing Reformation:
Review — Who are we as a community, and what defines us?
Reimagine — What is the purpose of Christ's church today, and how do we as Lutherans participate in that mission?
Renew — How are you and God doing? How are you finding renewal in your spiritual life?
Revitalize — Are there programs or ministries in need of fresh energy and passion?
Reinvent — Are there aspects of this ministry that need a new start?
Repent — We are humans, and we make mistakes. How have we wronged others in our past? How do we ask for forgiveness and how do we forgive others?
Return — As people of the Reformation, how do we embody faith in our daily lives when we return home?
MARK: Marked by the cross of Christ and sealed by the Holy Spirit, we are called to live in community for the sake of raising up disciples and growing God's Kingdom. We trust in Christ's words. "Where two or three are gathered, I am there among them." We are never alone in our ministry.
ABLE: Each of us has been given gifts for ministry in Christ's name. What gifts do you have to share within this community, our nation and world? How often do you affirm the gifts you see in others? Together, as the body of Christ, we are able to make a profound difference in the lives of others.
MINISTRY: The ministry of ALC is entrusted to us by Christ our Lord. Our prayer is that we may be good stewards of this gift, faithful proclaimers of the Gospel, and ambassadors of Christ in our daily life and work.
Blessings to you as we begin the next 500 years of ministry as Reformation people,