Reformation Sunday Message

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

May God’s grace and peace be with you as you gather this Reformation Sunday. Today we celebrate the work of the Holy Spirit. It was the Holy Spirit that invited a group of college professors, led by Dr. Martin Luther, to call the church to account and call us back to the One who is our center, Jesus Christ.

The Spirit worked through the Reformers to knock down the walls that church tradition had tried to erect between God and God’s people. Led by the Spirit, the Reformers opposed the idea that forgiveness could be bought through the sale of indulgences. They helped people understand that one needn’t have an intermediary to take their prayers to God. The Spirit led Dr. Luther to translate the Scriptures into German, the language of the people, so that all could read and hear the Bible in their own language. Most importantly, the Reformers wanted us to understand that our salvation is not something we earn, work toward, or even deserve. Salvation and a life with Jesus Christ is a gift given to us from Jesus. Jesus does this out of his own grace and mercy which he pours out on all.

The Reformers wanted us to understand that Christ is with us and this life with Jesus Christ is for us. Jesus is the great and powerful Lord of all, but he also is the Good Shepherd who knows and loves his sheep and is leading us and guiding us through the power of the Holy Spirit all of our life.

When we talk about the Reformation we are not just talking about something that happened 501 years ago. Our Lord is at work on us and is with us right now. The Spirit that called the church to Reform is the same Spirit that is at work in us now forming and re-forming us. The good news for us is that God is not finished with us.

I believe that if we truly understood how God is continually with us and working on us to shape and reform us – our entire lives would be changed. If we understood just how invested God was in our reformation and invested in the hearts and lives of all people, we would no longer find ourselves in opposition to one another. We would, as St. Paul says, “out do one other in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10) We would find ourselves loving others in spite of our shortcomings through the power of the Holy Spirit working in us and on us.

Until the Lord comes again, then, the Reformation will never end. God is changing, molding, and shaping us. God is softening our hearts and opening us to be instruments of God’s peace, love and mercy. Jesus Christ is alive and walking with us, calling us to follow him into this world as he is caring for and pouring grace upon grace upon this broken world. The Holy Spirit is pulling, leading, and guiding us to be part of what God is doing – loving and caring for this broken and hurting world.

May you know God’s continual reformation in your life now and always,

+Bishop Michael