Reformation Sunday 2016

Reformation Sunday 2016 

To all the Saints of the Allegheny Synod, 

May the grace, peace, and presence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be with you on this Reformation Sunday. As Lutherans, we understand that the Reformation was a time when the Holy Spirit moved in the church. The Spirit worked through Reformers like Luther to call us back to prayer, Scripture, and to a closer relationshipwith our Lord Jesus. The Spirit also used the Reformers to teach and remind us that our salvation is not something we do, but is accomplished through and by the mercy and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

At the same time the Reformation created divisions in the one holy catholic and apostolic church. For hundreds of years, Christians defined themselves by our differences rather than by the many things that unite us and by our Lord Jesus who is our hope and our life. Thankfully, the Spirit of God has been alive and at work in this last hundred years building bridges between Christian traditions and bringing all of God’s people closer together. 

Now, we are preparing for next year’s 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. The Holy Spirit continues to call us. First and foremost, the Spirit of God is calling us into deeper relationship with God and Jesus Christ through the study of scripture, prayer, and worship. God gives us the gifts of scripture, prayer, and worship to allow us to connect with God. I invite you to take a step deeper into these gifts from the Spirit in the coming year. 

What better time than the lead up to a major anniversary to take stock and look at our devotional life. I invite you to deepen or take up the discipline of daily prayer in the coming year. If you don’t do it regularly, devote yourself to reading the Bible daily. Bless yourself with the opportunity to worship and sit in the presence of God with your church family. God gives us the gift of these blessings. I invite you to take this coming year to explore and take advantage of what God has blessed us with. 

We also see the Spirit working to call all people together. I invite you to join me in praying for the unity of the church in this coming year. We have been divided for a very long time. Please pray with me that all Christians hear the call of Christ to see our unity in Jesus. The world loves to find differences upon which to divide us. Let us reach out and find the unity that we have because and in Jesus Christ. More importantly, pray with me that this unity will not simply be something theoretical, but a unity which demonstrates the Love of Jesus to all of this world. 

My prayer is that you may know that power of Jesus Christ that is alive and is with you. As we celebrate this Reformation Day, you may know that the Spirit is always about this work of reformation. It is reforming this world and re-forming all of us. God is making us into not what we think we can be, but what God intends us to be. 

Please know that you are in my prayers, and I pray that as we walk through this year leading up to the 500th Anniversary, that you will be blessed by our Lord Jesus Christ and that the Spirit of God will deepen and strengthen your connection and dependence upon him. 

May God bless you now and always. 

Your servant in Christ, 

+Bishop Michael L. Rhyne