Originally ran October 28, 2016
For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law. – Romans 8:28
This Sunday, we will mark the 499th anniversary of the start of the Reformation of the Church. We are reaching important milestones as we seek to reunite the Church catholic. There was an article onNPR discussing how Pope Francis is heading to Sweden for the commemoration ofthe Reformation. Both the ELCA Churchwide Assembly and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (Roman Catholic) approved the document, Declaration On the Way, which could establish a common agreement on basic theology for Lutherans and Romans worldwide. Honestly, it is an exciting time to be seeing the Holy Spirit work to heal some of the deepest divisions of the Church.
The Reformation was a movement seeking to renew the whole of the Church. That renewal was lifting up a key part of Christianity that some folks in the Catholic Church forgot: God gave us the faith that justifies us. This verse from Paul’s letter to the early Roman congregations became the rallying cry of the Lutheran Reformers. The reformers ardently defended this theology.
The gem the Reformation focused on was the Gospel, the message that God loves you and that you did nothing to earn this love. This message of the Love of God is the message of pure Grace: it is an undeserved gift.
Now, the Reformation was slightly successful: the Roman Catholic Church went through the Counter-Reformation and has had a couple of Vatican Councils that renewed and reformed their theology, and we are now much more in agreement than we were 499 years ago.
The Grace of God is working yet again in our day as we see the Holy Spirit actively working to heal the terrible rift that started when Pope Leo X excommunicated Luther. In this, the message of Grace that chose us endures. Join us this Sunday at 10:45. We will be remembering the Reformation as we look forward and celebrate the future that God is bringing forth for the Church.
Also, consider signing up to attend the Bible Study I am leading on Wednesdays at 1:30 and 6PM. This Bible Study is part of our intentional effort to see renewal within our own lives as well as the life of St Paul Lutheran, Pine Grove Mills.
Finally, please bring a food item for the food bank and place it in the vestibule as you walk in. We are working to gather plenty of food for Harvest Home Sunday, which is November 12.
God’s Peace be upon you!
Almighty God, gracious Lord, we thank you that your Holy Spirit renews the church in every age. Pour out your Holy Spirit on your faithful people. Keep them steadfast in your word, protect and comfort them in times of trial, defend them against all enemies of the gospel, and bestow on the church your saving peace, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.