On Tuesday it was Halloween, but 506 years ago it was also the day that Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg chapel, marking the beginning of the famous Protestant Reformation. The last couple of years, Marcela and I have hosted an annual “Reformation Day” party. In place of Halloween, our friends dress up in costumes as is the custom for Halloween, but they come to our house where we hang out, eat snacks, and lastly, perform a rather goofy play written by Marcie and I. This is probably a good deal more excitement than most people have for the 506th anniversary of the Reformation, but we think it’s kind of fun.
I have noticed that each time we plan and immerse ourselves in the world of the Reformers, the Lord seems to thematically highlight more each year. Thus this week, to commemorate Reformation day, I would like to invite you to learn (or relearn) some familiar lessons with me. I think we should carry these themes all year round, but they become increasingly incarnate in my life around this week.
Firstly, read the Scriptures! I have found myself more engaged and enchanted by the Scriptures each time we celebrate. The Reformation was fundamentally a call back to the faith of the apostles as found in the Scriptures. As I learn from the Reformers and their examples, I am reminded that there is more to the Scriptures God gave us than I could ever imagine. We should treasure the Scriptures, we should obey them, and we should preach them enthusiastically, because in them Christ and all his wisdom is found - more than we will ever realize! He is just as real as he was 2000 years ago. He was so real to the Reformers that even as you read how they engaged with the scriptures, you will find yourself in conversation with Jesus.
Secondly, love the local church! Jesus gave us one another for the purpose of building each other up. We know this and we have talked a fair bit about this recently. “Church” however, remains a squishy word with an unclear definition to most. For the Reformers, they didn’t think of the church as primarily the broad institution across the world or even the invisible body of believers, rather, they saw the church primarily at work in the local expressions of Jesus’ ministry. We need one another as we follow Jesus. Jesus calls us his body, which means we are indeed woven together, not just mystically, but tangibly and locally.
Lastly, church unity is the goal. Almost all of the Reformers were committed deeply to unity. That’s why they wanted to reform. Yet we look around today and there is so much division. In John 17:22 Jesus prays for us and prays that we would experience the same unity that he and the Father experience as they share in being the one God. Unity, according to Jesus, was a reflection of God in the church’s own character.
Now Reformers and Reformation Day aside, these are good and important lessons, not ones that we should restrict to the last week of October. The Scriptures are breathed out by God (2 Timothy 3:16), the church is the local community of believers built to encourage each other (Hebrews 10:25), and unity is worth striving for (Ephesians 4:13). For the last couple of years, this week has marked an important time for me to pray for our community. I would love to invite you to pray with me in this first week of November.
Lord would we grow in love for the scriptures, love for one another, and love for Christians outside our walls, all for your sake Jesus.