Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Last week I was discussing with some of my colleagues the issue of Reformation Sunday.
Some of the other Pastor’s were saying that they were tired of Reformation Sunday.
Tired of bad sermons about the evils of the Roman Catholic Church.
Tired of historic lessons that mean nothing for today.
I suppose that maybe after more years of ministry I might grow tired of Reformation Sunday.
But as of today I always love Reformation Sunday.
It is not a very sexy day on the calendar, but I like having a Sunday to sing a Mighty Fortress and the Church’s One Foundation.
I Like having the church dressed in red.
I like remembering the importance of our history as people of the reformation.
However, my colleagues got me thinking about this day.
And perhaps that they have a point perhaps we have sometimes missed the boat.
Reformation Sunday is not just supposed to be about the once and glorious past.
But it is suppose to encourage us to continue the Reformation today.
For the Church of every age needs reforming, and our own lives need reforming badly.
This morning I would like us to think about together how we might continue not just on this Sunday but everyday to be the people of reform.

In the Gospel for this morning from the Gospel of John Jesus is reminding us that all truth is centered not in a philosophical idea but in our relationship with Jesus himself.
Jesus is the truth, and all other truths shrink in comparison to this ultimate truth.
We live in what I would consider extraordinary times.
Far from being conventional or difficult I would say that we live in a great time.
Think about all the things that we know about now that no one has known in the history of the world.
Not only that but our thinking is not confined to centralized parochial thinking of a few people in our town.
We live in a time that is extraordinary because we can and are in touch with realities that far exceed our limited world views.
Of course, some people find this scary.
Some people would rather that our lives be ruled by what I call small t truths.
Small t truths are things like science, history, political ideologies, or social construction.
It is not that small t truths are not important it is just that over time they change.
As we know, as we discover new small t truths the sand shifts beneath these small t truths.
To build our lives on them is to build our lives on a house of cards.
For example, who ever thought that Pluto would no longer be considered a planet?
I was a history major in college and the more I studied history the more I realized that it was shifting all the time.
The way that one generation views a particular piece of history is in part determined by their own social and cultural context.
This is the post modern mind, it is aware of not just one small t truth but many possible ones.
It is able to deal with the complexity of ambiguity and uncertainty.
The modern mind believed that small t truths where big t truths and could be found through logic, scientific methods, and historical documentation.
For some it has been a hard transition into the post modern world.

As people of the reformation we should be able to deal with the shifting of the small t truths and their changing nature, because we believe in the one big T truth.
We believe in Jesus Christ as our savior.
That is the big T truth.
And this is what the reformation is all about.
It is what we continually have to call ourselves to as reforming people.
Jesus is my savior, if I live in him all is well.
If I try to put my faith in science, progress, history, politics, or even religion then I have lost my way.

What Luther rediscovered for the Church in the reformation was this big T Truth.
Luther called the church back to the center of our lives which is Jesus Christ.
In the Lutheran Church today we need to be reformed because we constantly need to be called back to this Truth.
In a world that has so many small t truths.
In a world that is pulling us in so many directions we must reform our church and our lives to remember that it is Christ who is our truth and nothing else.

What does that mean?
It means that we live only for Christ.
We live for the one who gave himself for us.
We live for Christ who died so that we might live.
It is interesting that Jesus this morning tells his disciples that if they are his disciples they will obey his commandments.
We might be tempted here to think of the commandments as the ten that Moses received from God on Sinai.
But Jesus commandment that he gave his disciples in the Gospel of John comes on the night of his betrayal and death.
“I give you a new commandment that you love one as I have loved you.”
Jesus only commandment is that we have love for one another.
Notice that John turns the Golden rule on its head.
He does not say to love our neighbors as ourselves, but to love each other as Jesus loves us.
That is a tall order, because Jesus loved us even unto death.
A reforming church is one that clings to Jesus as its example as how to live with one another.
In and through Christ we live with each other’s through love and concern.
In this system your problems become my problems your joys are mine.
This week I went out to eat at the Barley House up the road and our waitress seemed a bit down.
I was joking with her about feeling better because I was there.
She then told me that she was sad because her neighbors house had burned down.
She said it with such concern.
It was as if her own house had burned down.
In Christ we care about each other in this way.
We care about the success and failure of one another.
To be the reforming Church and reforming people is to constantly call our selves back to the self giving love of Jesus Christ.

I want to end with a story about Grandmother.
It is a story of her reformation of her own life.
My grandmother grew up in a pietistic strict Swedish Lutheran house.
Her father, my great grandfather was a Lutheran pastor.
Because of her strict up bringing she was not allowed to dance.
She told me that she used to think that was crazy.
That Jesus died for her and therefore she had the freedom to dance.
She swore to herself that her kids would dance.
I can’t tell you how thankful I am that she had this reforming spirit.
It is because of her that I am able to dance, and I love to dance.

As reforming people we realize that our lives and how we order them are tied to Christ, and far from being restrictive and oppressive it frees us to be ourselves.
The one place in this world I always feel most like myself is in the church.
It is in the church that it does not matter what clothes I wear, what soft drink I drink, what music I listen to, what job I have, how much money I make.
What matters in church is only one thing, that God loves me no matter what.
A reforming Church and people constantly bring themselves back to remember in Christ what God did for them.
We remember that God loves us and cares for our souls.
That truth is freeing.
Because it means we don’t have to live in fear, and we don’t have to spend time trying to be something that world thinks we should.
Instead we can be who God thinks we should.

So let us go forth to reform.
To reform the church and our lives so that we might love one another, and we might know the big T truth that Jesus is our savior and the truth might set us free.

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