Pastor’s Ponderings

Reformation Sunday

Because of scheduling, Reba and I will not be with you on Sunday, October 31st which is traditionally the Sunday we celebrate Reformation Sunday. Because we will not be acknowledging the Reformation during our worship services this year, I would like to give you my thoughts on Reformation Sunday as my Pastor’s Ponderings in this November Newsletter.

Philippians 4:4 – 9 “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guide your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you”.

Throughout history when we look at Scripture, the history of the church and even our own country, we see times when reformation has improved the quality of life. In 1932, then candidate for president, Herbert Hoover delivered his acceptance speech at the conclusion of his party’s convention. In that speech, he included the following paragraph, “The problems of the next few years are not political or economic; they are moral and spiritual. The present check on our material success must stir our national conscience to consider anew the purpose of life itself. It must cause us to re-value and reshape our drift from materialism to a higher understanding of individual, religious and national ideas. We must dedicate to the enduring satisfaction of personal and family life where we create an atmosphere of higher ideals and religious faith.”

Reformation Sunday is to acknowledge that in 1517 a spiritual Reformation began. The foundational principles of “The Great Reformation” that was set in motion 500 years ago, have set into motion what is being prayed for as “The Great Emergence” in the
21st century. As individuals and the church, we would need to rediscover and recommit ourselves to the principles of: That Scripture is primary and all of us need to read and study the Bible. We need to know the Bible for ourselves. We need to wrestle with not only what the Bible means in the ancient world but what it needs to speak to us in our new world today and this is done with the power of the Holy Spirit. We need to nurture and develop our faith. We do this by developing spiritual disciplines like prayer, meditation and listening, so that we can discern the guidance and wisdom of the Holy Spirit that is present and active in our lives. We need to connect with a vibrant faith community that encourages personal growth and service. We need to develop our trust in the love and grace of God. God’s love and grace is sufficient for holding us steady during times of struggle, stress, and discouragement. It is God’s love and grace that walks alongside of us, in front of us, and yes even behind us, sustaining us, encouraging us and opening the right doors at the right time and teaching us when we need correction. There is always more room for God’s love and grace and we must be open to the spiritual journey that covers us in God’s love and grace. And finally, we need to give more attention to developing practical strategies that embrace and practice, “The priesthood of all believers.” When our church families value and participate as lay ministry along with their church pastor, committees, and boards we build upon the understanding that God has gifted each person of faith with spiritual gifts. God calls us to be ministers, empowering laity and pastors to transform the world we live in for Jesus Christ.

Five hundred years ago Martin Luther envisioned these principles as Reformation principles that will affect our worship life, our spiritual formation, hospitality, congregational care, as well as our outreach and mission. That is why Paul instructed the Christians in Philippi and to us today that it is important to focus on those things that are true, holy, just, pure, and lovely. When we as individuals and a church family embrace and bring change and when we are focused on those things can you imagine how not just our church, but one church after another doing this brings about a change not only in us as churches and followers of Jesus Christ but in the world around us. Let us join the company of reformers, as together we find our way into the future.

Pastor Gary

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