This Sunday we will celebrate Reformation Sunday. It is that Sabbath on which we annually acknowledge the unique history of the Protestant Reformation. Like all movements of renewal and reform, the Protestant Reformation was responding to perceived excesses and distortions in the medieval church. However, unlike many reform movements, the 16th century leaders of the Protestant Reformation were not under the illusion that their reforms would be the last and only transitions within Christianity. The slogan “the church reformed and always reforming” captures their deepest conviction that in every generation we must adapt within the church to meet the changing needs and perceptions of successive generations.
The Protestant Reformation nonetheless provided us a legacy that we can easily observe in our Sunday worship. The presence of a Ruling Elder in leading the liturgy and in governing the church is a response to the Reformation heritage of “the priesthood of all believers.” The centrality of the sermon in our worship is a legacy of the Reformation’s reliance on scripture as the source of our understanding of God. When we make confession of our sins we do it corporately relying alone on God’s grace. These elements of our church life, and many more examples could be given, attest to the heritage we are heir to as Reformed Christians.
While this is a Sunday to celebrate that legacy, it is not enough to embrace the reforms of five centuries ago. To be Reformed Christians is to endlessly reform the church toward closer alignment with the will of God and the needs of the present generation. The challenge for us is to continuously renew the church’s ministry and witness so that it continues to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to today’s world and to show the love of God through its witness to places of need and want all around us. So, as we approach this Reformation Sunday let us renew our passion for the witness of the church in the world, redouble our efforts to proclaim the Good News to a weary world and continue to identify the ways in which we can demonstrate God’s love and grace to a weary and anxious world. For, “a mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing…”