This weekend when we gather in worship, we celebrate Reformation Sunday, giving thanks for Martin Luther and fellow reformers who refocused the Church's attention on the Word and the saving power of Jesus Christ. While Luther had little or no idea during his lifetime what a profound effect he would have on the world, we recognize today that he left quite a legacy including:
- justification by grace through faith
- word and worship for the people
- priesthood of all believers
- marriage and family as high calling
- educational reform
What do all of these things have in common? They represent a shift in authority giving believers a far greater voice. They demonstrate a shift in understanding as the church more and more embraces the language of the people. They acknowledge a shift in technology as the printing press gives people far greater access to resources of faith.
So what might this say to us 500 years later as the church seems to be going through yet another Reformation (of which we also cannot predict the results in our own lifetime). It seems to me that the rapid changes that we are presently experiencing inside and outside the church are resulting the following shifts in our own understanding.
- Pastors serving more as spiritual coaches and resource providers and less as experts and dispensers of religious goods and services
- Almost everyone having a voice or platform as a believer because of technology and social media
- A need to embrace digital technology as bearers of the Gospel
- The necessity of becoming more comfortable with metaphors and communication patterns of today's culture (sermons designed for the radio generation don't preach effectively anymore)
- Urgent need for a strong commitment to Christian Education and Youth and Family Ministry (especially given the multitude of choices many families have as to how to use their time)
- Ability to discern what traditions are worth keeping and be willing to embrace the idea that sometimes less is more
Most importantly, in the midst of so many voices competing for our attention and energy, we need to keep Christ and his saving Gospel at the center of what we do as we lift up Jesus to the community in worship, education, and service. We look forward to celebrating with you this weekend. See you in church!