I went to a Lutheran high school that had day students, weekly boarders and full boarders. It was in a rural area and some students came from quite a distance to go to school there. At one stage our school accepted a number of students from a reform school in Sydney. These were teenagers from troubled homes who had been sent to a school to ‘reform’ them, and that school decided to send some onto us. In getting to know these teenagers more, we soon saw why they had been in reform school. I hope our school was helpful to them. Looking back, I am interested in that use of the word ‘reform’. Near to Marysville, there is the Ohio Reformatory for Women. That is another institution specializing in reform, in reformation.
In the Lutheran church we are used to hearing the word Reformation. This word is focused on a time in church history when much reform was needed. We honor Martin Luther as being one key leader in this reform or reshaping. (In 2017 we will be celebrating 500 years since Luther posted 95 statements or theses of reform on the Wittenberg church door.)
And so ‘The Reformation’ came to refer to a specific time long ago. In the years since then, there have been at least a few church leaders that have spoken and written using a Latin phrase that means that the church is always being reformed, or always in need of being reformed. I’m sure Luther would agree with that. The first of his 95 theses was about repentance, that the whole entire life of the Christian is about repentance. We could call that ‘personal reformation’ – letting Jesus forgive us, letting Jesus’ new risen life rise up in our own lives.
And as the individual Christian is called to reform, so also the congregation, and each denomination. I think Luther would have rejoiced in at least some of the reforms made to the Roman Catholic Church through the Second Vatican Council about 50 years ago. Ascension Lutheran Church is a church of ongoing reformation too. What aspects of our congregational life and practice do you think might be most in need of being reformed? How can God’s grace be even more evident in our church? I’m interested to hear your thoughts.
Be open to God’s reforming of your life and church.
- Pastor Tim
OCTOBER SCRIPTURE READINGS