By Rev. Eric Brown
"For wherever two or three are gathered in My Name, there am I among them." - Matthew 18:20
Wait, why a Reformation article today? Did you miss it? Didn't you get the memo? We celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation this past weekend, this past Halloween. It's November now – that Reformation stuff is done with? We talked all about how we are right and the other folks are wrong and now we go on with life, right?
Well, no, not right at all. You see, the Reformation wasn't a one time historical event. It's not just something of the past to be dusted off and celebrated every so often. The true point of the Reformation was something that ought to hold front and center in our lives no matter what day of the year it happens to be. Salvation is in Christ Alone.
When Martin Luther got the ball rolling (rather unintentionally) 500 year ago, it was because he was questioning where Jesus was to be found in all that hub-bub over indulgences. When Luther looked at them, he didn't see Jesus for sinners. He saw money and arrogance and fear mongering, but not Jesus. And then he started looking elsewhere at the Church of his day, and in so many places he didn't see Jesus. He didn't see Jesus in relics, the pilgrimages, the pomp and power of the men running things. So the real question of the Reformation was this: where is Jesus to be found? Where is Jesus going to be present to give us poor sinners forgiveness and life?
The answer was precisely where Jesus promised to be. In His Word, in His proclamation of forgiveness, in His Baptism, in His Supper. In the very things that He calls and gathers us into His Church to receive. That is where Jesus comes to us.
Luther saw the problems of his day, and he responded to them clearly. That's a great thing. We can learn a lot from reading and studying Luther – He pointed to Christ Jesus so clearly. But here's the thing. We don't live in Luther's day. We live today, over 500 years after the 95th Thesis were posted. And we today have our own things that would distract us from Christ. Maybe not so much indulgences or relics, but there are plenty of other things that would separate us from Christ. Money and power still do, to say nothing of our wants and desires, our foolish hopes, our desires to make things be about us rather than Christ Jesus for us. You can see all these things – they swirl around the world, the Church at large, our own congregations, and they most certainly swirl around our hearts.
And yet, what continues on? Once again Christ Jesus will call us to His Church to be present for us in His Word and in His Supper. Once again He will call us to repentance and restore us to who we are in His Baptism. Once again, He will reform us. The Reformation was not a one time event of History, but it is precisely what Jesus does for us constantly through His Word whenever He pulls our eyes off of all the sinful distractions and makes us to see Him and Him alone.
Lord, keep us steadfast in Your Word! That is Jesus' Reformation for you.
Rev. Eric Brown is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Herscher, Illinois and the co-host of the HT Gospeled Boldly Podcast.
Created: October 31st, 2017