As soon as we put the words change and church together, someone is bound to be upset. Matters of faith run very deep. In churches the response “We’ve always done it that way!” is almost as common as “The Lord be with you. And also with you.”
Yet Christianity is constantly changing. This Sunday we celebrate Reformation Day and the changes that Martin Luther brought. He didn’t set out to split the Roman Catholic Church and create a protestant religion. This young monk made a list of things he wanted the church to talk about and nailed the list to the church door. Luther’s 95 theses—along with political, scientific, and cultural changes of the times—led to what is now known as the Reformation.
Author Phyllis Tickle uses the following language to explain the major transitions in faith through the years. “Every 500 years or so, the church cleans out its attic and has a giant rummage sale.” Political, scientific, and cultural changes do impact the way we understand our faith.
If we were to make a list today like Luther did, what issues would we like the church to talk about? The following is a list of issues important to twenty some-things from You Lost Me by David Kinnaman.
• Are faith and science compatible?
• Why do many Christians seem intolerant and excluding?
• Is it okay to have doubts?
• Does faith have anything to do with my “real” life?
• How do gender equity and the gay and lesbian community fit into faith?
• Does God love Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Mormons, atheists…?
These may or may not be your issues. But by looking around you can see walls that keep people away from God–just as Luther saw the walls that indulgences (paying money to get relatives out of purgatory) put up. How can we step out as Luther did and raise the important questions?
Holy God, Your steadfast love endures forever even as human understanding changes. May the Holy Spirit continue to dance in and through our lives and through your congregations. On this Reformation Sunday, re-form our hearts so we may walk more closely with You. Amen.
For fun test your knowledge about Reformation with these quizzes.
• The kids quiz isn’t too bad: http://www.ducksters.com/history/reformation_questions.php
• This one will keep giving you questions until you get 5 right in a row: https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/history/1500-1600-Renaissance-Reformation/protestant-reformation/e/protestant-reformation-quiz