What reforming could we see if we gathered in retreat on our own Mt Pisgah in Winthrop, Maine and if our eyesight could extend across the MidMaine District? What re-forming do we long for with our God hungry hearts? Are we committed to what reform will require of us: closer reading of scripture, committed time in prayer alone and in fellowship, seeing our neighbors with new eyes? These are the elements of previous reforms in Christian history.
This weekend, Christians across the western world will celebrate the influence, if not the perfection, of German reformer Martin Luther. Luther …. taught that every person — butcher, baker or homemaker — is called by God. So, when United Methodists say that every person — whether lay or clergy — is called to ministry, they are echoing Luther. (UMNS) Luther’s effect on Western civilization has been profound. Although he was famous not only for his radical re-formation ideas, but also for his fierce advocacy of the implications he drew from scripture, his ideas opened the way toward a pluralist world. “Going into the Reformation, the assumption was that to have a united empire, everybody had to be of the same confession,” [Dr. Anna M Johnson] said. “It’s a huge shift to say we can have parts of the empire that belong to different confessions and this will not undermine the empire as a whole. We don’t need to have uniformity to still have a cohesive society that functions.” (UMNS)
The roadmap to reform matters. (There’s also a Pisgah in Boothbay Harbor, do we know which way we’re going when we set out for either of these beautiful views?) For Jesus followers, scripture is our roadmap. Hearing Luther’s preface to the Romans re-formed John Wesley’s understanding of his own salvation on that famously heartwarming night, May 24, 1738.
Yet part of our own re-forming comes with eyes across history that see the damage done by Luther’s toxic views of Jewish neighbors. John Wesley thought that what Luther needed was a good honest discipleship group to help form him! Wesley wrote of Luther in 1749. “But O! what pity that he had no faithful friend! None that would, at all hazards, rebuke him plainly and sharply, for his rough, untractable spirit, and bitter zeal for opinions, so greatly obstructive of the work of God!" (UMNS)
As we mark this 500th anniversary of the Reformation, may our own hearts be moved toward that deeper discipleship together that will lead to us being more like Jesus when we go to sleep each night than we were when we arose in the morning. Life in Christ is that simple, and that difficult.
Your Partner in Christ, Karen