I love being Lutheran! I know that Martin Luther himself did not expect to begin a new church but wanted to reform the existing Church. He certainly did not want a church named after him. What he did want was a church that told the story of God’s love for humanity. Luther lived his early life in fear of God, but spent the last years of his life trusting in God’s mercy and grace. For me, Lutheran = mercy + grace!
Luther called the church a “priesthood of all believers.” He wanted every person to know that God heard their prayers and that the Bible was a book for all of us to read in our own language. Luther was not the only reformer who translated the Bible and argued with the pope—he was following in the footsteps of Jan Hus, a Czech priest and John Wycliffe, an English priest. There were many reformers who followed him, including those who stayed in the Roman Catholic Church to make many changes within that church.
Sometimes we in the church have heard the word “reform” as an encouragement to separate ourselves from those who do not agree with us. Sometimes it is hard for us to remember that we are truly “One in Christ.” It takes patience for us to “make the effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” In Ephesians 4:4-6 we read, “There is one body and one spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.”
As we celebrate the beginnings of the Lutheran Church on October 27, we also celebrate our sisters and brothers in other faith communities with whom we share One Baptism and the Lord’s Table. We give thanks for all who work for peace and justice in the world in the name of Jesus of Nazareth. We remember with thanksgiving all who have taught us of God’s abundant love and mercy!
Gracious Father, we pray for your holy catholic church. Fill it with all truth and peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in anything it is amiss, reform it; where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in need, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.