A Mighty Fortress Sometimes Cracks
by Kathye Hamm
As Lutherans celebrate with gusto the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, we have much to thank God for. The theological reflections on faith that moves from an individualistic effort of salvation and works, to a corporate dependence upon God’s free gift of grace, was and is a life changer for many. And that gift frees us to be a neighbor to others, not for the sake of saving ourselves, but because being in community is such a blessing to us as well. So, it is out of joy, not seeking a reward, that being a neighbor is our free gift that can bring hope to our communities, and our world.
An interesting Blog that I receive frequently is called Patheos, where many different writers talk about the ancient and future church. In an article “Five Things for the Next 500 Years: The Church and the Next Reformation”, Rev. Danny Gulden writes of five things he would like to see changed in the next 500 (or 5) years in the life of the church. I think these can be helpful as Lutherans and all faiths continue to be reformed. Gulden is a Disciples of Christ pastor serving in their national office pension program.
First Gulden states, “We will no longer need churches to carry an “Open and Affirming” designation.” His hope is that when someone hears “church” they know the church is open, affirming and welcoming to all people.
His next thesis is: “Scripture claims a central place in our witness. Too often we know the how, but we don’t know the why. We lament the ways Scripture is used by others, but don’t use it ourselves. We need to find new ways to teach our adults, and bring the Bible alive for our children”.
Then he seeks the time when the church better reflects the diversity of God’s creation. He comments, “Churches become bubbles where closely held notions are affirmed rather than challenged. The church of the (near) future will better reflect the diversity of God’s creation.”
His fourth point is: “The church is a source of transformation, not information. All of us need to be liberated from something in order to experience the wholeness God intends for each of us. A renewed passion for the Good News of Jesus Christ is in order. My hope is for the church to find a renewed interest in the transformation of lives and communities.”
Finally, “the church takes the lead on combating climate change. It is a spiritual and theological issue. If we believe God is creator and climate change is a threat to that creation, then the church must be an active leader in combating it”.
He adds a bonus focus for the church:” Children are full participants in the life of the Church. Jesus is one of the few figures in antiquity who spent time with children. Children have much to teach us about what it means to live a faith-filled life. The church is better when children are full participants”.
What is your hope for a new reformation in the church? And, how is God calling YOU to assist in that journey?
Peace and God’s Care, Pr. Ron Zoesch, Interim DEM
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