Today we celebrate and acknowledge that the Reformation is 500 years old.
Today is reformation Sunday, legend has it that on October 31, 1517 Luther defiantly nailed a copy of his 95 Theses—a list of questions and propositions for debate, to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church.— which touched off the reformation..
And we are remembering God’s Grace throughout our Stewardship celebration.
In Paul’s letter to the believers in Ephesus he reminds them and us, that we are saved, made whole, by grace through faith in Christ Jesus and not by our own efforts or works (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Grace Alone. Grace alone means that God loves, forgives, and claims us not because of who we are or what we do, but because of the work of Christ.
The Protestant Reformation, changed Christianity forever.
Awoken to action by the corruption and abuses they saw in the Roman Catholic church of the time, visionary pastors and leaders like Martin Luther and John Calvin spearheaded a movement that transformed Christianity and eventually led to the emergence of the Protestant denominations that exist today.
Including the Congregational church which came together with other denominations in 1957 to form the United Church of Christ.
The Reformers were guided by the conviction that the church of their day had drifted away from the essential, original teachings of Christianity, especially in regard to what it was teaching about salvation—how people can be forgiven of sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and receive eternal life with God.
The Reformation sought to re-orient Christianity back to the original message of Jesus and the early church found in scripture.
The Five Solas are five Latin phrases (or slogans) that emerged during the Reformation to summarize the Reformers’ theological convictions about the essentials of the Christian faith.
The Five Solas are:
1. Sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone”): The Bible alone is our highest authority.
2. Sola Fide (“faith alone”): We are saved, made whole, through faith alone in Jesus Christ.
3. Sola Gratia (“grace alone”): We are saved, made whole, by the grace of God alone.
4. Solus Christus (“Christ alone”): Jesus Christ alone is our Lord, Savior, and King.
5. Soli Deo Gloria (“to the glory of God alone”): We live for the glory of God alone.
From the 500 years of reformation we turn our attention back even further to Our scripture passage today.
This is the story of Solomon and the settling of God in the temple.
We first hear the promise from Solomon to build the temple his father, David, never could build.
Our passage ends with the entry of the ark,
placing the ark in the temple and the great public ritual that took place as the ark was processed in.
Let’s try and imagine the size of this,
the smells of the burnt offerings,
the smoke from all the fires swirling around the place,
the noise of the processions and drums and trumpets, the crowds of people.
It was no small event.
And rightly so for the House of God.
It was a grand thing to have done, to build a temple to the Lord.
The in-between chapters between 5 and 8 of 1 Kings include great detail of the dimensions and the architecture that communicate the level of concern and diligence expended on this project of this great temple.
What rituals do we have that take us through such times?
We celebrated the ritual of installation last spring… installing me as the Pastor and Teacher of these 2 congregations
There is a ritual to inaugurating a president
It seems that in the past great rites of passage were created for a nation.
It is also a significant that we offer rituals and a means for people to celebrate movement through particular periods in life, be it marriage or birth or death.
It is becoming clear in recent times is that the rituals the church offers are not as adequate in helping people move through times as they once were.
There are new rituals being created (perhaps they have always been) with a gathering of flowers and other items where someone has died in an accident, or following a funeral service,
people gathering for candlelight vigils outdoors following an act of violence
As the world moves towards a new paradigm shaped for us in political policies here and globally by relationships that are quickly changing and shifting, now, as Solomon found, rituals and rites can enable people to bridge one world view with another and enable folk to cross into what is yet unknown.
Where can we as the church, people of faith, offer ways of journeying from one tradition of seeing ourselves to another?
This story of Solomon’s building and then dedicating the First Temple offers us a time to pause and consider the rites of passage we can offer folks in these changing times.
Who might we talk to and explore with in order to shape these moments when the future is uncertain and maybe more significantly what might we hold on to from our past rituals that still help us find what is foundational to our society and faith?
In Solomon’s Temple there was only the ark, nothing else. What can we let go of and what should we hold on to in these times?
As we look at the reformation at 500— Grace is still enough
Faith is still enough
scripture is still important and foundational for us as believers, yet I recently read that postmoderns, the generation we are struggling to reach, do not believe there is such a thing as universal truth— in other words what is true for you, may or may not, be true for me.
What does that mean for us as the church? Another sermon
but we cannot pretend that what is universal truth for us is so for them
We as the church still stand on Christ alone
Together, we are building something new.
We aren’t drawing up architectural plans
But we have made plans and set some goals as we have moved forward together.
The pace of things has seemed too quick for some and too slow for others.
When we look at the reformation at 500
these churches at 316 and almost 150 years
the effort and ritual that went into creating and celebrating the first temple
all was done for the Glory of God alone
By God’s grace we stand on the shoulders of those who went before us.
And others are counting on us to carry on…Amen