In Protestant churches around the world, the Reformation is usually observed on the last Sunday of October. For those who are still tracking with time in 2020, that’s this Sunday. The day is usually filled with reminders of reformers like John Calvin and Martin Luther clarifying and crystalizing the gospel message that God’s salvation is by grace alone through faith alone rooted in scripture alone which is all about Christ alone.
And while the spiritual outcomes of the Reformation are certainly foundational to who we are Jesus followers, I think the Reformation might mean something more for us - especially this year. It’s so easy to forget that the Reformation wasn’t just a spiritual renewal, but also one of political, economic, and social change and how Jesus is the only solution that can get us there.
For a moment, let’s think about the Reformation as a period of time between 1517 and 1648 (instead of a one-time event). LutheranReformation.org helps frame out its significance. Here are some highlights:
We could sum it all up like this: in a world of blurred religion and politics, questioning science and discovery, increasing social disparity and inequity, rumors of revolution, and fractured relationships, the words of Jesus Culture’s song, One Thing Remains echoes in my mind:
[Jesus’] love never fails, it never gives up, never runs out on me.
That’s great news because the world of the Reformation sounds a lot like today. And perhaps the words of Martin Luther are just as true today as they were in the middle of the chaos of 1529:
That Word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours, through him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God's truth abideth still;
His kingdom is forever!
Indeed, all else can fail. We cannot fully change the world - but we know the One who has already changed the world. Jesus has closed our casket of sin and death and opened the way back to God. Everything else can fall apart and be taken from us - the gospel isn’t that we get more life, liberty, and happiness. The gospel is that we get God and that a new heaven and new earth is coming. That’s it. Nothing more. Nothing less. Through Jesus, we get God. And that’s really good news in this world that seems to be constantly swirling with change.
This last week of October, we might be able to escape from our chaotic experience of the year 2020 by watching Disney’s Coco and swinging our hips to Salsa music on Dia de los Muertos. Or, we might put on our costumes and light candles on Halloween and All Saints' Day. Or, we might find ourselves eating our favorite party foods while watching football with a few friends and family. Enjoy and have fun!
And, if our celebrations might be different than usual, our days continue to be disrupted from our idea of normal, and our lives seem to be perpetually disoriented, let’s remember what songwriters Keith Getty and Stuart Townend write:
In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand.
Meet Pastor Tim
Tim Bayer has served as Our Savior's Lead Pastor since September 2019. He also serves as an Adjunct Instructor at Concordia University - Irvine, a National Leadership Facilitator and Resource, and a Community Mental Health First Aid Instructor.