Posted on Oct 25, 2017 by Pastor Dave Whetter
This past Sunday, October 22, our 2017 confirmands offered their statements of faith. It is one of my favorite Sundays here because I am always moved by the sincerity and honesty of our young folks as they share where they are in their faith journey, and the struggles and joys they have experienced so far in their lives. The other thing that is powerful for me about these statements is to hear how past Sunday school teachers, ministry leaders, and other people in the Salem faith community stepped up and made an impact on these students and on their faith journey.
I know teaching Sunday school and taking an active role in other ministries can often seem like a lot of work and often “thankless,” but as we heard this past Sunday, whether we realize it or not, our work is affecting the lives of others. When we are willing to be the hands and feet of Christ, our work can be transforming and reforming, and oftentimes such reform is done one person at a time.
This coming Sunday, October 29, the church (even the Roman Catholic church) will be commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, a specific period in church history when the whole church was focused on reform. With the posting of his 95 Theses on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther is given credit for starting this reform, but if truth be told, there were many reformers and many faith communities that sought reform, as well. There were people like John Calvin and Ulrich Zwingli in the Protestant movement, and in the Catholic movement there were people like Johann Eck, Ignatius of Loyola, and Teresa of Avila. All of these church leaders played critical roles in the reformations of the church, but as I have been reflecting on the reforms this past year, I have been reminded over and over that, in addition to these individuals, much of the reform was possible because the faith communities these leaders represented actively sought reform, as well. People like you and I desired that the church be a better place.
And so, as the church all over the world commemorates this 500th anniversary, I am reminded today that we are being challenged more than ever to actively seek reform within the church, not just so we can change, but so that we might better equip our communities to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this world. The world is broken, and today, more than ever, the church needs to be that community that seeks justice and peace no matter what is going on around it. The church, more than ever, needs to be a place of forgiveness and reconciliation, and that place in which all people can, and do, feel welcome.
As the church commemorates the 500th anniversary of the Reformation this week, my hope and prayer is that we all look beyond this celebration and commit ourselves to being faith communities that stand up for justice, and that we commit ourselves to be places filled with forgiveness and hope for all. I pray we each commit ourselves to be individuals who joyfully accept God’s call for their whole lives so that we might share the joy of being a follower of Jesus Christ. May each of us acknowledge our own struggles and joys of being a Christian, just as our confirmands did last Sunday. May each of us acknowledge that we cannot do this alone, but that we need others’ support and the gift of the Holy Spirit. We are called to not only be individuals of faith, but communities of faith. May we be such a people.
Shalom, Pr. Dave