Rooted in the past and growing into the future, the church must always be reformed in order to live out the love of Christ in an ever-changing world. We celebrate the good news of God’s grace, that Jesus Christ sets us free every day to do this life-transforming work. Trusting in the freedom given to us in baptism, we pray for the church, that Christians will unite more fully in worship and mission.
Readings and Psalm
- Jeremiah 31:31-34
I will write my law in their hearts, says the Lord
- Psalm 46
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. (Ps. 46:7)
- Romans 3:19-28
Justified by God’s grace as a gift
- John 8:31-36
Jesus says, Continue in my word and you will know the truth
In many congregations, Reformation Sunday is treated as a sort of “Lutheran heritage” day, a time for singing chorales and remembering the theological reforms of the sixteenth century that gave birth to Lutheranism. In other parishes, a greater focus is placed on the church’s need for continual reform; the church’s history is secondary to an emphasis on the issues and needs of the church today. Both approaches have much to commend them.
But the true center of this day is found in the appointed readings. In Jeremiah we are reminded of a new covenant and the promise that God will forgive, the promise written on our hearts. In Romans Paul brings the full force of the law to bear on our lives: “since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). With this reality, how can we have any hope apart from divine grace? Finally, in the gospel reading from John we are reminded that our freedom comes from Christ alone. We are neither bound to the past nor slaves to our anxieties of the present.
Psalm 46 brings all of this together with the powerful proclamation: “God is our refuge and strength.” The God we know in the person of Jesus is the one we can turn to in times of crisis, the one we call upon in times of fear, the one we trust to pour out mercy and forgiveness upon us. This Jesus is our solid foundation. In a world of chaos, confusion, and change there is a constant: the enduring and life-giving grace of God.
On Reformation Sunday—as every Sunday—we remember that we are not ashamed of this good news, this gospel.