Celebrating the Reformation
Living it Out
by Sonja G
Well here we are. This is a relatively big day. But relative to what? After all, it’s not Good Friday. It’s not Easter. It’s not Christmas. The number of people here this morning may not make you think this is one of the biggest days in the Church year – or that it’s one of the biggest celebrations we’ve had in our church in some time. We do have some amazing music in place, and, for the last month, we’ve been paying attention to the importance of the Reformation in context of our life here. But none of us will go home and do an egg hunt or open gifts. But today is a big day in the Lutheran church. 500 years since Martin Luther began the Reformation. I invite you to go back through the eNews and read the pieces written the last three weeks to see what’s gotten us here today. We’ve learned what Luther did, what it means to be Lutheran, and why we do what we do in worship. Today, we learn what this all means as we move on from this celebration with our mission in mind. Our mission can be found in full in many places. I’ll touch on it in a bit. But we know the short version: Gathered to Grow (congregation response: Sent to Serve). It’s become instinctive to say, but it’s tough to live, so let’s think about how that works.
The Lutheran Church is a voice for social justice, a place of sanctuary and welcome, a life-giving, life-saving entity throughout the world. We are St. Peter Lutheran. Make no mistake. We are not just St. Peter. Being St. Peter Lutheran is what gives us our identity. Yes. We take much from the name Peter. The name that means rock. But beyond Peter – beyond the rock – are the values and mission central to who we are. We are Lutherans.
This place – the outpost on the outskirts — has been around since 1884. Three different buildings. 21 pastors. Each steeped in the Lutheran tradition and faith. Each bringing the Good News and saving Grace of the Gospel. Each building on the legacy of Luther to help us Live Lutheran. Challenging us to serve the spurned, the sick, the sad, and the scared, to love the least, the last, the lost, and the lowest, to welcome all people . . . to do what’s right, to love mercy, and to be kind. In those challenges, our faith churns. And we create the world we live in.
So ask yourself: what kind of world do you want to live in? A wired world weary from the frenzy? A competitive culture – couched in counting stuff. A vicarious vision vested in pushing our kids to do more and more? A selfish circle – settling inward rather than searching outward? We all fall short. We may even feel guilty when we have nothing to keep us busy. Instead, hooray! Find time in the midst of all the moments to rest in Jesus rather than competing with calendars. Rather than constantly being on the go, let’s take a lesson from Luther, from our church history, and from the challenges from our pastor: slow down and listen for God’s direction in our lives. That’s when we can be our best. Living out who we are as Lutherans is hard work. We must continue to live into the challenges that churn us. We must continue to Live Lutheran. We must ask ourselves what our legacy will be.
The choir will sing about it soon. A Legacy of Faith. Isn’t that the world we all really want? Isn’t that what we really need. To live in such a way that when we are gone, we’ve left a legacy of faith . . . not tweets . . . not phones . . . not vicarious living or selfishness. That our children and their children will see it and strive to live into that legacy. That we don’t just say the mission; we live it: gather here and grow here, but don’t let it end here . . .
Let’s clothe ourselves in Christ’s love and righteousness. Let’s reach out further than Grimes, further than pictures of what our giving is doing. Let’s be tangible. Let’s dig into scripture with children. Let’s take the energy of one week at Bible School into the whole year. Let’s live the mission. We are Gathered to Grow. To grow our gifts in the ministries we share. We are Sent to Serve. To go out. Not stay in. We expand through evangelism. We don’t shrink ministries. We grow ‘em, and in the growth, we must work to ensure the strength of all ministries. We’ve been called as children of God. Through baptism, we’re claimed by the Holy Spirit. When you join this church, you become part of something Today, as we celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, we don’t have to go turn everyone out there into Lutherans, but we sure can let people know how Lutherans live. So be gathered to grow and listen for the challenge that churns you, that sends you to serve: Remember not who you are, but whose you are. When we remember that, when we live into it, then we can sing with confidence “He’s got the whole world in His hands” . . . and we’ll remember: we are the hands. Amen.