Monday, October 31, 2011

Reformation

Happy Reformation Day and Happy Halloween dear readers and friends! Yesterday I preached for our Reformation service. I don't normally post my sermons at this blog anymore because I started a new blog just for that but since people seemed to enjoy it. I thought I would post it here as well. Enjoy your day dear friends!

It's All About Grace! (A Reformation Sermon)
I don’t know about you but I love being Lutheran!// Now I realize not everyone here today was born and raised in the Lutheran faith. Some of you married into it. Others of you have found yourself here because perhaps a friend or a neighbor invited you here.// However the truth is that as Lutheran Christians, we don’t spend a lot of time focusing on our Lutheranism.// Although on a day like today; Reformation Sunday, it is very difficult for us not to talk about what it means to be a Lutheran Christian.// Did you know that Martin Luther is named as one of the most influential people of the last one thousand years?//


16th century Reformer Martin Luther opened the door to renewal and reformation for the church when he posted his 95 theses on the castle doors at Wittenberg calling for debate. This renewal and reformation was founded on being “saved by grace through faith”; faith in the one who calls and claims us as God’s children.// Through the precious holy waters of Baptism, God calls and claims us as God’s children despite our own failures and shortcomings.// It is all about God’s immeasurable grace!!!!//

In the meaning of the Third Article of the Apostles Creed in Luther’s Small Catechism, Luther reminds us of the power and gift of this grace when he writes, “I believe that by my own understanding or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him,// but instead the Holy Spirit has called me through the gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, made me holy and kept me in the true faith,// just as he calls, gathers, enlightens, and makes holy the whole Christian church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one common, true faith.// Daily in this Christian church, the Holy Spirit abundantly forgives all sins---mine and those of all believers. On the last day the Holy Spirit will raise me and all the dead and will give to me and all believers in Christ eternal life.// This is most certainly true!//

Martin Luther wrote these words after he came to understand God’s Word more fully.// As a young man, Luther questioned if he was even lovable. He questioned if he was living up to God’s expectations of him.// But as he began to study God’s word, he began to discover a God who infinitely would love him despite his own failures and shortcomings. He began to see God’s grace pouring through God’s Word.//

Luther Seminary Assistant Professor of Old Testament Kathryn Schifferdecker captures this well when she writes, “Luther knew that God’s nature does not change.// God was, is, and will continue to be a God of great mercy, forgiveness, and love for a wayward people.// It is that people’s (the church’s) understanding of God’s nature that had become clouded in Luther’s day. Like Jeremiah, then, Luther called the people of his day to a new understanding of God and a renewed emphasis on God’s grace and God’s abiding love even for a sinful people.”//

As Lutheran Christians, we are people who are simultaneously “saint” and “sinner.”// The truth is that we consistently fail.// We fail at loving each other.// We fail at being who God has called us to be.// For in the words of Romans, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Yet despite these failures and shortcomings, God still shows us God’s immeasurable grace by sending God’s Son to die on the cross of everyone of us.//

And because of that grace, Martin Luther’s renewal and reformation of the church continues to challenge us daily.// The Lutheran church is a church that is constantly evolving; trusting in God’s grace, clinging to the promises of that grace, and knowing that God and God’s grace is the truth that will set us free.// So what does it mean for us; Dilworth Lutheran church, to be a “renewing” and “reforming” church?//

Dilworth Lutheran church is a “renewing” and “reforming” church by reclaiming what it means for the home to be actively involved in the faith nurture of our children, grandchildren, and all those we love.// Dilworth Lutheran is a “renewing” and “reforming” church by equipping families to take faith home through our Milestone Ministries and Confirmation programs.// Dilworth Lutheran is a “renewing” and “reforming” church by helping our neighbors beyond these walls; whether it be by building a home in Haiti, starting a community garden, or collecting canned goods for our local food shelters.// However the truth is that we are never done “renewing” and “reforming,” we are constantly in need of renewal and reformation. We are constantly evolving and changing just like Luther saw his church as constantly evolving and changing.//

But the beauty is that as Lutheran Christians, even in the midst of continual renewal and reformation, God promises that God will never leave us or forsake us.// God continually shows God’s love for God’s children despite our own failures and shortcomings.// In all actuality, it comes to down to God’s immeasurable grace for all God’s children! Or in the words of my friend Lynn, “Being Lutheran is about grace, liturgy, Scripture, grace, coffee, and one more helping of grace.”//

That immeasurable grace, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ is why on a day like today; Reformation Sunday, I am proud to proclaim myself a Lutheran Christian who fully believes in and clings to that grace not just on this day but every day.// So as a fellow Lutheran Christian, will you join me in proclaiming and sharing God’s grace not just today on Reformation Sunday but everywhere that you encounter God’s grace in this world?// Amen!// (Copyright Tara L. Ulrich)

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