In his Reformation Sunday sermon, Pastor Chris Nelson at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Minneapolis sounded the call..........
On this Reformation Sunday, I would like to join with an increasing number of Christian leaders who are calling for a new Reformation. The first reformation started because the doctrines-beliefs that had been held for 1000 years were wrong-were coming between the relationship God wanted with his people. It wasn't true that you could earn your salvation. It wasn't true that you needed a priest's prayers to mediate your relationship with God. And it wasn't that you couldn't be trusted with the Scriptures because you might not properly understand them.
Martin Luther started and led the conversation that got the Church back on track and indeed, much of what he taught is now accepted by most Christians. We certainly continue to have some differences, and we don't minimize them but we have much more in common; indeed, we-all of us-have what, or should I say who-is most important: our Crucified and Risen Savior, Jesus Christ!
This new reformation is less about beliefs and creeds-Latin for "I believe"-than it is about deeds-about what Christians DO in the world. It's high time that the Church is known for what it's FOR, and not what it is against... For too many years, the church has presumed privilege and entitlement; it has assumed the right to determine for everyone what the "moral" perspective is in public discourse.
In a new study by the Barna Organization, entitled UnChristian, it was learned that an overwhelming number of 16-29 year olds are hostile to our faith. This is the "next generation" of the faith, and whether they are inside the church or outside makes no difference! 91% of this age group see Christians as judgmental; 87% see us as "anti-gay." And whether that is an accurate perception of us at Bethlehem doesn't matter-we get tarred with the same brush.
My call to you today, my brothers and sisters, is to continue the amazing work you are doing in the world (this is nothing new for us!): sharing God's love-sharing our Lord Jesus-with concrete acts of loving service. Caring for the poor and the outcast, building relationships with these people is how he spent his time, every day of his ministry. It is what we are called to do as his Body-and it is how we show the world who Jesus really is-and it is how we show the world what the Church is.