“Well, we talked about looking for little miracles all around us, you know, to find God…” My daughter sheepishly slumped back a bit in her chair as those words crossed her lips. She was in the middle of recounting her conversations in another friend’s youth group. She discerned there was something different about the discussions of the previous night. She sensed there was something strange lurking in their small group study. But she couldn’t quite put her finger on it. Small, maybe insignificant, words and thoughts and experiences were offered to her little ears last night. Yet, at my kitchen table, the great Reformation continues.
But wait, you may say. The Reformation happened five hundred years ago! We are reminded, especially this year, that the Reformation was a unique event in history. Half of a century ago, Martin Luther posted a controversial discussion regarding comfort for a Christian’s soul. He asked questions of the common understandings of his day; repentance, the Pope’s authority, indulgences, the center of the Christian hope. This environment was ripe for a public discussion of such matters. Dr. Luther and other men were in unique positions to explore and debate the particular confessions of the Christian faith. They fought through their reason, traditions, misunderstandings, and flat-out lies to focus on a Truth from God. In a volatile and expressive time in our history, the Reformation recovered an examination of the Word of God.
And so, in this year of celebration of the Reformation the question lingers, what does it mean for us today? We can pay honor the great men who did, said, and wrote great things, but this is not the Reformation. We can reenact the romantic version of the 1500’s in our own time, but this is not the Reformation. We can remember the historical dates and memorize the words of the confessors to recite in our present day, but this is not the Reformation. Even though volumes have been written on the amazing reach and effect of a Reformation beginning in 1517, the spirit of this Reformation was not centrally about reform, in culture, confession, or even personal belief.
Pouring out pure Gospel
We do remember this impressive slice of history, that has indeed caused transformations in the world, church, and our own heart. But the driving power behind the Reformation was not a desire for some radical revolution. It was not nearly as glorious as all that. Rather, the Reformation looked like handing the crystal-clear Gospel of Jesus Christ on to the next generation.
These reformers were faithful souls in the Divine bucket brigade. Each generation from the Garden of Eden passed the water of life to the next remnant standing in line. God made His promise of life, forgiveness and hope flow from the mouth of the Father to the son to the daughter to the child. Dr. Luther boldly poured out the pure Gospel to the generation gathered around him, while his feet were planted in the grove of the sixteenth century. The same Truth of merciful salvation sprinkled the ears and eyes of those who heard that precious Word, recovered again, during the Reformation.
The Reformation handed over the crystal-clear Gospel of Jesus Christ on to the next generation.
So, un-historically significant, un-scholarly, and un-impressive, the great Reformation continues at my kitchen table. Not to single-handedly change the world, nor to publicly make my stand. I take my place somewhere in between the amazing minds of the past and future, alongside the suffering saints since the beginning until the end, passing the Word of Christ to the child that stands beside me. Our quiet morning was now full of discussion, exploration, and debate—in the spirit of the Reformation. We asked questions about the common understandings of our day; where do we find the Truth of our God, how does He reveal himself to us, what is the center of our Christian hope? We exposed the false beliefs that the god of our heart would have us confess. We returned to God’s Word of promise and comfort, strength and power. Together, we again remembered the simple pure Gospel that had been poured on us, standing in the long line of confessing children.
While it is the same steadfast hope in Christ’s death and resurrection alone, fed and sustained by His gifts, just as it has always been, today, this is a brand new confession emboldened and defended in the world of my daughter. Her hope and trust is at stake, right now. She is being attacked by that ancient sneaky Foe, hiding in the shadows. The devil calls into question the gifts of God for her, just as he did in the beginning to Eve, and continued to do through the battles during the Reformation, until now. While there is nothing new about this war for Truth, she is called to the front lines, today.
Weapons drawn, eyes on the enemy, she has been handed the pail of living water from the generation that stood before her. The Word reminds her to Whom she belongs. The Word strengthens her to endure. The Word wraps her in His peaceful promise. Right here at our kitchen tables, the Reformation continues.