Today we celebrate the morning that Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of the church at Wittenberg, the first act of the Protestant Reformation.
I’m willing to bet you already know a little about this whole Reformation thing, since you’re likely either a CLU grad, ELCA seminarian, above-averagely-educated Protestant church-goer, or good enough friends with me that I’ve mentioned it once or twice. You probably know that some of Luther’s 95 complaints had to do with the integrity of the Holy Roman Empire. Our main man Marty was just speaking some truth to power, y’all.
At this point, nearly 500 years later, it’s important that we don’t look back on this solitary event and call it “The Reformation” or even look on the life of Luther as “The Reformation” because the truth is that were are c o n t i n u o u s l y re-forming the church as we know it. Sure, we’re no longer Capital-C Catholic and there are like 4 zillion Protestant denominations now, but we the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America cannot possibly sit in our pews and talk about the Reformation as a thing of the past or a thing that has ended.
We have to keep on keeping on. We have to look our Church square in the face and tell it what needs to change. We need to look ourselves square in the face and tell us what needs to change, too. We need to keep speaking truth to power. We need to keep recognizing that what we “have always done” is not necessarily the right thing or the best thing or what we should keep doing. We need to keep recognizing that the Church is a human institution and can never, of course, be perfect, but can strive toward perfection in love and justice and freedom for all who hear the Gospel.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., (a person I celebrate today by name association, I guess?) told us that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. We've been bending. Let's keep bending.