One Lord, One Faith, One....Church? Reflections - 10-26-16

 Texts for Sunday, October 30, 2016

 Jeremiah 31:31-34
 Psalm 46
 Romans 3:19-28
 John 8:31-36

Note: On the last Sunday of October, many Lutherans step off the track of the Revised Common Lectionary to celebrate Reformation Day. 

I teach Lutheran theology to junior high kids…also known as Catechism classes...also known as confirmation classes.
(Send notes of sympathy/encouragement to

In one curriculum for these classes, the lesson about the Reformation asks: 
When does division go too far? 
What’s a sign that a difference of opinion may be harmful?

Boy…doesn’t that sound relevant?!? It really feels like political divisions have gone too far. The unity of the nation is harmed. It is hard to imagine how our government is going to heal the chasm between political groups. 

One could also say that it is hard to imagine chasms being bridged when you look at all the Christian denominations and congregations in existence today. We believe and proclaim that there is one universal Church, but it sure doesn’t look that way.

As Lutheran churches move toward our celebration of the Reformation this Sunday, it is important to recognize the divisions that have arisen. Luther did not intend to start a new church. Again from that lesson:
Luther saw a major problem and wanted to fix it. Yes, fix it. His intention wasn’t to start a new church. However, the cracks he saw in the foundation of the church – and the opposition he faced when he pointed them out – turned this renovation project into a reformation project.
- from Colaborate Lutheran Confirmation, Sparkhouse/AugsburgFortress Publishing

BUT, the good news is that the Roman Catholics and the Lutherans have begun talking about their differences. In fact, this is the 50th anniversary year of those conversations starting. They recently released a document, Declaration on the Way, that outlines the processes and dialogues that have occurred “along the way” as well as ideas to continue. Both churches are also in conversation about how to commemorate the 500-year anniversary of the start of the Reformation. 

In that process they have committed to several important propositions including: 
Catholics and Lutherans should always begin from the perspective of unity and not from the point of view of division in order to strengthen what is held in common even though the differences are more easily seen and experienced. And, Catholics and Lutherans should witness together to the mercy of God in proclamation and service to the world. 

These discussions are a hopeful sign that even the deep and long-running divisions can begin to heal through conversations and not through aggression or violence. That is an important message for relationships, communities, and for divisions within and among nations.

With the freedom offered us through God’s grace (check out the texts for Sunday…), we can throw ourselves into attempts at repairing divisions without fear of failing. Lutherans call that “sinning boldly”. We are free to be servants of all, agents of change, champions of Christ’s reconciliation in the world because we believe “more boldly still” in in Christ’s mercy and grace.

Postscript: You can witness a piece of the reconciliation process. On October 31, 2016, in Lund and Malmo, Sweden, Lutherans and Catholics from around the world will make history as they commemorate the Reformation and look to the future. Pope Francis, The Lutheran World Federation President Bishop Dr. Munib A. Younan and its general secretary, the Rev. Dr. Martin Junge, will lead the Common Prayer service in Lund and the event in Malmö in cooperation with leaders from the Church of Sweden and the Catholic Diocese of Stockholm. The services will be live-streamed. You can view the live-stream.


You will find further reflection opportunities on G.I.F.T.10-30-16

How to Find Us

Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245