“Forgotten Ways” (John 8:32)
On Halloween, October 31, in the year 1517, a Roman Catholic monk named Martin Luther nailed a list of 95 propositions and questions to the castle church doors in Wittenberg, Germany. In his time, the church doors served as a kind of community bulletin board (as Facebook and Instagram were not quite on the scene in the 16th century). The reason for this posting was that Luther, a then 33-year-old professor of Biblical Studies, wanted his posted statements to inspire conversation about the church’s faith and life and work. He wanted the church to talk about FORGOTTEN WAYS.
Martin Luther knew the church is people, and we know it too—people who are called by Christ’s Spirit to gather around God’s holy Word and Sacrament. Yes, to live in union with Christ who is the true head of the Church. But…the ways that union touches us and affects us can so easily become FORGOTTEN WAYS. Remembrance is needed because we are forgetful.
Is that why our Lord commanded in the Last Supper, “Do this in remembrance of me” so that when we eat and drink in Holy Communion we remember Jesus Christ? Is that why St. Paul said that it’s important to “remember the poor” (Galatians 2) so the church of his day—like the church of our day—would hold fast to the needs of the neighbor through ministry and missions? And is it why St. Paul also said to his young brother-in-Christ, Timothy: “I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you” (II Timothy 1:6) because Timothy, too, tended to forget God’s plan for his life and the power by which that plan could be carried out? We act on the basis of what we remember. In remembrance, faith springs into action.
On the other hand, faith falters when we forget. Moses challenged Israel with the word, “Take heed lest you forget the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 8:11). And the Psalmist admonishes parents: “Father and mothers…teach your children, that the next generation might know…and not forget the works of God” (Psalm 78:8).
And so I look forward, together with your other family members and friends of First Lutheran Church, as we gather around God’s holy Word and Sacrament come this festive Reformation Sunday—with brass and choirs and hymns of thanksgiving God…in “remembering the Sabbath day to keep it holy.”
God’s grace and peace to you this day, and always…