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Summary: Shall we BE reformers? Do we dare change ANYTHING?

46They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. 47When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, ¡§Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!¡¨ 48Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, ¡§Son of David, have mercy on me!¡¨ 49Jesus stood still and said, ¡§Call him here.¡¨ And they called the blind man, saying to him, ¡§Take heart; get up, he is calling you.¡¨ 50So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51Then Jesus said to him, ¡§What do you want me to do for you?¡¨ The blind man said to him, ¡§My teacher, let me see again.¡¨ 52Jesus said to him, ¡§Go; your faith has made you well.¡¨ Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way. Mark 10:46-52

Although today is Reformation Sunday, the actual date for the anniversary of the official Lutheran event is October 31, 1517. It was the day that Dr. Martin Luther nailed 95 statements or theses to the chapel door at Wittenberg, Germany. It was an invitation to debate certain doctrines and theological terms which Luther had come to hold with different interpretation than the Roman Catholic Church. Listen to the invitation:

This is not the angry, rebellious tone of a hateful rebel. It is the heart cry of a man, tortured in mind as the Prodigal Son¡¦s father. It has the sound of anxious waiting ¡V a straining to look out over the long trail that leads home, in the hopes that the loved one would soon come to his senses, and come home.

In Preface to His German Works (1539), Luther says there are three things you need to become a theologian....oratio, meditatio and tentatio, which are three Latin words for ¡§prayer,¡¨ ¡§meditation¡¨ and ¡§suffering¡¨. [1]

Another writer declared¡KMartin Luther¡¦s life could be summarized by one German word: Anfechtung. A literal translation is impossible; the word describes an army of strong emotions. It includes all the darts of Satan, all the threats of Rome, the political unrest, the fleshly struggle with doubt and depression¡K[2]

Without anfechtung, no one can understand Scripture, faith, the fear or love of God. One cannot know the meaning of hope who is never subject to trials.

This was the anguished soul of Martin Luther, lover of the church, lover of God. He had enough anfechtung to go around!

Luther maintained the church should always be in the process of reformation (ecclesia semper reformanda est). Despite the cost in suffering, great faith trusts in God to bring about renewal in the midst of re-thinking our ways, and relinquishing our stranglehold on what others should think about God, and how we should serve Him. Traditions have been known to be off-center occasionally. Semper Reformanda for the church is the business of navigational course-corrections!

Other Reformations

While we do celebrate this event, it is not the only reformation in history. There have been many.

„Ñ The oldest book in the Canon of Scripture is Job. We read Job¡¦s resolution with God. After losing everything, family, reputation, children, wealth and health (not to mention the peace and quiet he used to have when his wife still respected him), Job finally hears a response of his heart¡¦s crying out to God; heaven responds, and Job¡¦s confession is that God is good, even if the suffering God allowed is painful. It was a reformation of Job¡¦s attitude.

„Ñ In Mark¡¦s Gospel account we find the blind man, Bartimaeus, crying out to God for his sight. In persistent blind trust a sightless man leans his whole trust on Jesus. His well-placed faith is rewarded; Jesus performs a ¡§reformation¡¨ on the man¡¦s optical ability and changes his vantage point. Bartimaeus sees clearly and also makes a confession, but somewhat different from Job; his is more of an action ¡V he becomes a disciple and follows Jesus from that moment. Actions or words, the confession is the same ¡V God, my Redeemer.

How many reformations can we count?

Starting with the earliest of church history¡K

Paul had (at least) two reformations to his credit; the first was on the Damascus Road when Saul the persecutor of the church became the Christian-loving, Church-planting Paul!

And a second reformation came with the transformation of a blue-blooded Hebrew scholar (a kind of ¡§uptown preacher¡¨) who couldn¡¦t bear to see the Gentiles without a witness. He became a Gentile-loving street preacher ¡V apostle to the heathen.

The disciples had to shake dust off their feet and go on down the road to those who would listen¡Kreformation!

Peter had a reformation on a roof top when he dreamed about a bed sheet full of barbeque ¡Kkosher was no longer the order of the house.

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