In the October issue of the devotional newsletter for Corum Deo (see previous post), editor Steven Gjerde includes a nice article on the positive nature of the Reformation. Here is a snippet from that article:
"If someone asked you why Martin Luther raised his voice in protest, sparking a church-wide reformation, what would you answer? Would you say, 'He was saying 'no' to indulgences, in which people paid money for salvation? Or, 'he did not think that we had to do certain things to be saved'? Or, 'He thought we should pray to God, and not to Mary or the saints?' All of those answer are common, and they certainly touch on issues relating to the Lutheran Reformation. Yet if you look back at them, you'll notice a decidedly negative character in all of the statements, leading some people to wonder: Is a protest against things all that Lutheranism has to offer? Is it just a big 'no'?
This issue of Corum Deo rings with the conviction that the Lutheran Church was born from a 'yes': yes to Christ, yes to grace, and yes to a lively and renewed devotion in the Church. Indeed, one way to understand the Reformation is to see it as a reform of devotion in the Church's homes and congregations. Luther's radical focus on Christ Jesus, grace, and faith was inspired by his pastoral desire to enliven the spirit of the Church and direct its mind to the source of true and lasting joy."
Pastor Gjerde makes an important point as we remember the Reformation in the Lutheran Church this month. So often it is used only as an opportunity to point out past abuses and current differences, both of which have their place. However, the Lutheran Church does not exist simply as an institutionalized protest. It exists to provide a Word and Sacrament presence for the life and wellbeing of God's people as they gather together in Christ. Luther himself devoted much energy and time to giving the church resources for a rich devotional life that would keep the grace of the Gospel central in its life.
So, is the Reformation just one big NO? Not at all. It is a YES to Christ!