It means to take something and make something else out of it. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther began the Protestant Reformation as he tried to re-form the church into something new. After searching the Scriptures, Dr. Luther could find no justification for many of the practices that he witnessed the Roman Catholic Church was living. So, he proposed a debate to lay out reasons for the necessity of change.
Luther did not set out to make a new church; he was looking to re-form the church into something closer to how the Bible indicated it should be.
For many years now, the United Church of Christ calendar page for October 31 calls this date “Reformation-Reconciliation Day.” This title seeks to acknowledge that rather than just re-forming the church, Luther set in motion a splintering of the church into many small pieces. And many of those pieces have become alienated from each other. As each of our churches seeks its own way, we become further from the vision of Jesus that our UCC forebears put as our denomination’s motto: “That they may all be one.”
We who bear the name “Congregational” as part of our identity have long heralded the proposition that the congregation is the primary focus of church life. Each congregation has its own building, its own bylaws, its own church structure; it calls its own pastor. But we lose something when we forget that we are part of something greater.
As we prepare to celebrate the 504th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation, may we seek to find unity. As kindred in Christ, let us live out this reconciliation God seeks.