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October Pastor's Pen

Fall seems like it is finally coming. After the last few weeks of unseasonably warm weather I was wondering if we were going to skip the whole Fall thing and jump straight into Winter. Hopefully we will be able to enjoy a few weeks of open windows, no heating or air-conditioning, and the glorious colors of fall painted across hills and valleys.
Fall is a great time to remember things. We celebrate Homecoming at the schools we attended. We gather with friends around warm fires. We celebrate holidays with family – Halloween, and Thanksgiving. Fall is for me one of the happiest seasons.
This year at the end of the month we are remembering another special event: the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. This year marks 500 years since Martin Luther nailed his 95 complaints about the church to the castle church doors in Wittenburg. It had never been his intention to create a new church, simply to reform what he saw as failings in the existing church. Yet, his critique ended up creating a new branch of the Christian faith, a branch of which we are a part.
We are a church of the Reformation, a church that came to be out of a desire to look deeply at our practices and change those that were leading us farther away from God, those that placed an unnecessary burden on people, those that allowed those in positions of leadership and power to misuse those in less powerful positions. As such, not only should we be a church that was formed through reformation, we should be a church that is always in the state of reformation. Reformed, yet always reforming.
What are some of the ways you feel we need reforming? Is it the form of our worship services? Is it the way we do church? Is it our buildings? Is it how we interact with those of other faith traditions? Is it our inclusion of folks different than us? Is it our awareness of how minority groups should be part of our faith communities? Is it the way we treat children and youth, the way we do Sunday School? Maybe it's the size and way our bulletin is put together.
If you were to write your own list of grievances or areas of growth in the church (both locally at Zion, and within the wider Christian community), what are the things you would put on your list? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
With the Greatest of Hope!


Pastor's Pen October

It's Fall again. That time of the year when we are blessed to see God painting the world with golden colors and striking beauty. It's a wonderful time of year. Piles of leaves to jump in. Cool foggy mornings. Clear star-filled nights. Friday night football games. Hot apple cider. Pumpkin pie. We have some of the most loved holidays at this time of year: Halloween and Thanksgiving. There is much to give praise and thanks to God for.
There is another event that happens at this time of the year in the church, the commemoration of the Protestant Reformation on the last Sunday of October. This year mark 499 years since Martin Luther nailed his 95 complaints against the Catholic Church at the time. His actions were followed by other reformers: John Calvin, John Wycliffe, Huldrych Zwingli (to name a few).
One of the realities that I have come to believe in recent years is that there is once again a need for a reformation within the church. In many ways the church has become unfocused, misguided and out of step with the path Jesus taught and called his disciples to follow.
What might a new reformation look like? UCC pastor Robin Meyers, in his book The Underground Church, imagines just what that church might look like: Just imagine...
»A church where women are truly equal to men, and never patronized.
»A church where straights and gays worship together as children of God.
»A church where children are cherished in practice, and not just in theory.
»A church where following Jesus is just as important as worshiping Christ.
»A church where the clergy are on neither a pedestal nor a chopping block.
»A church where learning is not subversive and science is not the enemy of faith.
»A church where fear is never an instrument of religious conversion or conversation.
»A church where the enemy is not death but rather our failure to truly live.
»A church where the waters of baptism, no matter how they are administered, trap us all in the irreversible claim of God upon our lives.
»A church where being rich means having everything you need instead of everything you want.
»A church where there is no acceptable alternative to hope, no substitute for joy, and no excuse not to offer the same unconditional love to others that has been so freely lavished on us.

With the Greatest of Hope!