Oct 30

The Reformation at 500: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

“How very good and pleasant it is when kindred dwell together in unity.” Growing up, I heard these words often from my mother, who usually spoke them to me and my brother—I have a sister, too, but she almost never needed to hear these words—whenever we were fighting, or about to start fighting. “How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell in peace,” she would say, in the old King James version of Psalm 133. I never liked hearing those words, but I needed to hear them. I needed to be reminded that whatever state I was in with my brother—anger, frustration, disappointment, annoyance—there was something better for me, something good and pleasant for me to seek. Continue reading

Oct 22

The Reformation at 500: Made for Worship

We were created for worship. Yes—all of creation was made for worship. The psalmist cries out to creation: praise him! Angels, sun, moon, stars, sea monsters, snow, rain, fire, frost, cattle, birds, people of every age and status: praise him! Praise the Lord! You were made to worship the Lord. This is what you have been created for. One of the great legacies of the Reformation was the Westminster Catechism, a teaching book that John Wesley even adapted for Methodists. The very first question is, “What is the chief end”—that is, the main purpose or goal—of humankind? And the answer is, Our “chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” And what is true for humanity is true for each and every element of creation, from subatomic particles to galaxies, from the seen to the unseen. Worship is our common vocation. We are made for worship. Continue reading

Oct 01

Reformation at 500: Scripture Alone

What happens when we read Scripture? What do we expect to happen when we read Scripture? In Nehemiah, our Old Testament lesson for this morning, Ezra reads from the scroll of the law of Moses. We don’t know what, exactly, he read, either what part or how much. Maybe he read from Exodus, or maybe he read all of Deuteronomy. What is clear is that this kind of reading hadn’t happened in a while, maybe in a generation or more. Imagine, decades without hearing Scripture read, interpreted, or proclaimed. Not just for one or two individuals, but for the whole people of Israel. Continue reading