Warm Greetings to you, People of Zion, Children of God. As we enter into the cooler months of fall, I want to draw your attention to our Lutheran heritage which we celebrate this month on Reformation
Sunday, October 28. On this bold Sunday, we celebrate Martin Luther’s bold assertion: “I cannot and will not recant anything…Here I stand, I can do no other. May God help me. Amen.” Luther could not take back what he had said: we are saved by grace alone through faith—not our works. His convictions led to perhaps the greatest change in church history: the reformation.
Did the vice pastor just use the “c-word”? YES! I sure did! The times, they are a-changing. Professor and author Dr. Craig Van Gelder recognizes the necessity for change in the church because the church is led by the Holy Spirit, who is not static, but ever moving and changing. Van Gelder encourages a balanced response to change that flows out of the Holy Spirit: both forming AND reforming.
As Zion Lutheran Church, you are located in the context and culture of Saddle River in Bergen County in 2018. You are continually forming and responding to our culture to be relevant and meaningful today. At the same time, as Zion Lutheran Church, you adhere to the Christian creeds, the Lutheran Confessions, and your own unique and particular history. You are continually reforming your heritage by drawing from the depth of who you are. Dr. Van Gelder writes, “By recovering something from the past through reform, it is hoped that the church will become more responsive to the present.”1 As Zion Lutheran Church, if you only form to be relevant to culture, you over contextualize and lose who you are, who God has called you and created you to be. As Zion Lutheran Church, if you only reform to your heritage, you become static, a shrine to the past. As Zion Lutheran Church, you are a church of BOTH reformation AND formation.
In the early 16th century, God was calling Martin Luther and the Holy Spirit led him to reform the church. Today, God is calling YOU and Zion Lutheran Church into a new future. I encourage you to place your hope in Jesus who is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrew 13:8), but the church is always changing. May you respond faithfully to the changing times by holding in tension your forming future and your reforming past, confident that you are led by the Holy Spirit.
Yours in Christ,
Vice Pastor Jenny McLellan