Posts Tagged ‘Protestant Reformation’

I wish on this day to hear (and to obey) those words again…semper reformanda…and so I return to the text proclaimed from the pulpit of the young Bonhoeffer in Berlin on Reformation Sunday, November 6, 1932 (DBWE 12, pp.439-446).  The text he preached from that day was  Revelation 2:4-5, 7:

“But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at the first.  Remember then from what you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.  If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent….Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.  To everyone who conquers, I will give permission to eat from the tree of life that is in the paradise of God.”

(The following is only a brief excerpt from that sermon as it struck me):

Protestantism is not about us and our protest against the world, but rather about God’s protest against us: ‘But I have this against you…’
But we are still pretending, aren’t we?  When it comes down to it, we know very well that it is not about ‘A mighty fortress,’ nor about ‘Here I stand’; this is not the protest we are talking about.  We know full well about God’s protest against us, and we know that, most of all on Reformation Day, God is out in force against us.  But we don’t want to admit it, either to ourselves or to the world.  We are afraid we would look foolish in the eyes of Gd and the world if we admitted any such thing.  That’s why we make so much noise about this day, October 31, hammering wrong ideas into the hands of thousands of schoolchildren, only so that they don’t notice our weakness, so that we can forget it ourselves.
No our time has run out for such solemn church feast days on which we put on an act for ourselves.  Let us stop celebrating the Reformation that way!  Let us lay the dead Luther to rest at long last, and instead listen to the gospel, reading his Bible, hearing God’s own word in it.  At the last judgment God is certainly going to ask us not, ‘ Have you celebrated Reformation Day properly?’ but rather, ‘Have you heard my word and kept it?’ (441-442)

I was  reminded once again that the  charge laid out by the Reformers to the Church (and found in the text which are the words of our risen Lord Jesus to His Church) was that the Lord Himself was protesting against the Church and demanding repentance and works of obedience from Her.  Such a powerful reminder that the Church is in constant need of faithfulness…of repentance…of reformation…therefore let our cry be ‘semper reformanda’ (‘always reforming’)!  Do we cling to the vestiges of previous works of reformation and repentance?  Do we celebrate only what God has done to mold us into the image of His glorious Son, but neglect that work which remains to be done?  May it not be so!  With Bonhoeffer let us pray, “God be our help” and may we listen, repent and obey that we may be counted among those who in the end have overcome by always reforming.

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