This sermon was preached on Reformation Sunday, October 25, 2020. You can watch it on the video below. To find out how you can join us live, click "Events & Gatherings" above to learn how.
So, today we celebrate Reformation Day.
Why. in God’s name, do we throw away Halloween (yep, it’s actually October 31st, but you celebrate it on the Sunday before) and celebrate this Red Day???
Okay, so back in 1517 some guy named Martin Luther nailed some theses to the door of a church demanding change...
But, what does that have to do with us now? With us here? Today? In Flagstaff? In the United States? At NAU?
So, a couple of things. First, I think we must always be careful to not completely Disney-fy Luther. Just like many of the “greats” in our past, While Luther did some amazing things, he also did some things that we shouldn’t necessarily have pride in. Luther was very anti-Semitic for instance, and did not like it when people didn’t fully agree with his exact view of how the church should change. It is always important not to look at those in the past with rose-tinted glasses and gloss over their negative sides.
Today isn’t Martin Luther Day. No. It’s Reformation Day. And I think because of that, we have to look at a wider picture. Today is the day that we celebrate reformation, and the work that brave people have done in the past, and do today, to ensure that those things which need to be reformed…...are reformed.
And, I think that brings us to the question I asked just a bit ago….what does this matter to us?
In our world today, in this year of 2020, So much of life feels hopeless. And so much of the time we feel helpless.
Today is when we remember that the changes we make in the world can change everything forever. Really. They can. Totally. No Joke.
So. An example….
I am only thirty-three years old. When I was born, LGBTQIA+ people were further than outcasts in the church. They existed, but were invisible and closeted due to fear of what would happen if anyone knew about their true, authentic identities. It’s 2020, and we have openly gay and trans clergy across both of our denominations. Not many, mind you...but they are there.
We even have them as chaplains at our universities.
And why is that? How did we come this far?
Well, because of reformation. Because of people like Martin Luther refusing to recant, refusing to stand down, refusing to take a seat when they see injustices in the church and in the world. Refusing to accept being told by those in power that there is “nothing they can do” or that this is just “how it is” or “how it always has been”. Even when they know of the great costs to themselves for taking those stands, they make them anyways. Even when they know they will likely go down with the fight, they keep fighting.
And this is why we celebrate Reformation Day.
And we don’t just celebrate those reformers from centuries ago, we also celebrate people like Gene Robinson, who was the first openly gay anglican bishop, elected in 2003. But we don’t stop there, because today we acknowledge that it was also because of all the people we don’t know the names of who blazed those trails, many times at the determinant of their own livelihood, sometimes even losing their lives…..and it is totally because of their work that we even know the name Gene Robinson.
This is similar to how we know the name Martin Luther, because of the work he did to change the injustices in the church of 1517. This is also why we know the name Martin Luther King, Jr., who, may I remind you, was also a minister. MLK looked out at the world he lived in and said no more, said that this must end, and MLK refused to recant too. MLK was a reformer just as much as ML.
These people have passion to make the world a better place. They have passion to make a difference. These people are role models to us all. And they aren’t just in history, they are around today as well.
It’s 2020. The world isn’t what it should be. Things do many times feel hopeless, and the risks are great….but, I invite you to think of yourselves as reformers as well. Are there points in your life and in your world that need reforming?
How can you help make them happen?
How can you...be the good part of Martin Luther??? How can you be a reformer too?
Since 2013, Brad Eubanks has served as a chaplain on the campus of Northern Arizona University. To learn more and get in contact with them, visit the Leadership page of this website.