Reformation Day (or Sunday) has always been a big deal for me. I’m a Lutheran by birth, and carry with me high emotion about all the cultural trappings that come with this day’s observances. As I’ve grown older, though, something else has tugged at my heartstrings: This isn’t just an ecclesiastical celebration—it’s personal, too. I’ve inherited some of a reformer’s calling, certainly, but I’m also in need of continuing reformation myself. This year again, I’ll be thinking about the question, “What’s the soul of (my) reformation?”
The core answer—embedded in all the themes that swirl around me on Reformation Day—seems simple: Reformation starts with humility about my place in life. My character, beliefs and purpose. My shortcomings and sinfulness, too. (Luther’s deathbed final words put this all into perspective: “We are beggars, all of us.”) I deserve nothing, so everything I have—everything I am—is a gift. I can only be thankful. That gratitude paves the road for my generosity.
Humility reshapes my self-image into a more accurate picture of who I really am. I’m both saint and sinner—redeemed, forgiven, equipped and commissioned for God’s work. (I will hold those two temperaments in tension for as long as I live.) Humility can help me tamp down my narcissistic self-idolatry and find purpose in life that’s beyond self-satisfaction or ego-fulfillment.
Now I’m freed to listen deeply to other folks whose own experiences with humility have also brought them to the same place: We’re not minor gods come to Earth. We need each other. We do better when we work together.
Gathered with other humbled listeners/doers like you, I find God’s joy-laden invitations everywhere—to fix what’s broken, change what’s not working, revive what’s barely alive.
May your Reformation Day—your personal reformation, too—be soulfully joyful!
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