The Reformation Continues (2020)

By Pastor Randy Brandt

Can you picture it? Can you hear it? It is the end of October and crimson banners are set. The SOTV sanctuary is filled with hundreds of people wearing red. The brass group is resounding with full organ accompanying “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”

These are the inspiring sights and sounds of Reformation weekend worship, an annual celebration when our faith is once more roused to life!

Then came a pandemic. Recommendations for no large indoor gatherings were announced. Choirs were told not to perform. We responded by choosing caution and safety for the love of our neighbors. And yet, I declare: the Reformation continues! Let me explain.

When Martin Luther helped awaken the church transformation, known as “The Reformation,” his focus was on reforming the church. The need was for a correction so that the practices and message of the church were truly centered in the gospel of Jesus. The heart of our faith and life needed to be the good news of God’s gift of salvation found in the loving grace of Christ!

We need to remember that the reformation took place in Europe of the 1500s. People at that time had their lives turned upside down by dozens of major political revolutions, including the Thirty Years War. This was the century of five recurring pandemics of the bubonic plague with estimates of 20% mortality. This was the time of scientific revolutions, such as Copernicus announcing that the earth was not the center of the universe.

In other words, at the same time that daily life was a huge challenge for people, the Spirit of God was also at work to bring new life back into the church. Even as the world around them was shaking, people found their faith revived, hope renewed, and their relationship with God buzzing with vitality!

We are living through a year where it feels like the world is turned upside down. Life is a challenge in new ways for many. SOTV is a reformation church, a Lutheran church, which means we always need to work hard at keeping our practices and message truly centered in the gospel of Jesus.

We are committed to preaching and teaching in alignment with our core beliefs. We are determined to nurture caring connections in our community of faith. We are committed to being a partner with families to nurture faith in our children. And we are focused on reflecting the love of Jesus as we serve our neighbor.

But this also means we are open to change. We strive to keep what is most important while at the same time being agile, creative, and re-imagining ministry and the church for this new season we are living in. Who knew that so many would enjoy a 15- minute Facebook Live coffee break each weekday morning? Streaming internet Bible studies on Zoom really work! A number of lively educational options have been created so children, youth, and families can learn in ways they are most comfortable

We won’t always get it right, but the work of the Holy Spirit will continue at Shepherd of the Valley, because we are steeped in the Reformation— focused on the good news of Jesus, and striving to meet the needs of this present moment. Let the Reformation continue!