Ecclesia Reformata Semper Reformanda, The Church Reformed Always Reforming
These words have been a rallying point for Protestants since the days of the reformation. Today we celebrate our church heritage and traditions, and aptly, with the pipes!
When Cecily, the boys and I lived in Edinburgh, we were always hearing bagpipes. On my daily walk to and from the New College at the University, I passed by the same pipers who staked out their corners in hopes of tips from tourists. I got to know a couple of these fellows, but I never tried my hand (or lungs!) at the pipes! On the eve of the turn of the millennium, we were standing with throngs along the Royal Mile leading up to Edinburgh Castle. There were many activities and festivities going on including a grand fireworks display over Arthur’s Seat. However, what everyone was talking about were the pipers! In groups of 100 strong, there were 2,000 bagpipers marching and playing…loudly! It was quite a sight and sound. And for those of us with Scottish family heritage, it held special significance (BTW, our family was a wee group that did not even have a distinct tartan, but rather a regional one. The tie I am wearing at the Sunday, 10:30 am service is our regional clan tartan, Galaway.).
While we may be basking in the sun of our reformed tradition this week, we need to quickly realize it was not “all good.” As in any historical religious shift, there were conflicts, casualties, and carnage. The history of the reformation is no different. The beneficial take-away for us this weekend is to consider that phrase, “the Church reformed, always reforming.”
We do not have everything about our faith figured out! Even the great Apostle Paul, commented, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). We must continue to humble ourselves (James 4:10), so that God may continue to reveal Truth to us and continue re–forming us. Reformation is not a point in time, but rather a process. In theological terms, it is akin to “sanctification,” from the Latin, Sanctus, being made holy. Our transformation is a life-long journey (If this interests you, I suggest the classic by Jerry Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness).
Today, let us be thankful that God, in Christ, reconciled us to Himself and also be watchful, hopeful, and grateful that God, through the Holy Spirit’s living presence in and through us continues the work of reformation in our lives even today.