Many Protestant congregations will be celebrating Reformation Sunday this week. What a year for it! The church has been pushed in to a reformation whether we were ready for it or not. We have re-formed the way we worship. We have re-formed our education ministries and our outreach efforts and our governing assemblies. Some of us have even re-formed our assumptions or theology in order to accommodate this new normal. Whether Reformation Sunday is normally a part of your tradition or not, this year it might be nice to take the opportunity to acknowledge and give thanks for all the re-forming that has happened in your community. Here are some resources for Reformation Sunday, as well as the suggested lectionary texts.
When I preach on Reformation Sunday, I usually stick with the Revised Common Lectionary texts assigned for whatever Sunday we are after Pentecost. The call to continually listen for God’s voice and to follow the movement of the Spirit can be found throughout Scripture – and really, those are the only reasons to celebrate Reformation Sunday. So, where do you hear God speaking this week? To what new things is the Spirit calling you?
The readings from Leviticus and Matthew both emphasize love of neighbor. Jesus reminds us of the greatest commandments. In case you’re not sure what they mean, Leviticus gets straight to the point: “you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor.” How can we tangibly love God and neighbor today? What issues are relevant to your community? Where I live, we have the highest COVID rates in the USA, which in turn has the highest numbers of infection and death in the world. By refusing to take basic precautions such as wearing a mask or limiting the size of gatherings, people around here are literally profiting off the blood of their neighbors. Of course, knowing this and being able to preach it in a way that people can hear are two entirely different things.
Despite the challenge of preaching love and selflessness these days, I encourage you to do so! As Paul writes in Thessalonians, “So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.” It is out of love for God and neighbor that we continue to call our communities to faithful action in the world. This is the perennial task of the preacher.
Blessings to you, dear colleagues. Wishing you all the best in this strangest of all years. Please share your ideas and questions below – about preaching, liturgy, children’s messages, or anything else that you’re bringing to worship this week. Stay safe and be well!
Katya Ouchakof is a chaplain and paddlesports professional in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. She recently let her nephew (age 6) and niece (age 4.5) help cut her hair… so that’s how the pandemic is going for her! Katya posts book reviews and inspiration at her blog.
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2 thoughts on “RCL Commentary: Re-Forming Church”
My denomination doesn’t really acknowledge Reformation Sunday so much. However, the Leviticus and Matthew texts are perfect for thinking of a re-forming around Love, agape in particular. I’m still contemplating this though I’ve written some thoughts… https://rachaelkeefe.wordpress.com/2020/10/22/love-in-the-time-of-covid-its-not-what-you-think/