October 31, 2017, marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation when Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses to the door of the Church in Wittenberg in 1517. On October 4th the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Francis, who in his own way help reform the Church some 200 years earlier. This October I encourage you to think about the ways God’s Holy Spirit might be reforming us today using these great reformers as examples.
St. Francis was born into a rich family and was called to give up everything, as Jesus said to the rich young man in Luke 18:22, “There is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” He became poor and urged others to do the same. Francis was called by Christ to “repair the church” when he received a vision from the Cross at San Damiano. Through him and his followers (known as Franciscans), he sparked a spiritual renewal in the church that focuses on the poor, the outcast and the broken. He lived a life of joy and reflected the truth that many had forgotten that “God, so loved the world.” He modeled a simple life in which all creation took part in the Gospel. For St. Francis we are thankful.
One of the reason I bring up St. Francis is because I am part of the Order of Lutheran Franciscan. This order is a group of like-minded Lutherans who find the life of St. Francis and his teaches inspirational. We find spiritual renewal and fellowship through the gifts he brought to the church. A devotion to simple living, daily prayer, and solidarity with the poor and outcast. For me, it helps keep me humble and accountable as I live to follow Jesus in my life and be the Shepherd of this little flock here. I look forward to sharing my journey together in mission in this place.
Of course, our patron saint as Lutherans is Martin Luther. Martin Luther’s parents wanted him to be a lawyer. During a thunderstorm he was so scared by God, Martin promised to become a monk if he was spared. He became an Augustinian monk and through his training and study he came to realize that God was never angry with him, but truly loved him and the rest of humanity as well. He saw that the foundation of the Christian life was the Word of God and Faith in Christ. This revelation convinced him to reform many of the things in the church that blinded people from the Grace of God. He taught that God’s grace was a gift and not something that could be earned through works or bought (like indulgences). He also translated the Bible into German so that all people could read God’s Word and discover God’s grace for themselves.
I leave you with a question to ponder: Where might God be reforming your life?