Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Green Team Talk – Reformation/All Saints

Here's the devotional talk I gave last Thursday for the Green Faith Team meeting.

Congress of Two Crows• This week brings a confluence – a literal flowing together as rivers and streams of water do – of Reformation and All Saints. We celebrated Reformation last Sunday, recalling changes in the church the Holy Spirit made through human agency and also anticipating a church that never remains stagnant, always is alive. Next Sunday will be All Saints, when we especially remember those who have passed into the Church Triumphant, but All Saints is our day, as well. These actually are back-to-back festivals on 31 October and 01 November, but most churches celebrate both Reformation and All Saints on Sundays, since few people will attend weekday or weeknight services.

• Reformation is a major festival of the Holy Spirit when we "wear red," as we always do on the Day of Pentecost. The reading from Ephesians [1:13-14] for All Saints reminds us each of us in baptism carries the sign and seal of the Holy Spirit. All Saints is another festival of the Spirit!

• Pretty much from necessity, the Reformers particularly emphasized theology of redemption, of God's grace freely poured out, offered to all, given to all, through the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.

• The reformer Martin Luther got his theology from Galatians and from Romans, 1st Lutheran Glendale CAbut the psalms gave Luther his passion! Everyone knows the hymn he wrote based on Psalm 46; Pastor Eugene Peterson's version tells us the city streets are safe because God lives in the city; the city is safe because God bans war and breaks weapons. The city is a delight because God plants trees and flowers!

• We celebrate Pentecost and Reformation as major festivals of the presence of God in the Holy Spirit. But there is more! The priestly scribes who brought us the latest Pentateuch source [designated P] wrote late in the Babylonian exile or possibly after the exile, since dating is a bit confounded. They received a revelation that the destruction, the end of the Jerusalem Temple wasn't such a huge deal, after all. Imagine the crazy idea of a real God beyond space and time contained in a mini-replica of the earth and the heavens—that's what temples were! In Genesis 1 the priestly scribes show us all of the living structure of planet earth, the whole panorama of creation as God's dwelling place, the temple of the Divine. Genesis 1 also bring us the spoken Word that creates, orders, tames – redeems, renews, and reforms. And of course, we know Jesus Christ supremely as the Word of God.

• But there is still more! The Reformers – especially magisterial reformers John Calvin and Martin Luther – mostly concentrated on theology of God's grace-filled redemption of human creatures through the reconciling Christ Event. Halloween peopleHowever, John Calvin brings us a rich theology of creation revealing God's providence, of God's grace and providence revealed for all creation, not solely human creatures. Martin Luther brings us the insight of the Divine presence in, with, and under all creation. Beyond that, Luther affirms the ubiquity – the everywhere-ness – of the risen and ascended Jesus Christ. Can you say sacraments?

• The lectionary reading from Ephesians for All Saints reminds us baptism marks and seals us with the Holy Spirit. In the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, like all of planet earth, each of us is a dwelling place of God! Along with Reformation, All Saints is a festival of the Spirit; besides commemorating those in the Church triumphant, All Saints is a day for those of us still on planet earth, as well. How exciting to have the confluence of those major festivals this time of the year!

• And now? We need to trust, we can trust, the bounty of life in the Holy Spirit, the imagination of all creation, the reign of grace.

To God Alone Be glory; Amen!

Judicatory offices share the campus with First Lutheran Glendale Church and School.

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