This month marks a significant moment in the life of the Christian Church: the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.
Already the year has been punctuated by moments of commemoration across the world. Churches from many traditions have gathered to give thanks for the renewing impulses unleashed by the Reformation, repent for the ongoing brokenness and divisiveness of Christ’s body, and look forward in hope to the healing and unity of the Church.
As United Methodists today, nearly 500 years after the start of the Reformation, what is its significance to us?
After all, we are not the descendants of Luther. Our roots are deep in the Anglican tradition—both John and Charles Wesley were priests in the Church of England. Yet there are a number of reasons we should observe the day. The themes of the Reformation remain the great themes and principles of our own faith today. The great schism that occurred in the church remains with us. Our fractured denominations have entered into dialogue and cooperative activities that have brought us closer together.
This month we may observe this anniversary with a sense of moving toward unity and community. It is an opportunity to repent of the sins of the past and to celebrate our common faith. Reformation today can represent healing of old wounds as, together, we all work to build and strengthen Christ’s church and love one another as Christ has loved us.