“After darkness, light”.
That was the motto of the Reformation, whose 500th anniversary we celebrate in October this year.
Why are these long ago events so important for us today? The answer is in the word: Reformation, or re-formation. There were many good things and good people in the medieval church. But as a whole, it had become bent and twisted out of shape. So men like Luther and Calvin and Cranmer saw the need to “re-form” it, or re-shape it, so the church would be what God wanted it to be. The hammer that they used to do that was the Bible, the words of God. It was often a painful and bruising process, but it was a necessary one, and a good and right one.
Re-formation is something all churches, including Christ Church, still need today. The Reformers rightly saw that this process of re-shaping would never come to an end until Christ returned. Our hearts have a tendency to wander away from God, and re-make the church in our image. So the Reformers said that a Reformed church would always need to be reformed continuously by the word of God. This is what Christ Church should be: a church that is always going back to God’s word, and allowing it to shape us into the image of Christ.
If you would like to think more about what the Reformation means, in our services, sermons, and Bible studies at Christ Church in October and November, we will think about the five “alones” that sum up the faith of the Reformers: Christ alone, grace alone, faith alone, scripture alone, and the glory of God alone. You could also watch these two brief videos by our friend Lee Gatiss, which explain briefly what the Reformation was about:
If you would like to think some more, I highly recommend Michael Reeves’ book The Unquenchable Flame, available from the church bookstall, or this documentary about Martin Luther: https://www.lutherdocumentary.com/
To think in even more depth, there is this free course of 19 lectures by the historian Dr. Carl Trueman:
But the best way of all to understand the Reformation is to do what the Reformers did: read God’s word, and let light shine in the darkness.