I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the state of the Christian church in America. It seems like a good time to do so around Reformation Sunday; Martin Luther was concerned with the state of Roman Catholic church in his day and worked for reform, and I feel the need to do the same today. But how does this play out in today’s techno-charged, mostly non-churched society? Luther had some advantages: not nearly as many people to reach and virtually 100 percent of the people were interested in what the church had to say! My advantages would be that I have access to technology that can get the word out quickly and also get responses quickly. What will those responses be? Buzz off, preacher! No one is interested anymore! Or maybe the secular humanists will tell me that it’s their time now; people want science and technology more than spirituality. I worship in my own way, out in nature and such, you know: fishing, golfing, shopping, skiing, camping, etc. So where does that leave me, as a wanna be reformer?
I suppose it leaves me in the same boat as Luther, just 500 years later, but with many of the same issues. For example, even though today, unlike in Luther’s day, the Bible is available in every language, few read it. We know that we can’t “earn” our way into heaven, but many preachers still run their ministry as though a person can. We understand that it’s important for the church to treat all people with equality, but abuse and discrimination remain. We know there is enough of the basics for all the people on earth, but want and starvation go on … and on.
These are but a few of the things that challenge God’s church in 2013, and we could spend years and cost ourselves the remaining assets we have arguing about the details, but I won’t do that. I am done arguing over issues to which the answer has always been to love God and love your neighbor. As Rob Bell says in his book of the same name, “Love Wins“. You can argue all you want about the nuances, but in the end we are to love people. Jesus even gave us examples of how to do it: Did you … Feed me? Clothe me? Visit me? If so, then you loved me as you have been loved.
We here at All Saints, a gathered bunch of forgiven sinners, have been doing our best to love the neighbor that needs our help and trying to enlist the help of neighbors that can help. We need to blow the horn a little, let folks know what we’re doing here and give them the opportunity to join in and continue the reformation of the 21st century.
The Rev. Alan B. Eschenbacher serves as pastor of All Saints Lutheran Church.