It was pretty much the best thing ever to walk into the church’s Fall Festival last night to see our own Sally Mir decked out in costume as Martin Luther! She had it all — the robe, the beret, and a copy of the 95 Theses with a hammer in hand.

Part of what made this costume so fabulous is that 2017 is the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. We remember that October 31, 1517, when Luther reminded the church that God’s mercy and grace through Jesus is free to all! For Luther, that truth should shape what the church teaches and how we practice Christian faith. Whether that looks like Latin liturgy giving way to worship experienced in the language of the people, or abolishing indulgences because they confused the message of freedom in Christ, Luther’s intent was to call the Catholic church to change. Instead, he shifted the course of human history.

The full and free expression of the gospel that Luther proclaimed was one that focused on the essentials, filtering Christian theology and practice through the core elements of the faith. With this in mind, we gather on Sunday for worship. We’ll mark this historic anniversary in word, prayer, and song, and then we’ll focus on the essentials.

For the next five weeks, I’ll be preaching a series called “Essentialism.” The lectionary serves us with several gospel texts that define or describe, in my opinion, some of the key ‘essentials’ of the faith. I read a wonderful book recently bearing the same title, and it got me thinking: to live out one’s Christian calling, what is most important? If ‘essentialism’ (as author Greg McKeown describes it) says that “only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all and stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter,” how might our church gain clarity from God on those things that really matter for us in the time and place in which we minister?

My hope is that these weeks of worship will help to frame our churchwide conversations around mission and vision as well! I hope you have heard these invitations for these gatherings on November 1, 8, and 12, as together we discern how our church hears and articulates God’s call on who we are to be and what we are to do. This is a pivotal season in the life of our church, and I can’t encourage you enough to come and be part of these gatherings! We are the church, and we can’t vision together without you! Read more about these gatherings in the eBlast, on our website, or in the worship folder. Come join in!

Not long after Luther’s time, another German theologian named Rupertus Meldenius gave the world a wonderful framework for Christian churches: “in essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.” I look forward to living into this truth with you!

Together in the work of Love,
Pastor Emily

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