This Sunday is Reformation Sunday! A marvellous celebration of the heart of our faith: the Gospel of Christ - the good news that makes free! My friend Michael Kurtz says this about Reformation Sunday:
On this day, we remember and give thanks for the reformation heritage, which is a commitment to continually reform the church so that the Good News of God in Christ might be better proclaimed and embodied by the church. Martin Luther sparked the reformation of the medieval church by nailing his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg where he was Professor of Bible in the university. His was a simple enough protest: he was protesting the sale of indulgences by the church, pieces of paper that assured one of the forgiveness of sins. Luther said forgiveness was a free gift of the grace of God and could not be sold.
David Lose says "the whole darn Reformation-thing was intended to tell us that, in the end, we don’t need to do anything, earn anything, say anything, accomplish anything, or buy anything to earn God’s love. That we already have it, and that most of the Church’s problems – and, indeed, the world’s problems – start when we forget we already have love and worth and dignity as a gift from God and try to earn it or take it from someone else."
In our Gospel reading (Mark 10:46-52) we are brought into the story the blind beggar, Bartimaeus, calling out to Jesus on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem. Jesus asks him the same question he asked the disciples last week: “What is it you want me to do for you?” The disciples gave a not so great answer: they wanted Jesus to give them glory! But Bartimaeus gives a different answer: he asks for sight. In Mark’s Gospel sight is a metaphor of a true understanding for what God is doing in Jesus. Bartimaeus then he gets up and follows Jesus to Jerusalem – and the cross, where Jesus joins himself to all the vulnerable and godforsaken ones in the world.
Bartimaeus asks to be transformed, or, maybe better, reformed – so that he can be more faithful. It is also what Luther asked for the church. And it is what Jesus still asks of the church – that it may see better everything that God is doing in Jesus, so that it can be more faithful.
If Jesus came and stood before you on Sunday and asked you, “What is it you want me to do for you?” or “What is it you want me to do for your congregation?” how would you answer?