Searching for....

Monday, October 31, 2016

10302016 - Reformation - 23rd Sunday After Trinity - Apostle's Creed - "the Holy catholic church"

October 30, 2016
the Holy catholic church

In the Diary of Anne Frank, she unknowingly chronicled a history and has had an impact upon not only the history of the United States, but countless other young children who have read the diary she wrote.  As a high school 10th grader I read her diary and learned about her willingness to be open and vulnerable in the face of her circumstances of living in a time when the Nazi’s were inflicting their tyranny.  For Anne lived in an attic while her city endured the greatest tragedy of the 20th Century.
What I find redeeming as I think back to reading her diary is how Anne’s simple narrative chronicled not the loss of life, but the joys of simple confessions that she thought would only be read by her.  But ironically has been shared after her death, across Europe, the Atlantic and especially across the world.
This morning like Anne, we come to celebrate and confess a simple phrase in the Apostle’s Creed.  We confess, the Holy catholic church.  You see, 499 Years ago tomorrow, Martin Luther with hammer and nails pounded the 95 Theses on the door at Wittenberg, a catholic Church.  Father Martin Luther, then a monk of the Augustinian order was following the habit of the day to post on the church door items or concerns that he believed needed discussed or debated.  And this was common practice, it was in one sense a ‘public bulletin board’ for the community.  For in that time, everyone went to church, not just on Sunday’s, but sometimes even daily for mass and private confession, but more importantly to come and worship God as not only was the custom, but the tradition passed down from the Old Testament, but also even Jesus ministry of attending the synagogue daily for prayer.
When Martin Luther pounded his theses on the door at Wittenberg it was in the hopes of helping the Church to reform and return to the Gospel and what we confess today, the Holy catholic church.  For in our confession today here in the Church, we are not a ‘big C’ Catholic, but a ‘small c’ catholic.  What is understood to be the ‘universal’ Church.
Many times I have been asked, why do we say, catholic at all?  Simply it is because we confess the faith of the small “c” catholic or ‘universal’ Church.  For the universal church simply has as its core confession what Jesus Christ did on Calvary for all of mankind.  This is the free gift God offers out of His great love for us and which not only binds us together, but unites us as the Holy catholic church.
So why is there division, hatred and even ill words that have destroyed families and even caused individuals to leave organized religion or remove themselves out of protection?  Simply it is because we, all of humanity are born and conceived in sin and our sin comes out and divides us.  We hold it over one another and refuse to let go of bitterness and hatred and our own plotting, because we believe we are right.
Thom Rainer said recently, “Many churches have more self-inflicted wounds than external injuries.”  I believe Thom is right and the best case in point is Martin Luther.  For when Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses, with every blow of the hammer, Martin Luther unknowingly was kindling a fire in the Church catholic which would lead to the largest split of the church and which still is impacting us today.
What is God calling us to?  Like Martin Luther to return to the central message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and confess our faith in the Holy catholic church.  This is our calling as Christians, but also as one’s who confess, not only Jesus Christ as Lord, but with our confession of the Apostle’s Creed.
We do this in three distinct ways.  First by unconditionally loving one another as the the Holy catholic church.  We have the opportunity to love everyone, even if we disagree with them and have at times been hurt by them, whether intentionally or unintentionally.  Second we can forgive as Christ forgives us in the Holy catholic church.  We are called to forgive, for if we do not forgive one another from the heart, how can we expect Jesus Christ to forgive us if we hold things against one another.  And finally we are called to build and create unity in the Holy catholic church.  The unity we need to build and rebuild comes simply not only by our confession of the Apostle’s Creed and the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ, but in our intentionally being united in purpose and mission of the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for all of mankind.
We may never see the results, but instead of kindling a fire or kindling dissension, distrust and disease in the church or the membership, which is against God’s sole intent to unite us in the Holy catholic church, we can be changed and empowered to love one another.  For in our united confession of the Holy catholic church we then thwart division and instead unite behind the Holy catholic church.
A perfect example of this unity comes from a woman in the Bible.  Queen Esther for whom the book of Esther is written united God’s chosen people to do a simple task, to pray that not only God’s will would be completed, but His Glory would be revealed and she would be used to ‘make a difference’.  For without Queen Esther and her willingness to go to her husband and make the bold request to save God’s chosen people, history would have been different than we know it today.  We to can make that difference.

So to Martin Luther with his nailing the 95 Theses on the door at Wittenberg had one intent in mind to turn the ship of the church around.  To unify the Church ‘small c’ catholic and return to the sole intent of Jesus and the clear proclamation of the Gospel.  For the Gospel is what unites us and enables us to confess with the whole Church on earth and the hosts of heaven the Apostle’s Creed and our belief in the Holy catholic church.  AMEN.

Check out Pastor on the Prairie (ProtP)
Subscribe to ProtP

//trial script