October 25, 2020

Reformation (click here)

Passage: Psalm 46; John 8:31-36
Service Type:







The Lord our God has been our dwelling place in all generations.

From everlasting to everlasting God is God, and so we come to worship.

O God, satisfy us every morning with your steadfast love,

so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

Let us tell of God’s glorious power and praise God’s holy name.

We offer God the work of our hands and praise from the

depths of our hearts. Let us worship God together!


HYMN 410  Joyful, joyful We adore you  



God, gracious and loving, holy and eternal, Your love is steadfast, your presence ever near, yet you come to us in surprising ways and in unexpected places. Your love is older than time and as fresh as the morning dew. Your patience is unending, your faithfulness to us unmatched. Your name has come to us through the centuries, yet you can always do a new thing to draw us back to you. God, Creator, Christ and Spirit, we offer you our prayers and praise this day in humble expectation, hoping you will surprise us here and refresh our readiness to serve you. Hear us now as we confess together ….



God, gracious and merciful, holy and healing,

You know our hearts, the times we have truly loved one another

and those times when we merely tolerated each other.

You know our minds, the times we have truly focused on you

and the times when we pursued our own purposes.

You know our stories, the times we have followed you faithfully

and the times we went our own way.

Forgive our wavering discipleship and half-hearted service,

and renew our commitment to live lives marked by your grace.

In Christ’s name  AMEN




Friends in Christ, we are forgiven people, set free from our past failures

to make a fresh start this day and every day. The Holy Spirit empowers us to love God and to love others. Thanks be to God for such everlasting mercy and grace!




HYMN 611 For all the saints



Psalm 46

1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

7 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

8 Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease  to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields[d] with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

The Gospel  :   John 8:31-36

31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.



Lord God, send us your Holy Spirit as we listen to the scriptures this day. Open our ears to hear your Word speaking in these words. Open our hearts to receive your Word and respond in love and service for Christ’s sake. Amen.


I am wearing a broach with a portrait on it. There it is on the screen. It was given to me by my mother-in-law  who inherited it from her Presbyterian clergyman father.  While at Vancouver School of Theology , I took it to one of the profs who is deep into church history and  asked him if he could identify this person. He looked at it carefully  and stated  “ Definitely Reformation era – but I haven’t the slightest clue”  And so it remains a mystery person.

Church Reformation  is not a single event . Nor is  it a single year. Nor is it a single person. The Protestant Reformation is a series of events that happened in the 16th century. However it was not the first episode of  disagreement and upset within the Christian Church


The Reformation story is one of commuting and converting from one theological worldview to another. As I pondered the topic of Reformation, it occurred to me  that if this statement is true,  then we need to go back in the story as far as the first century


Jesus was born a Jew – lived his life as a faithful member of the Jewish community and died a Jew.  But having said that , Jesus theologically changed the worldview  - and with that,  changed the world. Jesus openly challenged the theology and practices of the Rabbi’s, priests and scribes. He brought a new  realization of  the Kingdom of God. After his death , his disciples continued to spread  Jesus’ teaching  far and wide in the Middle East and into Europe. Subsequently, the followers of Christ  became known as Christians  Over the ensuing years a gradual split of early Christianity and Judaism occurred  as Christianity became a distinct religion including predominantly Gentile adherence.

In the very early centuries, Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire, accompanied  by a lot of  persecution due to conflicts with the pagan state religion. In 380, under Emperor Theodosius, Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire. The Greek Orthodox churches descended from churches which the Apostles founded in the Balkans and the Middle East during the first century A.D

The East–West Schism  of 1054 was a major  break of communion since between the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox churches. The schism was the culmination of theological and political differences which had developed during the preceding centuries between Eastern and Western Christianity.

Next major upheaval, The Western Schism, also called the Papal Schism,  of 1378  was a split within the Catholic Church lasting from 1378 to 1417 in which two men simultaneously claimed to be the true pope, and each excommunicated the other.

It is  likely the unintended result of the well known period of Reformation in the 16th century  was a device invented to  bring ease to the distribution of literature Goldsmith and inventor, Johannes Gutenberg began experimenting with printing in Strasbourg, France in 1440. By 1450, he had a printing machine perfected and ready to use commercially:

In 1452, Gutenberg produced the one book to come out of his shop: -a Bible. It’s estimated he printed 180 copies of the 1,300-paged Gutenberg Bible. Very quickly the common people began to be able to read  what only the clergy knew before. The worldwide spread of the printing press meant a greater distribution of ideas which threatened the ironclad power structures of Europe. Civilization never looked back. Knowledge is power, as the saying goes, and the invention of the mechanical movable type printing press helped disseminate knowledge wider and faster than ever before, helping spread awareness of the Church's abuses.  The next step was translating the Bible into various local languages. For example, John Wycliffe and William Tyndale worked on translating it into the English language. Much of Tyndale's translation was used in the King James version of the Bible. Luther translated the Bible into German. People began to read the Bible in their own language, and many could see for themselves how the Catholic Church had let the Christian faith become corrupted. By 1530, over 10,000 publications are known, with a total of ten million copies. The Reformation was thus a media revolution.

Clergy abuse caused people to begin criticizing the Catholic Church. The greed and scandalous lives of the clergy had created a split between them and the peasants. Furthermore, the clergy did not respond to the population's needs, often because they did not speak the local language, or live in their own diocese. People like, Huldrych Zwingli 0f Switzerland,, Martin Luther in Germany , John Calvin  of France and Geneva  and John Knox of Scotland saw the corruption and decided church life and governace had to change   It did !  but not without deep challenges. Martin Luther's posting of The Ninety-Five theses at Wittenberg  On October 31, 1517 is seen as the pivotal point  of the Protestant Reformation. Luther succeeded because his ideas appealed to people of all classes. Considered an enemy of the Pope, when he refused to change his ideas, he was excommunicated

Each year drew new theologians to embrace the Reformation and participate in the ongoing, European-wide discussion about faith. The pace of the Reformation proved unstoppable by 1520.  Reformation ideas and Protestant church services were first introduced in cities, being supported by local citizens and also some nobles

This led to  not one  but multiple  splits in the church,--- into those who upheld the Catholics theology and tradition  and those who formed various Protestant churches. In addition to the conflict in the churches, there were political consequences. Common people were becoming more open to questioning their leaders. In 1524-1525, millions of peasants rebelled against the nobles in the name of equality of humanity in front of God. . Many countries in Europe choose Protestantism as the state religion and so Europe was divided by religion. Churches based on Reformation ideas have multiplied into different forms, especially in historically Protestant countries

Both good and  bad consequences developed. Ultimately the  Reformation led to modern democracy, skepticism, capitalism, individualism, civil rights, and many of the modern values we cherish today. Protestants built new schools, ignited a renewed passion for education. and wrote new catechisms, ushering in an era of lay education.

Frequent quarrels between the different branches of the Reformation sought to establish their jurisdiction.  Dreadful atrocities happened  to those on both side who were considered heretics ,Witch trials and burning at the stake of opponents became more common where Protestants and Catholics contested the religious market.

Following the excommunication of Luther and condemnation of the Reformation by the Pope, the work and writings of John Calvin were influential in establishing a loose consensus among various churches in Switzerland, Scotland, Hungary, Germany and elsewhere. His legacy remains in a variety of churches.. As the movement spread across continental Europe, each country  followed a different course under the leadership of dedicated clergy

The Reformation and Counter-Reformation era conflicts are termed the European wars of Religion. In particular, the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) devastated much of Germany, killing between 25% and 40% of its entire population .All in all, it is a very complex and convoluted story.

There is no universal agreement on the exact or approximate date the Reformation ended. Various interpretations emphasize different dates, entire periods, or argue that the Reformation never really ended at all


Todays gospel reading carries a awesome  message in the tone of Reformation  “You will know the truth and the truth will make you free.”  Not so strange maybe, interpretation , practice and tradition holds many in bondage. While people of Christian faith can -and do disagree about important things, our beliefs and ethics must be rooted in Scripture -- “continuing in my word” as Jesus says in the text , as we discern the truth through prayer and in Christian community—

Jesus sees us and knows when we are overwhelmed with the world around us. He reminds us, ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples.” He affirms that discipleship does not come as a result of membership in a congregation or denomination but by following and continuing in God’s living and dynamic word. - not by using it for personal or collective gain, but by sitting with the word- as the word reveals what our souls so desperately crave: freedom.

Freedom matters. It matters to a person, a people, a system. It matters that every member of the human and created family is not bound by systemic evil; by historical and socio-political constructs that deny dignity to some and grant privilege to others. It matters that people and communities are not theologically and institutionally enslaved to an oppressive way of being, thinking, and behaving. It matters that those who claim to believe in Jesus not fall in the trappings of the enemy-  nor mistake the God of the universe as one who places conditions upon God’s love, grace, and salvation. This Reformation Sunday I hope Jesus’ word says to  us “… because freedom matters,  you, your people, creation, and systems be set free- my truth will set you free.” “When we understand that God chose for you to be saved - that you did not choose your own salvation, then you’ll understand God’s amazing grace.” This is what the gospel of Jesus Christ does.

In our world… our spirits crave freedom from bondage, from enslavement to sin and systemic evil, from misinterpretation of Scripture, We all need the truth to reign and set us free. May we know the truth and be set free … with God’s help and in Jesus’ name. Amen.

HYMN 497 – Word of God, across the ages



When we gather together as God’s Church, we enjoy the gifts of so many other followers of Jesus, offered to him over so many centuries. Now our gifts join theirs so that God will be praised and Jesus’ love spread in this generation and those to come after.



Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!



Generous God, you are both faithful and fruitful as you embrace each generation of your people. Bless our gifts and make them fruitful beyond our imagining in the work of your kingdom. Keep us faithful in our generation so that the inheritance we have received in Christ will continue in generations yet to come. Amen.



Faithful God and Holy Friend, We do not have enough words to thank you for all you have given us and the love you share with us in Christ Jesus. We

In the silence of this time, help us review the week just past, remembering the ways we encountered you—in the beauty of creation, the support of friends, the wisdom of books, the joy of music, the energy of exercise, through study and prayer. (A time of silence )

God of comfort and challenge, we are grateful for your presence in these uncertain times at home, at work and at school. We give you thanks for your attention to the small details and the large responsibilities we face.  (A time of silence is kept.)

God of persistence and inspiration, we remember before you the many who struggle to recognize your presence or fail to hear your voice amid all the competing voices in our world. We pray for those feeling depressed or anxious, those facing grief and loneliness, and those who are worried about their health or their security.  Do not forget these people even if they forget you. Comfort them and fill them with peace. (A time of silence kept.)

God of justice and leadership, we give you thanks for those who have gone before us centuries ago, and in modern times ,determined to  bring the freedom of your truth  and to challenge the  practices and traditions of the church – that their determination may continue to be a guiding light in the world

We pray for the national Assembly Council as they meet online to help discern strategic directions for the church. We pray for all the congregations as they worship in differing times and places  but in the unity of the body – wiether it be in person  or through the blessing of technology. We give thanks as we worship this morning together in this sacred space.

We pray for our country and all other nations facing immense challenges with COVID-19. As numbers affected pile up , speak to those  who are not understanding, or opposed to the protocols set in place for everyone’s protection Bless with  strength and encouragement  all those on the front lines -- medical staff –  first responders - suppliers and transporters of goods -  Guide decision makers and keep the hearts of those with resources open to those who do not have enough.. Strengthen voices of wisdom and acts of courageous compassion to tend the needs of people most at risk. Be with us as the months of pandemic continue. Give us patience to keep each other safe and make us attentive to the needs of those around us.

In silence we name before you those finding these days especially difficult………….

We praise you for the joys experienced ……….

We pray for places where justice is lacking, where violence threatens, or leaders are untrustworthy. AS various places around the world  need elections of leaders during this  uncertain times, grace the elections with your wisdom and guidance

God of grace and guidance, You call us to be your hands and feet, your voice and comfort in the world, following the example of Jesus. Equip us to respond to the needs around us in his name and make us bold to get started right here and right now. For we dare to pray the words Jesus taught us;



Our Father, who art in heaven hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.


Our closing hymn, is one penned by Martin Luther "A Mighty Fortress is Our God"—, Luther "did not write the hymn to express his own feelings, but to interpret and apply the 46th Psalm to the church of his own time and its struggles." Although  Not the easiest  in our repertoire, we join our voices with  church folk around the world today


HYMN 315– A mighty fortress is our God



May the God who  shakes heaven and earth , whom death could not contain, who lives to disturb and heal us bless you with the power to go forth and proclaim the gospel. The grace  of the Father, the love of the son and the power of the holy spirit  be with you now and evermore. Amen.


Online: Tell me the stories of Jesus


Who’s going to tell the story, you and I
Tell of the Lord’s great glory, you and I
Who’s gong to let the whole world know
Help his disciples grow and multiply?
You and I!