Have you ever notice that the phrase “you started it” is seemingly hard-wired within each of us. Our fascination with who started it comes from a time that is earlier than we can even remember. I believe this phenomenon is so strong within us that it truly influences us as individuals and as a society. We look to place people on the pedestal. We take the easy route to find the “one person” who we think is the answer or who is at the root of our problems. I don’t know that we are well-served by this, but it does seem to be our human tendency.
Yesterday a group of travelers, most of whom are members of Sheridan, returned from the Luther500 celebrations in Germany. We had an amazing experience! We bonded, learned a great deal of history and grew in our faith. It was a great trip! (In all likelihood the trip will be repeated in July 2018).
What is clear to me is how much we have elevated Martin Luther as the one who got it all started. Even more, we continue to want to simplify our Reformation history to make it mostly about him. The beauty about going to Wittenberg, the Wartburg Castle, Eisleben and Erfurt is that it becomes very clear that the Reformation was about many faithful Christians over the course of generations.
John Hus started things and was burned at the stake for seeking reforms more than 100 years before Luther. Along side Luther’s desire for greater purity and piety in the practice of Christianity, he was uplifted by a spiritual mentor (Staupitz), empowered by technology (Gutenberg press), protected by an emperor (Frederick the Wise), tempered by a theologian (Melanchthon), celebrated by a university (Wittenberg) and most of all guided by the Holy Spirit – and these are only but a few I can mention.
My takeaway from the trip is the juxtaposition of our desire to elevate one, when the reality is that real change is almost always contingent on the commitment of many. I love how Luther, first and foremost, usually wanted to change himself. His goal was grow his faith and faithfulness – usually because he didn’t feel worthy enough. How ironic that this man who sought to change his heart ultimately wound up changing our world.
How about you? What portion of your life would benefit from prayerful reflection and heartfelt change? Are you actively seeking to grow your faith and faithfulness? Is someone near who may influence you, protect you and guide you towards the Spirit? And who is on a similar journey that you might support?
As your mother would say, “It doesn’t matter who started it…” I agree. Simply seek to change your heart and, who knows, you might also change the world.