It's easy to celebrate the Reformation as an event in the past—something we commemorate every year by bringing out all the Bach settings of our favorite Lutheran hymns. But in every generation, the church is in need of reform, in danger of sliding once again into temptation of the lure of power.
Caring for the vulnerable, caring for our neighbors, caring for the care-givers, and ensuring access to vital resources for the needy are powerful demonstrations of love. And because our worship, our fellowship, however attenuated and technologically connected, is defined by this ethic of love, Christ is here among us.
The church of Christ has long stood boldly in the shadow of Empire. The church does not retreat to a lair and wish the problems of Empire away. It stands in the public square, and declares boldly, “Jesus is Lord. Here we stand; we can do nothing else.”
A church connecting in Christ stands in solidarity with all because it recognizes that those who suffer are not them—they are us. Indeed, the church that connects in Christ understands, as Jesus did, that there is no us and them—there is only us. Our social witness is not informed by a sense that we, removed from suffering, nevertheless deign to offer our time and attention to the suffering of others, but is informed by the recognition that the suffering of others is our suffering. And when we are able to work toward justice and inclusion then the joy of others will be our joy, too.
There are Two Churches in the world today. And the only question that remains before us is: which one shall we be?