Watching my friend Joanne turn a lump of clay into everyday dishware is artful, and what she makes is art itself. As Tami and I sat in her studio during our annual trip to Canada and talked with her about life since we had last seen each other, Joanne ran a wire through large blocks of clay to break them down into the right amount. Then she’d throw a small chunk on her spinning wheel, wet her hands and begin the process of forming the clay to her desired shape. She’d lean in strong at first until the clay gave way to being shaped, then lessen her grip as the clay became moldable. Finally, her touch was light but firm as the clay became a cup or a bowl. Finally, she’d shave off some bits to give it more form, separate it from the wheel and set it aside to be fired. Watching her in action reminds me of the way God works with God’s hands in a creative process to form all of creation in Genesis 2. It’s a very hands-on, formative process.
Joanne’s creation of pottery and God’s formation of creation speak to our theme this fall: re•form. That word is the basis of who we are as Christians and Presbyterians. God formed us in the beginning and continues to form us into the people God wants us to be. But, God doesn’t simply form us individually. God also forms us as a church to be the body of Christ with a mission to the world. The motto of our Reformed tradition that dates back to the Reformation is “Ecclesia Reformata, Semper Reformanda” – the church reformed, always reforming. As the Presbyterian Mission Agency website says, “Our Reformed motto, rightly understood…does not bless either preservation for preservation’s sake or change for change’s sake.” We are in the process of being formed and reformed “in the interest of preservation and restoration of more authentic faith and life—a church reformed and always to be re- formed according to the Word of God.”
Reform is what Martin Luther had in mind 500 years ago this October when he nailed his 95 theses (or challenges) to the door of the Wittenberg church in Germany. He didn’t set out to start a whole new, separate church, but rather to re- form the church he knew. The powers-that-be were not interested in change, however, and the Protestant Reformation was born. This fall we will study, preach on and celebrate this important moment in history as we reconnect with our Protestant tradition. We will look at the important questions that arose 500 years ago and the way re-formation continues to ask us important questions like:
- Who is God shaping us to be in our time for our community and world?
- How is what we are doing an expression of our faith rather than just good works?
- How does our mission as individuals and a church join with and reflect the mission of Christ in his life, death and resurrection?
Re-forming people answer these questions in every age of the church, and we have plenty of opportunities this fall to be formed in faith and learn how God wants to shape who we are, as individuals, families and church. Important questions lie before us in how we will respond to the issues facing our world. Important matters lie before us as we seek to pass on faith to our children and youth and help them know and trust God. Important questions lie before us about who God is calling us to be as Jesus’ disciples and Christ’s church in Yorktown and in this world God loves. Your formation matters to the faithfulness of the church. Our formation together matters to the faithfulness of our lives.
We’ve planned many formative opportunities this fall. The Disciple Bible Studies will kick off soon. Sunday School, Confirmation and Adult Education begins September 17. Blessing backpacks and animals. Walking the labyrinth. The work of the Ministry Development Team. Youth Group. Service opportunities like Noon Time Meal, Jan Peek, and Food Pantry. What in this newsletter could you get involved in to form your faith and life in the ways of God’s grace and love, generosity and hope? Make formation a central priority of your life and family so that we may continue to live our faithfulness to God and for the world God loves.