October 31, 503 years ago, Martin Luther nailed his criticisms of the church of the day and propositions for its renewal to the door of Wittenberg cathedral. And thus began what we know of as the reformation of the church. John Calvin, from Geneva, was a second generation leader of the Reformation, born about a quarter century after Luther. It is Calvin’s work and leadership in Geneva that enabled the Reformed tradition to spread worldwide. Of all the reformers, his teaching is reflected in shape and teachings of the Presbyterian Church in Canada.
Calvin gave a central place to scripture but he was not a literalist. He believed that through the reading of scripture and its explication in a sermon, the Holy Spirit can help us hear God’s for us, in our time and place. The Bible is a means for us to receive that living Word, a set of texts that speak anew to every generation.
Our Church History Professor at Knox College, Dr. Allan Farris, described the church with the expression “Reformed, yet always reforming” or “Reformed, yet always being reformed”.
In these days of isolation, distancing, with no end in sight, may we hear and heed what reforming word the Spirit is saying to the church.
Grace and peace to you,
Revs. Bob and Helen Smith
A version of this message first appeared in the Saturday, October 24, 2020, edition of Tidbits.