Graduation & Reformation

My calendar tells me that 4 years ago today, I sat down to start working on TCM’s Fall Newsletter for the first time. Like so many things in that first year, the task was foreign to me, and I likely started by googling “How to make a newsletter.”

Four years ago, I was a “freshman” who didn’t know anybody and couldn’t find my way around campus. I was privy to the same learning curve as all the first year students, and we figured it out together. It’s hard to explain how it felt to sit at Baker Stadium last May watching the graduation ceremony – seeing the students with whom I’d begun this journey making their exit.

As this new school year starts, there is movement and momentum, but it is also a new beginning.

I’ve started preaching through a series this Fall that I led during my first year called, “To Doubt is Divine”. In the series, we explore the role of doubt in a growing and maturing faith. The series was incredibly well-received the first time and was an influential part of the faith formation of the class of 2015.

I intended to save myself time by giving the series a second run, but instead I found myself disconnected from the words I’d written four years ago. They were somebody else’s words, written by someone in his 20’s, someone with fewer kids, someone who hadn’t yet met some of his best friends, and someone who hadn’t yet read books that hadn’t yet been written.

Writing brand new sermons on a familiar topic, I saw again that while there is movement and momentum, this is also a new beginning.

The Body of Christ in the West seems to be finding itself in a similar moment. Diana Butler Bass and Phyllis Tickle, among others, argue that the Church is in the midst of its fourth major reformation. Reformations are messy and painful times of transition where our established authorities, assumptions, and traditions get re-examined, re-imagined, and at times, discarded. The last major shift came during the Protestant Reformation, and countless books have been written detailing the impact of that transition on both the Church and world history.

If these historians are right, the shifts we now experience will fill future history books. But you and I don’t get to read those books. We get the incredible gift of being present in this time, every one of us gently nudging us towards some uncertain and unwritten future. And we carry an incredible responsibility to the young people that TCM serves: to ensure that they are spiritually mature enough and prepared to lead us through a reformation.

There is movement and momentum, but also a new beginning.

Life born out of death; rebirth; new creations; this is what we do and this is who we are as followers of Christ.