Today is Reformation Sunday. This is an important day for Protestants around the world because this is where our religious sects originate from. But for many of us we have little concept of the radical ideas that went behind such a movement and the courage of many believers and clergymen to stand up to the full force of the Catholic Church for what they believed was right. We no longer remember the reasons behind the movements that changed the face of Christianity forever even for those who remained Catholic.
There are three major reasons for the Protestant Reformation. The first being that the Bible was only available in Latin, which few people read or understood, many priests lacked the education to read in Latin as well. But furthermore even if you did know Latin the church controlled the printing of the Bible and who could have access to it. Worship too was only in Latin, a language that the people did not know and thus could not participate in worship or faith development. Secondly, the church, to raise money for a building project, sold indulgences. This meant that if you wanted your loved one to get into heaven you had to buy their way in. This flies in the face of Jesus’ teachings which stated that riches could not get you into heaven. And third, the church was selling religious posts to the highest bidder.
Christianity had lost its sight. They could no longer see the purpose of the faith as religious leaders and the people could no longer connect with God because they no longer had access to God because of the language barrier. Now you may be thinking, “Well that is interesting. But what does this have to do with our faith today”? I would argue that though we no longer sell indulgences or control access to the Bible and its passages within, we all find ourselves in spiritual moments when we lose sight of God and the experience of the Spirit moving in our worlds.
Like the Catholic Church did, we sometimes set up our own barriers to spiritual enlightenment. For some people, it may be that they can’t read the Bible because it is too hard for them to understand or in today’s world they are just too busy to find time. For others, they don’t go to church because their kids have too many activities. For others, they feel they reach out and help others, isn’t that enough.
I would argue that once more we find ourselves in a time when we need to rise up against our own expectations of what church has to be, should be, or what we need it to be if we are going to be called faithful people. We need to strip away all the frills from our expectations of Christian worship and faith and just go back to the basics of simply seeking a relationship with God and more caring lives. If one version of the Bible seems like gibberish try another translation. I guarantee there is a version that will speak to everyone. We need to shed all those attitudes that box faith into something that is easily recognizable but at the same time achievable to many, all those things that make a spiritual relationship hard to achieve and nearly impossible for some.
The early reformers sought to simplify religious expression to mirror those earliest Christian churches from the times of Paul. They sought a genuine expression of faith. They sought to rid themselves and others from distraction. They sought to open the eyes of the average person to the scriptures and a faith in Christ. They sought a more personal and individual relationship accessible to all people.
This was what Christ was doing as well. His miracles and healings touched the lives of individuals who felt disconnected from their faith and their worship. He showed them God’s very personal love and care for each person. By reading these passages, we too are being reminded that God is not the God of large institutions. God is not only available on Sundays or just in worship. But rather God is a personal God. We are meant to seek him out each and every day. We are meant to seek out a relationship with God and no one else can do it for us. We are called to always be seeking out that genuine authentic relationship with the holy and how to help others to do the same. Just like our forefathers and foremothers of the Protestant Reformation did so long ago. This is the work that followers of Christ are called to because everyone deserves to feel the care and compassion of God through the works of our hands. Everyone should feel as if they can access their God whenever and wherever they need to.
We should ask God each and every day to give us new sight to see him at work in the world around, to give us new sight to see the love of Christ present all around and for all. With new vision, we see that faith presents itself in so many different ways and God is reaching out to all peoples everywhere. C.S. Lewis wrote, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not because I see it, but because by it I see everything else”. We should approach our faith needs with the courage of generations before us and as Christ urged the people of his time to do knowing that our faith can and does open our eyes to the realities of what God asks of us as followers. When approached by the blind man Bartimeaus Christ said, “Go. Your faith has made you well”. His faith gave him the courage to approach a religious teacher out of the shadows to seek the vision he so desired. Let us have the same courage to approach God seeking the vision we long to have and may we use that vision to change the world around us just as the reformers so long ago did which gave them courage to change the world and the faith of generations of people. As Christians this is our responsibility. It is our responsibility to ensure that the Christian faith and life is open to all who seek in this world. May we learn to develop our faith in such a way that we gain a new and exciting understanding of our own role in shaping the world.
 C.S. Lewis, 20th Century.
 Mark 10: 52, NRSV.
(Based on Mark 10: 46-52)