Each President has written a piece underlining one of the five dimensions of this 500th anniversary of the Reformation 1517 – rejoicing, remembering, reforming, repenting, reconciling. Read the articles here with an introduction from Bishop Paul.
The richness and diversity of the Christian people reflects the multi-faceted richness of God. This is not to say that the divisions between the Christian churches are themselves a reflection of God’s will – the words of the Lord Jesus in John 17 (“May they all be one”) stand as a challenge, a provocation and a reproach to all of us as we remember the Reformation at this time. We each and all have much to thank God for, and to think on, as we reflect on our history together.
As Presidents of Churches Together in the Merseyside Region (CTMR) we stand together this Pentecost in thanksgiving, honesty, sorrow and peace as we look back on our rich but fractured history. At the same time we look forward with joy, gladly grasping the gifts of unity and of a refreshed friendship which God has given us in our own generation.
Each of my sister and brother Presidents has written a piece underlining one of the five dimensions of this anniversary that the national Presidents have identified – rejoicing, remembering, reforming, repenting, reconciling. We are glad and proud to be in partnership together for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We wholeheartedly endorse the words of the national Presidents of Churches Together in England (http://bit.ly/2pN29TI) and we stand with our national leaders when they say “we pray that our churches may honour each other and give thanks for our growing friendship and fellowship in the Gospel.”
May the God of truth and love bless all the churches as they draw lessons from the Reformation. And may that same God, who is also a fountain of sending love, equip and guide us all as we move forward in His name and by the power of His Spirit.
Bishop Paul Bayes,
Anglican Bishop of Liverpool – on behalf of the Presidents of CTMR.
‘For Christ’s love compels us……and gave us the ministry of reconciliation’
2 Corinthians 5: 14 and 18
This year as we commemorate 500 years since the reformation we need to see the remembrance as a gift to us in the present. We need to contemplate on the division, distrust and discrimination that came out of the reformation and ensure that we do not repeat this attitude, belief and behaviour in our present day and in that sense this commemoration can be a gift, so let us receive this as a gift.
I would also urge us not to forget that reformation is something that the Church needs to do in every generation so that we see the need for reform as a prophetic voice which continues to challenge and change us into the ways of Christ and the Gospel for today. But just as important as the needed reform, is that the way we reform must always be done in love. Paul writing to the Corinthians in his second letter speaks about Christ’s love compelling us and that he has given us this ministry of reconciliation. So the implication is that whatever the reform or change, it needs to be done in love and ensuring it is part of Christ reconciling the world to himself. This was, and still is the contemplation we all need to do in every reform and change.
It is good to see the signs in our present day of the reconciliation and ‘convergence’ of doctrinal difference which is evidence of Christ, through us, reconciling the world to himself. The Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, Chair of Faith and Order Commission, said: "The 500th anniversary of the Reformation, which began with Luther's courageous insistence that salvation is not for sale, invites every Christian to join with the whole church to be renewed in the grace of God and share the astounding news of God reaching out to the world, running to meet us in Christ and embracing us into his life by the Spirit with an infinity of love that lifts us into the full statue of our humanity and raises us into the joyful responsibility of being human."
We still need to continue this reconciliation and allow the prayer of Christ for us all to be one, to not only to be words on our lips but practiced in our attitudes and actions. If the church is to be united and effective, we must believe and confess the gospel, obey it and adorn it, proclaim it and argue it, defend it, and be willing to suffer for it. For ‘oneness’ is where the whole of history is heading and reconciliation in the present is part of preparing us for our future in Christ. If we can do that, then this gift of commemoration can keep us on the right track as we all live for, and look for the salvation of the world.
To conclude, here is my adapted version of a quote from Shane Claiborne – a present day prophet ‘The work of community, love, reconciliation and restoration is the work we cannot leave up to others. This is the work we are all called to do’
Drew McCombe, Major
Divisional Commander – North West England and North Wales