It is pretty typical for the pastoral reflection in a November newsletter to address gratitude. This one will follow suit especially because I’ve found myself thinking thoughts of gratitude as we’ve gone through our celebration of the Reformation anniversary (oh, no – not more reformation!). There are always people who come before us who forge a path which shapes, reforms, our world. And while for us Protestants, these Reformation figures are key, I find my gratitude centering more on the fact of them than on the content.
Human history has cycled through times when fate and circumstances have released the best in us – times of great progress and widespread prosperity. We have also gone through dark and trying times when it might have looked as if humanity was headed toward its own destruction; times when we feared the direction but thought it was too big for us to change. If you don’t want to think about the Reformation, think about slavery, or the Nazi movement, or the decadence of the failing Roman Empire. There have been times when the future seemed ‘formed’, inevitable; yet the direction changed, the future got reformed.
People of faith have always been part of reformation – whether it is William Wilberforce in slavery or Dietrich Bonhoeffer from a concentration camp. As we studied this fall, gratitude for all those who surprised us with our capacity for good comforted and reassured me. So as you gather around your Thanksgiving table perhaps you can name an agent for positive change in the past or anticipate one for the future.