Our youngest son Liam was dedicated at church on Sunday. It was beautiful. Words don’t really do justice the contagious way that his eyes light up and spreads to the eyes all around him. You look at him and see so much possibility, so much hope.
During the dedication, one of the passages that caught my ear was the psalm in which the author marvels at God forming him and knitting him together in his mother’s womb. The word “form” jumped out at me because that day was also Reformation Sunday.
I’ve been thinking about that word literally. Re-form: to form again. That angle of reformation was spinning in my head when Dean preached about Martin Luther, the Apostle Paul, the sin that enslaves every human, and the Christ that saves us. Re-form. Form again.
Martin Luther wanted to reform the Church. H e wanted to go back to the start and begin again. But you can’t go back to page one. It’s impossible. You have to reform with what you have. Reformation is a new beginning and yet it is a simultaneously a continuation. Both are wrapped into a mysterious whole.
The Church has been reformed throughout its history. It needs to be formed again today. It likely will in the future. That is the prayer of semper reformandum; always reforming, always hoping that God will take the broken and good pieces and mold it all into something beautiful. Familiar yet new.
I think that is what Jesus was talking about with Nicodemus that one night. He said that a person needed to be born from above or born again. Nicodemus, you, and I need to be re-formed. God takes who we are and somehow creates us anew through what Jesus has done. Just like the Church, I am in frequent need of reformation. There is sin that breaks me and dogmas that restrain my growth.
Yet God, if I do not fight it, will continue to make me new. All the while, God will continue to make me that individual that was formed in my mother’s womb: a new beginning and a continuation. I think there is a reformation for me coming. I can feel it in the air like the crispness of autumn. I just have to quit breaking myself into a million pieces.
But I digressed from that sanctuary full of light this past Sunday. It is hard to think about my boys and realize that they will one day need to be formed again. God formed them both so beautifully. I don’t like to think of Jim and Liam messing up and needing to be made new. Yet I call to mind grace and the fact that our Creator loves us more than we’ll ever know. So though they will mess up and that breaks my heart, God is there to re-form them when they break.
In the same Book of Psalms where it speaks of being formed in our mother’s womb, another psalmist asks God to create a clean heart, a new and right spirit. “Oh God, form me again,” it could read. That is my prayer. I pray it will be my boys’ as well.