The months leading up to this week’s celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation have provided a lot of food for thought about the meaning and impact of this epoch-making event.
For me of the most important outcomes of the Reformation is what has been called “the affirmation of ordinary life”: the idea that Christians in their everyday lives in their families, at work, and in their communities serve God most faithfully by serving and safeguarding the well-being of their neighbors.
One way that we do that is as citizens – not simply by being law-abiding or by voting regularly, but by speaking out on social and political issues of our day that impact the common good, the rights of our most vulnerable neighbors, and the integrity of the whole creation. The public policy ministry of the Wisconsin Council of Churches is rooted in the affirmation of this dimension of our “ordinary lives.” It is part of carrying out our mission for “the healing and reconciliation of the world.”
The Reformation created (or simply exposed) deep fractures in Western Christendom, which even now are only beginning to heal. And beyond the variety of Christian denominations in this post-Reformation world, the religious diversity of our communities – including those who do not affiliate with any particular religious tradition – continues to grow.
This pluralism is challenging, but also enriching, and invigorating. One of the most hopeful signs of our times is when people of different religious, political, and philosophical perspectives work together for a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world. In my role as Public Policy Coordinator for the Wisconsin Council of Churches, I have been privileged to participate in many such collaborations – in interfaith advocacy days at the State Capitol; joint initiatives on immigration, health and poverty; and coalitions around hunger, climate change, housing, the state budget, and other issues.
So it seems to me that in the ecumenical and interfaith advocacy work of the Wisconsin Council of Churches, one product of the Reformation meets another. Faith active in loving service of the neighbor’s good overcomes divisions and creates diverse alliances for the common good. And as people of good will work together to heal their communities and restore creation – the Reformation continues!
Learn more about the Council’s advocacy work here