The Festival of The Reformation

I didn’t see it coming and I didn’t even think about it but when I read a book review I realised
that a new type of novel was coming out – the pandemic novel. I recalled the popular myth
that the board game Monopoly grew out of the Great Depression which is partially true while
the full history of the board game (and its creator Elizabeth Magie 30 years earlier) has struck
me as its own window into ruthlessness, desperation, and luck of monopolies! Novels and
games, it seems, grow out of a context – irrespective of the genre.
We write or manufacture from our context – even if it is
reacting against all that is present at the moment. The
world – and I think many religious people themselves

– view religion similarly. As a phenomenon of humani-
ty, religions are assessed and even made, based on a

context. For many people the starting point for any-
thing religious is the fear and existence of death – and

life is regarded as ‘too hard’ if there is no meaning or
purpose to it subject to fate or luck or circumstance
(including the behaviour of others). This means that
religions are our creations with deities made in our
image and religious goals are our secret desires.
But what if God exists and interacts with us and the relationship that emerges – we can call it
a religion – is a revelation which is then transmitted, passed on, and hopefully lived (as we do
with all relationships important to us). That’s when the world and we ourselves can ask for the
‘evidence’ for God’s existence and why he wants to relate to us. And that isn’t unreasonable!

What is unreasonable is that the ‘evidence’ is rejected because it doesn’t fit some precon-
ceived idea of God!

Christianity makes the bold claim that a crucified man is God who died for us and was raised
again to life, never to die again and that through faith in this God-man, people encounter God,
know who he is, know who they are, and then live in this world with this relationship shaping

their lives. We are used to transactional relationships. We are used to cause and effect – re-
wards or punishments – we make our justice systems this way. We think that is how deities

should relate to us because that’s how we think we’d behave with all that power. But what
people discover with this crucified and risen man is God’s faithfulness, grace, and mercy; that
God acts towards us freely so that we might have a freedom to live.

Living on Planet Earth is our context as is our mortality, violence, selfishness, and transaction-
al relationships. Human made religions come and go but have a similarity – a transaction – do

right by God and God will do right by you.
That is why Christianity is unique among the religions because it proclaims God’s initiative and
action which we receive and then live out. It is not transactional at all. It is charity! A free gift! A
new life! It is Good News for us – which people often think is too good to be true or a scam
(back to transactional thinking again).
And when we talk about The Reformation, it is our human context more so than a 16th century
one that needs to be remembered and that the best news of all is that God forgives all people
through Jesus Christ, our Lord. If that isn’t good news, then nothing is! GS