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Refl ection ect


The never-ending task of reformation By Martin Otto Zimmann


We live in a time when our sense of “rightness” is often infl uenced by the echo chambers we create within the world of social media. When we see a moral injustice occurring in society, our advocacy is perhaps limited to posting our outrage or a sagacious quote that backs our position. Moreover, because our immediate community both online and in the real world is usually full of like-minded souls, we build up the baggage of confi rmation bias, which leads to pride, which leads to denial.


In the lectionary text for this coming Reformation Sunday (Romans 3), Paul writes about living under the law of faith. This isn’t the same as living in a community of like-minded souls.


The law of faith allows us to live in such a world where people with vastly diff erent opinions and backgrounds can come together at the Lord’s table. All year we have been observing the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, and all year we Americans have watched the ways in which our nation has become increasingly divided over politics, ethics and faith.


There is no chance of reformation and renewal today if we can’t have faith in God to change us and others by reaching across the divide and


building relationships with “the other.” For many socially progressive folks like myself, we assume this means supporting immigrant rights or actively working against systemic racism, but I think the biggest challenge facing us in this current moment is taking the time to engage and listen to people who are ideologically diff erent from ourselves.


Jesus tells us in the text for Reformation Day that we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free. Whatever our dwelling place, ethnicity, religion or political belief, the truth is that we are all beloved children of God, worthy of care and compassion. The law of faith compels us to love those whom we may not like. The law of faith urges us to listen compassionately to those with whom we will disagree on all sorts of matters. The truth sets us free from the fear of reaching across that divide where true reformation and transformation begins.


And for this reforming, radical command , thanks be to God!


Martin Otto Zimmann is the alumni relations director for the new United Lutheran Seminary. He lives with his family in Gettysburg, Pa.


VOICES OF FAITH • LIVINGLUTHERAN.0RG 25


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