One of the more surprising trends in current culture is the rise of the home renovation show. At a time when sex and violence and special effects are at premium, one of the fastest-growing television networks features none of these, but instead features families working on their old homes or buying homes and fixing them up.
Part of this has to do with the charisma of the hosts, and part has to do with the unrealistic, game-show style set up of some of the programs. But that doesn’t explain all of it. There is something inherently appealing about taking something that is tired out and used up and making it fresh and new and appealing. Sometimes that means a complete remake; sometimes it means returning it to its original state of beauty.
This October marks the five hundredth anniversary of perhaps the greatest renovation that has ever taken place. On October 31, 1517, one unlikely German monk (who was also a priest and a professor of Old Testament), of unimpressive pedigree (the son of a Saxon miner), undertook to renovate the largest global enterprise ever organized at that time: the Roman Catholic Church.
Like so many renovation projects, it started out as a little repair: fixing a financial abuse that had formed around selling indulgences. These pieces of paper promised that merits from the saints (who were so Godly that they had stored up extra favor in heaven) could be applied to regular people (who were so sinful that they could not enter heaven until they had been purged of sin’s stain… in a place called purgatory). If you bought an indulgence for a family member, they could be released from purgatory’s awful pain and freed into eternal bliss. Though it wasn’t really pointed out, the money earned would allow the Pope to pay off his creditors and build the Vatican.
Martin Luther saw this for what it was: the exploitation of the uneducated for the enrichmentbenefit of the church that was supposed to care for them. So Luther set to renovate that one little project. But the cracks he saw turned out to be signs of flaws that ran right down to the foundation. By the time his renovation project (which we now call the Reformation) had run its course, an entirely different body of believers had formed – believers who had reason to claim they were the true church, following the instruction of Christ and the apostles faithfully, as well as the teachings of the earliest Church fathers. Though he hated the idea, this new body of believers came to be called Lutheran.
And so are we. All Christians are indebted to Luther in some way: even the Catholic church admitted to some of his arguments and changed some of their practices.
We as Lutherans follow Luther’s pattern in a particular way: every time we gather together -- every single day, in fact -- we are undergoing a renovation. We are acknowledging that our bodies and minds and souls have been worn out and used up. We admit that we need God to rebuild, restore, and renew us. And we allow God to do so, by His Word (given back to everyday people as part of Luther’s reformation) and by His Sacraments (also returned to regular believers by Luther’s reformation).
Like all homeowners, we know that this dwelling will always need work. So we gratefully give thanks to the greatest renovator of all: Jesus Christ, who takes this worn out and used up life and makes it brand new, fit for an eternal dwelling, our forever home.
Celebrating and renovating with you,
Pastor Rob Morris
About Our Pastor Rob Morris:
Pastor Rob Morris has just celebrated his sixth year with us having moved here to Newtown on New Years Eve 2011. Pastor Rob comes to us having earned both a Master of Divinity and a Master of Arts in Biblical Languages from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in S. Hamilton, MA.
Prior to serving at Christ the King, he was a full-time staff member at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Topsfield, MA, focusing on both the youth and worship ministries. In the Fall of 2011, he attended one semester at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Pastor Morris is joyfully married to his high school sweetheart, Christy, and July 2017 marked their 17th wedding anniversary. They have been entrusted with two wonderful boys, Elijah (who turned 11 in March of 2017) and Isaiah (who turned eight in January of 2017). As a family, they love to hike, bike, explore, read, and play music together.
In his free time, Pastor Morris loves reading, playing music (guitar, bass, drums, piano, and a smattering of other instruments), and both road and mountain biking.
Though the journey to serving at Christ the King was not a traditional one, Pastor Morris is excited to serve in such a warm and vibrant congregation. He says, “Christ the King is the perfect name for this ministry, for it is Christ who reigns by grace through his Word and Sacraments. It is also the perfect name because Christ’s reign is extended by the faithful service of his saints here at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Newtown, CT and around the world.”