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A New Reformation

While Jesus was on the Mount of Transfiguration a man brought his son who had epilepsy to the disciples that they might cure him. (see St. Matthew 17:14-21) The disciples were unable to do so. When Christ came down from the mountain the father rushed up to Him with his urgent plea. Jesus cured the boy instantly. After the crowd had gone the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Why could we not cast it out?”

We ask that same question today, but in a slightly different context. The healing of this boy was more than a physical phenomenon. There are profound spiritual issues involved here as well.

This month we remember and celebrate the Protestant Reformation, which began on October 31, 1517. The Reformation was a time of great spiritual renewal. Almighty God was awakening people to faith in Christ on a grand scale. A scale that actually changed the course of world history.

Why, we ask, are we not seeing such a moving of God’s power today? Why is there a general lack of spiritual vitality in the church of today? Is there something that may be done to reverse this so that we might experience a new reformation?

It should be made clear that man cannot produce a reformation. There are no gimmicks or formulas. “The wind blows where it wills....” (St. John 3:8) However, we should be preparing ourselves for spiritual renewal. From the story of the healing of the epileptic boy may be seen how that preparation should proceed.

It is significant that the disciples turned to Christ with their question. If we wish to see reformation in our time we must emphasize Christ and His gospel. We must proclaim the true gospel and not some counterfeit gospel. Christ himself warned us, “Then if any one says to you `Lo, here is the Christ!` or `There he is!` do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible even the elect.” (St. Matthew 24:23,24)

The disciples came to Jesus asking “Why?” They were expecting Him to do something and so should we. The disciples were open to Jesus and their question reflects that openness. “Start with me Lord” should be our prayer as we seek a new reformation. Our prayer should be that of the psalmist, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23,24)

A second prerequisite for renewal is faith. Jesus zeroed in on the main reason for the disciples’ inability to heal the young boy. “He said to them, `Because of your little faith.`” (St. Matthew 17:20) It wasn’t that they disbelieved or had no faith at all. The problem was that their faith was “little”, it was far to weak and small. Nor was their failure due to a lack of spiritual power. When they were first chosen by the Lord we are told, “And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity.” (St. Matthew 10:1) Subsequently they had used that power to heal many people. That undoubtedly accounts for the note of surprise in their question. The situation at the foot of the mountain demanded the exercising of a greater faith. If we are to see a new reformation in our day that will transform our society then we like Luther and Calvin must have an extraordinary faith in our Lord.

Jesus went on to point out to His disciples that the spiritual power they sought came by means of prayer and fasting. “But this kind never comes out except by prayer and fasting.” (St. Matthew 17:21) God always ordains the means by which His will is to be accomplished. Prayer and fasting are two of those means.

There are many examples of this in the Bible and church history. Christ Himself, even though He was the Son of God, fasted and prayed for forty days before He commenced His public ministry. Prior to the first missionary tour of St. Paul and St. Barnabas the church of Antioch “fasted and prayed.” (Acts 13:2,3) And as a result the gospel spread in a most marvelous way. And throughout church history great movements of the Spirit have typically been preceded by extensive periods of prayer and fasting by God’s people.

Are we a people concerned enough about the deplorable spiritual condition of the world that we are driven to the Lord in prayer? Are we willing to humble ourselves before God by fasting, calling upon Him for mercy? We will see little accomplished if we are not.

If we are to see a moving of God’s Spirit upon the Church and our nation and even the world we must follow the biblical pattern. Christ and His gospel must be central, faith in Christ needs to be strong, and prayer and fasting should be practiced as God’s ordained means.

by F. M. Levi

Parish News
A memorial service for Mrs. Myrtle Haas took place Sunday morning, August 13, 2000. The chapel was nearly full for this service. A luncheon in the parish hall was enjoyed by all following the memorial service.

The Preschool Open House on August 27, 2000 was very successful. The preschool resumed classes on September 5, 2000.

Missionary of The Month

Domestic Missions
Remember the Rev. Ken Harmen, the Rev. Milton Hood, the Rev. Richard Jones, and the Rev. Dr. Lowell Saunders of the Missionary Diocese.

Happy Birthday!
Oct. 1 - Diane Stultz
Oct. 8 - Louise Rich
Oct. 17 - Carla Smith
Oct. 27 - Annamarie Sellers

Family Picnic
Sunday, October 1, 2000, 12:30-3:30 P.M. at Arrowhead Lake picnic shelter, east of Harlem Ave. on 135th St. From Harlem Ave. take the first left into the Forest Preserve and the shelter is on the left. Bring one dish per family to share. Hamburgers, hot dogs, buns, plates, cups, silverware and drinks provided. Everyone welcome!

Sunday, October 8, 2000, plan to be here. There will be a luncheon served in the Parish Hall by the Woman’s Guild following the service.

Saturday, October 28, 2000, 4:30 - 7:00 p.m. in the Parish Hall

Time change
Don’t forget to turn your clocks back one hour (at midnight) on Saturday, October 28, 2000.

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