October 24, 2017
[Jesus said:] "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."
[John 8:31-32]
I apologize for not mentioning last week that this week's edition of Monday Musings would be published one day later, as our offices were closed on Monday.
The last Sunday in October most Lutherans commemorate the Reformation. The actual date is October 31, but few, if any, congregations will actually commemorate it on that day.
The readings are the same every year.
This is the 500th Anniversary year of the Reformation. By now, you've heard quite a bit about Martin Luther, the 95 Theses, and our ongoing dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church, from which we separated as a result of Luther's desire to reform the Church.
Because of those Lutheran-Catholic dialogues, this year's commemorations have a different feel and look to them. There is quite a bit of written resource material that is available for those who wish to learn more. I would also encourage you to attend one, or more, of the many presentations and joint commemorations that congregations have hosted and will continue to host for the next few weeks.

But the point of the Reformation is not simply to commemorate the day and do nothing more until next year when it rolls around again. It is, at the same time, a challenge to reform, reshape, remold our thinking and our relationship with God and with each other.
We are separated from God and from each other because of sin. Thankfully, God's grace forgives us from that sin and frees us to serve God and proclaim God's love to others. That's the thrust of Jesus' words in the opening verse from John's Gospel reading above.
In gratitude for God's forgiveness, love and mercy; we live a life which reflects that love, in service to others. That is what we believe. That is the heart of our faith.
Today, Tuesday, October 24 , the Conference Deans will gather at the Lutheran Center for their bi-monthly meeting. The conference deans serve as a link between the bishop and the congregations in their conference and its rostered leaders. This is one way we inform each other of what is happening in our seven respective conferences.
Saturday, October 28 , I will be at St. Luke's Lutheran Church in Cuyahoga Falls, where I will meet with the youth who will affirm their baptism in the rite of Confirmation on Sunday. As our culture continues to dismiss the importance of faith, I look forward to this time together with these young people, in hopes that my presence will encourage them to continue in God's word, and to trust in the grace and love of God.
Sunday, October 29 , at 10:00 a.m., I will be at the Peace Lutheran Church, in Cleveland Heights, to install their pastors, the Rev. Don King and the Rev. Jessica Shields.  Peace is a consolidation of two congregations, Hope and Bethlehem, who two years ago began exploring ways to strengthen their respective ministries. It is quite fitting that this consolidation is celebrated on Reformation Sunday, underscoring the concept that the church is always "re-forming."
That same Sunday afternoon at 6:00 p.m., the Lutheran-Catholic Covenant Commission of the Northeastern Ohio Synod and the Diocese of Youngstown, will host an ecumenical service of Evening Prayer and a Common Commemoration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation at St. Columba Cathedral in Youngstown. Click [here] for the flyer.
This week and always, may we continue in God's word, trusting in God's grace, which frees us to celebrate the heart of our faith.
+Bishop Abraham Allende