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Trash or treasure?

by Jaynan Clark Egland (President, WordAlone Network)

October 31, 2003

A few thoughts about “Reformation”…

During the past few weeks we have experienced a time of extreme frustration with our two “working” vehicles. Various parts decided to stop working. What could fall off, drop out or seize up, did. Never were the mechanic’s diagnoses something small or inexpensive, rather, they had us replace transmissions, repair crankshafts and rebuild alternators, to name a few – all big jobs that took a lot of time, energy and money.

In the midst of these ongoing struggles we looked out the window, gazed upon our ’69 Ford Bronco and decided to sell it. We just never would get the time or money to get the clutch replaced. Immediately upon placing the ad in the “Wheels Deals” our phone began to ring. The frequency of the calls, the excitement of the callers and their willingness to “take that rig off your hands” caused me to wonder (a bit too late) if we had made a mistake of value and pricing in the ad.

One visit to the website for classic cars (again too late) and I was faced with the reality that most certainly one person’s trash is another’s treasure. We could have collected four times what we asked for it and all of the post-sale callers have assured me we would have got it.

Trash or treasure? Old or classic? Where some see disrepair, rust and damage others savor the potential, promise and beauty, the opportunity to reform, reshape, restore and renew. These different viewpoints seem more evident today within our church than ever before in regards to a historical event that took place in the early 1500’s. While some celebrate, others mourn and strive to “heal the breach.” While some lift up the differences, others struggle to institute a oneness of uniformity.

We find ourselves in a time of great “reform” of Christ’s church. Every mainline Protestant denomination and the Roman Catholic Church have emerging reform and renewal groups such as the WordAlone Network. We join together with many of them as members of the Association of Churches for Renewal (ACR). We share a common desire to engage in the big jobs of reform and renewal that take a lot of time, energy and money. Surely we treasure the freedom of the Gospel and the power of the Word alone that declares to us the “justification of the ungodly.” The price tag for that is, of course, not low or cheap—it is free in Jesus Christ crucified and raised. No one church owns that classic Word of hope and freedom.

I may have been uninformed and therefore mistaken about the true value of my “ol’ rig.” But true value is in the eye of the beholder.

Do you look at the present state of the ELCA and other churches and see more problems than promise? Do you see only disrepair, rust and irreparable damage or can you savor the opportunity to reform, reshape, restore and renew? Is the price tag (spiritually, emotionally, politically, professionally, financially) too high for you to pay?

Trash or treasure? You will have to decide for yourself, hopefully not too late. Surely the Reformation is not just an historical event of long ago but an ongoing call to faithfulness to the Word of Christ Jesus alone. Today! What a treasure!