From Reformation to Re-creation

A Dialog Sermon between Rev. Sharon Edwards and Rev. Dr. Scott T. Crane; the following text represents Pastor Scott’s side of the dialog. For worship bulletin and recorded online streaming of the service, please see the following links:

Bulletin-TL 10-30-2022 YC P26

Look for October 30, 2022 here:

Sharon and Scott say: Let us pray:

May the words of our mouths and the meditations of all our hearts guide our understanding, O Holy One.  Nurture us we pray, as we grow into who you would fashion us to be.  Amen.


  • list of changes in medicine/science


Scott: I’d like to begin with a quote:

“What Catholic theologian Daniel Maguire observes about Christianity is true of every faith tradition: ‘From the beginning, there has never been just one Christianity.’ Multiple Christianities coexist and often conflict, at times irreconcilably so.  Moreover, because religion is about power, about the source of life and hope, and about meaning and possibility, such power can be used for great good or can be misused, thereby causing enormous suffering and harm.”

The Reformation of 1521 began as an attempt to heal and redirect the Roman Catholic Church, which had become the most powerful force governing the everyday lives of people across medieval Europe, and even further into other lands and shores.  The Church of Scotland was born out of the Reformation.  The Presbyterian Church (USA) is a descendent of the Church of Scotland.  But what, and who, and how, did the people of Scotland and Ireland worship before that?

Almost a thousand years before legend tells us Martin Luther approached the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, and nails a piece of paper to it containing his 95 revolutionary opinions causing the Reformation to begin, a council was gathered to address a widening gap between two opposing spiritualities within the Christian church.

Culminating in the Synod of Whitby in 664, Roman Catholic and Celtic Christian spiritualities represented two very different ways of seeing and ways of being. The Synod had drastic consequences for the faithful children of God among the Celtic peoples.  In short, a Roman Catholic perspective, tinged by years of being one with Empire, threatened a way of life lived in the Celtic Islands.[1]

Today, roughly 1500 years after Whitby and 500 years after the Reformation, we are beginning to see and experience spiritual reformation again – why?  Because we need it.


How do we get on board with constantly reforming?

Observe changes from a generation or two ago.  What has shifted? – Examples of multi-disciplinary points.

Move to examining the church – what has changed from the long-ago past, the recent past (1950s), and now?  Points within church life: language, stance on social justice, equality, who is God – does God change?  How might we, the body of Christ, reflect changes to reflect God?  God isn’t of northern or even middle western European descent – God is MUCH bigger.

Falling Upwards;  how faith changes and grows over time, too.

Brian McLaren connection to points that reflect a “new reformation”.  Four stages of perplexity – eventually all will move into harmony – that is change theory.


I have been impressed with the concept made popular in the writing of the late Phyllis Tickle – she wrote of periodic repeating 500-year shifts in religious history spent answering the question: “Where now is our authority?”  She believed that we are, as I might say, ‘cresting the wave’ of one of those titanic 500-year shifts.  I interpret her to mean our understanding of spiritual authority is swinging away from Sola Scriptura, our heritage from the Protestant Reformation 1500 years ago, and toward a new reformation of sorts, one in which we are uncertain where our authority will rest.[2]

Closely dovetailing the 500-year shifts, Tickle relates a Jewish Rabbi’s theory of 2000-year shifts: roughly 2000 years focused on God Creator, followed by the past 2000 years of God the Son/Redeemer, a specifically Christian era, leaving us at the cusp of…what?  Tickle suggested we have been entering an “Age of the Spirit.”  This includes an interweaving of gifts from multiple faith traditions.  For example, “Namaste” is a gift from Hinduism.  It has been freely given to the world as a mode of building inter-relationship between all who bear their spiritual journeying into the world.  Translated, it means, roughly, “The divine in me honors the divine in you,” “The Sacred in me bows to the Sacred in you.”

The late Henri Nouwen once wrote: “Hospitality is not to change people but to offer them space where change can take place.” On this day when some commemorate the Reformation, how can we keep the faith while still being Reformed, always reforming? What if we began to see ourselves as an “ever-evolving spiritual community of practice?”  Gifts from our own edge traditions – be they Taoist Christian or Celtic Christian,

“Include within our Scriptures an awareness of earth’s sacredness.  We have inherited from Jesus a vision of nonviolence that could profoundly redirect our nations from conflict to peace. We have been taught practices of compassion for those who are poor and hungry and sick that could play a foundational role in the well-being of any society. There is no shortage of treasure in our household. What do we need to give away freely to the world and what do we need to receive from humanity’s other great religious traditions?”[3]

One of the things that is emerging, as our Executive Presbyter for Vision and Mission Brian Heron recently wrote, was that,

Something spiritual, something that smells a little like church, is forming out in the community beyond the church buildings. I can’t prove it, but I can definitely feel it. Many churches are just sick with worry that their memberships are in decline and that the spiritual values they hold dear are disappearing. I don’t think that is the case. I think God is showing up in more than one place at a time.”[4] 

He offers a quote from singer-songwriter Peia to reflect one such place:

“Music is comfort. Music is harmony, fellowship and prayer.”

What all of this seems to point to, I think, is room for incredible creativity ahead for the Church as it grows into a “new reformation.” For us in our reformed inheritance, I find this incredibly hopeful.  Our questions become, first, can we open ourselves to it?  Second, if so, what will it require of us?

I have a hunch it will include engaging ongoing transformation of ourselves in our journeys of faith, as well as the role this community of worship and practice can have as it re-imagines and reflects that God is indeed doing a new thing.

So what next? I encourage you to listen to the Spirit, feel the Breath of the Wind, be steadfast and faithful in your re-imagining process, and contribute your voice, your being, and your gifts as you live into this new chapter together.

May all glory be unto the One who lived and died and rose again for us, even Him who is the Christ.  Amen?  May it be so.

[1]  Ref. John Philip Newell, Sacred Soul, Sacred Earth: Celtic Wisdom for Reawakening to What Our Souls Know and Healing the World (New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers, 2021).

[2]  Ref. Phyllis Tickle and John M. Sweeney, The Age of the Spirit: How the Ghost of an Ancient Controversy Is Shaping the Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2014).

[3]  John Phillip Newell, The Rebirthing of God: Christianity’s Struggle for New Beginnings (Woodstock, VT: SkyLight Paths Publshing, 2014).

[4] Brian Heron, “A Pilgrim Diary, October 12, 2022” A Pilgrim Diary, Blog. Accessed October 27, 2022.

About Scottrick

Parent ~ Pastor ~ Poet ~ Author
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