Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The School of Reformation

When I was growing up kids were occasionally threatened with "reform school." Back in those days you could be removed from the school and the home and sent away to clean up your act.  It was a scary threat -- to be sent away to a place where people would make you walk the line. Still, there was a hopeful premise underlying the threat. Those who threatened still believed that it was possible to reform a wayward child or adolescent. These days we are more cynical; at least some of us no longer believe that reform is possible.

I have been thinking about the word reform this week because this coming Sunday is designated as Reformation Sunday in the Lutheran calendar. I love the word reform. Re-form. Form again. It is a hopeful word.

In the place that I inhabit, a place where faith and parenting intersect, Reformation Sunday is a time to look around and see what needs to be reformed. There is always something. For example, I need to reform my eating habits so that I eat more fruit. Re-form. Form again. Not break a bad habit, just reform my habit. Breaking a habit sounds a bit violent when you think about it. Reforming sounds like gentle molding. I like that.

As a parent, you are continually reforming your children, yourself, your rules, and your routines. Each reformation is intended to improve things or to adjust to changed circumstances. It is a living, growing, changing, hopeful, and dynamic approach to life.  It is impossible not to reform when there are children in your day-to-day life. They are the catalysts for these changes, and our lives can be immeasurably enriched by these reformations.

Historians and theologians will tell you that the Reformation that spawned the Lutheran church was a significant point of change in Western civilization. Life would never be the same: economics, education, religion, and governance were all impacted.  Still, in the midst of the Reformation, things were retained. People still worshiped. There were changes to the form of worship. The communal language was used and everyone participated. Some things stayed the same. The object of worship, God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, remained the same.

This is how reformation in the family needs to happen. Some things will change, and some will stay the same. Your family may be facing  the arrival of a new baby, a child's departure for college or military service, the fears and blessings that accompany the start of kindergarten or handing over the keys to the car. Some things will have to change. And some things will have to stay the same to keep us anchored through the change. What anchors your family? Is it bedtime blessings, breakfast rituals, Sunday worship followed by brunch with family or friends? Do those rituals need to be reformed so that they will have greater staying power?

The Reformation we celebrate and your child's first solo drive bear much in common. They are life-changing events. They cannot be undone. They both promise greater autonomy and greater opportunity. They bring relief to some who were overburdened. They are undergirded with hope.

Happy re-formation to you all!

No comments: