Today is Reformation Sunday
On the last Sunday of October we remember the Reformation. It was on the 31st October 1517 that Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of the church in Wittenburg. This was the defining moment that started the massive movement of God which restored the Gospel to Western Christianity.
Close to the heart of the Reformation was the restoration of the pastoral ministry of preaching the word of God. The shift from celibate priests who offered the sacrifice of the mass to the married pastor who preached the Bible was a stunning visible shift in Gospel understanding.
In the Church of England this shift was seen in the ordination service. Before the Reformation the bishop placed a chalice (communion cup) into the hand of those being ordained saying: “Receive the power to offer sacrifices to God, and to celebrate Masses for the living and the dead.” Since the Reformation, the bishop placed a Bible into the hand of those being ordained saying: “Take authority to preach the Word of God, and to minister the holy Sacraments in the Congregation,…” As one commentator noted “The Church of Rome, in making her priests, says nothing about preaching. The Church of England, in making her priests says nothing about sacrificing.”
The Key Principle and Policy.
For over 200 years The Church Missionary Society (CMS) has held to five basic principles. They are:
- Follow God’s leading.
- Put money in second place, not first.
- Begin in a small way.
- Under God, all will depend on the type of people sent out.
- Look for success only from the Spirit of God.
Each of these principles is essential to understand the effectiveness of this great Missionary Society. But humanly speaking it is the fourth principle that has seen the blessing of God poured out in so many parts of the world through CMS.
This fourth principle of the CMS has found a local expression in our local Diocesan Mission.
The third of the Diocesan Mission’s four policies is:
To multiply the number of well-trained persons (ordained, lay, full time, part time, voluntary) lovingly dedicated to the creation and development of such parishes, congregations and fellowships by proclaiming the Gospel.
This humanly speaking is the engine room of the diocesan mission. As Christians are equipped and active in the partnership of the Gospel, the message of salvation will get out. It is the quality of our commitment and training, the effort of our labours and the sacrifice of our lives that will bring the Gospel into the public arena.
The Importance of Moore College.
Given this significance in training people for ministry we can see the importance of Moore College.
This year celebrates its 150th anniversary. It has grown from a tiny college to a major tertiary institution.
This year one hundred and twenty-three students have graduated. Thirty-nine of these are ordinands going into the Sydney Diocese, the largest number that has ever gone into ministry in the Diocese in a single year. This anniversary year has also seen the largest number of students that the College has ever had – 136 in first year alone!
All the time thousands of lay men and women around the world are undertaking the evening lecture courses or the external correspondence courses. Here is Moore College multiplying the number of well-trained persons in the cause of the Gospel ministry.
God is good as he raises up so many people to train in Gospel ministry, whether in the Anglican and other church ministries, in mission work throughout the world, in university and TAFE Colleges, in chaplaincy work in schools, hospitals and jails, or back in the work force.
This Afternoon in St Andrews Cathedral
At 2pm this afternoon we will be celebrating the 150th anniversary of Moore Theological College. No better day to do so than Reformation Sunday.