Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Article on the occasion of Reformation Day 31st October 2008



Senior Flierl Seminary, Logaweng, Finschhafen

It is often said we Lutherans are conservative guys, and that's probably true.

The funny thing about this is that our historical origins lie in a renewal movement which happened nearly 500 years ago in Europe.

"Reformation" means: let's try and make it better, in accordance with our origins.

This is what Martin Luther did in Germany in the 16th century, and this is exactly what Melanesians should do today as well.

We Lutherans find our origins in the gospel of Jesus Christ, as it was newly discovered by Martin Luther and brought to this country by missionaries.

This Christian heritage, together with the richness of cultural tradition, is not a rope to tie us up, but the ground, on which we freely stand and walk our own way.

But it's always important to have good knowledge about the ground you are walking on.

This is why our seminary realised a research about our Lutheran pioneer missionary, Johann Flierl.

 In numerous interviews, the Finschhafen Lutherans from the Yabêm and Kâte tribe remembered the work of "their" missionary whom they call their church father or tumbuna.

 A lot of them said it would be good if someone like Flierl would come now and bring the good times back.

 It seems that many people believe that we are living in an era of decline, compared with the "time of origin".

Of course it is not possible to bring back the glorious days of the beginning.

But it certainly is time to stop and think about ourselves - who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going to? Is it really Christ we are believing in? Or is it rather our own idea of gaining prosperity and power?

This was Luther's challenging question about the church of his time, and it also is our question today.

He taught us to listen carefully to the message of the gospel, and I am sure, if we do this, then we would be able to perform significant reforms in church and society today.

 And maybe it's time for a "Melanesian Reformation".

But not at all should a Melanesian Reformation try to get rid of the rich heritage of Melanesian cultures.

First of all: the most necessary reformation we are in need of today is a reform of our hearts, a "renewal of our mind", as Paul puts it in Roman 12:2.

After that we should be able to tackle the great problems of our time as is to get rid of leaders lacking any sense of responsibility, to help people who are in danger of being caught by false ideas of cult practice or to prevent so-called "missions" which only destroy the flourishing church life of other denominations.

 We even may be able to bring down the chief enemy, which is this widespread, general carelessness of men and women who only think about to get as much as they can for themselves and who are by no means ready to contribute their part to our common future.

Next year, our seminary will celebrate its 50th anniversary.

From September 17-20, 2009, we will invite others to come to Finschhafen, and together we will "stop and think" about the past, present and future of theological education in Papua New Guinea, and about our possibilities to contribute to a Melanesian Reformation.

Because this country is in desperate need of a change.

All of us should, from time to time, think about that - and start trying to make a difference.



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