MATTER STILL MATTERS
Reflections on a 4th Anniversary, Martin Luther &
500 years of the Reformation
MATTER STILL MATTERS
Reflections on a 4th Anniversary, Martin Luther & 500 years of the Reformation
This is a special moment for Reformation Brewery. The quincentennial anniversary of the Protestant Reformation (1517-2017) is upon us. At Reformation Brewery, we are celebrating our fourth anniversary with a view toward our history. When we conceived the name Reformation Brewery, we were merely having a little fun with friends and homebrew with no idea what would become of this burgeoning collection of folks. Fast forward many years, many beers, many conversations later, and we reach this occasion.
We have learned so much over these years, and we’ve enjoyed every moment with our community, even the hard ones. But there is one lesson that I think coincides beautifully with the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and it really transcends beer. It’s a lesson we could all embrace regardless of our stories. That lesson is that matter still matters.
In the noise of our modern context, which seems to be separating us more and more from physical realities, the call to consider material elements and physical actions has never been more relevant. Martin Luther and many others were positioned in history at a critical juncture. It was not merely spiritual or religious problems that needed reforming.
These were times when by and large the separation between the physical and spiritual were at complete odds. In a religious world rife with superstition, corruption, and down right institutional depravity, Luther’s 95 Theses is ultimately a manifesto on these abuses. But these were not merely church issues. The perspective of matter not mattering led to societal abuses and a bankruptcy of conscience that filtered throughout the educated and uneducated, the rich and the poor, the religious elite and the common folk. The physical and spiritual were separated from ultimate reality. And once again, today, we find ourselves in very similar crosshairs.
Martin Luther struggled with many sins and is by no means deserving of unqualified praise. In fact, it is his well documented struggle within himself and some of his actions that humanize him. It’s what draws me personally to Luther. His own experiences of finding himself lacking and in ultimate need of rescue forms a common bond with whoever spends time in honest study of the man’s life.
But you also see a man with a strong grasp of the nature of the physical and spiritual, an understanding that the physical matter does truly matter. This led Luther to translate the Latin biblical texts into the common language. This wasn’t merely because he thought Latin was too hard to understand, rather he believed that putting this story into the eyes, minds, and hearts of every German would serve them a millions times better than giving them a different pope or even another religion. In his works, primarily the translation of the Bible to the common tongue, he connected the realities of the common man to the realities in the story of God’s Word.
This led to folks organizing themselves and getting together in their homes or at the local pub to interact and talk about things that really do matter. When matter matters, robust communities have robust conversations leading to a robust culture that reforms all kinds of stuff. Because all stuff matters. And if you follow the history of the Reformation and its impact on culture, from the arts to the sciences to ethics, you will find uncommon and common folks becoming more and more innovative, industrious, and dare I say INDEPENDENT.
Just look at the Swiss for an easy illustration. Swiss-made means something. It usually means something like well engineered, well crafted, friendly to use. But the Swiss are also known for peace and freedom. You will find all of this and so much more innovation and progress rooted in the reforming perspective that matter indeed matters.
So why does this matter today?
Because we live in a world bound with noise, neglect, and fear. These things divide the world. Regardless of your religious associations, our disconnection from the physical and our escape mechanisms are in desperate need of Reformation. That reformation won’t happen until we recapture the value of authenticity that comes when physical actions and physical realities matter. Reformation will come again when we value each other enough to make space and room for a conversation face to face.
When we are authentically grateful for the simplest of gifts like food and drink at the table with family, friends, and strangers. When we hear the ringing of glasses held high coming together and real audible stories shared of past, present, and future adventures. When we engage with all our senses in the moments of our everyday and restore our faith in the grace of a giver greater than all. Then the chains of noise, neglect, and fear will begin to be undone and true freedom will come.
People still ask me, “How did you go from pastor to the beer business?” My answer? “Because it all matters.” Abraham Kuyper said it well, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” It’s not “just beer” as if it doesn’t matter. It does.
So as we celebrate our fourth anniversary at Reformation Brewery we will keep making timeless inspiring craft beer for the reformer in everyone. And in the process we will hopefully serve you the opportunity to put down your phone, disconnect from the noise, appreciate a friend, meet a stranger, raise a glass, have a real conversation, and enjoy a moment that matters. That’s a large part of the Reformation I seek to deliver and where I find the inspiration to keep on this path of always reforming. Here’s to 500 years of reforming and to 500 more, cheers!
Here we stand.
Spencer Nix, CEO & Cofounder Reformation Brewery