By Valerie E. Hess

We sang it loud! We sang it proud:

A mighty fortress is OUR God!

Death should hold no fear for us

(but it did. Oh, how it did!)

We knew who God was and how God worked:

Faith alone!

(But there was a point system.)

Grace alone!

(Plus our behavior

And remember,

God is always on authority’s side.)

Marching righteously

(oh, so self-righteously,

Works righteously–

Too heretical to say  out loud:



Through the night of sin and evil,

We were saved.

We alone were saved.

Faith alone

(and good behavior)

Would win the day.

Faith alone, we alone!

Martin Luther was our homeboy.

I knew exactly who I was not.

Then my own Augustinian moment,

A profound shaking of all that I knew to be true.

A personal re-formation.

(What does this mean?)

Baptismal waters became bitter, bloody,

Splinters splintered.

Christ’s Body divided instead of his garments.

Martin Luther despised the Jews.

I really disliked Luther.

But reformations mellow,



As pendulums do.

Luther asked anguished questions.

(So do I.)

My souvenir socks announce “Here I stand”

In Advent blue, in German.

In them, I stand here less secure

On ground that moves quite often,

Shaken by a restless Spirit that will not be tamed

Or domesticated

Or enmeshed in tribal warfare.

      “A mighty fortress is our God, A bulwark never failing.

      Did we in our own strength confide, Our striving would be losing.”

Grace, mercy, love

Resting in all I don’t know,

Embracing wider horizons of Truth:

Reformed and still reforming.

      “God’s truth abideth still, His Kingdom is forever.”

Here I stand;

Soli Deo Gloria!