Saturday, October 31, 2009

Of Reformation and Reconciliation

Over on The Writer's Almanac website, I saw this post, with the following juxtaposition of history: today is not only Reformation Day, the actual day when Martin Luther nailed those theses to the Wittenberg Door, but it is also the day when "just 10 years ago — in 1999 --- that Lutheran and Roman Catholic clerics signed the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. It's an 8,000-word document that aims to explain misunderstandings and resolve differences over the very doctrine that was at the heart of the of the Protestant Reformation. The document's preamble states that the two churches, Lutheran and Catholic, 'are now able to articulate a common understanding of our justification by God's grace through faith in Christ.' The document is not all encompassing when it comes clearing up issues about Justification, it disclaims, but does say that no one will be excommunicated over the issue of Justification anymore."

I know that most of you didn't grow up in Lutheran households. Even if you did, you might not have spent time arguing over the ideas of grace and good works and what salvation requires of us. But the above statement might fascinate you anyway--it's interesting that what rips a faith community apart in one generation might be sewn together in a future generation.

And of course, today is Halloween, that strange day that drives Evangelicals crazy, that day that seems such a patchwork of spiritual traditions (I'm counting both Wiccan and other Pagan traditions here). Here we are headed towards one of the spiritually thin times/places, that space where our world and other worlds might collide.

Halloween has never been that time for me. I've felt assaulted by noise and crime and adults acting foolishly and children rudely demanding candy--but never have I felt glimmers of the otherworld.

It's an interesting time to consider the practice of putting on a costume. On Halloween, I've noticed that adults don costumes that let them behave in ways that they never would in their regular lives. Sometimes this seems sinister to me.

But as a spiritual practice, it has something to teach us. Perhaps each day, we should think of ourselves as donning our spiritual costume that will let us be more like Christ. We might not be able to do it on our own--but in our costumes, with a healthy dose of make-believe, --we can become the people we want to be--kinder, praying people who work for social justice.

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