Another Reformation Sunday dawns. As Lutheran, this should be one of my High Holy Days, right? A day of awe, if I can borrow a term from Jewish friends. But often, the day leaves me feeling discombobulated.
We celebrate our heritage--but we don't often talk about how tradition and our clinging to it can be dangerous. We are a church that changed that trajectory of the world--but we seems resistant to doing that again. We claim people like Nadia Bolz-Weber, and she is wonderful, but she's only one person. To find out how she's wonderful, you can listen to her at this On Being site or go to this blog post which includes quotes from that radio broadcast.
I'm thinking of this post, where the author talks about "the Nadia problem": "'The Nadia Problem' is that she is being promoted as an example without
churchwide acknowledgement that she is actually an exception, and that the
Spirit-led and community-based construction of House for All Sinners and Saints
has not even begun to move into the churches now fretting about the loss of
their 'All-Star Team.'" She's responding to this article in The Lutheran, which talks about the coming wave of clergy retirements.
I'm remembering a Reformation Sunday in 2004, which I spent at a Trappist monastery with a Lutheran friend and an Episcopalian friend. I remarked on how strange it was to spend Reformation Sunday with a much more ancient incarnation of the faith.
My Lutheran friend said that wouldn't miss it. She said she much preferred the chanting of the Psalms. She appreciated their fierceness and honesty. She said that one of her least favorite holidays was Reformation Sunday. I understand.
I worry that we get too wrapped up in feelings of self-congratulation on this day. I worry that we don't do as much introspection and accounting on this day.
So, by all means, let us celebrate our heritage. Let us sing "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." Let us read the Bible in our own language, a path begun by Martin Luther.
But let us not lose sight of our reforming heritage. Let us pray for the strength needed to be the reformers that our time needs.
feeling the feelings…
6 months ago