So, have you bought all your candy for tomorrow? Planned your costume? Carved the jack-o-lantern? No? You still have time.
You don't have much time left to decide how you'll spend Reformation Sunday. Will you be going to church? Protestant or Catholic? Will you sing some stout German hymns? Will you drink stout German beer?
Even if you're not a church going type, the Reformation has changed your life--after all, you can worship in your own language and read the Bible and think about theology for yourself. I won't cover 500 years of history here, but suffice it to say that those Reformers launched us further down the road towards modernity than we would have been without them. I have argued that Martin Luther did more to promote literacy for the masses than anyone before or since--and that's just one example.
This week, The New York Times had a great article about Martin Luther. It talks about the Reformation pamphlet, which Luther perfected--it could be read to illiterate masses, and it was short enough that literate Germans would actually read it. He knew how to use imagery and how to choose collaborators. He could write quickly--and he knew the publishing process inside and out, in terms of the mechanics and onward.
The article ends this way: "'He [Luther] created a media storm with virtually no precedent in the age of print and became the most published author in the history of publishing, up to that moment,' he [Dr. Pettigrew, a Luther scholar] said. “Great men and women seize the moment, and I think he did.'”
It's good to remember that individual people can change the course of history. If you could travel back in time, before Luther became so famous/infamous for his work, would people believe that Luther would be the person that changed the world so much? A tortured monk and a university teacher? I can imagine most people saying, "Who? Not the emperor? Not the pope?"
Is there a religious person or group that is even now working to change the Church in such ways that we will barely recognize it 500 years from now? Or is the lesson that we don't recognize the true reformers in our midst?
Or maybe these thoughts are too heavy for a Sunday morning. Maybe you want to dress in red today and think about your personal Reformations for which you yearn.
May your bulwarks never fail! Wait, we don't use that line (from "A Mighty Fortress") any more. Drat! How will children learn that word?
That song seems more appropriate than ever for our age. Societal institutions left and right have shown us of their inadequacy. We're lucky to have God as our shield and comfort.
So, in whatever way you celebrate, may you have a meaningful Reformation Sunday. I plan to spend some time thinking about grace and the places in my life that could use some grace. I will pray that God fill me with the spirit of grace as I move through these darkening days of November.
feeling the feelings…
4 weeks ago