Sunday, October 29, 2017

Celebrate Reformation!

I will be celebrating Reformation Sunday by going to a Lutheran church--but I'd be doing that most every Sunday.  Let me list some reasons why Reformation Sunday--and the whole of the Protestant Reformation--is special to me:

--I give the Protestant Reformation credit for the increase in literacy.  No longer were people satisfied with hearing the Bible in Latin in church.  Martin Luther is famous for translating the Bible into the language of the German people, but he's just one of several people who not only advocated for the spiritual life being conducted in the language that people actually used.

--Martin Luther knew the power of the pamphlet:  short enough to be read out loud to people who can't read for themselves, cheap enough to be mass produced.  We still see the power of a short piece of writing today.

--The Protestant Reformation was a time of great music.  Today it sounds plodding and heavy, but it must have been invigorating to congregations used to hearing nothing but chant and plainsong.

--I love the idea of reform:  we are not perfect, and neither are our churches--or other institutions.  Today is a great day to think about how and where we need to reform.

--I'm a Lutheran, so I'll also advocate for the idea of grace.  I love the idea of God who loves us in spite of our faults, of God who can see the good in us, even when we're feeling worthless.

--Even as I long for unity, I love the diversity that the Protestant Reformation ushered in.  I think of all of my friends and all the interesting ways they worship, from a monastery to a Quaker gathering to a Unitarian church.  I know a variety of Catholics--that variety might have happened in different ways, had there been no Protestant Reformation.

So today, let us celebrate the gains for humanity that the Protestant Reformation made possible.  Let us also not lose sight of the terrible human cost of this division, in the variety of wars and purges that would sweep across Europe and beyond.  Let us continue to count on grace and reform as we move onward.

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