Today, Oct. 31, isn’t merely Halloween. On this date in 1517 — 500 years ago — Martin Luther touched off the Protestant Reformation. I’ve heard recent scholars raise questions about whether he really, literally nailed 95 theses to the church door in Wittemberg, Germany, but at the time, that was the method of spreading the news. It was his door the way other things are our walls, real or virtual.
But fellow Protestant Christians, if you haven’t had your celebration yet (as I did on Sunday), don’t worry. The Reformation isn’t over.
Beside me as I write is the bulletin (or order of worship) for Reformation Sunday, Oct. 29, at Fourth Presbyerian Church. As is our wont, the cover is decorated with a picture from some element of the church’s architecture and a quotation which (again, as usual) turned out to be in the sermon. Actually, it was the source of the title of the Rev. Matt Helms’ sermon — and the idea for this post:
The church reformed,
according to the word of God.
— Jocodus van Lodentstein
So that’s why when I’ve heard references to “the 500th anniversary of the Reformation,” it’s been with mixed emotions. It’s the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation. Protestant churches didn’t all just break away 500 years ago today and say “Goodbye, Rome!” A lot of things had to be remade — re-formed, get it? — in the breakup(s).
That’s why I picked this particular sunflower photo as an image for this piece. Not because I don’t have time to track down Tudor roses, Scottish thistles or other appropriate images — but because this sunflower is still in the process of blooming.
Good things take time. God isn’t finished yet.
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