Tomorrow is Reformation Day. It is not the most popular Protestant holiday, but it has held the most important influence in history as a beacon towards progress and change.
The history of the Reformation’s effects reverberated throughout the western world when Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses on the doors of All Saint’s Church in Germany. It not only created the Protestant tradition, but eventually led to changes in the Roman Catholic Church, who were the object of the protests. It is debatable as to why exactly Luther posted the list, but the common assumption is that Luther was not producing a doctrine, but wanting an honest intellectual conversation on the merits of the Church’s practices at that time, more specifically the practices related to the selling of indulgences by Dominican Friar, Johann Tetzel, who wittily coined the phrase “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory [also attested as 'into heaven'] springs.”
Most Church folk know how this story played out. Luther gets into much trouble with the Catholic Church and eventually is kicked out. What started as a conversation starter turned into a battle of wills and led to a separation.
One may ask, what is the point of all the history lesson here. The point is that our more recent history is in some ways not so different from the one just described. How many times do we get into conversations with a person who has too many questions and then get frustrated with them? Have we not at times been guilty, even in the Protestant Church, of making the mistake of condemning and practically excommunicating them?
There have been those on the other side who have been exiled for merely observing things in Scripture that raise questions on theology and have been given hell for it. It is not that they were trying to sabotage the tradition, but they had questions, did not understand how the tradition matched with the Bible, or just wanted to see if the tradition could be made better by a little Q&A. Instead of being given grace and a safe place for questions, they were put on an emotional roller coaster that eventually pushed them away from church.
It makes one think of the command to not return evil with evil, but to do good only (Romans 12:17).
Although Reformation Day is a time to remember this great contribution that began with Luther and continues today, it is also a solemn time of remembrance. It is a time where we look at past mistakes and look inward to see if our mistakes are the same. Take some time today. It might be 5 minutes or 5 hours. Quietly reflect and seek God’s still small voice. In this time, you may find correction for your faults and comfort for your pain.
Challenge by fires of purification and healing by balms of soothing effects.
What are you celebrating today? Is it a time to appreciate the good? Or is it your time to do the same bad that was done to you? Do you want change and healing? Or do you want to feel safe and proud?