By now, you’ve heard that this Reformation Sunday is a milestone. October 31, 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the day that Martin Luther took his hammer and a list of 95 proposals to the front doors of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, in hopes of reforming and correcting what he saw as errors in the Church. While this sounds bizarre to us, the doors were a central and prominent location for posting announcements and items for public discourse.
For this major anniversary, music settings and art pieces have been commissioned, hymn festivals have been organized, historical dramas have been staged, and special events and exhibitions of every kind have been pulled together. Wittenberg University, our closest Lutheran college, is currently hosting a display of Reformation era artifacts, including a first edition of The Book of Concord, a 1520 copy of Luther’s Prelude on the Babylonian Captivity, an autographed letter from Luther, and a Koberger Bible from the late 1400s.
Around the globe, and here in our own community, Roman Catholics and Lutherans have come together – many for the first time – to share in moments of study and conversation, as well as moments of worship and prayer. Sadly, for hundreds of years, our church bodies have viewed each other as enemies, rather than as children in the same family of God. We have chosen to focus on what divides us, rather than celebrating that which unites us.
This anniversary is a good excuse for us to begin anew and refocus our efforts. It is time for a fresh start. As we glance back and celebrate Luther and so many others who were catalysts for renewal and change, we also need to look forward and ask the Spirit of God to open a door to the future.
Doors are powerful images. Doors are gateways to new adventures. Open doors are avenues to hospitality and discovery. We use them to welcome, explore, and learn. During one of his sermons, Jesus invited people to “ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks, receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened” Matthew 7:7-8.
Knocking on doors is big stuff. Little ones will be knocking on doors this week, hoping to generate a little candy treat. As we ask, seek, and knock, Jesus says that we’ll discover something much sweeter. We’ll receive freedom and joy. We’ll find peace and consolation. We’ll find an open door that offers unconditional forgiveness and radical hospitality. I pray that this season continues to reform and transform you.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
meme created by Daniel Scheurer