On October 31, there will be children wandering the neighborhoods of Auburn, knocking on doors, and collecting candy for Halloween. This is also known as All Hallow’s Eve in the life of Church, which is the evening before All Saint’s Day, or November 1. People in the church kept prayer vigils on All Hallow’s Eve, remembering the significant lives of the saints that have gone before us. We cannot draw a direct line from this celebration to Halloween; but since All Hallow’s Eve was a significant day on the Church’s Calendar, Martin Luther is said to have nailed his 95 Theses to the Wittenberg Door on this day, which started the Protestant Reformation.
We will celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation this October 31, 2017. Along with Martin Luther, we might recognize names like Erasmus, Huldrych Zwingli, John Wycliffe, Philipp Melanchthon, Thomas Cranmer, John Calvin, Johannes Hus, Thomas Muntzer, Balthasar Hubmaier, and others. They were instrumental in the Protestant Reformation five hundred years ago, which has shaped our understanding of our faith.
The Reformation called the Church again to focus on the unyielding strength of God’s grace, the reading and study of scripture, and placing a primary emphasis on faith. It was a hinge in the history of the Church, where we paused to work through “who we are” and what it means to be the body of Christ. It provided a renewed trajectory for the Church and its calling.
The Reformation also gave us that phrase, “Reformed and always reforming.” We might consider the Reformation, as a “Re-Formation” of the Church, which is always taking place. We recognize the journey of faith is never over, so we return to the life of Jesus each week, reflecting on the meaning of his words and actions for our lives. We are constantly “Re-Formed,” shaped and formed by the ways of Jesus.
In thinking about the meaning of the Protestant Reformation, we can think about the journey of faith and our opportunities to learn and grow as people of faith. The horizon of tomorrow is always in front of us, as we consider caring for others as Jesus cared for them, while seeing this world as God sees it. We continue to lean into what it means to be the body of Christ.