Tuesday, October 31, 2017

My Heart on this 500th Reformation Day [a.k.a. Halloween]

There's this prayer about the church that includes the line, "...where it is corrupt, purify it." I love that line because it sums up being human. It's one of the optional prayers for Reformation Day that falls on October 31 every year (a.k.a. Halloween). This year adds up to 500 of those (1517-2017).  Martin Luther (monk, professor, saint/sinner) challenged the corruption of the medieval church at the time even as he added his recipe for antisemitic sauce. Catholics have long since instituted many of those reforms.

Here's where my heart is this Reformation Day. I'm grateful for the legacy of grace that loves first. A friend of mine recently told me that her teenage daughter doesn't wonder 'what would Jesus do' but rather that "he would love first." Love is the first move of God in Jesus. Through it we have some kind of shot at love being our first move too.  Corruption and purity, as the prayer names, are held in tension by every human institution, by every human, and by me.  No sooner do I say, "Love first," then do corrupt purity codes kick in - the things I hold close and dear can quickly become a measure of someone else's humanity and worthiness.

So today, Reformation Day, I remember that I am loved first. I'm pretty sure that love doesn't always win the moment. Inflicted suffering is evidence to the contrary.  But loving first is my hope - "knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts..."*

Hope is different than optimism. Optimism is a bit blind to actual human experience. Optimism says that things are going to work out in the end as form of denial. Hope sees corruption AND purity. Hope sees my own part in that murky paradox. Hope does not disappoint because it sees the truth of suffering and frees me to love first as I am first loved.  Happy Reformation Day.

Beyond by Colleen Briggs (2013)

*Christian Bible, Letter to the Romans, chapter 3, verse 5 [Romans 3:5]


  1. Thank you. This is a great message for today and always.

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Challenging and respectful comments welcome...mean ones, not so much.