I did think of these words of Luther at church briefly this morning, remembering that my Lutheran friends were celebrating Reformation Sunday today. "Here I stand" I thought, as I stood for the liturgy. My thoughts quickly went to how ironic it is that most Lutherans will be sitting if and when they hear or read those words this morning ... "Here I stand," I thought, "and there the Here-I-Standers sit." Funny - or not.
Today was the first "last Sunday in October" I spent NOT hearing "A Mighty Fortress" or "God's Word is Our Great Heritage" at church. And surprisingly, I didn't miss it, though in considering it beforehand, I wondered if I might.
For this former-Lutheran Christian (born on the eve of Reformation Sunday!), this festival was always a favorite. As a church musician, it was, next to All Saints, my favorite of the minor festivals of the church year to plan (Luther could sure write a great hymn and choosing which of his hymns to use was always a little like being at a big and wonderful buffet!)
But I recall that in recent years, however, even when I was still a Lutheran, I grew to have a bit of an uneasy feeling about Reformation Sunday. A few years ago, even when Orthodox Christianity was the last thing on my mind, I rememeber asking my former pastor if the whole Reformation thing didn't feel to him a little like a celebration of schism. As I considered it and as I considered what most Reformation Sunday liturgies looked like in most Lutheran churches, it was really beginning to feel that way to me. I had begun only then to notice a sort of triumphal overtone to Reformation Sunday; it had begun for me to feel like "Lutheran Pride Sunday." And I remember becoming distinctly uncomfortable with it in my last couple of years as a Lutheran. The whole idea of Christians and pride (any kind of pride) has become such an oxymoron to me that in my last years as a Lutheran, I struggled with it much.
While I suspect that a rousing rendition of "A Mighty Fortress" will always stir up something sort of primal within me, I didn't miss it this morning. Not one bit.
Glory to God for all things.