Sunday, October 28, 2007

Here I Stand ...


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.

2 comments:

Ezekiel said...

Interesting that just yesterday I was commenting to my lovely bride that in my last years as a Lutheran pastor (actually the last decade, I think) my own uneasiness with the festival. I remembered that in my youth there were times when it was used as an "anti Catholic" platform -- but in the last years it wasn't a catholic feast, a feast of the Church.

A schismatic feast ..

Ein Feste Burg, however, is a paraphrase of Psalm 46 (Western numbering). Fr Stephen Freeman mentioned it on his blog the other day.

However, I must say that I don't miss the feast.

Interesting also: OXI day is always remembered in the Greek Orthodox Church -- even an encyclical -- but the Liturgy is no interupted. A glorious hymn of the Theotokos is sung. And after Liturgy, the Greek National Anthem -- but this I expect in a Greek Orthdox Church.

Glory to God in all things!

-C said...

"I remembered that in my youth there were times when it was used as an "anti Catholic" platform."

- Yes, I mentioned this specifically to my then-pastor. I told him that for me it was beginning to feel like, "we thank thee, God, that we are not like our brethren the papists..." He didn't share even a hint of this feeling, and I'm not sure whether to attribute our non-shared feelings about this (for we are kindred spirits in some ways) to the fact that he's German and really into his German heritage, or just to the fact that he is, at the very core of his being, I think, a Lutheran.

"Ein Feste Burg, however, is a paraphrase of Psalm 46 (Western numbering). Fr Stephen Freeman mentioned it on his blog the other day."

Yes, the ELCA parish for whom I work used it in just this way at liturgy."

Thanks for visiting, Ezekiel. Good to hear from you!

-C