When all across America children don costumes, when the street I live on takes on a ghostly, eerie, grave-yard resemblance, and spiders almost the size of me are stuck to walls and roofs (knowing my affinity for spiders, you can imagine how greatly I enjoy this time of year), it is then I know that Reformation Day is upon us.
Our family has never been one to celebrate Halloween (for reasons I shall not detail here)- and we passed many years with rather unsuccessful attempts at redeeming the day with various church and harvest celebrations. But then- (ah! then!) we learned of Reformation Day.
October 31st, 1517: Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Thesis on the door of the Wittenburg church- sparking the Protestant Reformation - a revival which swept through Europe, denouncing heresy and returning to sola scriptura and (most importantly) the gospel: salvation, not by works, but by faith in Christ alone.
Our pastor was the one who introduced us to Reformation Day- and gave particular classes reviewing the Doctrines of Grace and (on Reformation Day) speeches pertaining to the Reformation, Martin Luther, and John Calvin.
Since being introduced we have developed our own family tradition (evolving from the Medieval study we happened to be doing one year). Every year we carve designs into our pumpkins- leaves and words and crosses - and light up candles and decorate the dining room with them. We eat our dinner served on bread plates (i.e. large pitas) without utensils, and the courses consist of earthy foods such as roast chicken, apple-sauce, cheese, rosemary bread, and of course our own derivative of ale (aka sparkling apple cider, on occasion Manishewitz, or grape juice mixed with ginger-ale - ah! the mixed liquids do go down smoothly!). This dinner we eat by aforementioned candle-light with Gregorian Chant drifting in the background.
We finish off the night by watching the movie Luther, and remembering again the life of the man God used so heavily in sparking the revival in his church.
And yet for all this emphasis on the Medieval and Martin Luther- despite even my own love for the passionate, hot-headed man who married his "dearly beloved Kate"- it is not a man we are celebrating. We are not Luther-followers. For one thing- he wasn't right on everything. -He never got around to baptism (this year's Reformation Day topic). We forgive him, of course, (I am teasing my Presbyterian sister), he was awfully busy and must have just never finished reforming.
But then- neither have we finished reforming. We have never arrived- and will not arrive till glory. But just as we are commanded to preserve the ancient landmarks- to remember the works of the Lord- to never forget where we have come from nor where we are going to- in just that manner we choose to set aside October 31st in memory of all God has done for the church, and is still doing- as he reforms each one of us into the image of Jesus Christ.