October 31 is an important date on the calendar of the Lutheran Church. This is the anniversary of the day on which Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the front door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany. This document was the beginning of Luther's protests against several practices of the 16th Century Roman Catholic Church, including the selling of indulgences, the withholding of communion wine from laypeople, the use of the Latin language in worship, and the emphasis on good works. The Roman Catholic Church responded to Luther's invitation to debate and discussion by ridiculing him, then excommunicating him. However, the invention of the printing press aided the spread of Luther's ideas even as the Roman Catholic Church attempted to destroy Luther's documents. Luther's writings and ideas sparked several different reform movements that drifted away from both the Roman Catholic Church and one another, leading to the various denominations we see within the Church today.
Because we are part of a tradition that claims the Church is "always reforming," October 31 is also a date to consider where the Church still needs reforming. I ask you, what reforms do the Church need to implement? What should the Church keep? What should the Church add? What should the Church release as a practice which used to serve the Church well but is no longer a good idea?
If you have answers to these questions, I invite you to leave your answers below and participate in a sharing of ideas. I will respond to all suggestions.
Friday, October 10, 2014
Yesterday, I came across this blog post in which the author expresses his displeasure over recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings which declare that corporations can be treated as people, including the constitutional rights granted to all people. The author takes this conclusion of treating corporations as people and (sarcastically) invites Christians to go to corporations and invite the corporations to attend worship services at our churches. The author voices his protest to the rulings by pointing out that corporations such as British Petroleum (BP), McDonald's, and Capital One will not show up because they are not people.
However, corporations are made up of people. And if we take up this author's challenge to mainline protestants, it would be the largest evangelism effort that this country has ever seen!
I get that this author is trying to make a point. No, Bank of America is not going to show up at your congregation. However, the tellers at your local bank branch might come if you invite them. The Walton family will not show up just because you wrote a letter to corporate headquarters, but the sales associate at the Walmart or IGA register may appreciate a warm conversation from a customer instead of another set of complaints and accusations.
So, yes, let's invite the people who work in corporations to worship with us on October 19th, or October 26th, or November 2nd. Let's treat them as Sally and Mitch rather than throw scorn at their dress-code-compliant company shirt. For the rest of this month, and in the future, let's interact with company people as people rather than as one piece of the company.