Another Reformation Day has come and gone, red paraments have dawned on the altar, another rendition of A Mighty Fortress has been played by the organist as the church militant sings its battle song as we walk into a world that hates the truth and seeks to devour Christ’s church. Another day of memes with the likeness of Martin Luther nailing a piece of paper to a castle church door 504 years ago, along with jokes that poke at Rome and the Papacy, and people taping Reese’s to their door acting like it’s the first time it has ever been done. We have flexed our Lutheran muscles, we have talked about the beauty of the Gospel and Luther’s genius, and we have taken our shots at the Papacy and deemed it to be the antichrist. Don’t hear what I am not saying, I love the Feast of Reformation Day and what it stands for (especially as an alternative to Halloween), the rediscovery of the Gospel, the emphasis on the authority of Holy Scripture, and salvation through faith by grace alone.
I understand, as most do, that the division of the church in its current state is necessary. )therwise we would make ourselves liars to say that we believe the same thing. Yet, while it is necessary to acknowledge the differences of doctrine and practice within the variety of denominations of Christendom, many of which have roots in the Reformation, let us not forget the goal: a catholic church united in doctrine and practice. Reformation Day is a day to remember many things, but it also ought to be a day for the church to pray together for unity. We don’t talk about unity enough, as the church catholic. We instead dig our trenches and bolster our theological positions within our denominations, and within the larger church. Again, I understand, the truth of the Gospel and the right understanding of the Scriptures is something worth fighting for and dying for. Yet, we should not neglect to strive for unity even on this side of heaven.
David writes in Psalm 133, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” Unity is a beautiful thing. Great things can happen when people are united, whether it be within marriage, the family, in brotherhood and sisterhood, within communities, and nations. On the other hand, we live in a time that highlights how disastrous and chaotic schism brings. Marriages are shattered, families are torn apart, communities are broken, churches fracture and relationships are severed, and at a national level, people are digging into their trenches while outside influences continue to polarize one another. So, today as we approach the weekend in which we observe All Saints Day, I want to encourage those reading this to pray not only today but regularly for unity within the church.
For this is a hope that we continue to cling to and continue to strive for. We look to the day when the church is united and sings with one voice, and gathers around one table, and receives the body and blood of Christ as one body. Broken bodies ache, hurt, and cry out in pain. So, raise supplications to Christ to bring about unity for His church. While it might seem like an impossible feat, and something that will never happen, continue to hope, and continue to pray. Division in the church ought to cause us to grieve and drive us to pray more fervently for unity, instead of causing us to dig into the trenches warring against our opponents. Reformation Day is a great day to celebrate the beauty of the Gospel, but also a day to pray for unity. For on the other side of Reformation lies All Saints Day, where the church triumphant marches together dawning their white robes which they have washed in the blood of the Lamb. But until that day when Christ returns, pray for unity. For it is good and pleasant when God’s people dwell in unity.