Five hundred years ago on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther swung a hammer nailing his 95 theses to the door of the Chapel in Wittenberg, Germany. (You can read all 95 by clicking here). As important as that one moment was, it really was the culmination of many different streams that enabled and empowered Luther. Politically, the prince of his providence in Germany was willing to flex his muscle against the power of the pope. Technologically, the printing press was able to spread Luther's ideas to a bigger, broader audience than the simple swing of his hammer did. Theologically, people were hungry for new ways of experiencing the sacred. Luther built his theology on Sola Scriptura (scripture alone) and Sola Fide (that we are justified by faith alone). He translated the Bible into German and led worship in the common language. Luther wanted every person to claim the priesthood or ministry of all people. Luther wanted every home to not only study the Bible, but his for catechism was written for the father to lead teaching every night after dinner. But least we try to make Luther out to be some hero, we know he struggled with antisemitism and he even questioned the wisdom of the priesthood of all believers after a peasant upraising. Luther is complex figure...or stated simply - human. Luther was said to have carried around two slips of paper. In one pocket was a piece of paper with the words written, "I am a beloved child of God." And in the other pocket was a piece of paper with the words written, "I am sinner in need of redeeming" He believed everyone was a sinner and saint simultaneously. We live between those two realities.
In addition to Luther's theological understandings that I continue to find helpful doorways into being both a person of faith and being the church, I also hear echoes of Luther's culture in our world today. Politically, we have people flexing their muscles and it is a time of disjointedness in our world. The deep divisions and questions over how do we live a different way? We struggle with who should have power...the nation or the state? Technologically, the fact that you are reading this blog in one place while I am writing it some where else...means the way we are communicating is changing. Finally, I believe people are still hungry for new ways of experiencing the sacred. I grew up in an era of church which is now being called or characterized as, "Moral Therapeutic Deism." Moral meaning every Bible lessons was supposed to teach us something. Therapeutic meaning that we wanted self affirmation and self realization. Deism was God is out there some where.
I agree with Karl Rahner that what can help the church today is mysticism. Our lives are a mystery. As a way of prayer, I want to share a video by a musical group, Cloud Cult and the song, Through the Ages. You can hear this as a love song. You can also hear this as a hymn we sing to God or God sings to us. I love finding the sacred not only inside but outside the church. In the coming 500 years may our faith find ways to connect, to integrate, and to continually stay open to a life giving and changing love of God. I hope you enjoy the video and may you hear more than a trace of God's grace in it. Blessings ~~