In 1983, the world observed the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s birth. I was 11. So frankly, although I know it was a big deal (I own a number of Luther biographies published that year), I don’t really remember it. Maybe there were red sprinkles at a church ice cream social?
Now, it’s the 500th anniversary of Luther posting his 95 theses. I’m 44, mid-career, in public ministry as a pastor. So this anniversary resonates more. I don’t post disputations on doors, but I do post arguments on this blog, and social media. And I’m very curious if we are in a comparable moment in world history where a shift will take place, a different way of being human (and religious) in the world.
The world really does seem to be making a rather big deal of the Luther year. Germany is on FIRE with their observances. My own denomination is keeping a calendar of events (Reformation 500), and publishing many resources through the year. And 1517 Media, our publishing house, is hosting a daily Road to Reformation Facebook page.
The 500th anniversary of the Reformation is very much about Luther, even if it’s also about the movement (the Reformation) that looks back to the posting of those 95 theses as the origin of the Reformation. If this were a comic book story, the 95 theses would be Luther’s origin story.
This year there will be many voices attempting to curate perspectives on Martin Luther and the Reformation. I’m as curious to see how his life is portrayed, and his message, as I am anything else. There was just one Martin Luther, and we know an awful lot about him… but on another level, there are many Martin Luthers, perhaps as many Martin Luthers as there are interpreters of his life.
At Good Shepherd Lutheran, we’ll be observing the 500th anniversary of the Reformation concurrently with the observation of our own 50th anniversary as a congregation. Throughout the winter and spring, we’ll be offering a weekly adult forum on topics in the Reformation and Lutheran history. Join us Sundays at 10:15 a.m. It’s guaranteed to stretch your imagination.
If you’re the type to do so, mark your calendars for a few additional ways we’ll be observing our 50(0)th.
February 5th we’ll celebrate the signing of the Good Shepherd charter. February 24th, in our commitment to continuing reform, we host Liz Edman, author of Queer Virtue. March 18th we’ll host the Bethany College choir for a concert. May 14th we’ll observe the official anniversary of Good Shepherd. And on October 29th, we’ll host Beth Lewis, CEO of 1517 Media, as a guest speaker and preacher in observance of Reformation day. In the month of October, we’ll be observing some kind of Oktoberfest, about which we have very few details other than we plan to party a lot and cause trouble.
For lots more Reformation 500 resources, visit this list, and then add your own ideas.