I'm standing in church today, singing "A Mighty Fortress" with the customary gusto of one who's grown up in the bosom of Michigan's Lutherland. I mean, it's Reformation Sunday. Our day. The one day in the year when a people accustomed to dwelling far in the background of both popular culture and American Christian culture can represent; can celebrate our contributions to the greater Church.
But I notice that no one else around me is singing with any energy. I'm reminded of my college days, when I'd sometimes accompany my Roman Catholic friend to Mass and marvel at the huge, standing-room-only congregation's anemic singing.
Come ON, people, I think. It's Reformation Freaking Sunday! Whatsamatter with you?
I wonder if this is to a certain extent a function of attracting more members without a Lutheran background, who have neither the informational grounding nor the exposure to Lutheran culture to really understand why this Sunday is special. Or perhaps it's because there's less tension between Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism these days, when more often than not both our traditions find ourselves in solidarity over and against fundagelical American Christian culture, and the serious differences that do remain between our traditions tend to be treated with the same forbearance exercised around a holiday dinner table on behalf of more difficult members of one's family: Uncle Joe really is a decent guy...just don't get him going on religion.
Who knows. And I know that party spirit, and the divided Body it encourages, is one of those things cautioned against in Scripture.
But I still miss old-school Reformation Sunday.