Golden brown leaves are blowing about, scraping across the pavement and over the thinning tufts of yellowing grass.
The nights encroach sooner, and cooler. With the harvest, so too do the holidays beckon.
However, I must confess that my thoughts are easily turned toward a certain German monk during this time of year.
An obscure and not a little bit pompous man with too much to say and too little restraint, it was on Oct. 31, 1517 when he casually walked up to a local church and nailed the “95 Theses” to the front door.
I am, of course, talking about Martin Luther.
Luther is one of those vague historical figures that most of us had to memorize for history class. I think he was one of the easy ones because of its similarity to Martin Luther King Jr., provided you could remember one was a civil rights leader and the other started the Protestant Reformation. By the way… I hope you remember what the Protestant Reformation was, because I haven’t the time or the space to go into it here.
But it all started with one man, speaking his mind to the peers and colleagues of his local community.
Surely you can see how this appeals to me. As I am but one obscure man myself, no doubt made even more obscure by my location nestled behind the Pine Curtain. Yet I too feel the burden of reformation, of renewal.
Like Luther, there are many things I see that need to be changed. Ways in which we have strayed quite far from the paths we should follow. Indulgences that are strangling us, even as we continue to feed them.
My own quarrels, while certainly of a spiritual nature, have less to do with denominational or ecclesiastical hair-splitting and more to do with understanding my own sense of mission, as well as how I am to carry it out.
Instead, I think about him in the days leading up to that moment, of Oct. 27, 28, 29, and 30. I think about the days that followed, the years, the centuries. I wonder what he felt, for he surely could not have foreseen what was to follow. No more than any of us can truly see the far-reaching implications of our most commonplace decisions.
Do not think I pretend to prophesy when I say that we are on the cusp of history, for I believe every single day reverberates outward in great undulating ripples… as stones dropped into a still pond. It is so easy to slip into comfortable ruts, to allow the weariness of disappointment and inertia to cause our sensibilities to fall into a sleeping stupor. We must rouse ourselves into action.
The message of Luther was no innovation and is no anachronism, but remains a challenge that we must continue to take up even now. It did not begin with a single German monk, nor did it end with him.
Following Luther’s outcry, the church has never been the same. Yet, it continues to require reformation. Perhaps more now than ever.
My own set of “95 Theses” are written in the faces of the discontented and the jaded, the doubting and the disconnected, the wondering and the hopeful.
A revolution is so called, not because it moves once and stops, but because it comes back around again… and again.
Sitting at my desk, in the dim quiet of my sleeping house, I look out my window at the trees swaying in the evening breeze near the lampposts. I think about what time we have and of the tasks set before us.
Verily, it is time to start again, to muster up in the ongoing work of reform and renewal.