From the Desk of Pastor Olsen
As in past years, we ended October with a celebration of the Reformation and we now begin November celebrating All Saints Day. The former brings us back to our Lutheran roots while the latter reminds us that the Body of Christ extends beyond the confines or our own particular confessional traditions to embrace the entire one, holy, catholic and apostolic faith. I have to confess that as the years go by, I find myself celebrating All Saints with ever more enthusiasm and the Reformation with less. It isn't that I don't appreciate the treasures bequeathed to us by Martin Luther and his successors. I believe the Small Catechism is as fine a summary of Christian teaching as can be found. I love the great hymns of the reformation and I enjoy immensely reading Martin Luther's works. Trouble is, we tend to forget that the Reformation was not about being "Lutheran," a term Luther himself detested. The Reformation was about Jesus, about re-forming the church to comport with the good news of redemption offered freely, generously and unconditionally in him.
Truth be told, I would rather that the term "Lutheran" were not in our church's name. It accomplishes little other than to make it clear to any non-Lutheran person strolling past our doors that they are not one of us. I am tired of being asked what makes us different from Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Presbyterians and Episcopalians. In truth, we all have far more in common with each other than we do with our secular culture-or we should. Denominational labels only detract from our common witness to Jesus-which was what the Reformation was all about!
All Saints Sunday focuses on a communion of Saints that transcends not only our national, cultural and family connections but also our denominational identities. The witness of the saints belongs to the whole church and invites us to discover in their testimonies the one Christ in whom we all believe and hope. In its own way, All Saints Day furthers the objectives of the Reformation by calling the church back to faithfulness in Jesus Christ through the example of so many individuals whose lives are shining examples of what such faithfulness looks like. It is perhaps more than fortuitous that Reformation and All Saints Day are in such near proximity to each other.