I love the bells of St Christopher’s Parish. From my prayer garden I can hear the tower chime out the hymnal's strength for my soul. While I’m running in Leonard Park the bells will occasionally erupt announcing Jesus’ victory, and I always run faster and easier knowing that death can’t finally catch those hidden in Christ.
This week I’ve thought as much about my brothers and sisters in the Roman tradition as I have the Speedway congregations who have celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. This 500 year-old divorce between Catholic and Protestant has been painful, but, as is often the case when relationships are strained, people on both sides of a break-up end up learning.
I’m glad we’re celebrating what they learned this week. The Lutheran Reformation reminds us that while we may work for wages, life always is a gift. Protestant traditions insist that God already has everything he needs. We can do nothing to make him love us more. God’s help for the world is exclusively received by trusting what the church calls “the grace of Christ alone.”
But there were Catholic Reformers, too. These men and women remind me that my faith is not just an individual matter. I function as part of a team in a program that has a long winning tradition. I listen to coaches who help me see the gifts of God’s love. I often pray for insight using the prayer exercises of the Catholic reformer, Ignatius Loyola. So, both Catholic and Protestant Reformations continue to be blessings to me.
Catholic and Lutheran scholars have recently expressed wide agreement over the issues that once divided them. So I take it as a sign that the bells of St. Christopher’s occasionally play A Mighty Fortress is Our God. This was the banner hymn of the Protestant Reformer, Martin Luther who used it to gather support for the Protestant cause. That today Catholics worship with a weapon once aimed at them, reminds me of Jesus’ assurance that all bitterness can be healed-- that faithful people will not be estranged forever.