It’s the 5th November as I sit at my desk to write this reflection.
I love bonfire night! The big kid in me gets excited by fireworks – sad I know but, I cannot resist the colours and noise of this ‘celebration’. You see, I am not sure if celebration is the right word when you consider what it is that we commemorate;
Remember remember the 5th of November Gunpowder, treason and plot. I see no reason why gunpowder treason Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Robert Catesby and others plotted to blow up the Houses of Parliament in retaliation and protest against the laws that were specifically designed to punish Roman Catholics for their faith.
This week has also seen the commemoration of 500 years since the reformation. Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of All Saints Church, Wittenberg and began a chain of events that led, eventually, to the Protestant separation from Rome.
In England, this led to many years of violence by Catholics against Protestants and Protestants against Catholics, all in the name of religion and none of it truly representative of the teachings of Christ Himself.
I come from the Protestant tradition, my particular grouping tracing it’s origins back to the Elizabethan Puritans and Separatists. Many Baptists suffered from persecution, not only in England but, throughout the world (as many Christians are still persecuted today).
However, one thing that has always concerned me about the Reformation is the danger of “throwing the baby out with the bath water”. In our quest for “purity of Church” we have labelled people and ideas as “sound” or “unsound”. I believe that Christians from the Protestant tradition have a lot to learn from Christians of the Catholic and Orthodox Traditions and vice versa.
In fact, I am not always comfortable with the labels we are given by the Church we attend and the only label I am content to wear is the one of “Christian” as I simply seek to be a follower of Jesus.
So, why bother with the ‘celebrations’ of bonfire night and the Reformation?
I, for one, hope that the Christian Church learns the lessons from its, sometimes less than glorious, history. I hope we learn to discover, accept and encourage Christian thinking from the spectrum that is the Church. I hope we rediscover some of the great thinking from the past and encourage the following of Christ in our present age for the age yet to come.
I have committed myself, and I encourage you to join me, in praying as Jesus prayed
That they may all be one (John 17 vs. 21)
(John 17 vs. 21)