A milestone often calls for celebration. We pay attention to birthdays. We really pay attention when a friend or family member turns 10, 20, ... 50, …100. But 500?!?!
In 2017 we will observe a quincentenary. (I had to look up that one.)
On October 31, 2017 churches around the world will mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. The church is of course much older than 500. But surrounding the distribution of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses were vociferous conversations about the church and the serious need for repair and restoration—basically, getting the church back to being, well, the church.
In observing a milestone, we remember what came before, but we do so in order to move ahead. What from the church’s past can we celebrate and learn from? How do we maintain the health and vitality of the church in our time?
One of the simultaneous happenings in the 16th century was the translation of the Bible into the vernacular languages of the people. The work of dedicated translators was bolstered by the development and use of the printing press. In the 21st century world of social media, we know what it means when we hear that something “goes viral.” And so the Bible has.
We in the 21st century have what residents of the 16th century longed for—a Bible that any and all can read and understand. With resources to help us, we can do what St. Augustine did and more. We can not only “take up and read,” we can take up and study the Bible together. Our churches will be healthier for it.