Red leaves shimmered outside in seeming reflection of red clothing and liturgical-red stoles inside when members and friends of the ELCA Metro D.C. Synod congregated with visitors to the Washington National Cathedral for the annual synod-hosted Reformation Worship Service. The Luther Place Community Choir started us off by singing “Total Praise,” and charged forward with the congregation singing the sending hymn, “A Mighty Fortress.” Between were several worship high notes, including the message shared by the Rev. Dr. Gordon Lathrop, retired Professor of Liturgy and Worship, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia.
“So how shall we keep the feast?” asked Prof. Lathrop of observing Reformation Day and All Saints Day successively on the church calendar. In addition to “our joy in its stunning gifts, our sorrow at its losses, and our repentance at acting like we ourselves alone have embodied its truths,” our hope for the future of the Reformation is “a renewed and shared Christian witness that moves beyond conflict to communion in the gospel” he said. And a modern version of All Saints observance “knows that also for those saints, and according to their own witness, the true treasure of the Church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God… and not the saints’ supposed merits.”
“Fear is the great enemy of love, and it has been far too much around in these days,” said Prof. Lathrop. “In Christ with Zacchaeus and all the saints,” he said, referring to the Zacchaeus story in Luke chapter 19, “let go of fear and turn toward your neighbor with salvation’s new economy. That is how to keep the feast. God grant us such a celebration.”
Listen to the full sermon here.
Find more photos from the day on the synod’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/metrodcelca.