Have you heard of Christmas in July? Marketers, church camps and Australians (whose winter occurs during our summer) sometimes capitalize on this playful trend. For instance, they offer Christmas sales and festivities on July 25.
As long as we’re talking about upending the calendar, why not celebrate the Reformation this month or next? During high summer, Reformation themes ripen in ways quite distinctive from the leafless, chilly days of October.
Rather than face historic church changes and reflect on internal sin and grace while dressed in a fall jacket, “Reformation in July” exposes us to the unforgiving summer sun. By the end of this month we’ll be seven months past the making of New Year’s resolutions. It already shows—in our too tight shorts and too loose disciplines.
Yet as our skin and sin sweats (boldly), God’s boundless grace shocks with a profundity of growth that we can’t tame, even with garden shears. In summer, armed with pie shells and canning jars, we attempt to preserve God’s infinite fruitfulness. Is there a better time to teach our children about God’s abundance than in a month when watermelon juice drips down their chins?
By observing Reformation this month, we balance the pride of independence that we celebrate on July 4 with Martin Luther’s theology of dependence. He taught that every day is dependence day, for we can do nothing apart from what God is doing through us.
For all the things we can save in July—from time at work on Fridays to money on back-to-school items—we can’t save ourselves. God invites us into another reality in which we remember that we are loved. With that love we are freed to focus on what God is doing in every season of our lives.
This August, ELCA members will gather to consider this church’s priorities at the Churchwide Assembly in New Orleans. They’ll also celebrate “Reformation in August” at the Grace Gathering.
How will you celebrate the Reformation this summer? By hosting farmers’ markets of love, where we share bumper crops of cherry tomatoes and God’s forgiveness?
Did Luther and his compatriot reformers lie awake on humid July nights imagining the Reformation? If so, their sleep sacrifices awakened in us a new day—no matter when we celebrate it.