An ‘uncommon’ 500th anniversary
Mark your calendars and pack your lunches! A Common Prayer Service for Wyoming Lutherans and Catholics will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 22, at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Casper.
This service is happening because we live in the year of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, which also falls at an especially promising stage of Lutheran-Catholic dialogue. I’ve previously called attention to the historic Common Prayer Service in Lund, Sweden, last October. It was not the first time a pope has spoken positively of the Lutheran tradition. But Francis’ remarks surely broke some new ground. He said the Reformation has led us to recognize our dependence upon Jesus Christ and “helped give greater centrality to sacred scripture in the Church’s life.” Martin Luther’s emphasis on grace alone, he said, “reminds us that God always takes the initiative, prior to any human response, even as he seeks to awaken that response.”
Francis also spoke of the suffering and misunderstanding caused by the Reformation rift. As heartening as it is for Lutherans to hear Catholic endorsements of dearly held Lutheran themes, we ought not overlook the painful causes and consequences of division. The Common Prayer Service at Lund is perhaps most notable for its expression of mutual repentance and reconciliation.
The service itself is the template for the many subsequent services that are taking place around the globe, including our own gathering in Casper. ELCA’s Rocky Mountain Synod has already held services with neighboring Catholic dioceses in Albuquerque, Colorado Springs and Denver with ones in Los Cruces, Pueblo and Salt Lake City coming up.
I have a series of five fat paperbacks on the shelf next to my desk titled “Lutherans and Catholics in Dialogue.” When I look at them, I am reminded of the devoted scholars and church persons who have contributed to those dialogues throughout the decades.
Faces go with all of that print, and one of them was a seminary professor to whom I remain especially indebted. He died while I was still a student, and I remember how moving it was to have a representative of the Catholic Church stand up at the funeral and pay respects.
In 2007 I was a delegate to the ELCA churchwide assembly in Chicago. At some point in the proceedings we heard a brief reportfrom a Lutheran and a Catholic who were participants in our churches’ dialogues. It was a small event in the agenda of that multiday gathering, but I well remember the tone of deep respect and affection with which each of these men spoke of their counterpart and the warm embrace they shared after speaking.
We look forward to our common prayer services and our eventual goal of shared Holy Communion. We might also take a moment to look back, to breathe a prayer of thanks for those who’ve helped get us to this point. Thank God for those whose heads and hearts are devoted to the overcoming of division!
At our February Wyoming Pastors’ Conference, Bishop James Gonia spoke about the Common Prayer Service that had just been held in Albuquerque. He shared that it was a visibly moving experience for all who were involved. When the time came to look at our calendar of upcoming events, he asked us to highlight the upcoming Prayer Service above everything else.
So if you’re still on the fence about setting off for Casper on April 22, I simply ask you: Tell me. When will you have another opportunity to utter the words, “Happy 500th anniversary”?
Holy Week Schedule
Sunday, April 9 • Palm Sunday
8:30 & 11 a.m.-Worship
9:45–10:45 a.m.-LWR “Baskets of Promise” assembling
Monday–Friday, April 10–14
7:30 a.m-Morning Prayer Service
Thursday, April 13 • Maundy Thursday
Friday, April 14 • Good Friday
7 p.m.-Tenebrae Worship
8 p.m.-Prayer Vigil, sanctuary, until 5 p.m. Saturday
Saturday, April 15
No Saturday worship at Ascension
7 p.m.-Easter Vigil Worship, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church
Sunday, April 16
8, 9:30 & 11 a.m.-Easter Worship
7–1o:30 a.m.-Easter Breakfast
Midweek services to make Holy Week a ‘Week’
Each morning of Holy Week, April 10–14, Tom Ostlund will preside over a 15-minute morning service beginning at 7:30 a.m. The service will include prayers, some scripture readings and a short but inspiring message. However, the Good Friday morning service will be a little longer because the Stations of the Cross will be read. “There are 14 stations starting with Jesus being condemned to death and finishing with Jesus being laid in the tomb,” Tom explained. “If you have not experienced the Stations of the Cross, this would be a great opportunity.” You can come early or stay a later for coffee and fellowship and attend the services that fit your schedule.