Luther anniversary planning at Ecumenical Centre
Oikoumene (29.11.2012) -- With a robust evocation of the Word – written, spoken, incarnate – Bishop Martin Schindehütte of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) launched a day of planning with leadership of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and other ecumenical organizations in Geneva for the celebration in 2017 of the 500th anniversary of the seminal moment in the Reformation when Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses in Wittenberg.
The bishop was accompanied by the Rev. Dr Margot Kässmann, who serves as the EKD ambassador for the Reformation Jubilee, and the general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF)'s German National Committee Rev. Norbert Denecke, as well as EKD press officer Silke Römhild.
Schindehütte offered his thoughts in a homily during morning prayers in the Ecumenical Centre on 28 November, centring his reflection on the first verse of the gospel of John, "In the beginning was the Word."
The EKD delegation with the WCC general secretary and other members of staff
Noting that state observance of the anniversary will focus on the Reformation's boost to freedom of conscience and democratic impulses, Schindehütte probed the deeper meanings that the verse and the concept of the Word hold for Christians, especially since the Reformation.
"The Word does not indicate a reality. It creates reality. It is reality. It becomes reality." For Christians, he claimed, the words "contain the mystery of God" and the ground of life on earth.
WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit stressed the ecumenical importance of the Reformation, often seen as a church-dividing event, for its fresh encounter with the Bible, its renewal of Christian polity and reflection, and its spur to Christian discipleship in the world.
The upcoming anniversary has been a topic of broad discussion in recent years.
"What we should celebrate together is the renewal and the discovery of the gospel. We should celebrate that the ecumenical movement and dialogues have helped us to see this as a treasure for all of us, regardless of which church tradition or identity we might have," Tveit had told the WCC Central Committee in August.
"I will be disappointed if strong recognition of the importance of the renewed understanding of the gospel in 1517, which we have seen from all partners in the ecumenical family, including the participants from the Roman Catholic Church, is not seen as a reason to celebrate in 2017."