When I was in Pentecostal circles the most significant holiday on the calendar may have been Pentecost(al) Sunday, which rivaled Christmas and eclipsed Easter in hype. Sometimes the emphasis was on the democratizing work of the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem a couple thousand years ago, but more often than that it was on the birth of the Pentecostal Movement about one hundred years ago. I don’t consider myself Pentecostal anymore, but I am grateful for the moving and shaking brought by Pentecostalism to Christianity. That being said, what happened at Azusa Street in 1906 doesn’t seem to me to be superior to what happened on the Day of Pentecost after Jesus’ ascension. I fear that sometimes Pentecostals forget what the Spirit has done by bringing millions of people into the family of God over the last two thousand years. Instead, they celebrate what makes them different from Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists, and everyone else whom they don’t consider to be “Spirit-filled”.
Likewise, when I see how some speak of Reformation Sunday it worries me that it is far too easy to move from glorifying God to celebrating ourselves. My local church did not mention Reformation Sunday at all, so I am not speaking first hand here, but I am cautioning. How ironic would it be that a church spends a Sunday rejoicing over how they found a more correct doctrine than their Roman Catholic neighbors while the Catholics down the street celebrate Eucharist, consuming our Lord Jesus Christ, worshiping him.
Whatever may be special about Reformation Sunday must come back to Christ. It cannot be a celebration of schism. That aspect must be mourned. We must pray for Christ’s body to be one, even if that is merely an eschatological hope at this juncture. Nothing comes to mind at this moment, but I do ask churches who celebrate Reformation Sunday (which seems to be growing in popularity if social media is any indication of trends) to make sure that this day doesn’t turn into one where we pat ourselves on the back for being “right” while being wrong about how this day should be remembered. For those who respect and honor Calvin, Knox, Luther, Wycliffe, Zwingli, and others must remember that they were fighting for the church to return from corruption to Christ. If Christ is the center of your Reformation Sunday, celebrate! If not, reconsider.