Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Happy Birthday John Calvin!

Now that we have Michael Jackson buried it’s time to turn to more important things like where my next sugar fix is coming from.

We had a great Fourth of July with the usual desserts, which is to say far more than the healthy and sane person needs. I froze the left-over Italian Cream cake (I know you’re a little surprised there was any leftover—I know I was)and then just threw away the banana pudding that Emily declared looked gross.

So now I’m starting to wonder if I might have a tiny little problem with sugar. But I can’t worry about that right now because we have John Calvin’s 500th birthday coming up. Now, how many times do you get to celebrate anyone’s 500th birthday? And I will get to celebrate it in the most awesome way imaginable: in the smack dab middle of the best group of Presbyterians I know.

On Friday I’ll be with about 30 or so of the Synod Youth Workshop staff beginning our orientation weekend. In fact, my next post will be in the midst of that event and I should have some really interesting posts from there so don’t think I’ll be “on vacation” next week.

Naturally when I thought of John Calvin’s 500th birthday I immediately put myself in charge of cake. You can’t let an opportunity like this go by the wayside. The staff will be eating at a restaurant that night so I’ll arrange to pick one up from some thrifty spot like Walmart. This is Jesus’ money we’re spending, and while I’m sure He would approve of a celebration for Calvin, he would also want us to celebrate responsibly, “in moderation,” you might say.

However, after declaring myself Queen of the Calvinists, I realized I really don’t know a thing about this guy. The closest I have ever come to an appreciation of Calvin is the reaction from my father when I tried to date a Jewish guy in high school. Daddy very quietly let me know that I was “a Scotch Presbyterian and always would be.” And that was the end of THAT discussion.

So I got out the “C” volume of the encyclopedia and read up a little. He was born on July 10, 1509. (What flavor of cake do you think?) He was born in France (maybe something French? Pastries?) In 1536 he published Institutes of Christian Religion which became a masterpiece of Reformation literature. (even today I can go to Guatemala and find Calvin’s Institutes in a pastors study translated into Spanish.) He was a great influence on the English Protestants, also called the Puritans . Among his groundbreaking new theories was the separation of church and state (in other words, we don’t have to share our cake with police or fire fighters we meet that night) , and the right of people to change their own government, hence the nickname of the American Revolution as the “Presbyterian Revolt.” So those fireworks you saw last Saturday night were for us Presbyterians.

Calvin joined other Reformation leaders in their basic theories such as Faith over Works, the bible as the basis of all Christian teachings, the priesthood of all believers, and salvation by grace alone.

The encyclopedia says no other reformer did so much to force people to think about Christian social ethics. This means that we can get the best chocolate cake sold, eat it with gusto but share it with the wait staff at the restaurant. Being ethical and all.

Here’s to the Church Reformed, Always Reforming. Or, as we can expect to say many times this weekend, “Transformed, Always Transforming.”

Yea Calvin, you go brother! (Can I have your piece of cake?)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you can have my piece sister, will be thinking of you and all fpc synod folks knowing that there is something wonderful that will happen for all. i'll miss you and synod for that matter but somebody needs to stay here. deb