The last Saturday in October is perhaps my favorite day of the year. The Southwest Virginia church I served for more than a dozen years has a grand celebration every year on that day. The people celebrate the grace of God in bringing us the Reformation, which began October 31, 1517, when Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses on the church door in Wittenberg. The celebration includes a telling of the story of Martin Luther to the children around a bonfire with s’mores. (I told the story when we lived there.) It includes contests in cooking chili and in cooking pies. It includes a grand street fair, with fresh fried doughnuts, barbeque, and hot french fries. All Ninety-Five of the theses are recited. Children and adults sing and play their instruments. And as the day draws to a close, the people dance. They dance with each other. They dance before the watching world. Most of all, they dance for the pleasure of our King and Redeemer. It’s a wonderful day, celebrating a glorious gospel.
On the last Saturday in October 2011, however, I was not at our Reformation celebration. I was not in the mountains watching the fall leaves float to the ground. I was not eating funnel cake or serving as a judge in the chili contest (a perk of winning in the past). I was, instead, in hot and muggy Orlando, surrounded by concrete. I was sitting in the hospital with my dear wife as she received a blood transfusion, part of her continuing treatment in her battle with leukemia.