October 31st is often celebrated as "Reformation Day", especially in local gatherings more in tune with the Reformation and confessional Christianity. October 31st, 1517 was the day that Martin Luther (in)famously nailed the 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg, "officially" launching what is known as the Protestant Reformation.
I used to look forward to this day as an exciting day in the church, a day when we should redouble our focus on the "Five Solas of the Reformation" and cherish the memory of the giants of the faith who came before us and laid the foundation for the Reformed, confessional wing of the church: Calvin, Luther. Zwingli.
Now? Now I look back with regret at this time, regret over what might have been. In those days when the shackles of Rome were first cast off there was a very real chance to reform the church in practice as well as in doctrine. Instead institutional inertia won the day. The doctrine got better (at least some of it) but the practice stayed the same. Pastors replaced priests but the machinery of organized religion kept chugging along. When a group of Christians started to ask questions and reject Protestantized Roman Catholic practices like infant baptism they were met with essentially the same response that the Roman Catholic church gave to the Reformers: persecution, imprisonment, torture and murder.
Today is as always an important day in the history of the church but rather than looking back at the Reformation as a golden era in the church to be emulated, let us instead use that period as a launching point to go even further back, all the way back to when the apostles were leading the church through service, sacrifice and imitation. Our foundation for church practice and doctrine in not found in the 16th century, it is found in the 1st,