Hammering heard ’round the world

Published 11:45am Thursday, October 31, 2013

Over there under a mulberry tree that will soon be losing its leaves, they’re tuning up dulcimers, a mandolin and a very fine violin. But I guess since we’re at a farm in Bogue Chitto, I should probably call it a fiddle.

A young woman adjusting a music stand tells me the group is known as Brookmont Strings Plus, a blending of players from Brookhaven and Monticello and a smattering of other communities. I also learn they play at functions like this one if promised food in return. Giving the dessert table a once-over, I determine the almond pound cake alone might be worth the trip.

So while fall displays its glories and my granddaughter is happily passed from one friend’s lap to another, I have the privilege of sitting and listening to their rendition of “Farther Along.”

I am surprised by soft strains coming from a gentleman in a fancy reclining lawn chair. Who knew he had a harmonica in his pocket? And since when did lawn chairs become La-Z-Boys?

It is a unique gathering, this event described on the invitation as a Reformation Day party. And for a family like ours that’s been skipping the Halloween aisle at Walmart for years, it couldn’t come at a better time.

When, you might ask, is Reformation Day? Or better yet, what in the world is it?

Oct. 31 is actually a noteworthy day for reasons beside (or in spite of) jack-o-lanterns and haunted houses. In fact, many of the kids going door-to-door tonight will list Oct. 31, 1517, on a world history test at some point in their education, and it will have nothing to do with trick or treating. That’s because Martin Luther hammered his 95 theses to a church door in Wittenburg, Germany, on that historic date, lighting the match that sparked the Protestant Reformation.

History books (and the popular 2003 film “Luther”) tell us the young monk became so disillusioned with the excesses and outrages of the medieval church that he put his complaints into writing and posted them publicly. The fact that today we have Protestant churches – and even the United States – is due in part to what Luther risked so much to accomplish.

Like all of us, Luther was a flawed man with feet of clay. History books tell us that, too. But he did prove a single person can do much to change the world. As one pastor stated in the Christian Post: “Few things in church history are more relevant to the church today than Luther’s example. We must keep evaluating our beliefs and practices in the light of what the Word of God says.”

Why Reformation Day? Perhaps the question should be, why not? We celebrate all sorts of lesser things. Why not celebrate this pivotal point in history?

But back to our party and, better yet, homemade buns, stacked high with smoked turkey. In the past we’ve sought answers to scavenger hunt questions like, “How did Luther respond to attempts to force him to recant?” (“Here I stand: I cannot do otherwise, so help me God!”) We’ve sung “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” (written by guess who?) and laughed at a Luther headpiece crafted from a Justin Beiber wig.

Today, though, we’re just enjoying the sound of strings being strummed by players wearing sunglasses. And it actually seems quite fitting that even the mulberry tree, with its shading expanse of broad yellow leaves, is no match for the light shining down on this occasion.

Wesson resident Kim Henderson is a freelance writer who writes for The Daily Leader. Contact her at kimhenderson319@gmail.com.