The quincentenary of the Reformation is being marked in ways big (e.g., papal visit to Lund, Sweden) and small (e.g., prayers of individual Christians for healing and reconciliation among the churches). The Philadelphia Liturgical Institute, an association of liturgists from a number of churches in southeast Pennsylvania, is marking the occasion with “Celebrating Our Common Baptism: An Ecumenical Commemoration 1517-2017,” which will take place this October in the Episcopal Cathedral of Philadelphia. (Of note in this regard is the fact that the baptismal font in the cathedral was a gift from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.)
Tentatively, in addition to Scripture readings featuring baptismal themes and homilies from Lutheran and Roman Catholic figures, the celebration will also involve having the assembly form a procession to the baptismal font. There, clergy from various denominations will make a sign of the cross using water from the font on the forehead of the first people in line, saying “Remember your baptism and give thanks.” The clergy will then return to their seats. The first person in line will then turn around and repeat the gesture / words for the second person in line and so on until all have had their foreheads signed with water. What this means, of course, is that sometimes a Lutheran might sign the forehead of a Baptist. An Episcopalian might sign the forehead of a Catholic.
Of itself, this liturgical celebration will not end division among Christians around the world or even in Philadelphia. But it seems to me to be the sort of thing that Christians who desire unity should be doing. I will post more about this event afterwards, but in the meantime, I wonder what observances or liturgies might be on tap in other corners of the PrayTell-verse with respect to this anniversary.