"There is an intellectual desire, an eros of the mind. Without it there would arise no questioning, no inquiry, no wonder." Bernard Lonergan

"It seems clear that humans cannot significantly reduce or mitigate the dangers inherent in their use of life by ccumulating more information or better theories or by achieving greater predictability or more caution in their scientific and industrial work. To treat life as less than a miracle is to give up on it." Wendell Berry

"Do not be afraid, my little flock, for it is the Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." Luke 12:32

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Poland and Germany Travel Wrap Up

Poland and Germany - Reformation Mission and Travel Wrap 

The Sanctuary of Castle Church, Wittenberg, Germany

Our consideration of the Reformation, and our following in the footsteps of the Reformation in Germany came to an end on Tuesday. We ended where the whole thing "began." It was in 1517 at the Castle Church connected with the university at Wittenberg where Luther was a professor, that he either read on the church steps or hung them upon the door itself.

The door at the Castle Church, commemorative of the original door in Wittenberg.

Part of the larger purpose of our trip was to consider the Reformation from theological, social, economical, and historical perspectives. We did this work in any variety of ways - primarily through touring museums, listening to lectures and tour guides, and talking amongst ourselves about the historical transformations set in motion by Martin Luther's decisions to post his 95 objections, his theological and church polity questions in the form of theses. 

Our group waits and/or wades its way through one of many exhibits on the life of Luther and the wonder of the Reformation.

Luther's questions were very specific to certain practices of his time. Luther's request was fairly simple -- that the the life and policy of the church should reflect that which was set forth in scripture.

The effect of Luther's objection (which didn't just "come to him" but was certainly the result of many years of thought and conversation) was beyond anything that he might have imagined. If Luther could question the practices of the most powerful institutions of his day, and survive (a big part of the success of the endeavor) then all sorts of questions could be asked of the world as it was. Church. State. Creation itself. They could all be questioned, examined, improved, perfected. Soon after Luther in Germany came Calvin in Switzerland. Public schools. The Enlightenment. The Scientific method and revolution. The Revolutions in France and the United States. I hope you get the picture.

Luther asked and demanded answers. The printing press distributed his questions far and wide. And thus the Reformation was born. And while its biggest effect was on the church, the larger effects spread into every aspect of human life.

To trace Luther's steps requires a journey across what was once East Germany. You must go to little towns with little markets. 

The market in the town of Eisleben. Eisleben was the town where Luther was born, and where he died, and where he gave his series of unfortunate and anti-Semitic final sermons. 

The door to the "house" where Luther died in 1546.

History, and we must include church history, is never one sided, or one-flavored. For as great as Luther was he was also flawed. Like all great men and women (save Jesus), Luther was flawed.

But he did something no one had done before, and no one has done sense. He lit the fire that changed and refined the world. The influence on Western history that he wields cannot be overstated.

Take some time this year to read one of the multiple books on the Reformation which will be published or reissued. You can visit the church library in the summer or fall and scan what we have. This 500th year is an important time to consider the influence that our tradition has had upon the world.

That's why we went to Poland in the first place. To celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, which quickly spread to Poland after beginning in Eastern Germany.

A final photo. A no-left turn sign in Wroclaw. Good reminder that 3 right turns make a left.

I believe there must be many in Poland who never thought they'd live to see the day that we saw last Sunday. 800 people in worship. Lutherans. About 15 Presbyterians. Catholics. Orthodox. There was a Rabbi sitting behind me. 

Three right turns make a left. History makes a way where it seems the way is blocked. Where people will dedicate themselves, generation upon generation, to the word of God, to the way of compassion, and the application of kindness great things can happen.

Ubi caritas, et amor. Ubi caritas, Deus tibi est. That's the song which comes to mind.... 

The greatest thing about the Reformation? That we are still reforming. We're not done yet. In spite of some of the evidence, there's life in the church yet. So long as she keeps reforming.

500 years ago was only a beginning. 

God grant us grace all the way to the end.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.

Ein feiste burg.

Soli Deo Gloria.

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