(THIS BLOG IS NOT EDITED - SEE BOTTOM FOR DETAILS)
Forgive the delay in my travel blog. Two 14 hour days back to back will keep the blogging time to a minimum. Above you will see a picutre of the Wroclaw town council dressed as they would have been dressed in the 16th century, 500 years ago. This morning (Sunday) at St. Mary Magadelene Church -- which was originally Roman Catholic, then Lutheran, then Roman Catholic and now Polish Catholic but because it was the first Protestant church in Silesia the Lutherans were allowed to have their 500th anniversary worship service there today (yes, it's that complicated - history has very long tentacles around here) -- our friends in Wroclaw had their 500th anniversary Reformation service.
Like a wedding crasher, I got to process in using a borrowed cape. I looked ridiculous, out of place. But there I was. Representing 80 million Presbyterians world-wide. I told Pastor Ute (picture below) from Germany that I was like the ultimate hanger-on. As she did all of the last two days, she obliged my terrible joke with a laugh.
The worship service was the culmination of the week long celebration of Protestant Culture. Poland, you should note, is among the most religious and Roman Catholic places on Earth. So having a week long celebration of Protestants is a tremendous honor. Mayors, EU officials, councilmen -- they were all present. We we broadcast live on Polish TV. Lights, camera, action -- worship! There was a retired Cardinal there, a Roman Catholic Bishop -- a real Roman metropolitan, a Rabbi, and a Greek Orthodox bishop. All in attendance... all to acknowledge 500 years of Protestants (which to them means Lutherans).
I was a part - and often confused part because I speak no Polish and my German consists of being able to order a meal - of the official ceremonies thanks to my friendship with Woijteich Scerba and WMPC's partnership with EWST, the school of which he is the Rector (think President).
I got to meet one of Martin Luther's family members, Pastor Axel Luther.
Pastor Ute from Berlin translated for me and proved to be a new friend. I am most grateful for her kindness and welcome of me.
It was two full days of prayer, meetings, and conversations with church leaders from all over Germany and Poland. I only wish I could have understood more.
The evening ended for all practical purposes with a concert performed by a very famous Polish choir - they sang Protestant songs (again, no small feat to accomplish) with full orchestra. It was in the concert hall in Wroclaw (which was as fine a musical venue as I have ever visited). I tried to take video and photographs but I was scolded. So all we have is this hurried single shot of the lobby looking up towards the higher levels of the concert hall.
I was able to visit the "Stories on the Road" 500th Reformation exhibit. I even procured a Playmobil Martin Luther there. I have never really wanted any souvenier or toy that I can remember -- but I did hope to find a playmobil Luther. Mission accomplished at the 18 Wheeler of the Reformation.
All in all, it was a glorious two days. Our group is doing well. I am happy to see them all growing in fellowshipi and faith. It gives us joy to know we support Woiteich and Piotr and the faculty of EWST in the teaching and the sharing of theological study and dialog in Poland. It is a very good thing that we, and our church, are doing.
Here our friends from EWST finish the festival along with many other Lutheran pastors.
Magda Szczerba tells us goodbye.
I must share with you that most of the group went to Auschwitz and paid respects to all those slaughtered there. I stayed behind and journeyed through the full battery of activities with the festival. So, I am afraid I do not have many pictures of them.
As I write, we have traveresed several hundred kilometers of Cannola fields and windmills to arrive in Eastern Germany. We are in the city of Bautzen - home of Luther's wife, Catharine.
On the way we stopped in Hernnhut, the birthplace of the Moravian Church which is a distant cousin to most Protestant expressions. Below are the newish graves in the Moravian cemetery - God's Acre. What a beautiful place it was.
From the top of the tower in the cemetery one can see the Czech Republic, Poland and greater Germany. It sits at three borders. Little wonder that WWII crushed this place. The Moravians here lost everything. I wonder what stories, horrible stories, the graves dating back almost 300 years could tell.
The Moavians long ago designed this to seem like a walk in heaven. Paradise. Green. Full of life. Kept but not sterile.
"The Way" just might look like that picture above. So pretty. Tree lined. Surrounded by fields of gold and meadows of lush grasses. Just perfect in every way. A good reminder that the Reformation was, at its source, a longing to return to simplicity. Away from opulence. Back to the basics.
As we journey farther into Germany, I think we will be reminded of as much.
I hope so.
(Note: apologies for typos and bad sentences. Blogger and Apple are not working together. I am having to go through several software "fixes" to get anything out at all. If the situation donenot improve, I will be forced to move my blog and simply have to stop posting for this trip.I am very sorry, but it is very difficult.)