Friday, October 14, 2016
When we were in Wittenberg three years ago, the entire city was under scaffolding and construction wraps. Today, most of it is gone, as the refurbished city prepares for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation next year, with the posting of the 95 theses (statements) by Martin Luther on the Castle Church door. A beautiful (small) city has emerged. We are astonished.
Much has happened during the past two days. At the Old Latin School, an outreach headquarters for The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod in Wittenberg, we ran into the International LCMS president, Matt Harrison, who proceeded to give us a personal tour of the Old School. Dating from the 1400s, the School houses a library, chapel, meeting rooms and sleeping quarters for guests. It just so happened that the Old School was hosting a gathering of Lutheran Seminary presidents from around the world, and I was able to visit with Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, Indiana, President Larry Rast. I had served as Chair of the Regents of this seminary for a decade before retirement, and so this was an unexpected pleasure. Mike and Sandra were with Kathy and me, and so they were able to meet and experience along with us. That late afternoon, we attended an English devotional service in the St. Mary’s Town Church (Lutheran) sacristy chapel. In the early evening we were invited to attend the closing Vespers of the International Lutheran Seminaries Leadership Conference in the main church. What more Lutheran experience can there be than singing Luther’s hymn, “A Mighty Fortress,” in the church were Luther preached most of his sermons, with Lutheran leaders from around the world from every tribe and race. A blessing indeed. St. Mary’s is also know as the Cranach Church because there are many paintings by Cranach the Younger in the Church. The altar painting is the most famous and has recently been restored. Art lovers from around the world come to gaze upon it.
We also visited the Castle Church (Lutheran) down the street from the Town Church. The wooden doors where Luther posted his earth-changing 95 theses have been replaced with bronze doors inscribed with the theses. The Castle Church is now beautifully refurbished. It contains the graves of many important historical figures, but none more important than Luther. We enjoyed chilling out in this quaint city, whose inhabitants changed the course of history. WEG