Yesterday we traveled to Wittenberg.
It was an extra day built into the schedule to allow us to acclimate to the time change associated with traveling across the ocean before starting to teach today.
I have to confess, that the anticipation of going to Wittenberg was a big attraction of this trip for me. It was everything that I could have hoped for.
Wittenberg was not only the residence of Martin Luther for many years, and the place where he nailed the theses on the door of the church, but it was also a place where many other reformers also lived, including Philip Melancthon. Most of our time there, however, was focused on seeing the sites relating to Luther — his residence near the university, where he lived for the large portion of his life after the Reformation; the town church, where he preached often (up to 200 times per year, at one point), though he was never the pastor of the church (his primary profession was teaching in the university); and the castle church where he posted the 95 theses on the door.
I suppose there was not much new that I learned about Luther from this trip; but standing in the places where he lived and taught and served was humbling and gratifying. It is humbling to see the simple way in which they lived during the 1500s, and the cost of standing alone for such a man. It was humbling to stand in the pulpit of the town church where he so often preached, and recognize the weight of the task, which is no different today. And it was gratifying to see afresh the grace of God in using a faithful servant to accomplish his purposes in the Reformation.
In the evening, I took some time to read in a small biography of Luther that I brought with me, The Legacy of Sovereign Joy. I was particularly struck by a passage in which he called pastors to renewed study:
Some pastors and preachers are lazy and no good. They do not pray; they do not read; they do not search the Scripture.…The call is: watch, study, attend to reading. In truth you cannot read too much in Scripture; and what you read you cannot read too carefully, and what you read carefully you cannot understand to well, and what you understand well you cannot teach too well, and what you teach well, you cannot live too well.…The devil…the world…and our flesh are raging and raving against us. Therefore, dear sirs and brothers, pastors and preachers, pray, read, study, be diligent.…This evil, shameful time is not the season for being lazy, for sleeping and snoring.
Here is a man, Martin Luther, who did what he has called other men to do, and we are graced recipients of his labors and God’s kindness, even 500 years after his death.
A few more pictures from Wittenberg: