Mission Day Trips

June 20, 2013 No Comments

Our Mission Team has been busy that past few days …and we’ve been busy in record heat!

Wednesday and Thursday were both ‘excursion’ days. On Wednesday Doug, Mary, Don and Kathy headed to Wartburg Castle and the city of Erfurt. Deanna and Keith went to Leipzig and Eisleben.

Wartburg Castle – ok, channel your inner confirmation student …. Why is that important in ‘Lutheran’ history? Think, think… Martin Luther was given refuge there and  in the 10 months that Luther was at Wartburg that he translated the New Testament from Latin/Greek into German, and wrote several papers that we still refer to in confirmation classes today.

Being at Wartburg Castle was a step back in time … first, it is a castle. It’s on a hill. There are stone roads. You have to walk up to the castle, in record heat. There was a shuttle van option, but the HTLC crew walked the walk! Wartburg offered spectacular views (you could see why being a Prince would be fun).  As we entered the castles dining room, we were struck by the acoustics – and when you notice great acoustics with Rachel Kurtz in the room, you get a song. And when you have a room full of Lutherans, you get the doxology in harmony. It was the highlight moment of the day, prayerful and beautiful. The castle tour focuses much more on St. Elizabeth (from Hungry) than Luther. But the weight of history in the place cannot be denied. Our final stop on the tour was to see the room where Luther wrote words we still use today. Martin Luther’s place in German history is more than religious. He certainly kick-started the reformation, but he is almost more important for giving Germans their language. His translation of the New Testament formed the German language. His desire to put the Word into everyone’s hands created the educational system assuring that boys and girls would learn to read.

In Erfurt we worshipped in the Augustinian monastery (now owned by the Lutheran Church) where Luther took his monastic vows and eventually led his first worship service. It is hard to beat an evening worship led musically by Rachel Kurtz, with prayers in English and German, in the spot where Luther began his faith journey.

Leipzig was in the midst of a Bach Festival and in Eisleben participants renewed their baptism in the church and font where Luther was baptized. While the space has had remodels over 500 years, it was true to the spirit of Luther.

Thursday two busses of folks (including all of us) headed to Berlin. Our guide and festival organizer, Christian Upantel, was raised in Berlin and knows the city as a Berliner, a West Berliner and a unified Berliner.  He was there (and shared photos) when the Berlin Wall came down. It was powerful to hear his story as we walked over the bricks in the road that mark where the wall was, walked through the Brandenburg Gate where President Obama had been the day before, visited sacred ground where the wall divided a neighborhood, including a church, in one day. We ended our visit with evening prayer at Kaiser Wilhelm Church. This church was bombed out in WWII, and the new structure rises above the ruins honoring the victims who died there.

We are surviving the heat wave, eating great food, got home to Wittenberg as the latest thunderstorm was driving it’s way across country, cleared some tree branches from the road so the bus could keep going, and are resting up for learning/serving days coming up in Wittenberg.

More to come….

Missions at Holy Trinity, Serve