We Are Beggars, This is True

“We Are Beggars, This Is True”

A Day of Discovery at Wittenberg


   My postings have slacked for a few days as I have travelled to Germany on business. On Saturday, at my request, my gracious host took me to the community of Wittenberg Germany, some 100 kilometers from Berlin. I had many choices of sightseeing for the day, but felt an ‘urging’ to visit the place of Martin Luther’s greatest life and work. I initially wanted to see the door where the 95 theses were nailed and experience the presence of the birth of Protestantism; but I was not fully prepared for the impact the day would have on my life.

   Any person searching for a sense of their theological history or purpose, especially evangelicals and Protestants, must travel to this place. The university at Wittenberg has yielded many great minds and works beyond Luther and still does today. The names and dates of the visiting scholars is a five century ‘who’s who’ of historically significant figures and they are listed on the walls as you walk about the village square.

   The visit to the town square and the churches, as well as the residence and museum of Luther, were alone worth my transatlantic journey. Just as beautiful was the drive through the German villages and countryside that lie between Berlin and Wittenberg.

   I knew the basic facts and significance of Martin Luther from history study, but his life, work and theology came alive for me Saturday and validated much of my own faith journey and beliefs. The impact and success of Luther had many other actors and players including the likes of Frederick the Wise, Elector of Saxony and the equally compelling theologian and writer, Philipp Melanchthon.

   The castle church built between 1489 and 1525 for Frederick the Wise, still stands today. Upon its doors were nailed the 95 theses. An earlier Town Church was built around 1280. Known as the people’s church, it reflected the poverty of its time. It is still in active use today. Luther preached here and it still possesses the spiritual and eternal aura, smell and presence of Christ and the generations of worshippers who knelt in its aisles. I heard violins and voices that were rehearsing music in the chapel for the sacred days of Palm Sunday and Easter – it was holy and heavenly!

   The museum of Luther contains original works, writings, robes, and the pulpit from which he preached. I learned of his humanness and family life and about his insatiable curiosity of both the scripture and how faith must become personal. I saw how he fellowshipped with others. I visited the very room where he ate, drank and hosted courts of dozens of the peasants and pedigreed alike. This home and museum is a world class, must-see adventure for any leader of faith.

   Luther was wise and learned, but also a product of both a monastic, scholastic and medieval life. He was personally flawed and some of his views could be extreme and caustic. Both Luther and his admirers admitted as much. But his body of work and life stands tall and his mark on history is providential and divine. Learn more at this good site - http://www.greatsite.com/timeline-english-bible-history/martin-luther.html

   There is a great listing of quotes of Luther at this site - http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/m/martin_luther.html

   Luther died of natural causes in February 1546 at 63 years of age. Found next to him at his burial were these final words he penned:

 “No one can understand Virgil’s Bucolic’s unless he has been a shepherd for five years. No one can understand Virgil’s Georgics unless he has been a farmer for five years. No one can understand Cicero’s letters unless he has busied himself in the affairs of a great empire for twenty-five years. No one may presume to have indulged in Holy Scripture sufficiently unless he were in charge of all of the churches for one hundred years with the prophets Elijah and Elisha, John the Baptist, Christ and the apostles. Do not seize hold of this divine Aeneid, but adore its tracts with humility. We are beggars, this is true.”

   At Wittenberg, I became a happy beggar, if but for a day. It made me realize that we all must beg on, each day in search of God, ourselves and both simple and eternal truths, AMEN!