Greetings from Pastor Charlie!

I am heading to Wittenberg, Germany, and I want to share my trip with you. In this blog, I will share stories of my travels, conversations and classes. I will be participating in a seminar hosted by the Lutheran World Federation, then I will spend a couple of days with our sister congregations in northern Germany. 
 
Update November 14: I plan to write two more blog posts — one at the end of the conference, which will post on Monday, November 19, and the second at the completion of my visit with our sister congregations, which will post on Wednesday, November 21. 

Luther, Teach Us!

Another week of classes have begun. Monday, we focused on Luther’s approach to studying scripture. Luther offers a three step process to this – hear or read the word of God, meditate on the word of God, and finally focusing on the tension between God’s word and the things we experience in our daily lives, our struggles and tensions.   In dealing with the troubles of the world and one’s own struggles, Luther believed it is the word of God, NOT faith that gives us the ability and strength to face these things. Faith isn’t what overcomes the conflict, but the Word of God that carries us through. The experience of the negative things thrown upon Luther caused him to go deeper into the Word of God to face these things. The word of God is external, but by receiving the Word of God through hearing and meditating, it becomes more of who we are. And so we do not interpret the Bible, it is the Bible that interprets us!  

Tuesday’s lesson focused on a letter Luther wrote to his barber, who asked him about prayer. Luther suggests that scripture and the Lord’s Prayer and Ten Commandments can be excellent tools for prayer. In praying the Ten Commandments, Luther shows how one can focus on each one in prayer by seeing each commandment in four different ways:
 
  1. As instruction – a school text
  2. As thanksgiving – a song book
  3. As confession – a penitential book
  4. As prayer or petition – a prayer book

 

It is amazing to see the detail Luther can find in each command. It is a blessing to be led by our gifted professors.

Click here for article about the boat burning.

Monday afternoon we met with the Mayor of Wittenberg, and signed the official guest registry of the city. We expressed our shared grief and sadness with the mayor of an incident that occurred this past weekend. As we gathered Friday night to remember the persecution of the Jews by the Nazis that escalated 80 years ago on November 9 – Kristallnacht (see my blog from that day) – another act of hatred, discrimination and bigotry occurred in town. A refugee boat, placed in a local park to commemorate the many refugees who had recently come to Germany, was set on fire. As we prayed for peace, we realize we have a long way to go. 
 
Tuesday afternoon we visited the new Reformation Library at the Castle Church. There we got to see up close books from the 10th century, a Bible from the late 1400s with incredible artwork (Noah’s Ark) and books with Luther’s writing on them. Not under glass, but right in front of us (pictures but no touching).

Tenth Century Writing

Bible, 1489

Display

Luther Book

Luther’s Writing

Monday I cooked for the group – some good American Chicken and Wild Rice Soup! And on Tuesday, Pavel from the Czech Republic made Czech Goulash, with sauerkraut, pork, onions and garlic and lots of paprika, served with dumplings. It was delicious.  

And finally we had an opportunity to hear of the ministries of the rest of our colleagues. 
 
Myriam is a woman theologian from Madagascar, which is the fourth largest island in the world. The Malagasy Lutheran Church does not yet ordain women, but the hope is soon. The church has 5000 congregations and six seminaries. She loves that she belongs to a strong, living church.  
 
Nikola is our local representative, belonging to the Lutheran Church of Saxony In Germany. She shared of the struggles the church had after World War II in East Germany. When she was 12 years old, she and her family joined in the Peaceful Revolution took place in Leipzig the summer before the wall came down. Politics and an angling population are concerns. She loves being a pastor.  
 
Wolfgang serves as a teaching theologian in Malaysia. The Lutheran Church in Malaysia began in 1953 with missionaries who were kicked out of China were brought into Malaysia to care for and serve the Chinese who were encamped in that country. The Chinese were separated from society because they were seen as a national threat. Once freed, the church continued to grow – now 56 congregations in the country.
 
Beata is from Hungary and serves as a university chaplain. The Lutheran Church is the third largest church, behind the Catholic and Reformed churches. Political issues, lack of pastors and financial issues are the problems they face, but the growing youth opportunities are exciting to see.    
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Manlun is a bishop from the northern region of India – the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Himalayan State. The church is only 15 years old. There are 23 pastors and the church is just starting to grow. There is a strong women’s organization and an orphanage home. The bishop says he has many miles yet to go.  

We see the end is coming soon of our conference. We have made new friends from around the world who are working together to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. What a great experience this has been.