A Beautiful Day in Wittenberg

Today’s seminar focused on some of Luther’s earliest writings on justification.
1. Preface to the Complete Edition of Luther’s Writings: In this document this recalls what it was like to finally understand that we are made right in the eyes of God — but God’s doing and not ours. This was like the gates of heaven opening for him. He came to understand that we are justified by faith and faith is a gift of God.
2. On the Remission of Sins: In this paper Martin Luther focuses on the remission of sins as an act of God and not the act of the priest or pastor. Instead of being the judge or ruler of who is forgiven and who is not, the pastor or priest is the conduit through which the gift of forgiveness is given.

Our day begins with devotions in this small chapel.

Outside of the chapel where we do morning devotions.

This afternoon we toured Luther’s house.
A statue of Katerina von Bora, Luther’s wife. She was a strong woman and a true partner of Luther. Here she is with the women pastors of our group.
Here is the pulpit from the Town Church – Luther preached over 2000 sermons from this pulpit.
Pictures of the original living room of Luther’s house, where table talks and meetings were held.
For dinner tonight, Soliette made us an authentic Nicaraguan meal – delicious!
This evening five colleagues shared information about their congregations.
Ari is from Guadalajara Mexico, which is famous for tequila and mariachi. The Lutheran Church in Mexico in his area began in the 1940s by the American Lutheran Church. In the 1970s it became an independent organization. The main focus of the church is preaching a meaningful gospel message to a society that does not trust institutions including the government and the church. Ari’s brother is his bishop.
Shwe is from Myanmar where 5% of the population is Christian. The Lutheran Church in his area started in 1957 and now has 143 congregations. Missionaries are sent out into the countryside to the tribes to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Most of the country has no electricity or internet. How would we survive?
Peggy serves the Montana Synod of the ELCA. She is the director of evangelical mission in that center. Her role is to help congregations strengthen their outreach and stewardship. The Synod is home to seven native American reservations and the hope is to continue to grow relationships with these communities. There is a clergy shortage in the synod, but a growing group of lay ministers who serve several smaller congregations in the synod.
Lisa is a pastor in central Pennsylvania serving four congregations. These congregations joined together about three years ago to work together and share resources. Lisa a preaches at two churches each week and a lay person serves the other two churches. They switch each week. And exciting Ministry for her congregations is providing food bags for families each weekend when the kids are not getting meals at school.
Susan is a pastor in Denmark serving three congregations. Her focus is to preach Jesus Christ every Sunday. She has found it important to take time to be in her community to get to know people and, over time, let them know that she is a Pastor and then invite them to the church. The church is supported by taxes paid to the government – there are no offering plates in Denmark. And passing the peace is unheard of in the church.
I must say that we are learning that we have much in common and even more unique facets of our ministries. Yet we all worship one God, and proclaim Jesus Christ is Lord. And when we sing together, the harmony is beautiful.
Pastor Charlie

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