Today’s gifts of the trip included a worship in the the Church of St. Thomas, or Thomaskirche, where J.S. Bach was the choral director for the final 27yrs of his life. It included the famed church boys choir, a small orchestra, and other singers offering Bach’s Reformation cantata based upon Martin Luther’s hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”.
I admit, in the wake of travel, a later than normal prior night, constant strife of overcoming language barriers, and the natural anxiety of being in an unknown place far from home, I was tired, and I relished the chance to be still. I also confess I may have even “rested my eyes” a bit during the sermon! Heaven forbid!(Forgive me, it was in German).
And yet, there were moments in the worship when the familiar and consistently proclaimed promises of God broke through even to my weary heart, soul, mind, and body. In my limited German I heard the words from Isaiah 41:10.
“do not fear, for I am with you,do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you,I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”
We’re here learning from each other. Leipzig and Minneapolis. Clergy and parishioner. Local and pilgrim. We’re confessing the difficulties and nuances of particular contexts and circumstances. In the midst of this, it is good to hear and remember that there is a word which is in, with, under, over, and for us which continues to find it’s way to be heard.
I took joy two days ago when our tour guide, a historian born and raised in Wittenberg, made known to us that the baptismal font currently in the city church is the same font from the time of the Reformation. The way he said it, “This is still a church, not a museum. Martin Luther’s children were baptized in this font. I was baptized in this font. People continue to receive the promises of the gospel in this place.”
It wasn’t the item which made it so meaningful, it was the word, the promise, the hope, and the constant way that God keeps finding us.
We’ll continue learning, struggling, and traveling along, but I take hope in that for me today, for us, and for whatever’s ahead for the church.
In the midst of all things trying, difficult, confusing, exhausting, and unknown, the old hymn still has a truth to it, “one little word” keeps finding us. Thanks be to God for this gift which will not end.