Garet Robinson is currently in Germany for the Reformation 500 celebrations. Over the next few days, he will be sharing his experiences, including the sights, sounds, and smells (sausage!) of the festivities in Wittenberg, so that you can get as close to the action as possible.
Yesterday my wife and I stepped off a train in Wittenberg, Germany to attend a couple of days of celebration for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. With all of the memorials that have been going on around the world, perhaps the most significant one is in Wittenberg today. There will likely be many thousands of Germans coming to the place where it all started. Yesterday evening, the town was buzzing with anticipation of the events to come on Reformation Day tomorrow. Wittenberg has been celebrating the Reformation since early this year, and the town itself has been in preparation mode for this day for some time now.
Walking around on what was a cool evening, my wife and I were struck by the extent to which Wittenberg has been planning for these events. Vendors line the two major streets in town, many selling 16th-century goods and wares. Numerous festival participants are in period garb. Some really fun performances were already going on when we arrived, even though the real celebration was the next day. The town has made huge efforts to help visitors and townspeople alike feel as though they are strolling around in the 1500’s. Entering the town square (Market Square), we found ourselves lost in a huge 16th-century market, where vendors were selling goods and foods typical of what Luther himself might have seen and savoured in his day. Fires were ablaze as costumed participants engaged with visitors and friends alike. It was a scene that neither of us will soon forget.
Down the street, at the confluence of the two main roads, the Castle Church (Scholsskirche) was lit up with dramatic images on its facade. Tomorrow, this area and its historic doors will be the center of much of the festival. There are mostly Germans in town now, though we saw (and heard) a number of Americans as well, and I’m certain there are many other nationalities here besides.
Tomorrow will be filled with celebration and remembrance of the important event that is often considered to be the catalyst for the Reformation. Whether or not Luther actually nailed the 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church is not anybody’s concern here. What is important to the people of Wittenberg, and those of us that have travelled from afar to be here this week, is that his decision to author the Theses and make them public was a vital step. His decision and his convictions helped change the course of Christianity, Germany, Europe, and the world.
The next few days are going to be an exciting time for me and my wife. We’re going to enjoy remembering Luther’s work and ministry with others in this important and historic town. I’ll be filling in a few more posts over the next two days. Hopefully, they will communicate a sense of the ambience and give some context for the historic celebration of Luther and the Reformation here in Wittenberg.
Garet Robinson currently serves as the Adult Pastor at University Baptist Church in Houston, Texas. He has a PhD in Theology from Liberty Divinity School and is doing graduate work in non-profit leadership at Harvard University. His primary research interests are the organizational development of the earliest Christian communities and contemporary theological development. Married to Kathryn since 2005, they have a son named Jack and a beagle named Augustine.