On October 31, I stood in the Stadtkirche in Wittenberg, surrounded by celebratory organ and choir music. 504 years ago on that day, Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on a church door in that very city. This started the Reformation, a movement that was the foundation for the current worldwide Protestant church.
Two days before, I took the train with some friends to Wittenberg, a city in northern Germany six hours from Freiburg. Wittenberg is a quaint German city, and the town is very proud of their Reformation history.
Two historic churches stand in the city. The Schlosskirche is where Martin Luther posted his 95 theses and preached often. The other is the Stadtkirche, where Martin Luther also taught. On Friday evening, we attended an organ concert at the Stadtkirche. The organist played renditions from various time periods of Martin Luther’s famous hymn, “A Mighty Fortress.” The music was absolutely beautiful.
Then on Saturday, we went inside the Schlosskirche and walked up the tower for an amazing view of the city. We visited the museum in Martin Luther’s home to learn about the Reformation history and Luther’s life. In the evening, we attended an English-speaking ELCA international church service in the iconic Schlosskirche.
Celebrating the Reformation
We woke up early on Sunday to attend the German Reformation celebration service in the Schlosskirche. Unfortunately, the church was already packed full a half hour before the service, and we weren’t able to get in. Luckily, the Stadtkirche had space, and we were able to attend the Reformation service there. The feeling of being in the same historic location on such a significant holiday and being able to sing the same hymns that the early reformers sang so many years ago was absolutely breathtaking.
The town of Wittenberg was busy all day Sunday with the Reformation Festival! Along every street, there were booths selling Renaissance era food, drinks, and handcrafts. Many people were dressed in historical costumes, and live bagpipes could be heard at almost every street corner. In the evening, there were concerts in the churches and lively celebration of such a historic day.
“In dieser Gotteshaus soll es geschehen, dass unser Herr selbst mit uns rede, durch sein heilige Wort, und wir wiederum mit ihm reden, durch Gebet und Lobgesang.”