Women’s Retreat

Good Shepherd Women’s Retreat“Faithful Friendships”

October 13-14, 2017

Mar Lu Ridge Inn

Women of all ages are invited to a women’s retreat at Mar Lu Ridge Inn and Conference Center. Together we will study women of the Bible, spend time in fellowship with our sisters in Christ, and enjoy the beautiful fall colors at Mar Lu Ridge.

Cost: $100, which includes one overnight stay

(including linens) and 3 meals:

Friday evening meal, Saturday breakfast, and Saturday lunch

Deposit of $50 due by August 31st – please complete the information form

(forms are located on a cube in the Narthex)

Contact Kim Keefer with questions:
kimkeefer521@gmail.com or call at 571-315-3241

There and Back Again: A Pastor’s Reformation Sabbatical Adventure #12

Iona: Part 2

Ora et Labora – Pray and Work – is a basic part of the practice of Benedictine spirituality that was practiced in the second incarnation of the Iona Abbey religious community from 1200 to the mid-1500’s. It was also key to the efforts of George MacLeod to build community between the rich and poor of Glasgow as they worked to rebuild the Iona Abbey. So, it’s no surprise that “ora et labora” – prayer and work – is the foundation for the building of community in the third incarnation of the Iona Abbey today that began with George MacLeod.
Beginning with a late evening welcoming worship service on the Saturday evening you arrive and a service of Holy Communion on Sunday morning the next day; the week then settles into a rhythm of two chief worship services each day – one after breakfast and one after dinner; with another briefer prayer offered at 2pm each day. The services are for those staying at the Abbey but also open to Iona residents or anyone else visiting the island, and usually the Abbey church was filled by a mixture of all three.
The Iona Community is known for the words and music of its worship life. They have a large hymnal filled with songs produced by the Iona Community but that also includes many familiar (and unfamiliar) hymns and songs from other traditions. The music is good but the words for the spoken parts of the liturgy were the most striking to me. It’s written in everyday language that is down to earth, simple and understandable but also quite profound and affecting. In a Prayer of Confession we used most mornings first the leader and then the congregation confess:

“Before God
with the people of God
I confess to turning away from God
in the ways I wound my life
the lives of others
and the life of the world.”

And then each in turn respond
“May God forgive you, Christ renew you, and the spirit enable you to grow in love.”

In a “Response of Faith” a little later in the same service we would daily say:
“We affirm
God’s goodness at the heart of humanity
planted more deeply than all that is wrong. “

The most powerful service of the week for me was a service of healing on Tuesday evening. For the healing rite at the center of the service they set up a circle of kneelers in the middle of the worship space. Those who wanted to receive the laying on of hands for healing were invited to come and kneel there while three of the resident staff moved within the circle doing the laying on of hands. Others were invited to stand behind those kneeling and add their affirmation by placing their hands on the shoulders or back of those kneeling. And everyone was invited to repeat the prayer of healing as it was said over each person:

“Spirit of the living God
present with us now
heal you in body, mind and spirit
and free you from all that harms you
in Jesus name.

Simple words – but as I went from standing outside the circle with my hands on the shoulders of others; to kneeling as hands were laid on me; hearing and repeating those words over and over was most definitely an experience of God’s healing presence in and for and through my life. And it didn’t hurt that because of the time of day the sun was streaming in through the Abbey Church windows so that as you stood or knelt in and around the circle you were enveloped in beams of bright shining sunlight.

The other less obvious but I think equally important – as far as forming us into a community – part was the “labora” of our daily routine. We were divided into three groups – Seals, Puffins and Otters (I was a Seal). Each group was responsible for serving and cleaning up from one of the meals (the Seals had dinner each day). In addition everyone was assigned cleaning responsibilities to be done after morning worship. I was staying in the Abbots House – which neighbors but is separate from the main Abbey House and so my three roommates and I were responsible for cleaning the floors and bathrooms of that building – I was in charge of the showers. It was interesting how much conversation, laughter, bonding and camaraderie developed as I washed and dried silverware and cleaned bathrooms with my fellow pilgrims.

There were about 40 or so of us altogether. A mixture of nationalities and denominations but with a lot of North Americans (from the US and Canada (including a group of 11 from a Presbyterian church north of San Francisco whose pastor had come to Iona while on sabbatical last year and then brought a group from her church back with her again this year (hint hint)) and residents of Great Britain with a few Germans and Swiss thrown in for good measure. Other than some of the Germans (which included two Lutheran pastors) and me there weren’t a lot of Lutherans there. The majority were either Anglican or branches of the Reformed tradition ranging from Presbyterians to Reformed Church in America to the United Church of Canada (which is a union of several denominations in Canada including Presbyterians and Methodists). There were also (I think somewhat unusually) a lot of clergy in the group including a number like me who were there on sabbatical.

In addition to the regular routines of “ora et labora” Iona is a beautiful place with lots of places to walk and hike and there were special programs and activities offered each day that one could participate in or not. I attended a very striking and disturbing session called “When Mermaids Cry” about the ways in which we are filling and poisoning our world and ourselves with plastic (the tiny balls of plastic that all the plastic eventually disintegrate into are called “mermaid’s tears”). On Monday evening we had a “Ceilidh” – an evening of Scottish dancing – in the village hall. (I got to play the fiddle for it in a small live band made up of some of the other guests and staff!). Tuesday afternoon I went on a “pilgrimage” around the island led by the staff that included reflections, prayers and songs at various stops. And Thursday we had a boat trip to island of Staffa which in addition to being a striking geologic example (and includes a huge cave with water pouring in and out that makes a musical sound that inspired one of Mendelsohn’s symphonies) is a nesting place for puffins! Puffins it turns out really like humans because we scare away the seagulls (who like to kill the little puffins). So when you sit quietly as a group at the edge of the two hundred foot cliff bunches of them fly over and waddle around you on their little webbed feet – quite the afternoon of holy delight!

The other big event was the Scottish porridge that was offered every day and which my British friends told me was a must have. I did have it every day and it was good – but it reminded me a lot of oatmeal (which I think it actually is). There was also one bar in the village just below the Abbey with beautiful views of the water where we frequently ended the day – which also was helpful with the community building ?

“Am fear a theid a dh’l, theid e tri uairean ann.”
Gaelic saying about Iona meaning those who come to Iona will come, not once, but three times.

There and Back Again: A Pastor’s Sabbatical Adventure #11

Iona Pilgrimage – Part 1
Iona is a small island at the south end of the island of Mull – amongst the Inner Hebrides islands off the coast of Scotland. Based on archaeological evidence it’s thought to have been occupied since the late Bronze Age (@1000 BC). While the population peeked around at around 500 in the middle ages the current year round residents number about 150 – but it is enough for a local elementary school (that is currently adding an addition). However after elementary school the children go to a boarding school in Oban (on the Scottish coast – reached by crossing the island of Mull (which takes one hour) and taking a ferry (another hour) and just come home on the weekends.
Getting to Iona is a bit of a pilgrimage journey in itself. I began by taking a three hour train ride from Glasgow to the end of the line in Oban. Then in Oban I took an hour long ferry ride to the Island of Mull. There a bus picked us up for the 40 mile trip across Mull – which is quite an experience in itself. On the one hand because Mull is beautiful with green rolling hills, lakes and valleys dotted with sheep and long haired, horned cows and only the occasional house or small settlement. Buy in addition the double decker bus winds its way up and down the hills and over bridges on a narrow one lane road (on which the cows and sheep like to wander) with frequent pull outs that allow cars, trucks or buses coming the other direction to get out of the way so you can pass (After a number of what seemed like near misses and teeterings on the edge I made sure to buckle my seat belt). While the train and ferry ride were full of talkative travelers and sight-seeing tourists the ride across Mull enveloped us in hushed contemplation that was mostly about the beauty (but also a bit about the terror). The bus drops off at the settlement of Fionnphort where we caught another ferry that carried us across the mile wide gap from Mull to the island of Iona. Fortunately, a van met us at the dock to pick up our luggage and a guide then lead us the final half mile or so to our final destination – the Iona Abbey.
While it’s thought that Iona was an important religious site even in its pagan days Iona’s Christian history began when St. Columba (Irish – Colm Cille, “church dove”) in the 6th century left (either because he was forced to or he wanted to – the sources conflict on this point) Ireland with a group of 12 faithful followers to (escape? and) evangelize the pagans of the islands and also eventually Scotland. Columba was in his early 40s when he established his Abbey and had various (mis)adventures on his way to converting the Picts and becoming a saint. One involved one of his friends/followers volunteering(?) to be buried alive to quell the pagan spirits of the place so they could build a church (St. Orans). Another was banishing a large “river beast” to the bottom of the River Ness (aka the Loch Ness Monster!) after it killed a Pict and threatened to eat one of Columba’s followers as well. Still another were his late night conversations with angels on the “Hill of Angels” secretly witnessed by one of his followers.
After Columba’s death the Abbey flourished as a center of learning and also religious and political life in the area. Among other things the famous illustrated bible manuscript the “Book of Kells” was produced there (and later spirited away for safe keeping to Kells in Ireland). Because of it’s even pre-Christian identification as a “thin place” – a place where the space between heaven and earth is thinner than other places – not to mention the presence of the relics of St. Columba – it is said that in ancient times over 40 kings and great ones of Scotland were taken to Iona to be buried around (poor) St. Orans chapel which neighbors the Iona Abbey. According to tradition Shakespeare’s Scottish King, Macbeth and – the king he murdered – Duncan are buried there. For this same reason, most recently John Smith (not the lover of Pocohontas but the Scottish charismatic leader of the British Labour party (who died suddenly of a heart attack opening the door for the election of Tony Blair as the (Labour Party) Prime Minister of the United Kingdom))) was buried in the small cemetery.
The Abbey and community began to decline two centuries later when Vikings began periodically raiding the coast – pillaging the Abbey of its valuables and wealth and slaughtering the monks. This death, destruction and decline continued for quite awhile until eventually the Vikings were converted to Christianity and instead of continuing their pillaging ways settled on the island themselves.
Around 1200 the Abbey got a new lease on life when it was reestablished as a Benedictine monastery along with a sister convent of similar size just up the road. These grew and thrived as well until the middle of the 1500’s when the Reformation took hold (thank you Martin Luther?) and brought an end to all things Roman Catholic in Scotland including the Benedictine Abbey and Convent of Iona.
Over the next few hundred years the Abbey and Convent fell into ruin (as the Convent still is today) with periodic efforts to restore and renovate it. After one such effort, the Duke who ruled the area and owned the Abbey donated them to what is now the Historic Trust of Scotland at the beginning of the 20th century with the condition that the Abbey be used as an ecumenical worship space.
Not much happened with that until a Presbyterian minister in Glasgow – George MacLoud – got involved. MacLoud was concerned with bridging the gap in working class Glasgow where he ministered between the rich and the working poor. In order to do that he came up with the idea of taking groups of them to Iona where they would live and work together for a few weeks at a time in restoring the Abbey. They lived in tents on the property and spent their days praying (and playing) and working together which, while they were Presbyterians, goes very much along with the “ora et labora” – pray and work – ethos of Benedictine religious communities. The effort was such a success that MacLoud continued to bring groups of men to the Abbey for many years and the present day Iona Community was born.
One of the interesting things about the actual “Iona Community” is that it does not reside at the Iona Abbey. Instead, the community of about 300 is spread mostly around Scotland and England with a growing number of members in continental Europe and a few in North America (all of whom became members and then later moved to North America). While visiting the Iona Abbey and participating in the program there is probably what got all of them involved in the first place being a member means formally joining the community and making a commitment to the follow the Rule of the community. The Rule isn’t especially long or complex and chiefly involves committing to serving by working for peace and justice where you live; meeting regularly in your “family group” made up of other members for fellowship and prayer; and supporting the community financially. The Community has an elected leader (which is a full time paid position) and has a particular focus on working with the poor in Glasgow.
The Iona Abbey; the work, worship and programs that take place there; and all the music and worship resources that have been and continue to be produced and published are a by-product of the Community but not actually the focus of the life of what is formally/officially the “Iona Community.”

There and Back Again: A Pastor’s Sabbatical Adventure #10

Wittenberg Part 2

I have visited Wittenberg 4 times (I believe) before the week there with our Youth Group and Friends, but it was very meaningful to not just visit for a day or an overnight but to actually live there for a week…so that the Castle Church (where Luther nailed (or at least posted (or at least associated)) his 95 Theses on October 31st 1517 that got the Reformation ball rolling) and the City Church (where he regularly worshipped and preached) became not just iconic images but the regular landmarks by which I navigated my way around town.  Historic Wittenberg is not a particularly big place and except when you are inside there isn’t really anywhere in town that isn’t in view of one or both – and the Youth Hostel that we stayed in is actually part of the reconstructed castle of Frederick the Wise to which the Castle Church is attached. So it was almost like the most iconic symbol of the Reformation was our home for a week.

Along with that our morning and evening worship services alternated between the Castle Church and the City Church, and so they became not just places I visited and observed from “the outside” as a tourist, but places where I heard the Word proclaimed, prayed and sang about the meaning of life and faith. The Castle Church where Martin Luther (right in front of the pulpit) and Phillip Melanchthon’s (not 10 feet to the left of Luther) bodies are buried (and where Barlach’s “Schwebende Engel” hovers over the aisle); and the City Church with the amazing altarpiece and triptych of Luther, Melanchthon, Bugenhagen and the meaning of the Reformation by Lucas Cranach the Elder (a print of which hangs in my office at Good Shepherd) became not just museums I’ve visited but living, breathing worship spaces for me/us where God has sought me through worship.

Not unrelated to all that, walking the main street of Wittenberg that Luther and Melanchthon and Cranach and the others walked so many times; visiting once more Luther’s room at the Wartburg Castle where Luther lived and hid out for 10 months (and translated the New Testament into the language of the (German) people); and standing at the altar in the Augustinian monastery in Erfurt where Luther celebrated his first Holy Communion I experienced Luther in a new way – as a person not so different from (you and) me. It came into focus for me in particular at the Augustinian monastery in Erfurt when the pastor told us that the stained glass windows with their images of parrots and lions and roses (that some say were the basis for the seal of Martin Luther – the Luther Rose) were the same ones that were there in Luther’s time…..that just as we meditate Sunday by Sunday on the architecture and symbols of Good Shepherd…..these are the images and symbols Luther lived with and meditated on….and that the stone altar in the front of the worship space was the same one that had been there in Luther’s time…..the one at which he so fearfully celebrated his first Holy Communion.

I have been standing behind altars and looking out at congregations as I’ve celebrated Holy Communion (at times fearfully) for almost 30 years. After our worship at the Augustinian monastery I walked up to that altar and as I touched it looked out at the congregation as Luther would have and I felt this new (or perhaps renewed) connection to Luther. He was no longer just Luther the legend, but Luther the person and Luther the pastor.

I say “renewed” because it was reading and writing a term paper on psychoanalyst Erik Erikson’s book “Young Man Luther” (that is deservedly panned by historians for its inaccuracies) – which spends about a whole chapter on Luther’s fear and trembling when celebrating Holy Communion for the first time – for a seminar course in college that brought Luther as a real person alive to me for the first time. Among other things Erikson is famous for his writings about the “identity crisis” we all have to come to terms with as we move from child to adult in “Young Man Luther” he portrays Luther’s search for a gracious God as he moved through young manhood in those terms. Although Erikson does not get all the Luther facts right, I believe he still does a meaningful job of bringing Luther to life as a real person – one that I could identify with. That has shaped the course of my faith journey in significant ways including my decision to become a pastor…..and I felt a sense of renewal and return to that experience through my participation in the Luther500 event.

There and Back Again: A Pastor’s Sabbatical Adventure #9

Lutherstadt Wittenberg and the ELCA Luther500 Youth Event!

Part 1


Since you will no doubt be hearing directly from our youth participants about what we did day by day at the Luther500 Youth Festival, and since only they can tell you what it meant to them I won’t repeat or try to do that. Instead, I thought I would share some impressions and expressions of what the week meant to me.

The first  is how thrilled I am that God at work through Good Shepherd and in our youth ministry was able to pull this off! I know that God is all-powerful and all-knowing and can do all things but still…..this was a dream come true for me to have an event/opportunity/experience like this happen for our youth and families  at Good Shepherd. To God be the glory of course but I don’t think there is another congregation that is providing more varied and meaningful and quality programs/experiences/activities to explore the history, meaning and relevance for today of the Reformation than we are and have been for the past year and our Luther500 youth trip is another great example of that.

As you may know this trip represents the completion of one full cycle of summer youth trips that is an important component of our youth ministry strategy at Good Shepherd and one that I hope will continue to be an ongoing part of the program. The cycle involves a trip each summer that alternates between the ELCA Youth Gathering, a Mission Trip and an “adventure” trip.  We accomplished this beginning with the ELCA Youth Gathering in Detroit in the summer or 2015; our Youth Works Mission trip to Mingo County, West Virginia last summer 2016 and now the Luther500 trip to Wittenberg that we have just completed.

With different emphases, each of these trips provide unique experiential opportunities for faith formation that include varying amounts of learning, service, worship, personal and spiritual growth, bible study and group building (with a lot of fun thrown in for good measure).  By their very nature trips like these are deeply impactful, transformative and create life long memories and connections to what our faith is all about for our youth (not to mention for the adults who accompany them (and me)).

We had a great group 10 high school youth, two middle school youth and one just one year out of high school young adult. I am also very thankful for the 7 adult leaders who were with us all of whom made significant contributions to the experience so that there was a minimal loss of blood, no broken bones, no one left behind at the Wartburg Castle and we all returned with our sanity intact (or at least as intact as it was when we left). It was especially nice to have Laurie Wilhelm’s mother Anne along with us – not just because she was such a consistently positive part of the group (not to mention such a surprisingly good ping pong player as some of our young men discovered), but it also meant I wasn’t the oldest one in our group ? – although I was the oldest one of our group on the high ropes course!

In addition I want to say a big BIG  thank you to our Youth Coordinator Lisa Long who along with God is the biggest reason we were able to accomplish this trip. Doing a trip like this is a huge undertaking from recruiting to fundraising to planning to organizing. I believe just about everyone in the congregation participated in some way in making this trip possible – whether by giving money or coming to the German dinner or supporting us with their prayers and advice but it would not have been possible without God at work through Lisa’s gifts and efforts. I came up with the idea and did a lot of cheer leading but it was all the rest of you and Lisa through whom God made this happen. Thanks be to God!

There and Back Again: A Pastor’s Sabbatical Adventure #8

There and Back Again – A Pastor’s Sabbatical Adventure #8

With a week of travel to meet our Luther 500 Youth and Friends and then a week with our Luther 500 Youth and Friends I’m afraid I’ve fallen behind a bit with my posts and am hoping to make it up with a couple of posts in a row. I’m currently in Vernazza – which Rick Steves calls the “jewel” of the Cinque Terre (literally “Five Villages” (I say “literally” but my Italian is quite a bit more limited than my relatively limited German)) – five (originally) fishing villages cut off from the rest of the Italian Riviera by the mountainous coastline that they sit within.  It’s a beautiful spot (which if I eventually figure out how to share my Facebook posts with Good Shepherd’s Facebook page you might even be able to see). Vernazza has no relationship to Martin Luther and the Reformation….but people said they hoped I also took time to just have fun occasionally on my sabbatical – so this is that ?.

 After four weeks in one place I said goodbye to Berlin on Friday, June 9th and began a roundabout week- long journey on the way to meeting our Youth and Friends in Rothenberg ob der Tauber on June 18th. I first went northwest (instead of southwest towards Rothenberg) to Schwerin the capital city of the German “Bundestaat” state of Mecklenberg-Vorpommern to visit a friend who lives in Maryland but grew up in Schwerin (when it was part of the DDR – Deutsches Demokratisches Republique (aka communist East Germany). For many years she has invited me to visit her beautiful home town when she is back to visit her family – which I did and it was! I spent the weekend at a sort of Seafarer’s International (elder) hostel on Lake Schwerin(?), the third(?) largest fresh water lake in Germany. It would have been perfect except that both nights the restaurant that was most of the first floor of the building I was in (but is not part of the “hostel”) was closed in order to host either one or two (Russian?) wedding receptions that went on till two or three (at least that’s when I finally fell asleep) complete with disco music and a bass beat that caused the whole building (including my bed) to vibrate.

Schwerin has a beautiful palace (what medieval German city doesn’t?….but this one is indeed exceptional). I’ve run into mentions of Schwerin a number of times in my travels. With the rest of northern Germany they accepted the Reformation early on; they were the place where Barlach’s “Hovering Angel” (more on that another time) was sent after it was removed from the Gorlitz Cathedral (and eventually melted down to make munitions for the Nazi war machine); and it was an active part of the “Peaceful Revolution” with (tens of?) thousands protesting in the streets that ultimately brought about the peaceful fall of the Berlin Wall and reunification of East and West Germany.

From Schwerin I went to Hamburg. Third largest city in Germany; a rival to Baltimore in the container shipping industry and the place where Lisa Long’s favorite musical group (the Beatles) rose from obscurity playing in the Star Club along the Reeperbahn. Like Dresden, Hamburg was destroyed by Allied (fire(?)) bombing in the apocalpytically named Operation Gommorah in 1943.  It’s also the birthplace of Johannes Brahms and I enjoyed a wonderful lunch time string quartet in the Brahms concert hall. An “Imperial Free City” it was a significant part of the powerful medieval/renaissance Hanseatic League trading association (which some say was an antecedent of the EU if not the United Nations. Although the Hanseatic league is no more it’s imprint can still be found today in trademarks like “Lufthansa” (notice the Hansa for Hanseatic in there).

After three nights in Hamburg I went on to Wurzburg – birth place of my colleague Pastor Julie Brigham who serves St. Paul and Mt. Moriah on the other side of South Mountain from us. Her parents were there as part of the American military presence in southern Germany after WWII. There, as in the rest of southern Germany, the typical greeting is not “Guten Tag” but  “Gruss Gott” which (I would say) literally means, “Greetings God.” While any Germans reading this can correct me I would like to think it goes back to Hebrews 13:2 which says, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” We find and encounter God in the stranger, the other and this greeting acknowledges that.  I have not spent enough time in southern Germany to be used to this greeting. Everyone says it quite matter-of-factly and pretty much completely independent of any religious meaning. But when someone says it to me I’m taken aback and feel like we are suddenly having a conversation about God and faith.

Wurzburg is home to the spectacular “Residenz” – the mini (but not at all small) Versailles built by the Prince Bishop of Wurzburg to live in. He was called a “Prince Bishop” because like others he was not only a religious but also a secular ruler – given the title of prince by Barbarossa – Holy Roman Emperor Frederick 1 – in the 12th century. Spectacular as the “Residenz” is it shows one of the reasons that led to the Reformation. The church had become such a worldly and wealthy entity that it bore little if any resemblance to the life and way of Jesus of Nazareth. It was an oppressive and corrupt part if not leader of the rich and powerful systems that benefit the few and bleed and burden the rest. As such it was ripe for the picking (or reforming) when Luther came along.

One of the books I’m reading about the Reformation by Kenneth Appold makes the perhaps obvious but no less striking and fresh for me point that the rise and fall of the Christian church since the time of Jesus can be traced to the way in which ordinary Christians and church leaders have embodied the way of Jesus or not. The more they have lived Jesus way of serving, self-sacrificing, cross shaped love the more they have been a compelling force that draws people in. The times they have followed the way of wealth and power and Prince Bishops the more they have turned people off and away.

As we  sing, “They will know we are Christians by our love by our love. They will know we are Christians by our love.” Makes me wonder if there is any relationship between this principle and the struggles the Lutheran church in America is having today. It’s not all about numbers certainly, but are we obscuring in some way(s) the love, justice and joy of Jesus that is such a compelling and irresistible message when embodied as Jesus embodied it and as we the “body of Christ” in the world today are called to do as well.

In Wurzburg I also for the first time became acquainted with St. Killian – the patron saint of Wurzburg. Along with two companions he (and they) quite literally lost their heads in the 9th century when trying to convert the pagans of Wurzburg to Christianity. But it worked – that is to say that after cutting off all their heads the Wurzburgers must have felt guilty or obligated in some way to go ahead and join the new religion (because they did). Even though they all lost their heads, Killian for some reason became the patron saint. Now he and his companions (and others) (with heads reattached ) adorn (in statue form) a beautiful bridge across the river Main “die Alte Mainbrucke” – built around the time Luther was born in the late 15th century. Today tourists and locals gather every evening as the sun goes down to drink the local wine and chat under the gaze of Killian and company.

On the other side of the bridge from the town at the top of a long steep sweaty climb is the Marienberg Fortress which among other things contains the biggest collection of wood and stone sculptures by Tillman Riemenschneider including his famous Adam and Eve sculptures.  He was one of my most meaningful “discoveries” on this sabbatical. A great artist with a great life story that overlaps with Martin Luther’s in meaningful ways who spent most of his life and career in Wurzburg. Along with Ernst Barlach (another great “discovery” mentioned above) I hope to dedicate a post to just him.

In the “Remembrance Room” in the town hall I once again ran into the Cross of Nails community which Wurzburg joined as a town in the years following WWII. Wurzburg was pretty much leveled in only 20 minutes of bombing just 6 weeks before the end of WWII. The room contains a history of the rise of the Nazis and Wurzburg’s complicity in that and also are a series of devastating before and after the bombing photos. On the wall is letter written by the “Lord Mayor” George Rosenthal for the dedication of the Remembrance Room. After owning responsibility for the support for the evil of Adolph Hitler that led to the bombing, it also acknowledges there is something that is not right about the targeting and annihilation of civilian populations that was done by all sides in WWII. His letter ends with these words:

 “…. when the war was over the victors understood that they were not free of guilt either.

 What remains is mourning: the dead of the raid of March 16th 1945 will not return to life, the destruction of the city cannot be undone.

 What remains, as well, is the lasting admonition to us to stand firmly against war

against any reign of terror

and against racism.”

Scavenger Hunt Day 9 – Love

The finale of the Luther 500 Festival, was a performance of Luther the Rock Opera.  What a fun and creative summary of Martin Luther’s life.  After the show, some of us headed for home.  Others stayed to further explore Germany.  Before we parted ways, we chose our last Fruit of the Spirit – love.  We have enjoyed this scavenger hunt and hope you have too.  If you’ve missed any of the previous fruits, feel free to go back and add to them.  We love to hear what you find.

Scavenger Hunt Day 8 – Self Control

Our last full day in Wittenberg, we challenged ourselves to a high ropes course.  It was a lot of fun and we enjoyed the fellowship and team building the experience offered us all.  We ate lunch with some youth from Oakland and even learned to felt.  And.. because it was Day 8 of our Fruits of the Spirit Scavenger Hunt. We looked around town for the spirit of self control.  

We have all enjoyed reading your comments about where you see the fruits of the spirit in the world.  You may add your findings on our Facebook page at any time.

Scavenger Hunt Day 7 – Faithfulness

Today we visited the towns of Eisenoch and Erfurt.  Eisenoch is the home of the Wartburg Castle where Frederick the Wise protected Martin Luther after Pope Leo X excommunicated him.  It was also where he translated the New Testament.  In Erfurt we saw St. Mary’s Cathedral where he was ordained and visited the Augustinian Monastery where he served as a monk and presided over his first mass.  It was a great place to make us think about the Fruit of the Spirit – Faithfulness.   We’ve be doing this Scavenger Hunt for 7 days and it’s been a lot of fun.  We hope you will visit our Facebook page and share your fundings. If you find a different Fruit of the Spirit and would like to share it, feel feel to go back to that fruit’s post and share.  We love to hear from you.


Scavenger Hunt Day 6 – Gentleness

We spent the day in Wittenberg.  It started with a tour of the Luther House – where we saw his actual Bible (complete with his notes and underlines.)  Afterwards we toured the town on bikes.  Of course we searched for today’s Fruit of the Spirit – Gentleness.

You can participate in our Fruits of the Spirit Scavenger Hunt too.  Just check out our Facebook page and share your findings as a comment to that day’s post!!

Scavenger Hunt Day 5 – Peace

  • We visited Berlin today.  There we saw the usual tourist stops: Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, the Memorial to Murdered Jews, of course the Berlin Wall, but we were also able to have prayer time in St. Mary’s Church.  The Martin Luther statue below is just outside the church.  While we were exploring, we also searched for our Fruits of the Spirit Scavenger Hunt  fruit of the day – Peace.  We have enjoyed all of your posts sharing where you see the fruits in your life.  Don’t be shy.  If you missed a day you can come by on another.  So…to play along, just click on our Facebook page and share in the information.

Scavenger Hunt Day 4 – Joy

Tuesday was a nice day – no travel.  We instead were able to really get to explore Wittenberg a bit.  We learned about Lucas Cranach (and his snake with bat wings,) toured the town of Wittenberg, and searched for joy in our Fruits of the Spirit Scavenger Hunt.  We invite you to check out our Facebook Page and play along with us as we search for all the fruits of the spirit.