Celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation is kind of a big deal for me. (That doesn’t come as much of a shock for my family or my students.)
There is something about anniversaries and remembering the original event they celebrate or commemorate that seems special. Especially if it is a number with a “zero” at the end. After all, that is why there was a huge turnout for the ANZAC celebrations in Gallipoli on the 100th anniversary of the battle there. England also held major events surrounding the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta two years ago.
I recently returned from a European Reformation tour, celebrating the 500th anniversary of Luther’s nailing of the 95 Theses to the door of the Schloßkirche – also known as the “Castle Church” in Wittenberg, Germany.
A number of “Luther Cities” (Lutherstadt) were also on the itinerary. Erfurt, the site of his university and his monastery, and Eisenach, Luther’s home during his schooldays and close to Wartburg Castle where he translated the New Testament into German. Worms, as well, where he made his famous stand before the Diet or Council.
The tour also followed in the footsteps of other significant Reformers, such as John Calvin (in both Strasbourg, France and Geneva, Switzerland), Ulrich Zwingli (in Zurich, Switzerland) and Martin Bucer (also Strasbourg, France).
We stopped at the site of the martyrdom of Jan Hus, the Bohemian Pre-Reformer who was burned at the stake a hundred years before Luther, and I visited the memorial in Brussels to William Tyndale where he was also put to death for translating the English Bible.
Is this history important?
Why does it matter if you go to these places? We don’t believe that there is any special spiritual power or grace conferred on the traveler as they once imagined for the medieval pilgrims.
However, the reality of what these significant men and women of the Reformation did is confirmed when you look at Luther’s tiny study at Wartburg or the table where he taught students in the Lutherhalle, Wittenberg. You can imagine Calvin taking his chair in St. Peter’s Cathedral, Geneva or Zwingli in his study and pulpit in Zurich – and realise that these were real people who God used for His purposes in the time He placed them.
I’m happy to have been privileged to stand in these places, and to remember that God can use any of us in the place He has given us – perhaps at Rehoboth – to accomplish His will.
Mrs. Vivian kept a travel blog for her students while she was away. You can read about her adventures here.