Wittenberg Investigators Day 3

Catechetical Connections

Opening Devotion at the Old Latin School Chapel: Daily Prayer—Morning

Investigate Luther’s House

(Admission price is for the entire day; you can leave for lunch and return.)

Luther’s House was formerly the Augustinian monastery where Luther also lived when he came permanently to Wittenberg as a monk, a priest, and a teacher in 1515. After the monastery was officially closed, a portion of the large facility was used as student housing for those attending Wittenberg University and for visitors to Wittenberg. Many people were traveling long distances to meet Martin Luther and spend time around his table. The Luther family also lived in a portion of this building and called it home. This included the garden where Katie Luther grew vegetables and raised animals to supply food for them and their guests. The book The Table Talk of Martin Luther is a collection of anecdotes and conversations shared around the table at Luther’s home. First published just twenty years after Luther died by a friend, it is a wonderful glimpse into the everyday life of a larger-than-life historical figure. Here is an excerpt:

The multitude of books, said Luther, is much to be lamented; no measure nor end is held in writing; every one will write books; some out of ambition to purchase praise thereby, and to raise them names; others for the sake of lucre and gain, and by that means further much evil. Therefore the Bible, by so many comments and books, will be buried and obscured, so that the Text will be nothing regarded. I could wish that all my books were buried nine ells deep in the ground, for evil example’s sake, in that every one will imitate me with writing many books, thereby to purchase praise. But Christ died not for the sake of our ambition and vain-glory, but he died only to the end that his name might be sanctified. (Table Talk, Of Luther’s Complaint of the Multitude of Books)

After touring Luther’s House, choose an activity from the list below. If you haven’t finished before lunch, return to Luther’s House after eating to complete your activity.

Investigate Cranach’s Painting of the Ten Commandments; Investigate the Luther House Portrait Gallery

Review Luther’s Small Catechism: Ten Commandments

Lucas Cranach the Elder painted the piece Ten Commandments. Carefully examine the ten scenes depicted by Cranach.

  1. Assign the correct commandment to each section of the painting.
  2. Describe the action shown that violates the commandment.
  3. What is the function of the Ten Commandments?
  4. Because of our new life in Christ, how can we now be guided by the Ten Commandments? (Hint: consider the positive obedience Luther encourages in the explanations of the commandments.)

Investigate the Luther House Portrait Gallery

Luther is depicted in these portraits at different ages and stages of his life. Review the portraits and compare them to the timeline of Reformation events.

Lunch at Marktplatz and Elbe River Walk

Option 1: A Closer Look at Luther’s House

View Option 2

Visitors may continue a self-guided exploration of Luther’s House or choose to structure the afternoon exploration with one or more of the following activities: A Day in the Life of the Luther Family activity, Luther House Scavenger Hunt, or Portraits of Luther project.

A Day in the Life of the Luther Family Activity

Review Luther’s Small Catechism: Lord’s Prayer

Choose five to ten objects or a particular room or garden within Luther’s House. Write an essay or a fictional short story incorporating your chosen objects or location. What might a typical day in the Luther household look and sound like?

Luther House Scavenger Hunt

Locate the following objects. If possible, take a photo of the object and write a caption for the photo in your journal. Include your thoughts about what function this object had in Luther’s life.

Find the following items at Luther’s House:
  1. Katie Luther walking in the garden
  2. Luther’s pulpit
  3. View of Old Wittenberg
  4. Chest
  5. Pulpit hourglass
  6. Clock
  7. Luther’s desk
  8. Peter the Great’s signature
  9. Luther’s mug

Portraits of Luther Project

Return to the third floor of Luther’s House to view the Luther Portrait Gallery.

  1. Which portrait of Luther is your favorite?
  2. Read the description of that portrait.
  3. Approximately how old was Luther in the portrait you chose?
  4. What events were occurring in his life and in the Reformation movement at the time?
  5. Write an essay describing what features you like about this portrait and imagining what Luther might have been thinking or feeling during this time.
  6. Make your own sketch of Luther. Take a photo and share your portrait of Luther with a friend.

Luther House Journal Prompts

  1. If you were alive during the time of the Reformation, what would you like and dislike?
  2. Imagine yourself as a child or student of Martin Luther. Describe what your life might have been like. How is it different than your life today? What common objects in your home are not in Luther’s home? What positive and negative impact might the things you own have on your life?
  3. Find a piece of art or other object in the Luther House that you find inspirational. Write a poem and capture the sight, sounds, and emotions that the object brings to mind.

Option 2: A Closer Look at Marienkirche

View Option 1

Return to Marienkirche for Further exploration and reflection

Investigate the Liturgy

Review Luther’s Small Catechism: Third Commandment

In 1526, Martin Luther introduced a most novel idea: the German Mass. It was his desire to provide the opportunity for the German people to participate in worship in their own language. He did not abolish the Latin Mass and certainly supported its continued use. He similarly desired that people could also know and use Greek or Hebrew in worship and desired that children be taught a variety of languages in school. (Philip Melanchthon certainly influenced this understanding.) For Luther, it was always about the Word of God communicated to the people in order to bring the comforting news of their salvation in Jesus Christ. Luther wrote:

The Order is for the simple and for the young folk who must daily be exercised in the Scripture and God’s Word, to the end that they may become conversant with Scripture and expert in its use, ready and skilful in giving an answer for their faith, and able in time to teach others and aid in the advancement of the kingdom of Christ.

(Luther, The German Mass and Order of Divine Service, http://www.projectwittenberg.org/pub/resources/text/wittenberg/luther/germnmass-order.txt)

“Church” as we know it today is very different than what it was for Luther and the German people of his time. Luther indicates that a typical Sunday would have three services, with only the servants seeming not to have reason to be at all of them:

On Holy Days and Sundays we would have the usual Epistle and Gospel to continue, and have three sermons. About 5 a.m. or 6 a.m., some Psalms should be sung, as for Mattins; then a sermon on the Epistle for the day, chiefly for the sake of servants that they also may be provided for and may hear the Word of God, if they are not able to be present at other sermons. After that, an antiphon with Te Deum or Benedictus alternately, with Our Father, Collect, and Benedicamus Domino. At Mass, about 8 a.m. or 9 a.m., there should be a sermon on the Gospel, as found according to the season. In the afternoon, at Vespers, before Magnificat, sermons in regular course. . . . Hereby we provide that the layman has preaching and teaching enough: but, if a man wants more, he may find it on other days.

(Luther, The German Mass and Order of Divine Service; http://www.projectwittenberg.org/pub/resources/text/wittenberg/luther/germnmass-order.txt)

But in many ways, church today has also remained the same—not only from Luther’s time but for centuries prior to Luther. Here is the general order of the church service that Luther outlined in his German Mass, and that was based on the historic Latin Mass. What was the “new” element that Luther introduced? The use of German for the benefit of the worshipers!

  • Psalm (or spiritual song in German)
  • Kyrie eleison
  • Collect
  • Epistle
  • German hymn
  • Gospel
  • Creed (sung in German)
  • Sermon (on the Gospel and in German)
  • Lord’s Prayer
  • An Exhortation (or message) to Communicants (in German)
  • Consecration of bread
  • Elevation of Body of Christ
  • Distribution of Body of Christ
  • Sanctus (in German)
  • Consecration of wine
  • Distribution of Blood of Christ
  • Sanctus (in German)
  • Thanksgiving Collect
  • Aaronic Benediction
  1. What aspects of the German Mass do you recognize as a part of our worship today?
  2. Describe what you think it might be like to go to church and understand nothing or very little of what was being said or sung.
  3. What is a key difference between Luther’s German Mass and how we practice the distribution of the Sacrament of the Altar?

Marienkirche Journal Prompts

  1. What does church mean to you? What does the term Divine Service mean? What is your favorite part of the Divine Service?
  2. What experience did you have while standing inside St. Mary’s Church?
  3. Imagine Luther or Bugenhagen in the pulpit. What do you think these two pastors preached?
  4. Why do you think it is important to maintain and uphold the use of a common liturgy that dates back centuries?

Closing devotion at Corpus Christi Chapel: Daily Prayer—Close of the Day

Reformation Journal Cover

Reformation Journal: A Space for Personal Reflection

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