Members of the Meissen Commission worked hard on educational and musical matters all this morning before going up to the Wartburg this afternoon. This is the castle where Martin Luther spent many months being protected after his excommunication by the Pope. Not only did we do the tour, but we also joined in worship in the Kapelle and heard a superb sermon – pointed, brave, sharp, engaging – by the pastor, Martina Berlich. (I hope to get a text and will say more about one particular story, if I get it.)
You can't help but be impressed by the courage of Martin Luther, even if you don't agree with his theology or way of expressing it. To stand out and risk everything is not something we all do every day. Over dinner we were talking about how the churches in this part of Germany handled the Nazizeit…
When I got back after the visit to the Wartburg, with Telemann's cantata and Luther's courage playing around my mind, I discovered a load of emails and tweets about a story I knew nothing about – my 'enthusiastic support' for the churchads.net Christmas advert campaign.
For the record, I don't like it. And I said that when asked about the original concept. But, what I like isn't the point. The advert is aimed at getting people to notice it and talk about it. It is aimed not at those already in the club, but those outside. If it upsets Christians, we have to ask if this is, in fact, what the Jesus of the Gospels did, too. It was the religious people who nailed Jesus because they thought he was 'tacky' and 'blasphemous'. Christians get upset regularly by anything that pushes the implications of God truly becoming human – and, therefore, doing human things.
As I said in my quote, this advert will upset some people. So what? Everyone gets upset by something, and upsetting the Daily Mail is not exactly hard. I couldn't see the Daily Mail in Jerusalem of the first century defending the Jesus of the Gospels. This is just posturing.
I feel a bit cut off from the discussion because here in Germany there are more important things to think about than an ad campaign upsetting people. Also, I just heard on Twitter that Malcolm Wicks MP (Croydon North) has died: a great man, a great MP, great company, and a great servant of his constituency. Very sad and I wish I had known he was so ill.
Just to conclude with some Lutheran perspective: I picked up the following Martin Luther quotes on cards at the Wartburg:
Das ist der Teufel in uns, dass niemand genug hat! (The devil in us is that no one ever has enough!)
Für die Toten Wein, Wasser für die Lebenden – das ist eine Vorschrift für Fische. (Wine for the dead, water for the living – that is a recipe for fish.)
And perhaps the briefest and best wisdom at times of pressure:
Lang ist nicht ewig. (Long time is not eternity.)