Friday, February 9, 2007

Hier Ich Stehe

There is a Luther gift shop across the street from the Castle Church in Wittenberg. It was here that my friend Jerry bought me a pair of souvenir socks imprinted with the words “Here I Stand” (in German, of course.)

I wonder if some are offended by the gift shop and the socks. They might seem to trivialize the importance of what took place on the door across the street - and what Luther was actually risking when he said those words in front of Emperor Charles V himself, heir to the 1000-year-old Holy Roman Empire.

"Unless I can be instructed and convinced with evidence from the Holy Scriptures or with open, clear and distinct grounds and reasoning - and my conscience is captive to the Word of God - then I cannot and will not recant, because it is neither safe nor wise to act against conscience.

Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen"

There have been numerous movies made of Luther. Most portray this scene of Luther at the Diet of Worms as a towering, heroic figure - defying Emperor and Pope with certainty and courage. But I like the most recent movie (Luther), where the filmmakers tried to more honestly capture Luther’s terror and doubt. He was, after all, just human.

And I think Luther would approve of the socks - at least in this sense. They bring us back to earth. Luther was nothing if not earthy. “We are all still beggars,” said Luther, shortly before his death. Shoeless beggars - in ridiculous looking socks.

The socks remind me to not take myself too seriously - even while considering the weightiest of matters, the defense of the very Gospel of Christ itself. This is useful to remember when blogging. Or when doing anything else, for that matter.

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