It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. – Galatians 5:1
Leipzig is not at all like Dresden. Where Dresden is glittery and picturesque, laid out like an inviting, vibrant, inspired work of art, Leipzig is more workmanlike – practical, focused, utilitarian, on-task.
But Rebekah and I loved the vibe we felt walking through the busy streets. We rode The Saxonian in the morning, walked from the railway station into the old part of the town, and immediately got our bearings when we looked up to see the inspirational St. Nicholas Church (photo above), the epicenter of the peaceful revolution of 1989.
The beautiful church has been a presence in Leipzig since around 1165. It has been built, destroyed, and renovated many times and the building we explored dates to the 16th century.
Like I said, Leipzig is not a photography gem. But there is a palpable energy to the city that grabbed us and we want to go back. There is a lot we missed by cutting the visit short, everything from the Stasi Museum (secret police) to the Battle of the Nations monument (from Napoleonic times), to the Holocaust Memorial, to music festivals and more.
We found the St. Thomas Church where Bach was choirmaster, then enjoyed the Bach museum. We may not have been able to use the organ recital tickets I worked so hard to secure, but we did sit down to enjoy an accomplished musician putting the beautiful instrument through its paces.
We lunched at a sidewalk cafe, ran into a powerful sculpture that spoke deeply to the division, the oppression, the angst, the depression, and the confusion of postwar East Germany (Wolfgang Mattheuer, “Der Jahrhundertschritt” Step of Century, 1984. It’s his best-known work and an allegory for the 20th century, showing the inner conflict of the last century. It was also the artist’s expression of hope for a better future…).
Then we made our way back to St. Nicholas’ Church, where we meandered around the magnificent sanctuary and listened to a short organ recital that literally rumbled our souls with a deep resonance and an energy that inspired both reverence and awe.
Freedom is a Spiritual Gift:
I honestly believe that faith in God – along with the promise and invitation of Jesus – is the most powerful, compelling force for hope and freedom this world has ever known. The revolution of 1989 gained critical momentum when, in the fall of 1989, St. Nicholas pastor Christian Fuehrer facilitated a more intentional conversation about change by initiating Monday Prayers for Peace. The crowds could hardly be contained and eventually spilled outside to the streets.
People prayed, they held candles and banners, and they called for change. Despite violence and roadblocks from security forces, the numbers grew. People were arrested and beaten, the East German government (who had recently congratulated China on the massacre at Tiananmen Square) gave orders to shoot, tensions increased.
Regardless, and because this was a faith-based movement, 70,000 showed up in downtown Leipzig October 9th, chanting “We are the people” and “No violence.” Security forces backed down and the movement quickly spread.
So there I was, standing outside St. Nicholas’ Church on a historical plaque marking the demonstrations, when the text came in from Andrew that baby (Mr. T) was on his way. I looked up again at the church before we hurried to check out of our hotel, and I prayed this prayer:
“Thank you, loving God, for placing the seed of the spirit of hope and freedom in each and every human soul. May our new grandson grow up in a world where he both lives into the promise and becomes a source of hope for others. So long as there is life and love there is hope. We are grateful; and – at the same time, Lord – I feel this burden of responsibility for others, to show that because we live in the light others may too. Amen.”
Enjoy these images from another epic day in Germany.
Let freedom ring! – DEREK