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First “Letter of Christ” Seminar Held at Lukaskirche, Leipzig, Germany

Mon, Mar 3, 2014

Germany, News, Uncategorized

This post was shared with us by Rev. Hugo Gevers of Leipzig, Germany. Rev. Gevers is the missionary to the migrant population in Leipzig through The Selbständige Evangelisch—Lutherische Kirche (SELK). Rev. Gevers, Rev. Markus Fischer, Vicar Thomas Beneke, and The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Missionary Rev. Dr. Christopher Ahlman are working together in Leipzig, Germany.

Vicar Thomas Beneke preached during the service at Lukaskirche on Sunday, February 16.

Vicar Thomas Beneke preached during the service at Lukaskirche on Sunday, February 16.

Recently, the congregation of St. Trinitatisgemeinde, Leipzig, chose a theme for the 2014 year to help encourage the congregation in its work of proclaiming the Gospel throughout Leipzig, and especially in Volkmarsdorf. The new theme is 2 Corinthians 3:3: “And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts (ESV).  This theme will be explored during several seminars over the first eight months of 2014. Our very first Seminar was held on 16. February in Lukaskirche (St. Luke’s Church) in Volkmarsdorf. Before the Seminar was held, we held a divine service in Lukaskirche. Everything felt just right. “Die Brücke,” the meetinghouse the congregation has established to serve the people of Volkmarsdorf, is just across the church square. Some new people from the neighborhood attended Divine Service. The congregation of St. Trinitatisgemeinde was able to worship in Lukaskirche, which we are working to lease from the State Church.

The congregation of St. Trinitatisgemeinde, along with visitors and guests, sings a hymn during the service on Sunday, February 16.

The congregation of St. Trinitatisgemeinde, along with visitors and guests, sings a hymn during the service on Sunday, February 16.

After the service, we celebrated the day with a fellowship meal in our “Brücke.” This day was very special for all our “Brücke” co-workers. This is because we could bring our new kitchen to good use (the space was recently renovated).

Rev. Dr. Christopher Ahlman explains the renovations to Die Brucke to a visitor during the luncheon.

Rev. Dr. Christopher Ahlman explains the renovations to Die Brücke to a visitor during the luncheon.

Rev. Hugo Gevers speaks with congregational member Ute Peterson-Schulz during the luncheon.

Rev. Hugo Gevers speaks with congregational member Ute Peterson-Schulz during the luncheon.

Following lunch, the congregation, community members, and other guests returned to Lukaskirche for the first Seminar, which introduced the new theme. First, Rev. Gevers gave a short talk (see below). Then, the attendants broke into three groups: German, led by Vicar Thomas Beneke; Iranian (using Farsi and German with Farsi translation), led by Rev. Gevers; and a group which spoke English, led by Rev. Dr. Christopher Ahlman. The groups discussed the Scriptural passage from which the theme is taken and prayer requests for moving forward with the project of occupying Lukaskirche and reaching out to greater Leipzig.

The English speaking group led by Rev. Dr. Christopher S. Ahlman, LCMS missionary to Leipzig.

The English speaking group led by Rev. Dr. Christopher S. Ahlman, LCMS missionary to Leipzig.

The groups came together after their group discussions and reported their main points and ideas. Then Rev. Gevers, Vicar Beneke and Dr. Ahlman led the group in a final prayer. Many guests were present throughout the event, and some expressed an interest in visiting again.

Vicar Beneke leads the German group in their discussion of the verse.

Vicar Beneke leads the German group in their discussion of the verse.

Below, you can find Rev. Gevers’ brief introduction to the seminar:

We have reduced our view of God to an ice cold stone. This ice cold stone is heavy in our hearts and is often an instrument of evil to God and man alike.

Rev. Gevers clutches a stone as he speaks about our stone cold hearts being transformed by God.

Rev. Gevers clutches a stone as he speaks about our stone cold hearts being transformed by God.

This fact was once demonstrated when a large group of men came to Jesus with a woman caught in adultery (John Chapter 8, 1-10). They threw this woman in front of Jesus’ feet and each held a stone weapon in their hands. With this instrument they wanted to kill and to hurt.  However, we know how the story ends. That day a revolution happened in the minds of those men. When Jesus stood up and said: “Let he, who is without sin, cast the first stone” (John 8:7) the hearts of these men were turned around. They would not be killing and maiming on this day. The revolution that happened with those men in front of Jesus happened again and again in many hearts. God has changed our hearts of stone to hearts of flesh! Because of Jesus dying on the cross and the Holy Spirit coming to us, our hearts have been revolutionized. That is the reason why we no longer stone women in our streets today.

But still many have turned away from this same Jesus. Some have forsaken the promises of God, given in Baptism. Others have never heard of the message of Christ. This is the case in the midst of us here in Germany and in Leipzig too. That is why we are here today. We want to look to God for strength and ask him to guide us in all we do.

Toward the end of last year, the co-workers of “Brücke” decided that we need to spend more time praying and speaking to congregation members about the Bible and our status as Christians in Leipzig. We also felt the need to encourage each other to move ahead courageously because God is ultimately behind us and through Christ in us.  Because of Jesus, we are Christians and only by virtue of the Holy Spirit living in us can we truly be a letter of Christ to the community around us. Only by virtue of this fact the people may once again experience a revolution of their minds. This is the reason why the seminars were planned in the first place. 

So began our very first Seminar in St. Luke. In four more Seminars we will focus on the Scripture from 2. Corinthians 3,3 once again. “You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”

The next Seminars will be held on following days with the following thematic focus points:

27. April:  God is the author of the letter.  In this session we will seek focus on God’s Word from which we can faithfully communicate the message without becoming bogged down by our own human lack of resources and hectic plans.

25. May We are the letter? (Pastor Dr. Neumann will do the introductory seminar). We will deepen our view on the concept of fellowship in the church.

31. August:  Letters are there to be read?  We will look for creative ways to communicate the message of Christ to the people in our area. We will also look at the amazing things God has already done for and among us.

19. Oktober: This will be a summary of the whole year’s events. The day will end with a fellowship meal. On this day Bishop Hans Jorgt Voigt will join us (Bishop of SELK)!

We are looking forward to an exciting year of Seminars.

  • To read a Eurasia Blog devotion based on the theme text, click here.
  • Please pray for the remaining seminars, that they would be fruitful and encouraging.

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