Songs of Hope
This year our pilgrimage centers around the power of art and music to bring hope and healing to communities that have suffered under oppressive regimes.
This trip is more than an art tour or a history lesson. We are intentionally seeking to be transformed by an encounter with God. We do not seek trinkets in gift shops but jewels of insight to carry in the center of our hearts. Each day will have an opportunity for group learning and individual reflection.
And we invite you to go along with us! You can journal with us, pray with us and learn with us. You get to do all this without the jetlag! Below you will find daily devotionals and selected photos to inspire your reflections. Also follow along with our Facebook photo album!
Read more from pastor Dave in our June Newsletter.
To download a PDF of the Devotional Booklet click here.
click images for questions for reflection, or download a pdf of the devotional booklet.
Day 1: Arrive in LeipzigWednesday, June 5, 2019
This creed has accompanied pilgrims who walk the Camino de Santiago de Compostela for centuries.
As we begin our pilgrimage can you pray this creed and let it shape your experience?
What are your hopes for this time? What is your prayer?
Day 2: LeipzigThursday, June 6, 2019
Today we will hear the story of how people used music and peaceful demonstration to overthrow oppression.
What feels oppressive to you today?
What liberation do you yearn for in the center of your heart?
Can you name it?
Can you sing it?
Day 3: Torgau & WittenbergFriday, June 7, 2019
Today we will visit the site of Luther’s teaching and work.
Can you imagine the courage that it took to boldly take on the Church?
What would make that worth the danger?
What needs to be reformed in your life?
In your family?
In our church or country?
Day 4: DresdenSaturday, June 8, 2019
Empires have caused suffering and pain indiscriminately throughout history. Today, as we bear witness to the destruction and rebuilding of Dresden, what troubles you?
What gives you hope?
Day 5: Travel to PragueSunday, June 9, 2019
Today we will travel to Prague through some beautiful country. We will find time to gather around word and sacrament.
So how will you respond to God’s invitation?
Day 6: PragueMonday, June 10, 2019
Can you imagine that God has been preparing you for this experience for a long time? What patient love God has for us! Now you are here and ready for what God has to give you. Can you be open to it?
What did you see today that sparked your imagination?
Day 7: Old Town PragueTuesday, June 11, 2019
Jan Hus was martyred for preaching many of the same doctrines that Martin Luther would espouse a century later.
How do we celebrate the saints who proclaimed the gospel but were not “successful” by worldly standards?
Day 8: Jewish ResistanceWednesday, June 12, 2019
Hitler’s plan to make Prague a city devoid of Jews but with a museum to their memory was thwarted by the success of allied forces in WWII. Jewish art and music have survived and thrived.
What image or sound connected with you today?
Where is the “center of the universe” by Wiesel’s definition today?
Day 9: Headed HomeThursday, June 13, 2019
As we end this portion of our trip, our paths will diverge. Some of us will continue on to Vienna. Others will travel to another country for vacation. Many will return home.
Eventually we all will return home.
Can your homecoming be different this time?
What are you bringing back in the suitcase of your soul?
follow for more!
Leipzig: Days 1 & 2
Our first evening we convened after full days of travel and had the first of many meals together on this trip, at the historic Thüringer Hof!
We began Day 2 bright & early with 8:30 am meditation - a discussion on Bach's quote, and met our wonderful guide for our walking tour of Leipzig! A highlight was Lutheran church, St. Nikolai (no photographs were allowed!), famous for the peace prayers that led the nonviolent movement in Leipzig and influenced the fall of Berlin Wall. On the evening of October 9, 1989 an estimated 70,000 people came together in the plaza and throughout the streets of Leipzig to peacefully challenge and demand change from the communist system. Other sights included: University of Leipzig & church facade, Stasi Museum, a Holocaust Memorial museum that focused on bringing light to the forced nazi labor camps in Leipzig (look up), and last - but not least! the St. Thomas church where Bach famously is buried.
Our day ended with a very German meal, and a visit from the devil at Auerbachs Keller, where Goethe and Luther are both claimed as famed guests!
Wittenberg & Torgau: Day 3
On the move! We said our goodbyes to Leipzig and got on the bus for a day that all Lutheran's dream of...a visit to Martin Luther’s home and the church where Luther nailed his 95 theses! All Saints’ Church, commonly referred to as Castle church, is also Luther's place of burial.
Dresden: Day 4
With just 1 full day in Dresden, we woke up and knew a big day was ahead of us! Our hotel was located across the Elbe river from the Old Town of Dresden, and (with the exception of some construction cranes) had a beautiful view of the skyline of the city.
We walked with our guide, Claudia through the city, seeing landmarks including the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Opera house, Zwinger, and The Fürstenzug (Procession of Princes). After our tour we went to see the Gruenes Gewoelbe (Green Valut), the "treasury chamber" of Augustus the Strong that consisted of 8 rooms filled with priceless objects made of silver, gold, amber and more! We enjoyed lunch together and dispersed for the afternoon to explore. Many of us headed to Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady), which like almost all of the buildings in Dresden was rebuilt from the ruins in recent times. One of our favorite parts was the sanctuary space in the crypt below, where an incredibly talented young woman was performing a piano piece which you can watch here!
While this city looks old, the bombing of Dresden demolished most of the history of the city. Dresden has made the decision to bring the city back to life in the old style. The sandstone used to rebuild oxidizes to make it look long-weathered and quite old, even though much reconstruction did not come until 1990s.
Prague: Days 5 & 6
We arrived for lunch and a brief orientation of our neighborhood from our guide, Darina. From our hotel we are right on the edge of the Old Town, where we learned that the Powder Tower could be our indicator for entering in and our of the oldest parts of the city. Sunday afternoon was the busiest day we've seen so far! Thanks to Darina many of us exchanged remaining Euros and went on our ways to explore Prague for the afternoon - checking out parts of Old Town, climbing towers, walking to the river, and trying local beers!
Our evening ended with worship, when we congregated back in our hotel bar. We owe a big thanks to Karen who even stuck with her alter guild duties abroad, and made sure we had communion! She provided our linens (napkins) bread (rolls from breakfast), and wine (brought over from Germany!) - thank you, Karen for being creative and bringing this to us all! Pentecost readings seemed particularly apt while being in another country, as Dave asked us to consider: "What would you say if you could suddenly speak a language that everyone could understand? What would you want to hear ?”
Day 6: Getting to know Prague
Our first full day in Prague, and what a day it was! We caught the bus to head up to the Castle and the spectacular St. Vitus Cathedral where we were able to spend our whole morning learning about the history of this historic city. One notable sight that we saw from our bus on our way to the Castle was the Strahov Stadium. We also passed the Strahov Monastery belonging to the royal cannonry of Premonstratensians, founded in 1140. Some of us revisited the Library and Gallery in the afternoon, which housed beautiful rooms, artifacts and artwork.
The photographs from today's walking tour speak for themselves!
Prague: Days 7 & 8
Day 7: Old Town & Communism Museum
One of the enjoyable things about having four nights in Prague is that many of us felt by the end of our time that we had gotten to know the city. Our days have been set-up with guided tours in the morning, and ample free time to explore in the afternoons, so by the time we had our “official” Old Town tour, many of us had discovered the sites on our own, although it was greatly enhanced by Darina’s history and anecdotes. We began in Old Town square where we arrived just before the hour and got to watch the chiming of the Astronomical Clock on the Old Town Hall building. We saw the Library (link) and walked together to the Charles Bridge. On our return through the square we stopped into Tyn Church (link) and Basilica of St. James.
For those of us who needed it, we took a break before entering into the Museum of Communism. Their exhibition was incredibly detailed and well-done, describing the rise, the reality and the fall of Communism throughout Eastern Europe, and specifically how it affected the Czech people.
Our evening finished with dinner at Novometsky Pivovar. Out of all the meals we’ve had with potatoes.. this one had the most! We were also treated to the songs of a talented accordion player... who was accompanied of one of our very own — Doug! :)
Day 8: Jewish Resistance: The Jewish Quarter & River Cruise
Ready to take on our last day together, our group ventured to the Jewish Quarter to hear about the injustices the Jewish people of Czech faced, and their resilience, in the face of incredible hatred that took over the hearts and minds of so many. We began at the Jewish Museum, which was housed in what originally was the Maisel synagogue. We read and heard more about the history of Jewish people in Prague, and were able to look at collections of manuscripts and artifacts. From here continued onto the Pinkas Synagogue. No longer an active synagogue, “In 1955-60 the Pinkas Synagogue was turned into a memorial to the nearly 80,000 Jewish victims of the Shoah from the Bohemian lands. One of the earliest memorials of its kind in Europe, it is the work of two painters, Václav Boštík and Jiří John. After the Soviet invasion of 1968, the memorial was closed to the public for more than 20 years. It was fully reconstructed and reopened to the public in 1995 after the fall of the Communist regime.” It was an incredibly powerful space to be in, surrounded by their names. Learn more about the memorial here.
Next we moved together through the Old Jewish cemetery, the Ceremonial Hall and the Klausen Synagogue, which housed additional cultural artifacts that help to give a picture of daily life for Bohemia/ Czech Jews, as well as important ceremonial and celebratory rituals. Lastly we visited the Old-New Synagogue, which is still an active synagogue. This entire morning and guided tour was very meaningful, and our guide, Darina was very knowledgable and helped us to understand the story of this community.
Our final night we had a wonderful dinner on a River Cruise, and luckily, a little rain couldn’t stop us from having fun! From the boat we were able to see more of the beauty of Prague from a perfect vantage point. And when the rain cleared, we had an incredible sunset to enjoy!
Vienna: Days 9 & 10
Our smaller Vienna group enjoyed a relaxing train ride from Prague to Vienna. We were all glad that Pastor Dave knew how to interpret the signs at the train station. Our evening meal was accompanied by enthusiastic musicians---an accordionist and a violinist. Our walking tour the next day through the old section was very interesting and the afternoon was free to explore. Some visited the Treasury where the Crown Jewels are held, some shopped and one daring Lutheran even climbed the 22-story St. Stephens tower. Our final evening together was capped off with a fabulous concert at Karlskirche: Orchester 1756 playing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and an aria sung by amazing Countertenor Nicholas Spanos. -- submitted by Bonnie E.