Sunday, June 27, 2010

Martin Luther's little apple tree

Martin Luther is best remembered by people as the priest who by posting 95 theses for debate at the Wittenberg church door, unwittingly started the Protestant Reformation. The Reformation is a watershed period in Western history. As a result the Roman Church was forced to discard its worldly trappings and return to its spiritual roots and and other Christians were free to worship as what their understanding of Scripture would say.

But personally I would like to remember Luther about his fondness for apple trees. Perhaps one of his most famous quotes is

"If I knew that world would fall into pieces tomorrow, I will still plant my little apple tree"

This quote is read by many as about faith. Another Protestant minister who started another Reformation in the 20th century United States (this time on civil rights) and shared Luther's name, Dr Martin Luther King Jr used the quote in his sermons. Thus people thought it was of Dr King but it was not.

In the devastation wrought upon by Hitler's Third Reich on Germany, Albert Speer, Hitler's favourite Nazi (later sentenced to 20 years in prison in Nuremberg) and architect reflected on what the war did and how Germans can recover from it. He saw German schoolchildren plant little apple trees and he remembered the lessons of a Lutheran childhood, Luther and his little apple tree.

There is something eternal about little trees. They can be chopped down but still we long for these trees to grow up, give us shade and if they are fruit bearing like apple trees, give us fruit.

Luther did not expect his world to fall into pieces but in our time, it seems that Creation itself is about to fall into pieces.

And there is the little apple tree.

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