Altenbeichlingen, a little piece of heaven
Looking down on the town from the hill above, this little village is a typical sleepy, rural, German hamlet having several homes and a distinguishing church. For me the distinctive features of this beautiful little town are two-fold: one, the church is much larger than any other little town’s church in the area and two, there is an American flag hanging in the back yard of one of the homes.
Reinhardt, the owner of the windmill and surrounding cottages, and his daughter Franziska are filled with the gift of hospitality. With their generous spirit, fabulous meals were shared. The first six pictures were meals in the windmill, the next two pictures were taken outside the cottage I rented. The bottom row pictures were respecitvely outside another cottage and lastly outside their home in Weimar, just a 35 minute (without speeding) drive from Altenbeichlingen.
To express their thanks to God after several particularly productive years, farmers from the town built the beautiful St. Bonifactuskirche. Picture number 4 is a snapshot of the 14th century church that was replaced by the new church. I was able to gain entry on my last Saturday in Altenbeichlingen and was surprised by the church’s beauty while also saddend by the visible water damage (the roof had recently been replaced) and evidence of birds flying around inside of the church (damaged stained glass). Sadly, the church is used only for a few weddings and funerals per year and an annual summer organ recital. A beautiful romantic organ was installed in the 1940s.
While visiting the church, I had the pleasure of playing their pipe organ. A cypher, a note playing when the organist is not playing, was pervasive, but I continued to enjoy playing regardless. Franziska, our Airbnb host and daughter of the owner, was my page turner.
It was difficult to leave this paradise in Altenbeichlingen, but Hamburg and Lübeck were awaiting for the final leg of my trip. In 1705, while serving at St. Boniface in Arnstadt, Bach walked through Hamburg to Lübeck on the Baltic Sea — about 250 miles — to hear the great Diettrich Buxtehude. Bach was granted a one month sabbatical but chose to take over three months for this life-changing experience. When he returned to Arnstadt to his surprise, he lost his post! (This writer is happy to be back on the bench this Sunday after my scheduled two month sabbatical. :). )
The churches and organs pictured below (in Hamburg and Lübeck) are glorious examples of organ cases from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries with pipe work and mechanics of the twentieth century. I enjoyed several recitals in these churches.
As I reflect on this picture of an amazing sunset in Altenbeichlingen and as my sabbatical comes to an end, I remain very thankful for your supportive prayer during my time away. I look forward to serving this congregation with a renewed spirit, much joy and great love.
With love and thanksgiving,