I try to keep my promises, even if it takes a while.
Last July (I think it was) I promised you that at some point I would get inside the church in Britzingen that I had been told is one of the most beautiful in the region. Every time I was in the town, it seemed, the church doors were locked. Until yesterday.
I’m not sure what I was expecting. I had the impression the church wasn’t that old, but I guess age is relative. The building was renovated in 1985, but parts of it are much older; the tower is supposed to be from 1250 if I understood correctly what I was reading. (Which is always a challenge if I am not using a translation program – and sometimes if I am using one.) That would mean it was once a Roman Catholic church, but now it is Lutheran.
Some Roman Catholic churches are very ornate, and they carry that with them when they become Protestant, but Johanneskirche (St. John’s Church) is quite simple. On a sunny Saturday afternoon it felt quite airy. Not much in the way of decoration, no stained glass, simple seating, no ancient frescoes – it felt like a pleasant village church.
Sometimes when you walk into a church something doesn’t feel right. I’m not going to try and describe why (it’s complicated), but suffice it to say you don’t get that feeling at St. John’s. Tourists may stop here, to see the building and the tapestry (which I gather is somewhat famous), but this is first and foremost a parish church, not some museum.
That is a good thing – museum curators would be shocked if someone took a knife and scratched their exhibits. I imagine that authorities at St. John’s probably also take a dim view of people carving their initials (or artwork) on the pews, but there is evidence that such a practice has been going on for a while. My suspicion is that when the sermon gets boring the knives come out.