Mar 28, 2024

Veit Dietrich

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It was a most unlikely marriage. The former monk Martin Luther had to find husbands for 19 nuns who fled convent life to join the Reformation movement. One former nun, Katie von Bora, insisted she would only marry Luther and prevailed upon him until he consented. He lived in a former monastery designed to house forty monks called the Black Cloister, appropriately named since it was dark and cavernous. When Katie came to live there, she took over management of this former bachelor pad, threw out Martin’s straw bed, and created a home-like environment. Black Cloister became a proverbial hotel nicknamed “God’s Inn.” It was not uncommon for thirty or more people to be lodged there simultaneously. An odd assortment of exiled priests, former nuns, and university students joined the Luthers for dinner, along with their six biological children and four adopted children. Martin would share family devotions during the meal by reading Scripture and delivering a full-fledged sermon. Veit Dietrich (1506-1549), who lived at the house and served as Martin’s assistant, faithfully recorded Luther’s house sermons and prepared them for publication. Veit also wrote devotional commentaries and accompanied his expositions with prayers appropriate to the day. He composed today’s prayer to accompany a Maundy Thursday reading. Maundy originates from a Latin word meaning command. Jesus announced at the Last Supper shared with his disciples, “A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13.34).

Lord God, heavenly Father, we thank you for your great mercy that through your Son you have instituted this Holy Supper in which we eat his body and drink his blood. By your Holy Spirit, grant that we may not receive it unworthily, but confess our sins and receive mercy from it, and through Christ receive forgiveness of sins, hope and faith, and grow in faith and love day by day until we receive eternal life, through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord. Amen.
The Collects of Veit Dietrich

Rev. Dr. Peter James served 42 years as the senior of Vienna Presbyterian Church in Vienna, VA — 21 years in the 20th century and 21 years in the 21st century. He retired in 2021 and now serves as Pastor-in-Residence at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

Even as a pastor, prayer came slowly to Pete. Read Pete’s story.