Friday, July 11, 2008

Idar-Oberstein ~ The Church in the Rocks

I've heard of churches named "Church on the Rock" and "Rock of Ages Church" and "Cornerstone Church," but here is a church that is actually cut into the rock! The creative name of this church? "Church in the Rocks."
Kyler, the children, and I, (LeRoy was at work), hiked the short incline, through a wet tunnel similar to that of an old mine or cave, up some steps, into the chapel and paid the small .50 cent fee to look around the small, simple sanctuary. The thing about living in and exploring Europe is that stories, history, metaphors, word pictures... hymns, come alive in, well, almost melodramatic ways.
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Legend, lore, and superstition seemingly surround every building and tradition here. "Legend has it" is a common beginning to brochures and tours. This one is no different. Legend has it that two brothers got in a scuffle over a girl. Unfortunately, they were standing near the edge of this cliff and one of them fell over, meeting his untimely death on a ledge below. In his grief, and in an act of penitence, the brother built this church where his brother died.

The second stanza of the hymn goes:

Could my tears forever flow,

Could my zeal no languor know,

These for sin could not atone;

Thou must save, and Thou alone.

In my hand no price I bring;

Simply to Thy cross I cling.

--Augustus Toplady (1740 - 1778)

How often I attempt to "make it better" by religiously "cutting churches into the rocks" of my life instead of simply confessing that all my human efforts -- enjoyed by others, surely! -- still don't make up for my sinful attitudes and actions. The psalmist expresses this so eloquently:

"My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him. He only is my Rock and my Salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; The Rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us." (Psalm 62:5-8, emphasis mine)

During Bible Study last night, Cindy encouraged us to agree with our accuser... and then boldly remember But because of the Blood of Jesus shed for me, I no longer stand condemned! Do I hear an Amen?

My four cute bugs with castle ruins on the hill above them. Notice the sticks in their hands (except for Zeke who put his down for a moment so he could annoy his sister)? Apparently, sticks are standard equipment for daily living. In my adulthood I had forgotten how very useful a stick is! It is rare to be out on an adventure with my children and not find a stick in their hands.

Not too long ago, I stood by helplessly while two sweet mommas, in no uncertain terms, told their sword fighting six-year olds to put their sticks down. "No more sticks!" said one of them. "I've told you before that sticks are not allowed!" the other chimed in. "But..." I wanted to say. Ah, well. At least the chances of someone getting their eye poked out was significantly decreased! And, I must admit, I do get tired of hearing myself constantly say things like, "Watch what you're doing! Be aware of who's around you! Spread out! Use common sense! Please be careful when you sword fight!(???)" what?? Ahh... you know what I mean.

This is the view from those castle ruins in the picture above. This is the village of Idar-Oberstein, otherwise known as the "gem town" as gemstones are mined in this area. We would like to come back to go on a tour of the mines -- a geological field trip! And next time we're bringing LeRoy!

1 comment:

  1. Loved you little excursion. I was born in Idar-Oberstein, took my wife (American) on a vacation in 2006 to Germany & Austria. She fell in love all over again and not with me, the countries, It's always nice to read when someone writes about your old home and likes it. I left Idar because had I stayed I would have become a diamond cutter or polisher or goldsmith. So I went to America and became much more. If you are interested in communicating with me, I can be reached at
    Thanks for your pictures and writings.