Friday, September 4, 2009

The Undercover Request

This is the beginning of a book called Unpacking Luther's Baggage. It is set in Wittenberg, Germany just as the Reformation is beginning... by Dennis Kananen

As Heinrich crossed the cobblestone street in front of All Saint’s - Castle church he gave a furtive glance to the wooden door where the 95 Theses had been nailed 4 years ago and saw two tonsured monks talking with each other. He felt a sense of clandestine excitement when he thought of the changing times and how those mere words were shaking up the ecclesiastical world of the church. All Wittenberg was buzzing with the news: Martin Luther had disappeared on his way home from the Diet of Worms. After refusing to recant before Cardinal ECK and triumphantly facing the Roman emperor Charles the Fifth, Luther was immediately surrounded by a cadre of supporters who whisked him out of town on horseback and wagon.  The church’s deceitful murder of John Hus a few years earlier had taught Martin’s friends not to trust Rome’s promise of safe passage. And so it was that the party vanished in the thick woods after passing through the streets of Erfurt and Eisenach. Some say it was a robbery; others thought it was the henchmen from Cardinal Eck. But one thing was certain: Saxony’s hero was nowhere to be seen and Heinrich was now caught up in the drama of it all. He stopped to sit on a bench at the side of the town square, and thought about that morning. 
It was shortly after Heinrich opened his blacksmith shop that a well dressed man came in holding a roll of paper and introduced himself as Jan-Harm. He suggested that they go to the back of the shop. Hedged in by the noise of the place, Jan-Harm began to speak. “I have news for you from Brother Martin - but you must agree to total secrecy. Your life and the lives of others may depend on it. Do you understand?” Jan-Harm looked intently at Heinrich as the steam and pounding reverberated with the sparks. Heinrich nodded and said, “I do”, as his imagination flirted with the future.  They moved towards a table in the corner.
“Good,” nodded Jan-Harm. He unrolled the paper which contained a drawing of a gate and a list of materials that looked like any other for an iron job, but tucked in the fold was another smaller piece of paper. Jan-Harm grabbed it and looked at Heinrich. “We need you to go to Martin’s office at the University. You have been there many times I’m told.” Jan-Harm ended the question with a pause, and Heinrich said, “Yes, I often went there with friends to discuss philosophy and the Bible. Why? Where is Martin? Is he safe?” Heinrich could think of many more questions, but Jan-Harm cut him off, “Shh, the less you know the better.” At this, Jan-Harm took out a key and put it in Heinrich’s hand and then gave him the paper. “There are several things listed here that Martin needs from his office; this key will get you in - but you cannot let anyone know what you are doing. If anyone asks you what we talked about and what you are to do, tell them that I need a gate replaced at my farm. You will need to make a trip to deliver the gate and these items. In other words, this is a real job and an undercover job. We need this done in one week. Are you willing to do this?”

to be continued...

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