KAISER WILHELM CHURCH, BERLIN
When I visited Berlin last fall, to kick my jet lag I hoofed it downtown to the commercial district to do some sightseeing and a bit of shopping. On the drive in to the hotel, the church/memorial had been pointed out, and as the afternoon was a brilliant early fall afternoon, I just had to get some photos too.
The battered skeleton of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church makes for a somber landmark even in bright sunshine, the hull of its broken steeple tower a modern day reminder of war’s destruction all these years since its bombing in November of 1943, which lead to the fire that destroyed it.
The starkness of the ruins today is just as poignant as it must have been the morning after the bombing; inside the west tower there are archives of items and photographs to help tell the church’s story in relation to what happened here that dark night 68 years ago. It’s a somber reminder that regardless of our seemingly advanced culture, we are still mired in the weaknesses of being human, which includes our distortions, our perversions, our rage, and our fallen nature.
Stepping back outside and into the sunshine, I took a closer look at the hexagonal bell tower that was erected in 1961, as part of a new, modern church—a symbol of Berlin’s resolve to resurrect the city after war. The contrasting designs of the two facades are as seemingly different as the reasons for why we make war in the first place. And yet, for all their differences, it struck me that in the destruction of the first, came the life of the second. In that realization I found that so it is with Christ’s dying and rising, and that regardless of our various sins—our sinful nature itself—there is hope for believers. The ruins of our earthly lives can and will be resurrected.