The second illustration in this series dates back to Luther's schooldays at Eisenach.
in 1497, Martin Luther was 14 years old and attending school in the city of Eisenach.
Eisenach was approximately 100 miles from home. In those days, students from out of town had to pay to stay with someone else. Many students went from house to house asking for money and food. Party singers (Parteken - Particles for the Maintenance of Life) as they were called at that time were musicians who sang in front of the houses for small gifts, a custom which has been preserved in some parts of Germany.Martin Luther joined some other boys and as a choir they went about singing for money and food. In the course of time, Martin met a fine example of Christian kindness and goodness in Ursula "Frau" Cotta.
Ursula Cotta was the wife of a wealthy merchant who recognised Martin Luther from seeing him in church. She took him into her home and lovingly provided for his needs.
In some Lutheran biographies it is reported that Ursula Cotta, a composer, had accepted Luther because of his pleasant vocals. This assumption is concluded from a sermon by Luther, in which he states: "I am such a partykeeper, and have taken the bread for reaping, especially at Eisenach, in my dear city."
She also encouraged Martin to be kind and helpful by looking after another nobleman's son. God's grace was at work in Frau Cotta and young Martin saw her example.
While it is true that society has changed in many ways since 1497, becoming something of a hand-out society, it would be easy for Christians to become sceptical when people come to us with their needs. We are to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16), though we are also to be kind and tenderhearted, reflecting the love that Christ has for us in our dealings with others.
May God help us to use the gifts that He has given to us to His glory. God help us be balanced, willing to help as Frau Cotta, while also being wise stewards of the goods that God has given us, remembering that the earth is the Lord's and everything in it.
In sickness, sorrow, want, or care,
Whate'er it be, 'tis ours to share;
May we, where help is needed, there
Give help as unto Thee!
(The Lutheran Hymnal, 439:5)