Hunting stories and other memories…

Our class martriculated in 1979, so it´s time for the 40th anniversary and a happy reunion. Those of us, who have remained in Wartburg, have kicked up a big storm and are just ready for the party to get going. Ingbert and Elona Hillermann have done a marvellous job of getting the stage set next weekend. Well, Elona – today is her birthday – even got me to pen down some thoughts to share as I´m not in a position to join the celebrations. So, here goes on a hunting episode:

That´s how it started in Wartburg-Kirchdorf High School in 1975 with Ms Illing, wife of the croc-hunter.

“It´s been a while and I sure am sorry, that I´m not around in Wartburg for this reunion with you celebrating our 40th anniversary of matriculation in the old South Africa. I´m doing my professional hunter´s license this month after going to classes for the past year, so I´m rather preoccupied. I have passed the various shooting tests and written exams last weekend and am now preparing for the oral next weekend. You can´t fault the Germans on their thoroughness in such training, but you all know that from our days back at school – old Straeuli was not one for cutting corners, was he? Nor were Böhmer, Bornheimer or Buschy – but let´s not go that way, shall we? Hearing that Albert and Cathy weren´t going to be around either, made it a bit easier on me even though I really would have liked to see them and Hugh & Jonathan – never mind hugging Annemarie, Christine and a few others real close for a change. It´s about time to repeat: Suikerbos ek wil jou hê… wat sal jou mama daarvan sê?”

Suikerbossie ek wil jou hê
Suikerbossie ek wil jou hê
Suikerbossie ek wil jou hê
Wat sal jou mama daarvan sê

Dan loop ons so onder deur die maan
Dan loop ons so onder deur die maan
Dan loop ons so onder deur die maan
Ek en my suikerbossie saam.

Hunting has stayed with me since my schooldays. It´s part of my mother´s family, although she always tried to keep me from those hunting forays. Her forebears were foresters and gamekeepers in what is today Poland and still sees some of the best hunting to date. My dad was hunting in Swaziland back in the days, when his parents ran Itshelejuba TB Hospital in those eastern parts of our homeland nearly 8 decades back. He not only treasured his huge spread of Impala quilts, but even tailored a jacket of Zebra skins to wear as student in Germany. Something like “Joseph´s coat of many colours”, which we showed off on stage in that musical production back in the days. It was my parents, who gave me my first rifle and my dad toasted me on my first successful hunt with the family .303. We had “Jägermeister” nogal.  I always fancied my chances to go bushbuck hunting with Albert on Blinkwater amongst those famous yellowwoods planted by his Seele grandfather. It wasn´t to be – at least not yet. Nor did I manage to catch up with Philipp Joosten in time. Together with his brother Andre, they were supposed to be the ultimate in boar hunting South of the Tugela, if the grapevine served me right. Well, he´s ahead of us in the eternal hunting grounds, but not for long now. We´re right on target too and heading home – to the “ewige Jagdgründe” over yonder in the evergreens across the great divide. Please rise as we honour those, who have gone ahead (Horst von Fintel, Ms Boulter, Carmen Surendorf, Philip Joosten, Dieter Uken, Werner Straeuli, Popeye Hoch, Bushy Hartmann, Hartwig & Martha Böhmer) and sing and jive together in anticipation: “Oh when the saints go marching in…”

“Das ist des Jägers Ehrenschild, dass er beschützt und hegt sein Wild, waidmännisch jagt wie sich’s gehört, den Schöpfer im Geschöpfe ehrt.”

After switching from BA Law to “BA Admissie” (in preparation for theology), I was drafted in 1983 and spent the best part of my military after the preliminary training sessions doing post-graduate studies in Philosophy and staying out on a game-farm at Murrayhill as lieutenant hunting impala, blesbok and zebra, if we weren´t interviewing Mk´s and other guerillas. After this strange interlude, I continued my studies in Germany for the last years of apartheid (1985-1992), married my wife Angelika, had 2 children and got to see some nice parts of Europe in the process before passing some more exams and eventually getting a call to serve back home in SA as Lutheran pastor in Wittenberg near the Swaziland Board. Right in another hunting heartland – daar in die ou Transvaal…daar waar my Sarie woon!” 

My Sarie Marais is so ver van my hart, Maar’k hoop om haar weer te sien. Sy het in die wyk van die Mooi Rivier gewoon, Nog voor die oorlog het begin. O bring my trug na die ou Transvaal, Daar waar my Sarie woon. Daar onder in die mielies By die groen doringboom, Daar woon my Sarie Marais.

Ek was so bang dat die Kakies my sou vang En ver oor die see wegstuur; Toe vlug ek na die kant van die Upington se sand Daar onder langs die Grootrivier. O bring my trug na die ou Transvaal, Daar waar my Sarie woon. Daar onder in die mielies By die groen doringboom, Daar woon my Sarie Marais.

Die Kakies is mos net soos ‘n krokodille pes, Hulle sleep jou altyd water toe; Hul gooi jou op n skip vir ‘n lange, lange trip, Die josie weet waarnatoe. O bring my trug na die ou Transvaal, Daar waar my Sarie woon. Daar onder in die mielies By die groen doringboom, Daar woon my Sarie Marais.

Verlossing die kom en die huis toe gaan was daar, Terug na die ou Transvaal; My lieflingspersoon sal seker ook daar wees Om my met ‘n kus te beloon. O bring my trug na die ou Transvaal, Daar waar my Sarie woon. Daar onder in die mielies By die groen doringboom, Daar woon my Sarie Marais.

On the N4 they call “Mpumalanga: cultural heartland”. I really don´t know much about that, after all, it´s more of a hunting-heartland. Well, I got to shoot all sorts of game there – including the king of game birds (guinea fowl), but also a fair share of partridges, pigeons etc. various antelope, fallow-deer, warthogs, bush pigs, jackals. Venison and other game together with all sorts of indigenous mushrooms and a dark red right from the Cape of Storms – like a glass of “Swartskap” or “Skoonma” from “Hermanuspietersfontein“, probably is as close to heaven as we can get this side of Neptune, Mars & Venus. At that stage of the journey, I even farmed with some 50+ cattle and had about 250 geese. Not a bad life as old country priest, but I was not quite ready for retirement then. Angelika handcrafted down-blankets and -pillows, sold dairy products and local jams like mSobo and mGumgum, besides doing regular schoolwork with class rooms full of “pikaneens”. We had 2 more boys. One in the old, the other in the new SA. Both occasions were rather too exiting for us to recommend Piet Retief maternity ward, but I presume, we don´t want to talk about that either today.

In 2000 – we´re nearly finished and done – I got a call to serve at the LTS in Tshwane (Dis “Pretoria” vir die van ons, wat nie weet van Tshwane en ander sulke tale nie!) That´s where Angelika taught at our Alma mater and we spent happy & fulfilled 18 years. By the way, we nearly (!) lost the faith and converted to the “Blue Bulls”. Thank God, this close shave with apostasy and other terrible crimes and vices passed us by and we remained stuck to the “Sharks”. You will all understand the great relief in hindsight, but good finally prevails. Everybody knows that! Now we´ve found even greener pastures in Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany and in the heart of old Europe. That´s where Angelika is teaching children once again and I´m preparing for my first deer hunt. The theory is done. The rifles are polished. What are we waiting for?

Lutherstadt Wittenberg: Elbauen

Dear friends – ladies and gentlemen – of the 1979 matric class, I miss you very much, but toast you with a hearty and joyful: Waidmanns Heil!” from our part of the woods. My dear wife Angelika and I invite you most cordially to visit us out here in the sticks and see the beauty of this wild stretch between Brocken and Fläming, which was near the end of the world in Luther´s time and Melanchthon called it “close to the freezing N.Pole”. Things haven´t really changed much since then and we can sing the somewhat changed ditty: Wittenberg ist´n schönes Städtchen, siehste wohl, weil es an der Elbe liegt, siehste wohl!”. Finally let me propose a toast from the end of the world to you back home and where it all began:

Happy hunting, while the season lasts, bugles call hounds to hunt hares, point pheasants, chase boars and mighty stags. Yes, as long as foxes bark, wolves prowl, eagles pounce in forests, glades and meadows, we´ll shoot straight and sing the maker´s glory!”  WW

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On our way – Quasimodogeniti

Well, that first Sunday after Easter (Quasimodogeniti) was special. Celbrating Friederike´s birthday, going to church in St. Magdalena (Halle) and visiting Eisleben/Mansfeld afterwards. It was a good day to consider the brevity of life and the great blessings of Holy Baptism granting God´s everlasting grace.

Getting to Halle in good time, was no big deal, because the roads were pretty open at that time of the day and we didn´t have to contend with the flash hailstorm, which caused a pile-up of 50+ vehicles that afternoon on the local highway. In the St. Magdalena´s chapel in the central Moritzburg everything was well prepared and laid out for the divine service with nearly 30 communicants. That´s not too bad for a Sunday during the school holidays

For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. (Romans 14:8)

Preaching on 1.Peter 1:3-9 (Christian hope + confidence) was a good introduction to our excursion to Lutherstadt Eisleben afterwards. That´s were Dr. Martin Luther was born (10th November 1483) and died years later 18th February 1546).

At some stage he advised, that we should contemplate the seriousness of death and dying on good days – sunny, bright and joyful – days on which one could also reflect on Predestination etc. Well, the 1st Sunday after Easter was a perfect day for that as rain and sunshine alternated in perfect harmony.

This Sunday has its focus on holy Baptism and the inherent death & dying to sin and all evil, whilst the Holy Spirit raises us up in faith simultaneously to the ongoing challenge of new life in the living and reigning Lord Jesus Christ, exercising righteousness and purity in and through us forever.

The Luther sites and museums have been nicely put together. Everything is nicely translated and accessible.

Luther was baptized on the 11th of November in St.Peter & Pauls. This church has been renovated most marvelously and, in its architecture, focusses most appropriately on Baptism. A definite highlight and well worth a visit, if you ask me. St. Andrews, were Luther preached his last 4 sermons that cold winter of 1546, is up for renovation this fall – and they will hopefully come up with similar brilliance and success.

Going through the reconstructed death chambers of Luther´s final days, I was moved by the good display which makes such brilliant use of documents, pictures and commentaries – visual and audio. So, you can read in your own time and listen to some great snitbits – like Luther´s collection of biblical verses on which our hope for salvation, forgiveness of sins, resurrection and eternal life rests. That was very comforting indeed +

A number of passages from Luther´s writings were also quoted like his comforting argument addressing a friend, who was so sad at the prospect of death and dying. Luther argued:  Did the world treat you so well, that you have forgotten, Christ´s promises of salvation?” 

He continued to argue about Christ as our best friend (in heaven), who surpasses all others in faithfulness, trustworthiness, love, truth and honesty by far. Why should we not look forward to being with him always? 

We had time to dive up to Mansfeld too – some 9km from Eisleben – and saw Luther´s first school, his parent´s home there and also his lord´s castle up on the hill. Here the church was locked – and the castle is somewhat run down, the place is kept as a retreat center, but it looks more like a commune than any else – goats and all. The castle chapel was an inglorious mix of all and everything – nothing to write home about. Thankfully it is out in the woods, up on the mountain and somewhat out of the way – so hopefully not too many come across this eyesore. No, I´m exaggerating. It wasn´t all that bad – and the pictures show, that it´s all just a matter of perspective and ignoring the misfits.

All in all it was a delightful Sunday. A nice birthday of daughter Friederike, who is leaving for Munich today. Thankfully Angelika is already back at home in Pretoria and checking in right now to fly back here tonight – over Zürich and Berlin (Tegel).

We too are always on our final journey and as the poet reminds us and we always sing on Saturday nights: “Ein Tag, der sags dem andern, nein Leben ist ein Wandern zur großen Ewigkeit, o Ewigkeit, so schöne, mein Herz an Dich gewöhne, mein Heim ist nicht in dieser Zeit.” (Gerhard Tersteegen 1697-1769)

If you want to read this in a different format try this link here. https://mailchi.mp/62f9969f6d79/quasimodogeniti-rejoice-in-your-holy-baptism

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Go to dark Gethsemane…

1 Go to dark Gethsemane,
You who feel the tempter’s pow’r;
Your Redeemer’s conflict see;
Watch with Him one bitter hour;
Turn not from His griefs away;
Learn of Jesus Christ to pray.

2 Follow to the judgment hall;
View the Lord of life arraigned;
O the worm-wood and the gall!
O the pangs His soul sustained!
Shun not suff’ring, shame, or loss;
Learn of Him to bear the cross.

3 Calv’ry’s mournful mountain climb
There’ adoring at His feet,
Mark the miracle of time,
God’s own sacrifice complete:
“It is finished!” Hear the cry;
Learn of Jesus Christ to die.

4 Early hasten to the tomb
Where they laid his breathless clay;
All is solitude and gloom;
Who hath taken Him away?
Christ is ris’n! He meets our eyes:
Savior, teach us so to rise.

James Montgomery (1771-1854)

1 Folg Jesus nach Gethsemane,
wo er für Dich blutend ringt;
Deines Heilands Leiden seh.
Wache mit durch bittere Stund;
Wend´nicht ab Dein Angesicht;
Bleib, vertrau, er hört Gebet!

2 Folg ihm nach zum Richtersaal;
Oh, wie wurd´ er dort geschmäht;
der doch herrschet überall.
Oh, die Schmerzen, die er litt!
Flieh nicht Leiden, Scham, Verlust.
Trag wie er den Sündenfrust.

3 Golgotha gehorsam steig
Da halt still am Kreuzesstamm,
Merk das Wunder aller Zeit:
Gottes Opfer ganz vollkomm´!
Hört den Ruf: “Es ist vollbracht!”
Lernt von ihm wie sterben geht.

4 Haste früh zum Grabe dort,
Wo sie legten hin sein Leib.
Alles scheint da grau und tot,
weil jeder denkt, im Grab der bleibt.
„Christus lebt!“ tönt Osterjubel schier.
Heiland, zieh uns durch den Tod zu Dir.

James Montgomery (1771-1854) übersetzt Wilhelm Weber, Wittenberg 2019

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When I survey the wonderous cross…

1 When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of glory died,
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.

2 Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast
save in the death of Christ, my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them through his blood.

3 See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown?

4 Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were a present far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all. 

Isaac Watts: 1674-1748 Psalter Hymnal, 1987 (Music Lowell Mason 1792-1872)

  1. Du, Ehrenkönig Jesus Christ / Verurteilt Du, weil Heiland der Welt / Des Vaters Zorn dort auf Dich zogst / Sein Urteil daher uns gnädig trifft.
  2. Die Dornenkron ziert Dich bitterschön / All Schmerz uns vertretend Du littst / Dein Leib zermartert Gott zu versöhn / Du, Mensch und Gott in Dir verbindst.
  3. Dein Tod der Brunn unseres Lebens nun ist / Da Liebe, Gnade, Fried uns zugut / Zufließen uns in Deinem Blut / Heilsströme Seligkeit Lebensmut.
  4. Wenn ich Dich dort am Kreuze betracht / Wo Du für mich Gotts Strafe ertrugst. Alles sonst in gar Nichts verblasst / Eigenruhm flaut, neu Zutrauen sprosst.
  5. Wäre die Welt zu verschenken nur mein / So wär sie zu klein als Vergeltung Dir / Dein Lieb, so wundersam, so fein / Mein Leben gehört so verdient Dir.

Wilhelm Weber, Wittenberg 2019

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O Lord, throughout these 40 days

1 Lord, who throughout these forty days
for us did fast and pray, 
teach us with you to mourn our sins 
and close by you to stay. 

2 As you with Satan did contend,
and did the victory win, 
O give us strength in you to fight,
in you to conquer sin. 

3 As you did hunger and did thirst,
so teach us, gracious Lord, 
to die to self, and so to live 
by your most holy Word. 

4 And through these days of penitence, 
and through your Passiontide,
forevermore, in life and death, 
O Lord, with us a bide. 

5 Abide with us, that through this life
of doubts and hope and pain,
an Easter of unending joy
we may at last attain! 

Claudia F.Hernaman 1838-1898

  1. Herr, vierzig Tag´ Dein Fasten währt. Entsagtest jeder Lust. Lehr uns die Sünde zu bereu´n, befrei von ihrer Last.
  2. Bekriegst den Satan für uns gar, ganz Du ihn unterwirfst. Steh uns treu bei in diesem Krieg, dass Du in uns obsiegst.
  3. Du littest Hunger und auch Durst, bliebst heilig immer fort. Lehr uns dem Bösen sterben ab, leben nach Deinem Wort.
  4. Lass uns die ganze Leidenszeit, die Du führst Christenleut, Dir folgen treu durch Kreuz und Tod zur sel´gen Osterfreud.
  5. Ja, bleib bei uns Herr Jesu Christ in Zweifel, Angst und Pein, dass wir kommen zur Himmelsfreud durchs Auferstehen Dein.

Wilhelm Weber, Wittenbert 2019

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O Christ, You walked the road… (LSB 424)

  1. O Christ, You walked the road
    Our wand’ring feet must go.
    You faced with us temptation’s pow’r
    And fought our ancient foe.
  2. No bread of earth alone
    Can fill our hung’ring hearts.
    Lord, help us seek Your living Word,
    The food Your grace imparts.
  3. No blinding sign we ask,
    No wonder from above.
    Lord, help us place our trust alone
    In Your unswerving love.
  4. When lures of easy gain
    With promise brightly shine,
    Lord, help us seek Your kingdom first;
    Our wills with Yours align.
  5. O Christ, You walked the road
    Our wand’ring feet must go.
    Stay with us through temptation’s hour
    To fight our ancient foe.

Herman G. Stuempfle Jr. 1923-2007

  1. O Herre Jesus Christ,
    Du gingst den Weg voran.
    Für uns besiegtest Du den Tod,
    ziehst uns nun himmelan.
  2. Des Bäckers frisches Brot
    stillt nicht der Sünder Not.
    Erst Deines Freispruchs Lösewort
    bringt uns zurück ins Lot.
  3. Nicht Zeichen blendend weiss,
    nicht Wunderwerke Schein,
    vielmehr schenk uns, o Herre Gott,
    Deim Wort zu trauen allein.
  4. Wenn dicke Prämie winkt,
    und leichte Beute ruft,
    mach, dass Dein Reich komme zuerst,
    Dein Wille unsern trumpft.
  5. O Herre Jesus Christ,
    Du gingst den Weg voran.
    Steh uns bei in der letzten Not,
    und bring uns himmelan!

    (Wilhelm Weber: Lutherstadt Wittenberg 2019)
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Visit Lutherstadt Wittenberg and stay at the Old Latin School!

Where to stay? Old Latin School provides comfortable accommodation in the middle of town. There are single and double rooms, but also an apartment – if you need a bit more space and privacy to work or just relax and enjoy. Divine services are every Sunday at 8h30 and Saturdays every fortnight at 16h00. For more information on bookings and visits contact per email or telephone +49 3491 420 290

What to do? Lutherstadt Wittenberg is a great venue for working, relaxing or just doing fun stuff – like visiting, sightseeing and spending holidays. We at the Old Latin School have great facilities for workshops, team-building and retreats for groups of up to 25 participants, but we also offer various packages like our favourite: “10 days with Luther in Wittenberg – and more!

What is it about? We invite you to enrol in a 10 day stay in the Old Latin School – with devotions, lectures, seminars, work and discussion groups, films, fun-and-games, excursions, hikes, walks and field trips. You get to know Luther´s world, theology and life firsthand and right there, where he spent most of his life – getting to know other Lutherans from across the globe, learning from theological experts, hearing about Lutheranism worldwide and the ongoing story of confessional Lutherans associated with the International Lutheran Council (ILC) and at home in the Old Latin School. The International Lutheran Center housed in the Old Latin School is a joint project of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, Germany’s Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church: Selbständige Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche, and the International Lutheran Council (ILC).

You can support mission outreach in Wittenberg through the International Lutheran Council through online giving. Just select “Wittenberg Outreach.” You can also donate by mail: International Lutheran Council, PO Box 18775, St. Louis, MO 63118 or directly into the account of the International Lutheran Society of Wittenberg at IBAN DE05 8607 0024 0822 2135 00 and BIC (SWIFT) DEUTDEDBLEG

There are 4 World Heritage Sites right here in the old town of Wittenberg – and you should visit them all. They are all four very well worth it – and all just a few minutes apart walking. To see more such sites, you can stay on and visit around in the vicinity: Wörlitz, Dessau… Wartburg etc.

The central city church is called St. Mary´s. This is where Bugenhagen was Pastor and Luther preached regularly. It´s were the controversy on indulgences started in the confessional and got the Reformation going. They´ve got daily prayers at noon – but otherwise they are open from 10h00.

OLS just across St.Marys

Dr. Martin Luther´s House: The old Augustinian monastry, where Luther stayed and lived with his wife Katie on the eastern far side of town. There is a lot to see, browse and suck-up: – You should make time to enjoy this at good leisure.

Luther House, but that´s not “the” tower

Melanchthon´s House: It´s the most authentic, but you can get away with the least time input. If you are pressed for time, this would be the first one to drop – even though I really like the garden, the various rooms and nice bookshop.

Castle Church: That´s the old university, where Luther published the 95 theses and where he is buried. It is very well renovated and well worth a visit too.

The memorial door at the old Aula of the University (Castle Church) commemorating the 95 Theses.

If you have more time, I suggest the following as add-ons:

If you stay overnight and have some time to go for some hikes, I suggest the following walks or Bicycle rides: 

  • Walk around the old Wittenberg (Altstadt) town wall: Takes about 45-60 minutes walking briskly.
  • Walk to and along the river Elbe on the Elbradwanderweg. The bicycle path is excellent and takes you all along the Elbe from Hamburg to Czechia – and across all of Germany. Cycle your heart out!
  • Walk into the newer parts of Wittenberg: Hundertwasser Schule, Villas, Russian block etc.

Other sites and destinations for day-trips from Wittenberg: Google Maps is fairly reliable and gives good orientation.

  • Luther-Brunnen on the road to Jessen.
  • Luther-Stein on the way to Leipzig.
  • Wörlitz Gardens.
  • Vineyards in Jessen.
  • Kemberg (P.Conradi)
  • Torgau.
  • Jüterbog (Tetzel)
  • Treuenbrietzen (Martin Chemnitz)
  • Gräfenhainichen (Paul Gerhard)
  • Leipzig, Halle, Berlin, Dresden are easily accessible by train.
  • More Luther sites: Eisleben, Eisenach, Wartburg, Erfurt…

You see, you could easily spend a week or two here – and not get around to see all there is to see. I do recommend a guided tour if you want to really learn something. They know their job and are fluent in English too.

We are grateful for your support and we need it. You can support mission outreach in Wittenberg through the International Lutheran Council through online giving. Just select “Wittenberg Outreach.”

You can also donate by mail: International Lutheran Council, PO Box 18775, St. Louis, MO 63118 or directly into the account of the International Lutheran Society of Wittenberg at IBAN DE05 8607 0024 0822 2135 00 and BIC (SWIFT) DEUTDEDBLEG

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Invocavit: Luther contra iconoclasts

The iconoclasts – radical reformers under the raving extremism of Dr.Andreas Karlstadt – were throwing out the baby with the bath water. Trying to introduce the precious gospel of our Lord, they went overboard and started to attack art work, trappings, vestments etc in their misguided attempt to clean up the church. They were not reforming the church, but overthrowing it, pulling it down and destroying it.

Dr. Martin Luther was busy translating up on the Wartburg – his Patmos -, where his benefactors had hid him as “Junker Jörg” from emperor Charles V in his vindictive quest to implement the papal bull, banning Luther since he had resisted recanting in Worms & insisted on confessing before kings and princes:

“My conscience is captive to the Word of God,” he told his accusers. “I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand.”

Now after several months there was no time to lose. The little flame of the reformation was in danger of being consumed in the flames of revolt. Wittenberg without Dr. Martin Luther was about to loose it all to the hell hounds turned loose. So, the biblical prophet and church reformer returned to Wittenberg to quench the billowing flames of the demagogues and other mad men – despite protests from his friends and contrary to the express commands of his landlord and prince.

And what did Luther do on returning? He preached. Right there in St.Marys. The city church of Wittenberg. Starting on the first Sunday in Lent (Invocavit) he started a series called the Invocavit sermons

“The summons of death comes to us all, and no one can die for another. Every one must fight his own battle with death by himself, alone. We can shout into another’s ears, but every one must himself be prepared for the time of death, for I will not be with you then, nor you with me. Therefore every one must himself know and be armed with the chief things which concern a Christian. And these are what you, my beloved, have heard from me many days ago.”

And – thank God – peace returned to Wittenberg – at least for the time being. Hallelujah! It was as Luther had said: “God and His word did all and everything – even as he together with Johannes Bugenhagen & Co were at peace enjoying God´s goodness and grace +

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Predigt zu Apg. 16,9ff

Hier ist die Predigt zur Einführung während der Vesper:

Erkennt doch, dass der Herr seine Heiligen wunderbar führt (Ps.4,6) im Großen und Kleinen, im Allgemeinen und Speziellen, aber auch Alleine und Gemeinsamen.
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Träume, Erscheinungen und andere Offenbarungen…

Trotz der Warnung „Träume sind Schäume“, hören wir immer wieder „Träume werden wahr“ und nicht nur der „American dream“ oder wie ist es sonst zu erklären, dass immer noch hunderte und sogar tausende sich auf den Weg machen – ihr Glück in der Fremde zu suchen. Bestimmt nicht nur wegen Fernweh! Es ist wohl eher die große Triebfeder, die den anderen Dr. Luther schwärmen ließ: „I have a dream!“

Aus dunkler Vorzeit kennen wir die geschichtsträchtigen Träume des großen „King of dreams“. Seinen Vätern – die uns als Erzväter der Kirche bekannt sind – war das vertraut. Sie wussten dies und das Lied oder zwei von Träumen, Wunschbildern und göttlichen Vorstellungen zu singen. Sie waren dennoch keineswegs verträumte „day dreamer“. Vielmehr war ihnen viel bedeutsamer, was der Herr der Geschichte – der Gott von Anfang an, der derselbe ist gestern und heute und in Ewigkeit – der dreieinige Gott Vater, Sohn und hl. Geist selbst in Erscheinung tritt. Nicht als Fiktion menschlicher Spekulation oder Wunschgebilde. Nein, Er gab ihnen wirkliche Einblick in sein Wesen, Wollen und Vorhaben. Wie durch einen Schleier, gewiss. Nicht so oft von Angesicht zu Angesicht, wenn auch das tatsächlich vorkam. Vor allem bei seinem Knecht Mose mit dem er sprach wie zu seines gleichen – praktisch von Mann zu Mann. Oft blieb es aber beim ansatzweisen Staunen wie im rauchgefüllten Thronsaal Gottes, wo der Prophet Jesaja die Füße Gottes schauen durfte In dieser Reihe steht dann auch der allerletzte vor der herrlichen Erfüllung: Johannes der Täufer, der von sich bekannte, dass er nicht wert war, dem Herrn die Schnürriemen zu lösen, der aber dennoch der Größte in der Reihe war und doch vom Kleinsten im Himmelreich weit übertroffen.  

Gott zeigte Sternbilder bei Nacht. Malte Figuren, Ziffern und Hochrechnungen in den Sand: So viele Nachkommen wie Sand am Meer. Da konnte der Erzvater Abraham, dessen jahrhundertjahralter Leib schon recht betagt bzw bejahrt war mit 10 Dekaden, nur staunen. Doch er glaubte dem Versprechen Gottes als noch nichts zu sehen war als nur weiter Sandstrand am Meer und zahllose Sterne am Himmelszelt. Das rechnete Gott ihm zur Gerechtigkeit an.  Ja, der lebendige Gott – der ist, wer er ist; der alles geschaffen hat und auch noch regiert, erhält und führt – er lässt seine Auserwählten schauen, was er sich vorgenommen und was er haben will. Und sie erfahren es am eigenen Leibe, dass Gott seine Hl. wunderbar führt – zielsicher, effektiv und höchst verlässlich – „Und ob ich gleich nichts fühle von Deiner Macht, Du führst mich doch zum Ziele auch durch die Nacht“ singt die Gräfin Jahrtausende später auf dem Weg auf das asiatische Missionsfeld, wo ihr vorausgegangener Bräutigam, bereits gestorben und ihr also endgültig voran gegangen und an unser aller Ziel und Gott gewollte Bestimmung gekommen war.

Selbst in diesen ausweglosen Situationen, waren Gottes Menschen – sein erwähltes Volk – Väter und Mütter, Eltern und Kinder – Familien, Stämme und Völker – selbst in der Fremde nicht auf sich selbst gestellt. Gott blieb dran. Er blieb bei, mit und unter ihnen. Wohnte mitten unter ihnen. Wurde in ihrer Mitte sesshaft. Ließ sich dort unter ihnen sein Zelt, seine Hütte, seinen Tempel konstruieren.  Damit sie auf dem Weg, auf der Wanderschaft in die ewige Heimat, ins himmlische Vaterland und göttliche Zion, dem wahren Jerusalem – ihn nicht vergessen, aus dem Auge und Herzen verlieren würden. Vielmehr sollten sie in seiner unmittelbaren Nachbarschaft, ja mehr noch in echter Hausgemeinschaft mit ihm wohnen als Familienmitglieder, Freunde des Hauses, dazugehörig. Siehe da die Hütte Gottes bei den Menschen und er selbst Gott mit ihnen.

Er zeigte mit der Himmelsleiter, dass er den garstigen Graben der selbstverschuldeten Heimatlosigkeit, der andauernden Fremdlingsschaft, der Exilsbürde überbrücken konnte, wollte und tatsächlich auch immer wieder überwand. Er hat die, die draußen vor dem paradiesischen Tor, außerhalb des familiären Kreises, der heimatlichen Stadtmauer und vertrauten Umfriedung, jenseits der Grenze waren, heimgesucht und aufs barmherzigste heim ins Vaterhaus geleitet: Ist er nicht auch Abrahams Sohn, sie Abrahams Tochter?  Er sucht und macht selig, was verloren ist! Da ist auch eigene Schuld und Ungerechtigkeit, List und Gaunerei, Feindschaft, Hass, Neid und Streit, die in den besten Familie Ausgrenzung, Vertreibung, Flucht und Exil verursacht, nicht endgültig. Gott selber überwindet das. Stellt Kreuze in den Weg, baut Himmelleitern, schafft Ruhestätten mitten in der Wüste, überwindet Mauern und Grenzen, gibt Wege Lauf und Bahn – durchs wilde Meer, durch dürren Wüsten, selbst durchs tiefe Tal des Todes. Sein Stecken und Stab trösten uns gerade dort.

In merkwürdiger Gestalt ließ er dort in Pnüel nächtlicherweile mit sich leibhaftig ringen, sich in göttlicher Gestalt schauen und sogar überwinden – zur nachhaltigen Segenserbschaft und wunderbaren Namensgebung: Nicht mehr nur Jakob, sondern Israel. Ja, Gott ließ sich schauen, anfassen und erwies sich als überaus vertrauenswürdig, verlässlich und glaubwürdig. Machte seine Verheißungen und Versprechen Schritt für Schritt wahr. Führte ins gelobte Land. Schenkte seine gnädige Gegenwart immer wieder aufs Neue und machte die Tore des Himmels wieder auf, damit sein Haus voll würde, die von ihm längst schon vorherbestimmten Ehrenplätze besetzt und sein Volk von aller Welt Enden gesammelt endlich zur Ruhe gebracht würde.

Ja, er tat das, bis dass der Apostel zu unserer Erbauung im Glauben mit der ganzen Kirche und der Wolke der wahrhaftigen Zeugen bekennen konnte: „Was von Anfang an war, was wir gehört haben, was wir gesehen haben mit unsern Augen, was wir betrachtet haben und unsre Hände betastet haben, vom Wort des Lebens – und das Leben ist erschienen, und wir haben gesehen und bezeugen und verkündigen euch das Leben, das ewig ist, das beim Vater war und uns erschienen ist –, was wir gesehen und gehört haben, das verkündigen wir auch euch, damit auch ihr mit uns Gemeinschaft habt; und unsere Gemeinschaft ist mit dem Vater und mit seinem Sohn Jesus Christus. Und dies schreiben wir, auf dass unsere Freude vollkommen sei. Amen. Amen.

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