Hiking up the Brocken

Good morning to You from a wonderfully sunny Wittenberg. The spring colors are amazing. The many variations of green are something to behold. And then you find those red poppies in full bloom, wherever the weedicides didn´t reach. Gorgeous.  For a native from a semi-desert this is what the promised land must look like – or at least it´s something very close to paradise. The deep blue skies are spectacular and that day-in-day-out – and yes, we Africans know about those bright, shiny days. It doesn´t get much better than these days in spring, when the scorching heat of summer is still far off. Even the birds go overboard. There´s just no stopping their jubilant tones in this marvelous springtime.

Well, that was the setting for our outing to the “Brocken” – out in the far west of our state Saxony-Anhalt – right there in the national park and forest in the “Harz”.  Angelika had preparations to do for today´s school beginnings and Friederike was busy with online German classes herself. So, Christoph and I did this on our own. Travelling through the delightful countryside – from one side of the state to the other listening to the live interview with the artist Cornela Schleime  – we got into Schierke about noon, left the car in a modern parking garage “Am Winterbergtor” and started the hike up the “Eckerlochstieg”, which is pretty much the direct route up to the highest point in N.Germany. I didn´t need my GPS as there were literally hundreds of hikers making their way up this mountain path. Singles, couples and even big families and groups. Only one Russian couple was seriously quarreling, but the rest of this mixed crowd seemed jovial enough even though some of them pushed prams or pulled carts with kids, sweaters and coolers up the hill, whilst others obviously had enough with themselves to cope with. The many bikers, who weaved their way through the crowds didn´t look too friendly either, but perhaps that was just sporty determination – and not animosity really. Going up was tough going as you can expect and coming down their bikes were just too eager to speed away – and so you heard screeching brakes every now and again, but only very few muffled grumblings and no loud protests at all.

Up on the summit we had a glorious view – right into Thuringia and up to the blue mountain ranges there. A friendly park ranger pointed out some of the remarkable sights visible in the distance. He had his work cut out, because so many visitors disregarded the low wooden fences and climbed into the wilds despite the many signs: Don´t trespass – consider nature! (Der Natur zuliebe). They wanted to sit down in the heather and have their picknicks. Others tried to nap. Lots of pictures were taken around the various landmarks up there – commemorating the turbulent history of this place. Goethe, Heine, Gauss, but also devils, witches and other dark spirits of the night. On a bright afternoon not much is visible of this scarry stuff. Groups of “Wandervögel” strumming guitars and flaunting “Lederhosen” make such spooky myths seem far away. The restrooms were in good condition despite the huge demand and the various tearooms obviously make a quick buck after the extended shutdown. It all seemed quite far removed from the witches circling the “Blocksberg” and getting up to no good. However, they still show up in numbers for their mischief, but that´s another story.

Coming down was quite a bit faster than going up and that was not only because there were considerably less people at this stage. Some had obviously taken the “Brockenbahn” – while others had the choice of taking the pony-express or another route like the “Goetheweg”. We shared one rucksack and were sufficiently equipped with our running shoes. Sticks, umbrellas, coats and jackets were not required this time around. Still, I look forward to going up again – perhaps in autumn to see some mist or in winter to hear the foxes barking or even some lonely lynx.

All in all – this is a perfect day tour – and with plenty of further options, alternatives and variations to make this a regular highlight in the calendar – somewhat like the old man called “Brocken-Benno”, who in the last years climbed this hill daily – more than 8, 000 times already. This year this stopped and not only due to Corona, but because he had a cancerous tumor. However, he´s through that for now and has taken up a shorter hiking schedule in the meantime. He will be thankful, although he had planned the 8, 888th climb on his 88th birthday. Talk about a unique bucket list!

Yes, we´ve all got some mountain to climb – even if we live out in the flatlands and even if the present spring season is one of pure joy and bliss. The time for our last ascent is due – sooner or later. We´ll get there. No doubt! Until then, keep at it, stay up and connected to the good Lord our God. He´s the only real mountain guide to get you up that very mountain and all the way to the top. He stipulates: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” He stresses this: “No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) That´s why we keep singing – even in this joyful time of Pentecost celebrating the “Lord and Giver of Live”:   

1 Jesus, lead Thou on
Till our rest is won;
And although the way be cheerless,
We will follow calm and fearless.
Guide us by Thy hand
To our fatherland.

2 If the way be drear,
If the foe be near,
Let not faithless fears o’ertake us;
Let not faith and hope forsake us;
For through many a woe
To our home we go.

3 When we seek relief
From a long-felt grief,
When temptations come alluring,
Make us patient and enduring.
Show us that bright shore
Where we weep no more.

4 Jesus, lead Thou on
Till our rest is won.
Heav’nly leader, still direct us,
Still support, console, protect us,
Till we safely stand
In our fatherland.

Nicholaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf, 1700-60

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Update from the Old Latin School for May 2020

Thank You for Your support and here´s our latest update.

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Komm, Heiliger Geist, Herre Gott…

Gemeinsam mit der einen heiligen Kirche und weltweiten Christenheit beten wir:

Komm, Heiliger Geist, erfüll die Herzen Deiner Gläubigen und entzünd in ihnen das Feuer Deiner göttlichen Liebe, der Du in Mannigfaltigkeit der Zungen die Völker der ganzen Welt versammelt hast in Einigkeit des Glaubens. Hallelujah, Hallelujah!

Kloster Ebersberg 1480

Komm, Heiliger Geist, Herre Gott,
erfüll mit Deiner Gnaden Gut
Deiner Gläub´gen Herz, Mut und Sinn,
Dein brennend Lieb entzünd in ihn’.
O Herr, durch Deines Lichtes Glanz
zum Glauben Du versammelt hast
das Volk aus aller Welt Zungen.
Das sei Dir, Herr, zu Lob gesungen.
Halleluja, Halleluja.

Du heiliges Licht, edler Hort,
lass leuchten uns des Lebens Wort
und lehr uns Gott recht erkennen,
von Herzen Vater ihn nennen.
O Herr, behüt vor fremder Lehr,
dass wir nicht Meister suchen mehr
denn Jesus mit rechtem Glauben
und ihm aus ganzer Macht vertrauen.
Halleluja, Halleluja.

Du heilige Glut, süßer Trost,
nun hilf uns, fröhlich und getrost
in Deim Dienst beständig bleiben,
die Trübsal uns nicht wegtreiben.
O Herr, durch Dein Kraft uns bereit
und wehr des Fleisches Blödigkeit,
dass wir hier ritterlich ringen,
durch Tod und Leben zu dir dringen.
Halleluja, Halleluja.

Martin Luther 1524

Gottesdienstablauf zu Pfingsten

  1. Eingang                     98 Komm, Heilger Geist, Herre Gott …   
  2. Introitus                     043 (Ps.118) Gn11, 1-9; Apg.2,1-21; Joh.14,15-19.23b-27
  3. Vor der Predigt         105 Zieh ein zu Deinen Toren …
  4. Festpredigt
    1. Bitte der ganzen Christenheit: “Komm Hl. Geist…”
    2. Gottes Zusage: „Es soll nicht durch Heer oder Kraft, sondern durch meinen Geist geschehen, spricht der HERR Zebaoth.“ (Sach.4,6)
    3. Die großen Taten Gottes…
      1. Vom hl. Geist umgetrieben
        1. Alle betroffen – auch die nächste Generation
        2. Träume, Weissungen und Gesichte…
      2. Wunder und Zeichen an Himmel und Erde
        1. Blut, Feuer und Rauchdampf
        2. Sonne soll finster werden und Mond in Blut verwandelt  
      3. Der große und herrliche Tag des Herrn: Letzte/Jüngste Gericht!
    4. Turmbau zu Babel (Gn.11): Wir wollen uns einen Namen machen!
    5. Wunder von Pfingsten (Apg.2): Wer den Namen des Herrn anrufen wird, der soll gerettet werden!
    6. Schlußgebet

Der Stein, den die Bauleute verworfen haben, ist zum Eckstein geworden.Das ist vom HERRN geschehen und ist ein Wunder vor unsern Augen. Dies ist der Tag, den der HERR macht; lasst uns freuen und fröhlich an ihm sein. O HERR, hilf! O HERR, lass wohlgelingen! Gelobt sei, der da kommt im Namen des HERRN! Wir segnen euch vom Haus des HERRN. Der HERR ist Gott, der uns erleuchtet. Schmückt das Fest mit Maien bis an die Hörner des Altars! Du bist mein Gott, und ich danke dir; mein Gott, ich will dich preisen. Danket dem HERRN; denn er ist freundlich, und seine Güte währet ewiglich.

Psalm 118:24-29
  1. Nach der Predigt     443 Geist des Glaubens, Geist der Stärke…  
  2. Allgemeines Kirchengebet und Feier des Hl. Abendmahls
  3. Ausgang                    498 Walte, walte nah und fern…

Herr Gott, himmlischer Vater, der Du an diesem Tage die Herzen Deiner Gläubigen durch den Heiligen Geist erleuchtet und gelehrt hast, laß auch uns durch Deinen Heiligen Geist zu rechter Wahrheit gelangen und uns an seinem Troste und seiner Kraft allezeit erfreuen, durch Deinen lieben Sohn, Jesus Christus, unsern Herrn. Amen.

Kollekte aus “Orate Fratres”, S. 137
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Wie lieblich ist der Maien aus lauter Gottesgüt…

An diesen herrlichen Sonnentagen – und wenn Angelika sogar noch Geburtstag hat – fällt es leicht einzustimmen in diesen Lobgesang:

1. Wie lieblich ist der Maien
aus lauter Gottesgüt,
des sich die Menschen freuen,
weil alles grünt und blüht.
Die Tier sieht man jetzt springen
mit Lust auf grüner Weid,
die Vöglein hört man singen,
die loben Gott mit Freud.

2. Herr, dir sei Lob und Ehre
für solche Gaben dein!
Die Blüt zur Frucht vermehre,
lass sie ersprießlich sein.
Es steht in deinen Händen,
dein Macht und Güt ist groß;
drum wollst du von uns wenden
Mehltau, Frost, Reif und Schloß’.

3. Herr, lass die Sonne blicken
ins finstre Herze mein,
damit sich’s möge schicken,
fröhlich im Geist zu sein,
die größte Lust zu haben
allein an deinem Wort,
das mich im Kreuz kann laben
und weist des Himmels Pfort.

4. Mein Arbeit hilf vollbringen
zu Lob dem Namen dein
und lass mir wohl gelingen,
im Geist fruchtbar zu sein;
die Blümlein lass aufgehen
von Tugend mancherlei,
damit ich mög bestehen
und nicht verwerflich sei.

Martin Behn 1604
Alles Gute an diesem herrlichen Frühlingstag Ende Mai 2020
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Nachträglich zum Vatertag: Gottes Wort bleibt in Ewigkeit. Amen.

Fängt man zuerst mit dem besten Wein an oder hält man den nach göttlichem Vorbild für zuletzt? Da ich nicht weiß, wie lange das noch weiter geht, halte ich mich mal an die übliche Abfolge und fange in der Beschreibung des klassischen Weimar beim Besten an. Das ist gar nicht so leicht zu bestimmen, da es sich wiederum um recht unterschiedliche Kategorien handelt. Zur Auswahl stehen die „Herder-Kirche“, die Anna Amalia Bibliothek, die Wohnhäuser von Goethe, Schiller und Wieland, ebenso das von Liszt und Bach, aber auch der historische Friedhof mit der Fürstengruft und auslaufenden Parks und Gärten. Die Domizilien von Bach und Liszt sind nicht konkurrenzfähig, da das erste längst zerstört und das zweite bei unserem Besuch verschlossen war. Die, der klassischen Dichtern gehören zusammen und so werde ich sie gemeinsam angehen. Ansonsten halte ich mich an diese zufällige Auflistung: Herder-Kirche, Bibliothek, Wohnhäuser und abschließend der Friedhof… Mal sehen, wie weit der Wandelgang durch die Grünanlagen Weimars uns nimmt ehe wir uns nach Buchenwald ins KZ und zum Lutherstein bei Stotternheim ablenken lassen.

Die Herder-Kirche ist eine schöne Kirche, aber von außen nicht gerade außergewöhnlich. Eher wie eine Dorfkirche halt – grau-in-grau. Aber sie ist wunderbar renoviert, hat eine bewegte Geschichte und beinhaltet nicht nur eine beeindruckende Orgel, sondern auch den wahrscheinlich aussagekräftigsten Lucas Cranach Altar überhaupt. Mich hat es sehr bewegt, dass unsere Führerin – eine engagierte Postkartenverkäuferin – so gut Bescheid wusste und uns so hilfsbereit und detailliert in die Geschichte einführen konnte.

Solus Christus: Sola fide, sola gratia, sola scriptura

Sie hob gleich hervor, dass sorgfältige Forschungsarbeiten zu dem Ergebnis geführt hätten, dass es Lucas Cranach der Jüngere war, der diese Auftragsarbeit der kurfürstlichen Nachkommen des Weimaranerschen bzw. Ernestinischen Herzoghauses nach der Schmalkaldischen Niederlage (1547) und nach dem Tod ihres Vaters, des Kurfürsten Johann Friedrich des Großmütigen (1554) und zu seinem rühmlichen Gedenken in 1555 ausgeführt hatte – und zwar alleine und ohne jegliche Hilfe vom Vater. Die drei Kurfürsten Söhne, die im Seitenflügel zu sehen sind, hätten den Altar für ihren Vater in Arbeit gegeben – und zwar als eindeutiges Bekenntnis zu seiner reformatorischen Standfestigkeit. Für mich ist es sehr eindrücklich, dass der Künstler den versöhnenden Blutstrahl genau auf seinen Vater lenkt – und ihn damit praktisch „brüderlich“ absolviert. Das ist ja genau das, was die kurfürstlichen Söhne mit ihrem Auftrag zum Ausdruck bringen wollten – auch ihr Vater steht unter dem vollmächtigen und wirksamen Freispruch aller Schuld allein durch Jesu Christi Blut. Ein wunderbares Zeugnis dieser lutherischen Söhne zum Glauben ihrer Väter!

Frau Elisabeth Asshoff hat in ihren beiden Untersuchungen „Der Cranachalter und die Epitaphien der Stadtkirche St. Peter und Paul zu Weimar“ und dem noch spezifischeren „Der Weimarer Cranach-Altar: Ein Ernestinisches Bekenntnis zur Reformation“ die wichtigsten Ergebnisse eindrücklich und einleuchtend vorgetragen. Ihre genauen Bestimmungen der bedeutungsvollen Pflanzen auf dem Altar sind eine unerwartete Bereicherung und herrliche Ergänzung dieser reichen Reformationsfrucht. Dem Hauptflügel des Altars sind zwei Seitenflügel zugeordnet,

auf denen die sächsischen Herzöge der ernestinischen Linie des Hauses Wettin an Betpulten knien: Auf dem linken Seitenflügel Herzog Johann Friedrich, „geborener Kurfürst“, mit seiner Gemahlin Herzogin Sibylle von Cleve, die etwa ein Jahr vor der Aufstellung dieses Retabels verstorbenen Fürstin. Auf dem rechten Seitenflügel des Altarwerks die regierenden Söhne des herzoglichen Paars: Herzog Johann Friedrich II., Herzog Johann Wilhelm und Herzog Johann Friedrich III.

Ashoff: Der Weimarer Cranach-Altar S.13

Der Flügelaltar steht auf einer Predella, die eine in Form eines Abendmahlskelches gesetzte Inschrift aufweist:

Den durchlauchtigsten und ruhmreichsten Fürsten, dem Herrn Johann Friedrich I., Herzog von Sachsen, geborenen Kurfürsten des Römischen Reichs, Landgrafen von Thüringen, Markgrafen von Meißen und der Herrin Sibylle, geborenen Herzogin von Cleve, Jülich, Berg etc., ihren sehr teuren Eltern, haben die tief betrübten Söhne Johann Friedrich II., Johann Wilhelm, Johann Friedrich III. aus Dankbarkeit dieses Denkmal gesetzt.

Ihren Eltern, die im grausamen Krieg ihren gerecht machenden Glauben mit standhafter Frömmigkeit bekannt haben, ihren frommen Eltern haben von Frömmigkeit beseelt, die dankbaren Kinder, drei Brüder aus einem Herzen, dieses Tafel gesetzt, damit sie im Laufe der Jahre des verteidigten Glaubens Denkmal und der Liebe ein Pfand sei.

Christus, der Du den Deinen wirksam Schutz und Schirm gewährst, so dass sie auch das überwinden, was für unüberwindlich gilt. Gib Frieden und halte die Feinde in Schranken! Trage Du als Mittler Sorge für die, die den Vater fürchten, dessen Weisheit Du ausstrahlst! Hinweg, du unselige Weisheit der Menschen! Gerecht vor Gott macht das Vertrauen in Christus allein.

Im Jahre des Herrn 1555.

Ebd. S.70-71

Sonst gibt es auch noch mehr zu sehen, aber für heute reichts erstmal Mal 🙂

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Classical Weimar: A wonderful place to be!

Going to Weimar is obvious for any German teacher, especially if you specialized in the classics. But it´s also a hotspot for any culture lover, foodie or if you´re looking at a 2-hour travelling limit from your home base in Lutherstadt Wittenberg. On the map we considered visiting Jena and Erfurt on the way but decided to stick to our first choice only – mainly due to time constraints of just one Ascension holiday to play with. So, after Borna and Altenburg we went for Weimar: Home of Goethe, Schiller, Wieland, Bach, Liszt, Cranach sr, Nietzsche to mention but a few of the celebrities and notabilities, who made this town special.

They were appreciated, attracted and called by the noble patrons of their time like for instance Duchess Anna Amalia of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel or her son Karl August – Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, who both left deep marks, impressive buildings and pretty sights in this lovely town pretty much in central Thuringia.  And then I´ve not even touched on the famous hunting dogs from here.

Due to the special times we got to stay right in the middle of town within walking distance of famous landmarks like the church of St. Peter and Paul (Herder´s church), museums and libraries, cemetries, parks and walkways. Here the first German democratic constitution was proclaimed after the 1st World War and in most restaurants, you get info about who´s who who ate what when right at this very place like at the Sächsischer Hof, zum Siechenbräu, zum Weißen Schwan or Zur Scharfen Ecke. That includes illustrious people like the emperor of Japan in recent years right to Martin Luther himself in days long gone.

We stayed 2 nights and crisscrossed the place in search of famous graves, mysterious rendezvous, pulpits, literary desks and flowery gardens amidst grand villas and impressive statues.

The people were most hospitable, friendly and outgoing – very eager to make us feel very much at home, which we did from the word go. This really is a special place and a wonderful stop-over. I´ve got a number of sights, scenes and incidents, which I will share here in due time. For now, I remember this university locality most fondly and highly recommend it for any tourist, student or traveler. It´s very high on my most favorite list – and then I´ve not even touched on Stutterheim (Luther´s conversion) and Buchenwald KZ. We´ll get to those later too d.v. – and if I don´t forget or get lost in reading these classics rather.     

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Sermon for the Sunday after Christ´s Ascension

In 1522 Dr. Martin Luther uses tomorrow´s gospel (John 15,26-16,4) to preach of comfort and admonition. Here is an audible version of the German sermon.

Come Holy Ghost, God and Lord, With all Your graces now outpoured On each believer’s mind and heart; Your fervent love to them impart. Lord, by the brightness of Your light in holy faith Your Church unite; From every land and every tongue This to Your praise, O Lord, our God, be sung: Alleluia, alleluia!

Come, Holy Light, guide divine, Now cause the Word of life to shine. Teach us to know our God aright And call Him Father with delight. From every error keep us free; Let none but Christ our master be That we in living faith abide, In Him our Lord, with all our might confide. Alleluia, alleluia!

Come Holy Fire, comfort true, Grant us the will Your work to do And in your service to abide; Let trials turn us not aside. Lord, by Your power prepare each heart, And to our weakness strength impart That bravely here we may contend, Through Life and death to You, our Lord, ascend. Alleluia, alleluia!

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Exaudi: Hear me, O Lord, when I cry out.

The Lord is my light and my salvation.
I fear no one.
The Lord protects my life.
I am afraid of no one.

When evil men attack me to devour my flesh,
when my adversaries and enemies attack me, they stumble and fall.
Even when an army is deployed against me, I do not fear.
Even when war is imminent, I remain confident.

 I have asked the Lord for one thing— this is what I desire!
I want to live in the Lord’s house all the days of my life,
so I can gaze at the splendor of the Lord and contemplate in his temple.

He will surely give me shelter in the day of danger;
he will hide me in his home.
He will place me on an inaccessible rocky summit.
Now I will triumph over my enemies who surround me.
I will offer sacrifices in his dwelling place and shout for joy.
I will sing praises to the Lord.

Hear me, O Lord, when I cry out.
Have mercy on me and answer me.
My heart tells me to pray to you,
and I do pray to you, O Lord.
Do not reject me.
Do not push your servant away in anger.
You are my deliverer.
Do not forsake or abandon me,
O God who vindicates me.
Even if my father and mother abandoned me,
the Lord would take me in.

Teach me how you want me to live, Lord;
lead me along a level path because of those who wait to ambush me.
Do not turn me over to my enemies, for false witnesses who want to destroy me testify against me.
Where would I be if I did not believe I would experience the Lord’s favor in the land of the living?
Rely on the Lord!
Be strong and confident!
Rely on the Lord!

Psalm 27 by King David

Tomorrow is the 6th Sunday after Easter, which is called “Exaudi” from verse 7 in Psalm 27: Hear me,O Lord, when I cry out. Have mercy on me and answer me. (Exaudi, Domine, vocem meam, qua clamavi ad te…). This Sunday is like an Advent Sunday for Pentecost. All and everything is focused on the promise of our good Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to send His advocate to us, so that He would lead and guide us in all truth, revealing all that IX himself had taught his disciples. In perfect unison with the Father and the Son, the Comforter does not teach on and of His own, but rather takes from the Son and the Father, giving in surplus whatever serves the edification of the flourishing faithful and promotes God´s holy Christian Church, drawing all and everyone towards Himself from the very ends of the earth. That´s His good and gracious will for us and our salvation +

This promise came first to the people in exile (Jeremiah 31,31-34). It has uplifted and maintained the faithful in dire straits – far off from home – in the diaspora, on their migrations, flights and sheer endless meanderings – looking forward to experience the Lord’s favor in the land of the living. Oh, how they longed to live in the Lord’s house all the days of their life, so they could gaze at the splendor of the Lord and contemplate in his temple…

Finally our good Lord himself confirmed these high hopes and desperate yearnings of His people – on the night in which he was betrayed (John 16,5-15) and then again, when He sent them back to Jerusalem to await the fulfilment of His blessed testament with them. On Pentecost this was fulfilled, so that we stand praying with the holy Apostle (Eph.3,14-21) between the holiday of our Lord´s Ascension and the pentecostal Feast -already singing His praises even while still waiting, but already celebrating Church even as we are still in transit:

Christ rose to heaven, What did he send us hither? The Holy Ghost as Comforter To keep us faithful, safe and sound. Kyrieleis!

Hallelujah, Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

So, let us all rejoice and sing, Christ comforts us most graciously. Kyrieleis!

Here´s my sermon and the hymns & lessons for the divine service in German:

  • Outline
    • Eingang                     101 Heilger Geist, Du Tröster mein …   
    • Introitus                     042 (Ps.27) Jeremia 31,31-34 (Predigt); Eph3,14-21; Joh16,5-15
    • Vor der Predigt         90 Christ fuhr gen Himmel…
    • Nach der Predigt      107 Schmückt das Fest mit Maien …
    • Ausgang                    102 Freut euch, ihr Christen alle…       

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Luther on tour from Torgau to Zwickau

Getting back from the Wartburg, Luther had his plate full in Wittenberg pushing back on the radical efforts by Karlstadt & Co. He managed these challenges with aplomb. Peace and quiet returned to the troubled town – and that mainly due to the calming influence of Luther´s sermons. Competently he addressed the issues at hand, showing how Christian liberty goes hand in glove with Christian responsibility. However, Luther was never just one-track-mind. His many talents challenged him on many fronts plus he was open to challenges from all over. Not only was he constantly confronted by more or less able opponents, but close friends and a growing band of allies sought out his spiritual advice and theological insight as they faced terra incognita going about building churches and Lutheran missions cut loose from their previous moorings in papal decrees and sans legal scaffolding. They were building anew based solely on gospel foundations. The subsequent structures were to express this evangelical base. It was tough going. Thank God for the prophetic leadership of the reformer.

In the middle of April 1522 Altenburg pressed Luther with a double-pronged petition. Firstly to help selecting an appropriate preacher/pastor/bishop where catholic priests were unwilling to convert. Such unrepentant followers of the papel course were dismissed and new, suitable followers of the new way were sought as congregational pastors. Secondly, Luthers guidances was not just requested in writing, but personally. They wanted him to address them on the pressing issues facing the congregation. They trusted Luther in their efforts to free themselves from papal bonds and to walk free as Christians according to the biblical message in law and gospel.

A similar request was also put forward by the congregation in Borna. So, Luther undertook extended preaching tours and public relations stints to various towns, starting off close to his home base at Torgau and finally going to Zwickau, which were morphing into important reformational centers in electoral Saxony.

Although Luther favored Gabriel Zwilling as pastor for Altenburg, he could not get through with this suggestion as the elector doubted his suitability still due to the candidate´s part in the Wittenberg riots in cohorts with the rebel Karlstadt. In the end Wenzeslaus Linck – an Augustinian vicar – was installed by Georg Spalatin, who would later – after the most unfortunate demise of the elector – move permanently to this post himself. Both are seen on the front of the beautiful church “Brüderkirche” – together with Luther and the Holy Trinity. This church has a moving history – right into our own times.

Everywhere people thirst for the gospel. From all ends they plead for pastors.

Martin Luther to Spalatin 26th July 1522

That is why Luther dedicated a lot of his time and energy to have faithful pastors called to these outposts of the church in gospel mission. He published crucial documents in this time like the foundational paper with lasting practicalities for the pastoral office and Lutheran ministry:

THAT A CHRISTIAN ASSEMBLY OR CONGREGATION HAS THE RIGHT AND POWER TO JUDGE ALL TEACHING AND TO CALL, APPOINT, AND DISMISS TEACHERS, ESTABLISHED AND PROVEN BY SCRIPTURE

First, it is necessary to know where and what the Christian congregation1 is, so that men do not engage in human affairs (as the non-Christians were accustomed to do) in the name of the Christian congregation. The sure mark by which the Christian congregation can be recognized is that the pure gospel is preached there. For just as the banner of an army is the sure sign by which one can know what kind of lord and army have taken to the field, so, too, the gospel is the sure sign by which one knows where Christ and his army are encamped. We have the sure promise of this from God in Isaiah 55[:10–11], “My word” (says God) “that goes forth from my mouth shall not return empty to me; rather, as the rain falls from heaven to earth, making it fruitful, so shall my word also accomplish everything for which I sent it.” Thus we are certain that there must be Christians wherever the gospel is, no matter how few and how sinful and weak they may be.2 Likewise, where the gospel is absent and human teachings rule, there no Christians live but only pagans, no matter how numerous they are and how holy and upright their life may be.

Thus it undeniably follows that bishops, religious foundations, monasteries, and all who are associated with them have long since ceased to be Christians or Christian congregations, even though they have claimed they are more entitled to this name than anyone else. For whoever recognizes the gospel sees, hears, and understands that even today they insist on their human teachings, have driven the gospel far away from themselves, and are still driving it away. That is why one should consider pagan and worldly what these people do and pretend.

Second, in this matter of judging teachings and appointing or dismissing teachers or pastors, one should not care at all about human statutes, law, old precedent, usage, custom, etc., even if they were instituted by pope or emperor, prince or bishop, if one half or the whole world accepted them, or if they lasted one year or a thousand years. For the soul of man is something eternal, and more important than every temporal thing. That is why it must be ruled and seized only by the eternal word; for it is very disgraceful to rule consciences before God with human law and old custom. That is why this matter must be dealt with according to Scripture and God’s word; for God’s word and human teaching inevitably oppose each other when the latter tries to rule the soul. This we shall prove clearly with regard to our present discussion, in this manner:

Human words and teaching instituted and decreed that only bishops, scholars, and councils should be allowed to judge doctrine. Whatever they decided should be regarded as correct and as articles of faith by the whole world, as is sufficiently proven by their daily boasting about the pope’s spiritual law.3 One hears almost nothing from them but such boasting that they have the power and right to judge what is Christian or what is heretical. The ordinary Christian is supposed to await their judgment and obey it. Do you see how shamelessly and foolishly this boasting, with which they intimidated the whole world and which is their highest stronghold and defense, rages against God’s law and word?

Christ institutes the very opposite. He takes both the right and the power to judge teaching from the bishops, scholars, and councils and gives them to everyone and to all Christians equally when he says, John 10[:4], “My sheep know my voice.” Again, “My sheep do not follow strangers, but flee from them, for they do not know the voice of strangers” [John 10:5]. Again, “No matter how many of them have come, they are thieves and murderers. But the sheep did not listen to them” [John 10:8].

Here you see clearly who has the right to judge doctrine: bishops, popes, scholars, and everyone else have the power to teach, but it is the sheep who are to judge whether they teach the voice [i.e., the words] of Christ or the voice of strangers. My dear, what can these water bubbles4 say against it, with their feet scraping,5 “Councils, councils! One must listen to the scholars, the bishops, the crowd; one must look at the old usage and custom”? Do you think the word of God should yield to your old usage, custom, and bishops? Never! That is why we let bishops and councils decide and institute whatever they please; when God’s word is on our side we—and not they—shall judge what is right or wrong and they will have to yield to us and obey our word.6

Here I think you can indeed see clearly enough how much trust should be placed in those who deal with souls by means of human words. Who cannot see that all bishops, religious foundations, monasteries, universities, and everything belonging to them rage against this clear word of Christ? They shamelessly take away the judgment of teaching from the sheep and annex it to themselves through their own law and blasphemy. That is why they should certainly be regarded as murderers and thieves, as wolves and apostate Christians, for they are openly convicted here not only of denying God’s word but also of opposing and acting against it. Such action was quite appropriate for the Antichrist and his kingdom, according to the prophecy of St. Paul, 2 Thessalonians 2[:3–4].

Christ says again, Matthew 7[:15], “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but are inwardly ravenous wolves.” You see, here Christ does not give the judgment to prophets and teachers but to pupils or sheep. For how could one beware of false prophets if one did not consider and judge their teaching? Thus there cannot be a false prophet among the listeners, only among the teachers. That is why all teachers and their teaching should and must be subject to the judgment of the listeners.

Again, the third passage is from St. Paul, 1 Thessalonians 5[:21], “Test everything but hold fast to that which is good.” You see, here he does not want to have any teaching or decree obeyed unless it is examined and recognized as good by the congregation hearing it. Indeed, this examination is not the concern of the teachers; rather, the teachers must first state what is to be examined. Thus here too the judgment is taken from the teachers and given to the Christian pupils. There is a radical difference between Christians and the world: in the world the rulers command whatever they please and their subjects accept it. “But among you,” says Christ, “it should not be so.” Instead, among Christians each person is the judge of the other person; on the other hand, he is also subject to the other person.7 However, the spiritual tyrants have made a worldly power out of Christendom.

The fourth passage is again from Christ, Matthew 24[:4–5], “Take heed that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.” To sum up, do we really need to quote any more sayings? All of St. Paul’s warnings, Romans 16[:17–18]1 Corinthians 10[:14]Galatians 34, and 5Colossians 2[:8], and elsewhere, and all the sayings of the prophets in which they teach us to avoid human teaching,8 do nothing but take the right and power to judge all doctrine away from the teachers and with a stern decree impose it on the listeners instead, on pain of losing their soul. Accordingly, they not only have the power and the right to judge everything that is preached, they also have the duty to judge, on pain of [incurring] the disfavor of Divine Majesty. Thus we see in what an un-Christian way the tyrants treated us when they took this right and obligation from us and made it their own. For this alone they richly deserve to be driven out of Christendom and to be chased away as wolves, thieves, and murderers who rule over us and teach us things contrary to God’s word and will.

Thus we conclude that wherever there is a Christian congregation in possession of the gospel, it not only has the right and power but also the duty—on pain of losing the salvation of its souls and in accordance with the promise made to Christ in baptism—to avoid, to flee, to depose, and to withdraw from the authority that our bishops, abbots, monasteries, religious foundations, and the like are now exercising. For it is clearly evident that they teach and rule contrary to God and his word. This first point is established certainly and firmly enough, and one should depend upon it, that it is a divine right and a necessity for the salvation of souls to depose or to avoid such bishops, abbots, monasteries, and whatever is of their government.

Second, since a Christian congregation neither should nor could exist without God’s word, it clearly follows from the previous [argument] that it nevertheless must have teachers and preachers who administer the word. And since in these last accursed times the bishops and the false spiritual government neither are nor wish to be teachers—moreover, they want neither to provide nor to tolerate any, and God should not be tempted to send new preachers from heaven—we must act according to Scripture and call and institute from among ourselves those who are found to be qualified and whom God has enlightened with reason and endowed with gifts to do so.

For no one can deny that every Christian possesses the word of God and is taught and anointed by God to be priest, as Christ says, John 6[:45], “They shall all be taught by God,” and Psalm 45[:7], “God has anointed you with the oil of gladness on account of your fellows.”9 These fellows are the Christians, Christ’s brethren, who with him are consecrated priests, as Peter says too, 1 Peter 2[:9], “You are a royal priesthood so that you may declare the virtue of him who called you into his marvelous light.”10

But if it is true that they have God’s word and are anointed by him, then it is their duty to confess, to teach, and to spread [his word], as Paul says, 1 Corinthians 4 [2 Cor. 4:13], “Since we have the same spirit of faith, so we speak,” and the prophet says in Psalm 116[:10], “I came to believe, therefore I speak.” And in Psalm 51[:13], he [God] says of all Christians, “I will teach the ungodly your ways, and sinners will return to you.” Here again it is certain that a Christian not only has the right and power to teach God’s word but has the duty to do so on pain of losing his soul and of God’s disfavor.

If you say, “How can this be? If he is not called to do so he may indeed not preach, as you yourself have frequently taught,” I answer that here you should put the Christian into two places. First, if he is in a place where there are no Christians he needs no other call than to be a Christian, called and anointed by God from within. Here it is his duty to preach and to teach the gospel to erring heathen or non-Christians, because of the duty of brotherly love, even though no man calls him to do so. This is what Stephen did, Acts 6–7, even though he had not been ordered into any office by the apostles. Yet he still preached and did great signs among the people. Again, Philip, the deacon and Stephen’s comrade, Acts 8[:5], did the same thing even though the office of preaching was not commanded to him either. Again, Apollos did so too, Acts 18[:25]. In such a case a Christian looks with brotherly love at the need of the poor and perishing souls and does not wait until he is given a command or letter from a prince or bishop. For need breaks all laws and has none. Thus it is the duty of love to help if there is no one else who could or should help.

Second, if he is at a place where there are Christians who have the same power and right as he, he should not draw attention to himself. Instead, he should let himself be called and chosen to preach and to teach in the place of and by the command of the others.11 Indeed, a Christian has so much power that he may and even should make an appearance and teach among Christians—without a call from men—when he becomes aware that there is a lack of teachers, provided he does it in a decent and becoming manner. This was clearly described by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 14[:30], when he says, “If something is revealed to someone else sitting by, let the first be silent.” Do you see what St. Paul does here? He tells the teacher to be silent and withdraw from the midst of the Christians; and he lets the listener appear, even without a call. All this is done because need knows no command.

If then St. Paul says here that anyone from the midst of the Christians may come forward if there is a need and calls him through such a word of God, and tells the other to withdraw and deposes him by the power of his word, how much more right does a whole congregation have to call someone into this office when there is a need, as there always is, especially now! For in the same passage St. Paul gives every Christian the power to teach among Christians if there is a need, saying, “You can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be admonished” [1 Cor. 14:31]. Again, “You should earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues; but all things should be done decently and in order” [1 Cor. 14:39–40].

Let this passage be your sure foundation, because it gives such an overwhelming power to the Christian congregation to preach, to permit preaching, and to call. Especially if there is a need, it [this passage] calls everyone with a special call—without a call from men—so that we should have no doubt that the congregation which has the gospel may and should elect and call from among its members someone to teach the word in its place.

But if you say, “Did not St. Paul command Timothy and Titus to institute priests12 [1 Tim. 4:13Titus 1:5], and do we not read, Acts 14[:23], that Paul and Barnabas instituted priests among the congregations? (Therefore, the congregation cannot call anyone, nor can anyone draw attention to himself and preach among Christians; rather, one must have permission and authorization from bishops, abbots, or other prelates who represent the apostles)” I answer that if our bishops, abbots, etc., did represent the apostles, as they boast, one opinion would certainly be to let them do what Titus, Timothy, Paul, and Barnabas did when they instituted priests, etc. But since they represent the devil and are wolves who neither want to teach the gospel nor suffer it to be taught, they are as little concerned with instituting the office of preaching or pastoral care among Christians as the Turks or the Jews are. They should drive asses and lead dogs.

Moreover, if they were really decent bishops who wanted to have the gospel and wanted to institute decent preachers, they still could not and should not do so without the will, the election, and the call of the congregation—except in those cases where need made it necessary so that souls would not perish for lack of the divine word. For in such a need, as you have heard, not only may anyone procure a preacher, be it through pleas or the power of worldly authority, but he should also hurry to the scene himself and make an appearance and teach if he can—for need is need and has no limits—just as everyone should hurry to the scene of a fire in town and not wait until asked to come.

Otherwise, if there is no such need and if there are those who have the right, power, and grace to teach, no bishop should institute anyone without the election, will, and call of the congregation. Rather, he should confirm the one whom the congregation chose and called; if he does not do it, he [the elected man] is confirmed anyway by virtue of the congregation’s call. Neither Titus nor Timothy nor Paul ever instituted a priest without the congregation’s election and call. This is clearly proven by the sayings in Titus 1[:7] and 1 Timothy 3[:10], “A bishop or priest should be blameless,” and, “Let the deacon be tested first.” Now Titus could not have known which ones were blameless; such a report must come from the congregation, which must name the man.

Again, we even read in Acts 4 [6:1–6] regarding an even lesser office, that the apostles were not permitted to institute persons as deacons without the knowledge and consent of the congregation. Rather, the congregation elected and called the seven deacons, and the apostles confirmed them. If, then, the apostles were not permitted to institute, on their own authority, an office having to do only with the distribution of temporal food, how could they have dared to impose the highest office of preaching on anyone by their own power without the knowledge, will, and call of the congregation?

But since in our times there is the need, but no bishop, to provide evangelical preachers, the examples from Titus and Timothy are invalid. Instead, one must call [a preacher] from among the congregation, regardless of whether or not he is confirmed by Titus. For those under Titus’ care would and should have done the same thing if Titus had not wanted to confirm him, or if there had been no one else to institute preachers. That is why this time is very different from the time of Titus when the apostles ruled and wanted to have true preachers. Now our tyrants only want to have wolves and thieves.

Why do these raging tyrants condemn us for such electing and calling? They themselves do and must do the same thing. Not one of them is ever instituted pope or bishop by the power of someone; rather, he is elected and called by his chapter13 and then confirmed by others—the bishops by the pope as their supreme head, and he, the pope himself, by the cardinal of Ostia14 as by his inferior. And even if one of them were not confirmed, he would still be bishop and pope. Thus I ask the dear tyrants: if bishops are made by the election and call of their own congregation, and if the pope is pope without confirmation by any other authority and by election alone, why should not a Christian congregation, too, make a preacher by its call alone? For they [the tyrants] regard the episcopal and papal estate as higher than the office of preaching! Who gave them this right and took it from us, especially since our calling has Scripture on its side, but their calling is nothing but a mere human trifle without Scripture, with which they rob us of our rights? They are tyrants and knaves who deal with us just as the devil’s apostles should.

That is why there is still a custom in some places of having worldly authorities such as councilmen and princes institute and pay preachers themselves in their towns and castles, just as they please and without the permission or authorization of the bishops and popes.15 And no one interfered, even though (I fear) they did not do it out of a [correct] understanding of their Christian rights. Rather, they did it because the spiritual tyrants despised and underestimated the office of preaching and made a great separation between it and the spiritual government, even though it is the highest office, on which all others depend and from which they follow. On the other hand, where there is no office of preaching, none of the others can follow. For John says, John 4[:2], that Jesus did not baptize, he only preached. And Paul boasts, 1 Corinthians 1[:17], that he was not sent to baptize but to preach.

Therefore, whoever has the office of preaching imposed on him has the highest office in Christendom imposed on him. Afterward he may also baptize, celebrate mass, and exercise all pastoral care; or, if he does not wish to do so, he may confine himself to preaching and leave baptizing and other lower offices to others—as Christ and all the apostles did, Acts 4 [6:4]. Thus it becomes evident that our present-day bishops are spiritual idols and not bishops. For they leave the highest office of the word, which should be their own, in the hands of the very lowest [orders], namely, chaplains, monks, and mendicants.16 They also leave the lower offices such as baptizing and other pastoral care to them. In the meantime, however, they administer confirmation, consecrate bells, altars, and churches which are neither Christian nor episcopal duties and which they themselves invented. They are perverted and blind masks and true child-bishops.17

Translated by Eric W. and Ruth C. Gritsch
“Luther Works” Volume 39

He did not write the influential paper, but penned an introduction to it, signalling his approval: “Fraternal communion of the common chest for the congregation at Leisnick 1523”.

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Though great our sins, yet greater still Is God’s abundant favor

The Old Testament lesson for the 5th Sunday after Easter (Rogate)

The Lord spoke to Moses, “Go quickly, descend, because your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have acted corruptly. They have quickly turned aside from the way that I commanded them—they have made for themselves a molten calf and have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt.’”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people. Look what a stiff-necked people they are! So now, leave me alone so that my anger can burn against them and I can destroy them, and I will make from you a great nation.”

But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God and said, “O Lord, why does your anger burn against your people, whom you have brought out from the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘For evil he led them out to kill them in the mountains and to destroy them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent of this evil against your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel your servants, to whom you swore by yourself and told them, ‘I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken about I will give to your descendants, and they will inherit it forever.’” Then the Lord relented over the evil that he had said he would do to his people.

Exodus 32,7-14

1    From depths of woe I cry to Thee,
In trial and tribulation;
Bend down Thy gracious ear to me,
Lord, hear my supplication.
If Thou rememb’rest ev’ry sin,
Who then could heaven ever win
Or stand before Thy presence?

2    Thy love and grace alone avail
To blot out my transgression;
The best and holiest deeds must fail
To break sin’s dread oppression.
Before Thee none can boasting stand,
But all must fear Thy strict demand
And live alone by mercy.

3    Therefore my hope is in the Lord
And not in mine own merit;
It rests upon His faithful Word
To them of contrite spirit
That He is merciful and just;
This is my comfort and my trust.
His help I wait with patience.

4    And though it tarry through the night
And till the morning waken,
My heart shall never doubt His might
Nor count itself forsaken.
O Israel, trust in God your Lord.
Born of the Spirit and the Word,
Now wait for His appearing.

5    Though great our sins, yet greater still
Is God’s abundant favor;
His hand of mercy never will
Abandon us, nor waver.
Our shepherd good and true is He,
Who will at last His Israel free
From all their sin and sorrow.

Martin Luther 1483-1546

Collect for this Sunday before the Ascension of our Lord

God, our heavenly Father, through Your Son You have promised us the Holy Spirit. Send down upon us that Spirit, that He may teach us to show forth Your praise, not only here on earth in weakness, since we know Your power and glory only from afar, but also in power and glory on that day when, united with the choir of angels, we shall see You face to face; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord.

Dobberstein Pg.94

A song for the Sabbath day

It is fitting to thank the Lord,
and to sing praises to your name, O Most High.
It is fitting to proclaim your loyal love in the morning,
and your faithfulness during the night,
to the accompaniment of a ten-stringed instrument and a lyre,
to the accompaniment of the meditative tone of the harp.
For you, O Lord, have made me happy by your work.
I will sing for joy because of what you have done.
How great are your works, O Lord!
Your plans are very intricate!
The spiritually insensitive do not recognize this;
the fool does not understand this.
When the wicked sprout up like grass,
and all the evildoers glisten,
it is so that they may be annihilated.

But you, O Lord, reign forever.
Indeed, look at your enemies, O Lord.
Indeed, look at how your enemies perish.
All the evildoers are scattered.
You exalt my horn like that of a wild ox.
I am covered with fresh oil.
I gloat in triumph over those who tried to ambush me;
I hear the defeated cries of the evil foes who attacked me.
The godly grow like a palm tree;
they grow high like a cedar in Lebanon.
Planted in the Lord’s house,
they grow in the courts of our God.
They bear fruit even when they are old;
they are filled with vitality and have many leaves.
So they proclaim that the Lord, my Protector,
is just and never unfair.

Psalm 92
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