Herrenhuter readings for Wednesday, the 11th February 2015

Kathe Kollowitz_1897_The March of the Weavers in Berlin_214x297

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed,
shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. (Psalm 126,5-6)

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. (Galatians 6,9 )

Being a child and suffering mishap is often a great calamity. It seems as if the trouble is just here to stay and all is going wrong and there’s just no help in sight. Weeping and wailing seems the only thing left to do. Growing older we realise that tears will give way to laughter once again, just as fun and jest alternate with sorrow and being down now and again. It’s the way of life and of growing up learning that.

If however the trouble is just too bad and takes too long, we grow ah so weary and tired of all. Our reserves are running on empty and we are about to give up, faint and pass out and away. I think pastor Paul Gerhard knew something about this. 30 years of ongoing war, gruesome destruction and a degree of desolation and degradation that is hardly imaginable. Losing one wife after the other, burying your own children and even being sent into clerical exile, banished from your pulpit and having to vacate your post. Well, God’s people know hardship that’s for sure. The bible tells one story after the other about this. Something like slavery in Egypt or 40 years migration through the desert lands. It’s not just in modern times, where a life-time behind the iron curtain or even in N.Korean tyranny or some concentration camp (Gulag) has become the most frightening lot of all. Sometimes individuals go through one calamity after the other like the proverbial Job. That’s just so tough and can get anyone to give up hope and despair. Those are such hard times, that people are tempted to just forget about God and doing good. They’re trying to survive by hook or by crook. They are tempted to believe that it’s all up to themselves, that they are left solely to their own devices and that there’s seemingly nothing and nobody out there, caring for them.

Into this situation the Psalmist sings his comforting encouragement and hopeful hymnody: They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. (Psalm 126,5-6) It happens again and again. The walls come crashing down. The people escape and are free. The tyrant does die eventually and the despotism finally has and end. The promised land does open up and the people enter in. For God is alive and does reign and finally gives a good ending.  Therefore there is always hope. Relief is on its way. Christ the Lord is coming to judge the living and the end. He is going to make an end to all hardship, suffering, death and dying. He’s going to wipe away all tears and let his people rejoice with gladness and in eternal bliss. His time is coming. Therefore take courage and look up, your salvation is drawing near. Amen.

“If God Himself Be for Me” by Paul Gerhardt, 1607-1676

1. If God Himself be for me,
I may a host defy;
For when I pray, before me
My foes, confounded, fly.
If Christ, my Head and Master,
Befriend me from above,
What foe or what disaster
Can drive me from His love?

2. This I believe, yea, rather,
Of this I make my boast,
That God is my dear Father,
The Friend who loves me most,
And that, whate’er betide me,
My Savior is at hand
Through stormy seas to guide me
And bring me safe to land.

3. I build on this foundation,
That Jesus and His blood
Alone are my salvation,
The true, eternal good.
Without Him all that pleases
Is valueless on earth;
The gifts I owe to Jesus
Alone my love are worth.

4. My Jesus is my Splendor,
My Sun, my Light, alone;
Were He not my Defender
Before God’s awe-full throne,
I never should find favor
And mercy in His sight,
But be destroyed forever
As darkness by the light.

5. He canceled my offenses,
Delivered me from death;
He is the Lord who cleanses
My soul from sin through faith.
In Him I can be cheerful,
Bold, and undaunted aye;
In Him I am not fearful
Of God’s great Judgment Day.

6. Naught, naught, can now condemn me
Nor set my hope aside;
Now hell no more can claim me,
Its fury I deride.
No sentence e’er reproves me,
No ill destroys my peace;
For Christ, my Savior, loves me
And shields me with His grace.

7. His Spirit in me dwelleth,
And o’er my mind He reigns.
All sorrow He dispelleth
And soothes away all pains.
He crowns His work with blessing
And helpeth me to cry,
“My Father!” without ceasing,
To Him who dwells on high.

8. And when my soul is lying
Weak, trembling, and opprest,
He pleads with groans and sighing
That cannot be exprest;
But God’s quick eye discerns them,
Although they give no sound,
And into language turns them
E’en in the heart’s deep ground.

9. To mine His Spirit speaketh
Sweet word of holy cheer,
How God to him that seeketh
For rest is always near
And how He hath erected
A city fair and new,
Where what our faith expected
We evermore shall view.

10. In yonder home doth flourish
My heritage, my lot;
Though here I die and perish,
My heaven shall fail me not.
Though care my life oft saddens
And causeth tears to flow,
The light of Jesus gladdens
And sweetens every woe.

11. Who clings with resolution
To Him whom Satan hates
Must look for persecution;
For him the burden waits
Of mockery, shame, and losses,
Heaped on his blameless head;
A thousand plagues and crosses
Will be his daily bread.

12. From me this is not hidden,
Yet I am not afraid;
I leave my cares, as bidden,
To whom my vows were paid.
Though life and limb it cost me
And everything I won,
Unshaken shall I trust Thee
And cleave to Thee alone.

13. Though earth be rent asunder,
Thou’rt mine eternally;
Not fire nor sword nor thunder
Shall sever me from Thee;
Not hunger, thirst, nor danger,
Not pain nor poverty
Nor mighty princes’ anger
Shall ever hinder me.

14. No angel and no gladness,
No throne, no pomp, no show,
No love, no hate, no sadness,
No pain, no depth of woe,
No scheme of man’s contrivance,
However small or great,
Shall draw me from Thy guidance
Nor from Thee separate.

15. My heart for joy is springing
And can no more be sad,
‘Tis full of mirth and singing,
Sees naught but sunshine glad.
The Sun that cheers my spirit
Is Jesus Christ, my King;
That which I shall inherit
Makes me rejoice and sing.

Hymn #528  The Lutheran Hymnal Text: Rom. 8:31-39 Author: Paul Gerhardt
Translated by Richard Massie, 1857 Titled: Ist Gott fuer mich, so trete
Composer: Melckior Teschner, 1613 Tune: Valet will ich dir geben

About Wilhelm Weber jr

Rector of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Tshwane
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