Looking back at 2017 recalls old Moses’s reminder: “Our years quickly pass and we fly away.” (Psalm 90:10) We’ll remember my father’s blessed passing just a day after my birthday even as we miss his booming laughter and easy smile fitting well with his humble, generous and determined fatherhood. He was always keen to remind us and all, who cared to listen: “Christians never see each other for the last time!” Well, I for one look forward to seeing him again and not just for his capacity of listening to endless troubles, deep concerns and visisons of darkness and evil without despairing or losing hope. See, he was more than just my father, because bearing the same beautiful office and beloved pastoral joke he was also my predecessor at Seminary and long-time confidant of Bishop Schulz. As such he was the perfect sounding board and prophetic voice addressing pastoral issues and episcopal matters with unbiased severity and undeserved benevolence. Very different to the predominant pragmatists, clueless bureaucrats, hapless perfectionists and incompetent fools running wild where angels feared to tread.
Angelika is doing well at the University of Pretoria (UP). By now, she’s the longest serving academic in their department and very much at home there. Again she successfully published two articels in academic journals, but her first love is still teaching students German making use of classical and other significant texts.
It’s with great joy and gratitude, that she can see our son Detlev following in her footsteps as he continues to study Germany abroad even as he finished off the Honours degree here at UP with flying colours. We expect him to continue abroad for some years now and God only knows, whether he’ll eventually return here to where at least some of his forebears were at home.
Friederike has successfully completed her university studies (LLB) even as she visited Law School (5-9 pm every day) – and worked at the Day-Care-Centre in her free time. Now she’s doing her articles in family law and glad that it’s not all about litigation. She’s still staying with us in Rubida Street and that’s always a great joy. Not only because she visits the same gym as her parents, but also because of her wit and sparkling humour. That can really boost one’s moral after “a hard day’s night” (Beatles).
Her elder brother Christoph is coping nicely down in Natal, where he stays with his grandmother Scharlach and works for his uncle Gerald Scharlach. The national board for electrical appreticeship is more or less chaotic to put it kindly. That is why, he never knows, when the next seminar will take place nor when the next exam will follow.
I don’t know, how they want to address the serious shortage of trained artisans if their training programs are in such a shambles. Compared with that, our daily schedule at LTS was close to perfect for the past decade and a half.
Matthias has completed his apprenticeship in Linz and has now moved back to Gauteng. For the time being, he’s living with us, but is probably moving to Cape Town in the next few weeks to get some more practical exposure, before settling down in one of the Almi-Centres locally in Southern Africa.
We are overjoyed and grateful, that all four of our children could celebrate Christmas with us this time around here in Murrayfield. It might even be the last time here, because we’re considering selling our home and moving on to “greener pastures” – as they say. Perhaps it’s more like “getting out of the kitchen, if you can’t stand the heat.”
The classes with 10 theology students (Romans/Luke in New Testament; Prolegomena, Creation and Anthropology in Dogmatics) and 28 in the preparatory course (Symbolics: Luther’s Catechisms) was an underserved blessing once again. I would have obviously liked to continue with St. John’s gospel and Justification/Sanctification. The correspondence course with the 25 Ethiopians living in South Africa in their diaspora was an ongoing success story. It’s just unbelievable, what positive motivation, perseverance and good fun these foreigners bring along as they go about studying confessional Lutheran theology. It’s quite contagious too. I’m sure, that I’m going to miss these my dear students most of all. No small wonder as some of them have been at LTS for 5 years or more.
Still, it has now finally come to this, that I’m moving to Wittenberg in Germany next year. Angelika is planning on joining me after the first semester. We are very grateful for the church councils charged with this joint partnership project that they are so positive, supportive and motivating. It feels very much like the early days here at Seminary nearly 2 decades ago. I’m grateful for this godsend and just so glad, that I’ll not just be tending the flowers in our garden as yet and as if I already was in early retirement.
Already I’m getting the hang of the “Bundesliga” and trying to forget the Springboks, which is not so difficult after all considering their dismal performance over the past months (or is it years already?) It’s like turning your back on some or other “vrot kol”. No problem at all! The first guests have already made appointments in Wittenberg. The air tickets are booked. My official telephone here has been disconnected and I’m ready for the move. It is, what it is: “Our years quickly pass and we fly away.” (Psalm 90:10)