„Vom Aufgang der Sonne bis zu ihrem Niedergang sei gelobet der Name des Herrn“ Roughly translated to fit the music it could go like this “From sunrise to sunset, we laud the good Lord and God.” So, why not join and sing that too in accordance with Luther´s advice “Then go joyfully to your work singing a hymn, like that of the 10 commandments, or whatever your devotion may suggest.” (LSB 327) That must be one of the first circular canons I learnt at Uelzen Primary. Well, thank God for he gives us ample reason to praise him and thank him for all his goodness and mercy, which is new every morning.
Much like that grumpy old farmer learnt, when he finally went to some councilor and/or therapist “as all was getting just too bad and far too gloomy”. Well, the advice he got, was to put some stones into one pocket and whenever he came upon something positive, he should move one of those pebbles into another pocket in his overall. It didn´t take too long and he was back at the good doctor: “I am a happy and grateful man! Initially it took some time, but as my eyes were opened for the good things around me and my ears attuned to the good stories in life, I could hardly move the stones fast enough!”
Well, it´s very much like my time here. In the beginning I wanted to limit myself to one good story a day, however, on some days that´s just not enough. Take yesterday for instance. It just overflows with good things. In my case that means mainly good encounters and meetings. Admittedly I am in a rather fortunate position at the Old Latin School: Open doors, people walk in and are looking for someone … and look and behold – there I am. Some like my cap, some prefer the books, most talk about Luther and so we´re right in my ballpark.
Yesterday’s round was kicked off by a couple from Baden. They were looking for something to take home to their father. Something like the Luther statue on the shelf – just a bit smaller. Not a keyring either – even that was too big. In the end, we discussed one of the books on my desk – and I could share, what I´ve read and listen to their critical take on it. Discussions like that lead from this to that and so we ended up studying the “Luther rose”, which we offer for sale in various forms, but also give away as a memento to our visitors. They knew the inscription on St.Mary´s north entrance by heart: Des Christen Herz auf Rosen geht und wenns mitten unterm Kreuze steht – and that was a good place to end up by most counts. I wonder, if they took that to their father?
Just before noon a pilgrim came in – rucksack and all. He was a catholic from Paderborn and doing the Luther trail from Wittenberg to Brehna. He had lost his wife 12 years ago and since then he did these pilgrimages without her. This day he was to leave Wittenberg and go to Kemberg, which is only about 10km from here. He got right to the matter – asking about the purpose of this house and what Lutheran churches the SELK and the LCMS are. We really got talking on the topic of pope Francis (the Jesuit revolutionary) and the meaning of Vatican II´s depiction of the church as God´s people on the go: “The Church, while on earth it journeys in a foreign land away from the Lord, is like in exile. It seeks and experiences those things which are above, where Christ is seated at the right-hand of God, where the life of the Church is hidden with Christ in God until it appears in glory with its Spouse.” (Lumen gentium 49) He gave me some references to ponder. Like the Priest Willi Kraning (Magdeburg: “Jakobsweg in Sachsenanhalt”) and the catholic paper: Christ in der Gegenwart with the remarkable essay by Professor Wolfgang Beinert about the church constituting aspects of the Eucharist. I don´t agree with WB ideas on the holy priesthood and women´s ordination, but appreciate the emphasis on the effective sacraments as “wirkmächtige Tatsächlichkeiten”. He also shared the overview of his pilgrimage and left me a little postcard with some encouraging thought and the bible verse from Isaiah 40:31. In exchange I handed him some pamphlets of “Amt für Gemeindedienst” (Office for congregational services) – especially the reader “Kirche auf festem Glaubensgrund” (Church on firm confessional foundation) – and recommended the little cafe “Klatschmohn” after the noon prayers in the city church.
It goes without saying, that some people don´t come into the Old Latin School. Some look at our signage and move on. Others photograph the Latin inscriptions or look at the various information stands; others just want to use the bathroom, whilst some actually enter the bookstore and with these we try to make a connection. A single morning goes by quickly, especially if the cleaners ask for new orders just after you thought you´re done. The postman can´t make out the address “Luther´s Sterbehaus” (Luther´s Deathhouse) and inquires, whether that´s your place just as you try to comprehend Weinrich´s commentary on the first chapters of St.John´s gospel. It´s all part of the mornings at the Old Latin School.