Yes, Corona is affecting us too. The Old Latin School is practically shut down and I´m sitting in my office being paid for by the German state: “Kurzarbeit”. That´s a benefit of a socialist government, that even a church enterprise like ours gets funded from that side during such public quarantine ordained by the state. Obviously, if they had not dictated that we close our chapel, bookshop and bed-and-breakfast set up, we would still be open – at least theoretically. There are practically no people around – for fun. It is just the people taking their pets out for all sorts of dirty business or old people going to do their morning shopping and parents cycling with their kids, obviously trying to escape the confines of their familiar, but restricted abode.
All tourists are staying at home and even the locals are mostly locked up. Except the builders, cleaners, postmen, refuse removers etc Those are still very much in action, because they are deemed relevant to the system. Still, you can go to the bank and pick up all the money at the ATM You own. The food stores like REWE are open from morning till late – and even on Sundays. They have nearly everything – except for pasta, rice and toilet paper. For some strange reason, Germans are hoarding this as if it is going out of fashion. Crazy. I have not figured out, why, but there most be a very good reason for this for they do it although even the chancellor and many more have argued that there is absolutely no need to hoard this. Still, even the greengrocer on the market square offered me a role yesterday – as special offering/fruit of the season. Isn´t that nuts? I politely declined and said, he should save that for a rainy day himself. Some shoppers, who kept their distance, but listened closely, had a laugh at that.
The fruitier, who lives in Jessen, which is totally quarantined because of the many positively tested inhabitants after some irresponsible boozing party, was allowed out to offer their produce for sale on the Wittenberg market again. They are deemed essential components for society and its going on. That churches were closed down so quickly, shows, how relevant authorities here deem this pastoral ministry. Probably it´s a reflection of the common German attitude towards religion in general: It´s a private luxury and nowhere essential. The hasty obedience by church people to follow suit – bishops, teachers and pastors all inclusive – demonstrates, how much even church people have internalized this negative evaluation. How different still in Luther´s time, when he admonished pastors to stay putt with their entrusted folk and serve them faithfully with God´s precious and salutary gifts despite devil, pest and plague.
Angelika is working from home. Her children get homework posted and she has to supervise, correct and grade this too. Very much like normal. Thankfully they are computer savvy as their entire schoolwork is digitalized extensively – even before this viral outbreak. Now it´s all virtual and online. However, she´s on the crisis committee and therefore, they gather regularly at least once a week and get together at school to work out the emergency program as if they are excempt from the public susceptibility. I have tried to convince her, that they need to do this online too – just as the church people with their wide range of options to log in, but they´re still at it. Going on as if normality reigns in some spheres still. Even this afternoon, they have got a meeting scheduled at school. I wonder, if they believe, they´re immune, because of the important role they are playing? The frightening examples of priests and doctors dying in droves down in Italy proves, that this could prove highly delusional.
We still continue with the divine services in the chapel – even though they are not public anymore. More like going into the “underground” of the pre-constantian era or into the present time of N.Korea, China and other dictatorial pits. We follow the order of service as always in the Lenten- and Passiontide. Soon, we´ll switch to the Easter ritual of that festive season. We do the singing as normal and continue with the church prayers – Litany, Psalms and other forms too. You too are in our prayers – just as we pray for all those in church and mission across the world – especially in the Lutheran Church – in Africa and America, but also Asia, Australia and Europe with all their bishops, superintendents, pastors and teachers, missionaries and evangelists, seminaries and training centers. The Eucharist continues as always, just as the sermons and propers of the day. We share parts of the service via social media – just as all the world does too. The feedback is encouraging. We can even do the blessings vocally and online.
During the day I sit in the bookstore – like every day. The postman visits me regularly. Just as the guy from Amazon. They are the only ones besides the town authorities, who drop by for this and that. Probably, they are happy to see another face during the day. However, no book sales. Even less than normal. And the bookings are being cancelled left, right and center. Colleg Wittenberg has closed down for now. Well, they´ve got no other business than the hospitality thing. And so, instead of spring cleaning and getting the house all prepped up for the coming summer season, they´ve shut down. Probably is the cheapest thing to do – and as in so many instances, the economic considerations are first priority. Thank God, we´ve got more to do than just these basic lines of business. Our daily prayer schedule is now mostly without interruptions. We follow the orders as in “Orate fratres” – even if we supplement that from Dobberstein´s Prayer booklet. There´s continuous cleaning to get on with, post and bills still come in, the telephone keeps ringing and we can even get on with the regular maintenance and upgrading of the place e.g. new signage was installed outside and inside. The first advertises our place to passersby and the second was a requirement by the fire brigade.
After work my wife & kid go for walks to the Elbe, whereas I continue with my training program as always. We hardly ever miss a news broadcast nowadays and at least during the first week of this pandemic, we learnt something every time. That has changed again and there´s some kind of routine even in these extra-ordinary times.
Thank You for keeping in touch and may God continue to bless You richly according to the neverending bounties of grace, love and mercy. + Peace be with You +