It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.Charles Dickens, Tale of two cities. 1859
Two days ago, the German chancellor – Angela Merkel – headed her public address with the words: “zerbrechlicher Zwischenerfolg – nicht mehr, nicht weniger!” Others speak of taking first steps on thin ice.
We prayerfully bring before God those suffering and facing hardships due to this pandemic – not just in Asia, S.America and Africa – but also in Italy, Spain, New York, New Orleans and other hotspots of this pandemic. May the triune God continue to grant healing and salvation as we call on Him in our good Lord Jesus´ name: Kyrie eleison. We pray for a vaccine soon. We thank Him for those many people, who have been healed and continue on the way of recovery.
Here, politics has taken steps to open up somewhat. Small businesses (less than 800m2) are scheduled to reopen this Monday – including bookshops. The re-opening of local schools after the extended Easter holidays has been postponed until the 4th of May – for now – and then it will only be a gradual and step-by-step move i.e. one class after the other, on certain days only, extended breaks, smaller numbers etc.
Big gatherings are still a no-go. Church services remain forbidden despite growing dissent from roman-catholic bishops, vocal protestants and other liberals. House devotions are permitted as well as public baptisms and weddings with less than 20 people. Obviously, we continue as normal here in our chapel – even as we share our family´s devotional itinerary with sermons as MP3 with our regular clientele. The hospitality business – including hostels and hotels, inns and restaurants – is still shut down indefinitely.
The local state church people are discussing open-air services – especially a thanksgiving service in the near future, because matters have turned out so well after widespread anxiety. The minister of health (Spahn – one of the candidates to head the CDU) went as far as stating that they have the pandemic under control although the Robert-Koch-Institute demented this and the Bavarian minister-president Söder (CSU) would only go as far as: “We´re getting there slowly!” It is my view, that Germans are in general still rather skeptical and cautious. The economically orientated voices are trying to push for return to normal procedures, but the political reset button will probably not be activated, rather some more turning of a finely tuned reset dial.
The monthly fraternal for Wittenberg´s 15-20 pastors is postponed unanimously. The local church gatherings for boy-scouts, other youth camps and target groups have all been cancelled until after Pentecost. Summer camps for Wittenberg are still dicey business. Most weekly gatherings – see “Stammtisch” – have moved online, beer and all. The virtual offerings are truly overwhelming – and not just for divine services, but all sorts of presentations spiritual and otherwise.
Besides opening our little bookshop and selling some books to a Chinese film producer from Hong Kong stuck without her camera man and getting into the nitty-gritty of Lutheranism as she hopes for the up-coming film shoot, there´s not much more. The outside windows need a spring clean. That´s pretty urgent after skipping 2 years in a row and still no rain in sight or to the rescue. Inside cleaning jobs are ongoing as dust continues to settle in these desert circumstances.
After the electricians investigated our baptismal font, we have resorted to the help of architect Rademann and silversmith Heck. After a prolonged discussion, we´re hopeful, that the long-standing challenges can get sorted out. The lock-down does bring on spare time for this kind of fix and repair stuff.
Greetings and blessings in this festive Eastertide as we continue to thankfully sing the seasonal hymns like the standing favorite from the Reformer´s pen:
Christ Jesus lay in death’s strong bands, for our offenses given;Martin Luther 1483-1546 translated by Richard Massie 1800-1887
but now at God’s right hand he stands and brings us life from heaven;
therefore let us joyful be and sing to God right thankfully
loud songs of hallelujah. Hallelujah!