Good weather, friends and neighbours…

Good morning from Wittenberg – or as we say here: “Moin, moin!”, but that´s the elaborate and somewhat redundant version. Most stick to the monosyllabic “Moin!” It´s promising to be another of my favorite days. Now that its rained, I´m over the moon anyway. Not much, but I won´t be ungrateful and even Oliver Twist asked to have some more. So, we´ll just continue with the 4th Petition: “Please can I have some more… daily bread”, which by Lutheran definition does include “good weather” – and that comes with enough rain. Just ask any South African (or Saxon for that matter).

Yesterday we had good neighbors celebrating birthday, today we get to “good friends”. Ha, now that´s something special. Really special. Looking back on my life, I always had the best of friends. Well, in the army it was more comrades than friends and later on with Facebook – it got somewhat out of hand. Just too many to really qualify as friends. I always pitied one of my old congregants “EB” back in days long gone, who pitifully declared: “My friends have all died!” Something like “Dead poets society“. Man, that´s much worse than being the last for a tough exam and you´re outside waiting to get into the shredder – better sooner than later. No use, hanging on outside. There´s just no escaping anyway. Thank God for good friends.

Like usual my FB-friend Gene Veith posted a great piece some days back. That´s what good friends do: They don´t write you off, but continue to connect, keep in touch and even motivate You to grow, flourish and live up to Your calling to live a holy and God-pleasing life. I like Veith – and I like what he writes. It´s worthwhile attending to. This time around he was discussing an article in the Federalist and giving good tips as he went along. Amongst other remarkable things, he wrote:

Most of the works I link to can be downloaded for free on Kindle, though the free versions are not always the best translations or editions–I tried to link to good ones–and I myself like to underline passages in books that are this good. I could go on and on, as I did as an English professor for four decades.  But you get the idea.  In every field, read the old books, look at the old paintings, go into buildings of the old architecture, and you will begin to “live” our civilization.

Gene Veith: Not just teaching, but living Western Civilization

You see, in this day and age it is crucial to be selective – otherwise you´ll just get swamped – and that´s just too much of goodness for one meagre soul. We´re human with serious limitations – and therefore often less is better.  It´s an old warning: “Non multa, sed multum!” Literally meaning “not many, but much!” It could be the heading for intentional living – or what the poet summarizes as essential:

One thing’s needful; Lord, this treasure teach me highly to regard.

Johann Heinrich Schröder translated by Frances Elizabeth Cox

We´re spoilt for choice and therefore it remains one of our main challenges to be choosey, picky, exacting if you wish. Even with the growing number of dead poets, painters and composers, there´s just so much good stuff to select from. Thank God for His bountiful goodness. He lays out our tables in rich abundance and lets our cup overflow with good things. Alleluia.

Thank God many of my good friends are still around. I count myself lucky, that there even octo- and nonagenarians amongst them. That´s way beyond the biblical age cited in Psalm 90:10. This current pandemic gave us time to reconnect and reflect on the great blessings of being alive and going about your business. As we catch up by good old mail, all of them refer to the blessing of this shutdown. It gives them well deserved rest, peace and quiet from interference and a break from all sorts of odd jobs typical for retirees. They are just so grateful to have some serious blocks for studies and intensive reading – and of course ample time to share with friends all over the world. None of them complain of any limitations. It´s not that they don´t have any. We all know that. After all, they´re not in heaven just yet. Still, the tenor of their song is the joy and happiness to concentrate on meaningful stuff. Probably very much like old Jerome in his study. Turning the skull with his hand as the hourglass runs out, he continues to read good news: Carpe diem. God´s Word is the staying force – our anchor in life and in death. Through this our good Lord draws us ever closer and closer to himself. He, our very best friend – faithful and true. Alleluia!

1 One thing’s needful; Lord, this treasure
Teach me highly to regard.
All else, though it first give pleasure,
Is a yoke that presses hard!
Beneath it the heart is still fretting and striving,
No true, lasting happiness ever deriving.
This one thing is needful; all others are vain–
I count all but loss that I Christ may obtain!

2 How were Mary’s thoughts devoted 
Her eternal joy to find
As intent each word she noted 
At her Savior’s feet reclined!
How kindled her heart, how devout was its feeling
While hearing the lessons that Christ was revealing!
All earthly concerns she forgot for her Lord
And found her contentment in hearing His Word.

3 Wisdom’s highest, noblest treasure,
Jesus, is revealed in You.
Let me find in You my pleasure,
And my wayward will subdue,
Humility there and simplicity reigning.
In paths of true wisdom my steps ever training.
If I learn from Jesus this knowledge divine,
The blessing of heavenly wisdom is mine.

4 Nothing have I, Christ, to offer,
You alone, my highest good.
Nothing have I, Lord, to proffer
But Your crimson-colored blood.
Your death on the cross has death wholly defeated
And thereby my righteousness fully completed;
Salvation’s white raiments I there did obtain,
And in them in glory with You I shall reign.

5 Therefore You alone, my Savior,
Shall be all in all to me;
Search my heart and my behavior,
Root out all hypocrisy.
Through all my life’s pilgrimage, guard and uphold me,
In loving forgiveness, O Jesus, enfold me.
This one thing is needful; all others are vain–
I count all but loss that I Christ may obtain!

Source: Lutheran Service Book #536

About Wilhelm Weber

Pastor at the Old Latin School in the Lutherstadt Wittenberg
This entry was posted in Feierabend, Gedankensplitter, Hymns and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.