In the late 1980´s my father-in-law installed P. Werner Köhne in Wittenberg. At that stage it was not foreseeable that I would be the successor to be installed in 1992. That´s thirty years ago this year. My father-in-law based his sermon on St.Paul´s second epistle to the Corinthians in the fourth chapter:
Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.2. Corinthians 4,1
I´ve still got his sermon on that passage. It sounds like my father-in-law´s testament. This morning one of the readings in Dobberstein´s anthology is by Georg Merz, who takes up this comforting verse too:
Always there is one firm consolation – to know the source of our office and ministry. We have it in an order instituted by God. This order stems out of mercy. Because we have received mercy and because this happened and continues to happen, we can serve. This mercy stands not only at the beginning of our ministry, it accompanies us constantly, even in time of doubt. Only one who makes mercy in this sense the foundation of his ministry can go on working.
On the gravestone of Bodelschwingh are inscribed these words of 2. Corinthians 4,1: “Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.”
And so, he instructed the young men who were to serve even where no human justification of their work might encourage them. They were made to understand that misery exists that it may bring forth the praise of God´s mercy, so that, as Paul says, the bright light which God has shone in the heart may shine in the world.Dobberstein Pg.232