From Pastor’s Desk

Pastor's Desk

Pastor’s Desk

Our Sunday of Blessings (Zegen Zondag in Dutch) marks the end of the summer and the transition of church life into a new school and work year. Like all Rally Sundays of this kind, ours also included a large number of worship leaders. It was a nice festival of different voices, followed by a coffee hour that our Turkish friends from Peace Islands Institute had prepared. They even showed us a documentary, Love Is a Verb, about the charity work of their organization.

I learned something new that day, something that I had not seen with the same clarity before. It was a sudden insight regarding our relating to the Bible, the book at the center of our faith.

It is very common to read the Bible and then to ask how its message applies to our lives. So when Paul says in 1st Corinthians 13:4 that love is not boastful or arrogant, we will mostly try to discover the truth of this in our lives. It works, if we succeed. And the longer we have lived as Christians, attended church and come used to reading the Bible, the easier this will be.

But what if you are new to the faith or a seeker, or simply someone who is used to a little more critical thinking? It is not always easy to prove the Bible right in our lives. This insight can be quite frustrating.

What I learned during our Sunday of Blessings worship was the simple fact that we may not always be called to prove the Bible right. Sometimes, it is quite enough to continue to relate to the book. To those who feel like this, I want to say: You may not always be able to nod at everything you read in it, but as long as you begin to see the world with the Bible in mind, you are on the right path!

To give you one example: After reading in worship the above mentioned passage that love is not boastful or arrogant, Marilie read a poem by Hans Magnus Enzensberger, entitled The Visit. It talked about “a commonplace angel / presumably of lower rank,” who appeared to a believer of our day. The angel’s message was everything else but traditionally Christian. Instead, he revealed himself as a prophet of modern mass society. At one point, he told his human counterpart, “You cannot imagine the degree … / to which you’re dispensable.”

The message was not nice, but it was real and reflective of a frequent feeling of our time. And it stood in dialogue with a statement of Paul’s that made several of us think. With Paul speaking through a chasm of 2,000 years – maybe Enzensberger irony will not be the last word? Or turn it around: With Enzenberger’s realism, maybe we need to read Paul a little freer of clichés? In any case, the contrast of the two texts made us think. What more could I ask for as pastor? May this fall season bring us many more experiences of this kind!

With fond wishes,
Pastor Hartmut

About Rev. Dr. Hartmut Kramer-Mills

Hartmut Kramer-Mills, a native of Jena, Germany, began his theological education at Heidelberg University. After the Middle Exam in 1986 he received a scholarship from the World Alliance of Reformed Churches for McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. He graduated from McCormick with a Master of Divinity in 1988. He graduated from Marburg University in Germany with the Ecclesiastical Exam in 1990, and received a Dr. theol. from Greifswald University, Germany, in 1997. From 1990 to 1991 he was vicar at St. Wenzel in Naumburg, Germany. He was ordained minister of word and sacrament in 1993 through the Protestant Church of the Church Province of Saxony. From 1993 to 1998 he served as assistant pastor in Stoessen, Goerschen, and Rathewitz, Germany. At the same time he was lecturer for Church History at Erfurt College in Germany. From 1999 to 2000 he served the Spotswood Reformed Church in New Jersey as interim pastor. Since 2000 he and his wife serve the First Reformed Church in New Brunswick, New Jersey, as co-pastors.
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