The men’s shelter has not been particularly easy in the end of March. In total, the folks from Catholic Charities gave us five site visits in support of our volunteers. Add in other challenging developments, especially in the personal lives of some of our elderly church members – and you can see why I have an unusually strong yearning for spring this year. It was probably not a good idea that I finished the month by reading an article on Black Holes in National Geographic Magazine, as it seemed to emphasize the insignificance of our planet and all the pain and challenges occurring on its surface.
It is good in times like these to apply faith. To me, this came when, in the middle of an unpleasant men’s shelter situation, I suddenly remembered a motto from my childhood:
VERBUM DEI MANET IN AETERNUM.
“The Word of God endures forever.” I cannot tell you where I once read it as a child. Was it a banner, a painting or in a Sunday school book? Today, I know that it goes back to John the Steadfast and the Diet of Augsburg in 1530, when this powerful Elector of Saxony declared his support of the Lutheran Reformation in front of the general assembly of the Estates of the Holy Roman Empire. Only one year later Huldrych Zwingli, the leader of our Reformed branch of the Reformation, was killed in battle.
But think about it! This motto of the Reformation is much older than the 16th century. Its origin is Isaiah 40:8, “The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever.” And so I greet you with this verse as we pass through the remainder of Lent while waiting eagerly for the Sun of Easter to rise.
With fond wishes, Pastor Hartmut