Wanderers on Earth

With Easter Sunday now behind us, we may return to the question on what it really means to live in the new life of the resurrected Christ. This could just be a pious phrase. But it could also be the authentic reflection of a mature world view. The new life in Jesus Christ…

I want to ponder this on the background of the great Lunchtime Recital we hosted here at church on Apr 13th. You may get an impression from the attached pictures – even some of the children of Pine Grove Nursery School were there!

During the second half of the recital, Frederick Urrey (tenor) and Daniel Swenberg (guitar) offered songs from Franz Schubert. One was called The Wanderer and included lines like, “I am a stranger everywhere,” and “that land where they speak my language, Oh land, where are you?” I was moved by lines like these, not just because they were sung in German, or because I am not living in my home country anymore. Rather, I was moved because this particular song cast a light on the situation in our city of New Brunswick, where the majority of the population is immigrants from Middle or South America. There are an awful lot of people in our town with whom the song would resonate. You don’t have to be familiar with the German Romanticism of the early 19th century to see that this is the case.

But it’s more than New Brunswick. Migration is a global phenomenon and leaves marks in many of our lives. Both musicians that day had biographies filled with international experience. And it works vice versa. Do not most of us feel more connected than ever to other parts of the word? The digital revolution has accelerated this development tremendously. And, all of a sudden, there it is again, this realization, “I am a stranger everywhere.” We know this cannot be different, not in this world with its many dislocation opportunities, and with its being subject to constant, never ending change.

Perhaps it is here that the new life in Jesus Christ unfolds its deepest meaning. Does it not permanently offer us freedom from alienation in the wake of our wandering? Without this freedom, surely, we must conclude with the lyrics of Schubert’s song, “There, where you are not, there is happiness.” As Christians, however, we may enjoy a little more tranquility.

Where others are restless, we have peace. Where others in vain search for home, we have already arrived. And where others feel estranged, we know ourselves to be known by the Father of Jesus Christ. That’s why the new life in Christ is so much more than just a pious phrase.

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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