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Text For The Month / Monatsspruch


Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you will prosper. Jeremiah 29.7

This is the counsel of the Prophet Jeremiah over 2500 years ago in a letter to his people, deported into an alien land, far away from everything they loved and held holy. And although most of these Jews in exile were settled and lived in considerable freedom in foreign cities, the prophet's revolutionary viewpoint was not exactly popular; a sober call to worldliness: build ... plant ... pray for the sake of human unity, without abandoning divine service. "This is the beginning of all sound religious practice" (Interpreter's Bible). Around 500 years later the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome in a similar way: "Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, to the glory of God" (Romans 15.7). Augustine commented on parallels like these: "The New Testament is hidden in the Old, the Old is revealed in the New."

Acting positively on such advice has been as difficult then as it is now. In today's cities, in the country as a whole, we have multi-ethnic societies, where many people of different race, culture and religion live together, all part of the human race. And in this, we have more in common than we have differences, more benefits than conflicts. But human unity? Peace for all? The advice, the need, the demand remains: Seek the peace of the city - welcome one another. This aim, this purpose is reflected in detail in the constitution of our Association, it is stated in the first lines on the home page of this website, it is the underlying theme of each Annual Report, it has been expressed, decade after decade, in various forms in the interpretation of the 'Text for the month'.

Welcome one another. What a problem this has become in today's world. Nobody can deny that in modern society there is first of all and all around us a lot of head-on confrontation; and we are all to often resigned to accept this in silence as inevitable. Who can blame us for such an attitude in the face of our daily experiences. Nevertheless, a Christian, through the example of Christ, should resist resignation. But 'to welcome one another' is more than bridge building. Next to conflict is a life of coexistence. This sounds already promising. But what does an indifferent side by side existence mean for everyday life? We assume that people expect nothing from each other, do not welcome approaches, keep others at arm's length. But small forms of community spirit are not completely dead. I could, from my own present experiences, cite several surprising incidences of kindness, maybe small in themselves, but gratefully received and acknowledged in an appropriate way. On the whole, however, everyone looks only on his own path, and in doing so, all too often blocks the path, literally, of others. To coexist is in truth a negative way of life.

Welcome one another. There is tolerance. Surely a noble attitude, the willingness to dare to differ (sounds familiar?) without recrimination? Mere tolerance does not meet the case. As difficult as practising tolerance and polite forbearance may be, it is essentially a passive matter.

In the light of what has been stated so far, what can the individual person do for the better? In isolation probably very little. A real effort may soon become too much to sustain alone. This has become painfully obvious in the present pandemic. But together with others, as a group effort, many things are possible. An experience of solidarity may liberate, step by step, from isolation, fear, apathy, compulsion to imitate or do better than the next person, may turn into an active involvement for the good of many. Sadly, and not for the first time in the history of our Association, such an engagement for the good has come to a sudden standstill. Even the advice of one of my mentors, that in difficult times a cup of tea will do, meets obstacles. Welcome one another, seek the peace of the city. The unity of all people remains God's will. Therefore, through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, human bonds will ultimately hold. We may be the Lord's wayward children and there may be new beginnings, but let nobody ever again suggest to our Association that 'it cannot be'.

(Text, image design and Haiku by B. Hildebrandt)


November 2020

With weeping they shall come and with consolations I will lead them back. Jeremiah 31.9

This is still part of the Prophets message of God's will to his people, deported to a foreign land, as referred to in the October text. But there are many different instances in everyone's life today, where God's consolation, rather than some form of human comforting is needed. Twenty four years ago I translated into English one of my favourite poems, Manfred Hausmann's "Trost". I place it here for further meditation.

Bernd Hildebrandt


I wish to be just like an ancient church
where stillness, twilight and candle glow merge.

Then, when you have times of melancholy,
you come with your burden and enter me.

You bow your head, the heavy door falls to.
We are alone together, I and you.

I cool your face, an airy, gentle touch,
and I refresh you with my peace as much.

I start with the organ and then I sing …
no tears, no secretly the hands to wring!

Here at the back, where two candles you see,
sit down dear child, this is the place to be.

Fortune or mishap … all burden indeed.
You are sheltered here, what more do you need?

It hums around the arches and candlelight
flickers in turn, apart or closely bright.

From the organ angels are watching thee
and wrap you in calming flute melody.

I wish to be just like an ancient church
where stillness, twilight and candle glow merge.

Then, when you have times of melancholy,
you come with your burden and enter me.


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