Friday, January 1, 2010

Walther 2

The trip report and related documents goes from page 15 to 118. One learns a few things regarding conditions in Germany, but not enough to think one understands anything. Need another book.

I will share here only a couple of paragraphs about how Walther describes the people whom he met. These introductions are marvelously done, I think. It must be a little bit like blogging for Walther: you want to be frank and informative, but not let it all hang out and be rude. Still, I think, he seems to have a nature that is mostly grateful and kind, while extremely determined. I do wonder why he did not see Loehe more while he was there, as Loehe complains.

There is a little nostalgia for me when he talks about Loehe, Neudettelsau and Gunzenhausen. Hailing from lower Franconia (North West Bavaria) myself, Neudettelsau is where I went for my confimation retreat. Gunzenhausen is where our deaconesses came from and I believe I was there for a Pentecost youth conference.

I won't go into issues in this post, though the people he met with where obviously pivot-ally involved in the various struggles.

Before he went he became seriously ill. He describes this personal episode in a deep and eloquent way:

However, it pleased God to throw me into a serious illness at this time, and thus berfore the trip to lead me into the loving school of His holy cross. Yet, as I pondered my whole life, which I would have gladly given back into the hands of my dear heavenly Father, my precious congregation pleaded before God for the preservation of my poor life. God answered their prayer and mercifully lifted me up again after a few weeks. Although I was still rather weak, I was able to leave from here... (p.32)

When he and Wyneken first arrived in Germany he mentions this illness again and the first people he met.

"We went on our way via Harburg toward Verden, a suburb of Hannover situated a few miles south of Bremen, where Pastor Wyneken's very aged mother, a pastor's widow, still lived. We thought we might rest here from the stresses of the ocean voyage and gather strength for our work, because this author especially was still suffering from the painful aftermath of his last serious illness. We stayed overnight in Harburg. Here we found the warmest brotherly reception with Mr.
Stuerje, the harbormaster. He was a former captain of a ship and one those few people in every region who, already a number of years ago, untangled themselves from the net of the Union Church. By the grace of God, such people have come to the living consciousness of what they have in their old Evangelical Lutheran Church." 38,39)

Walther met here with "brother reception" in other places he had to carry on a lot of disputes. Overall, he complains gently how much battling over doctrine needed to be done while he was in Germany. Personally, I still know so little about this business with the Union Church vs. the Confessions, I don't know how it is possible for me to be so clueless.

On page 40, he meets with Wyneken's mother and we learn that Walther just lost his own mother and he might have met her one last time if the timing had been a little different. I can just feel for him. All my grandparents were buried while a was in Canada. I had known them all very well. In those days, one did not phone and travel so readily, not to mention e-mail, skype and other things we do. A separation across the ocean was like a final good-bye, a heavy loss. And then there had been a possibility to see each other again. What a disappointment. It almost makes me cry.

"On the next day, around noon on the 13th, we hurried toward Verden. Indeed, this moving scene of the reunion of mother and son after a separation of many years, of which I was a witness, awakened in me a deep nostalgia. It had pleased God to take away this joy for which I had also hoped through the sudden and unexpected calling home of my elderly mother, who up until a few months ago was still alive in Germany. I was taken in not as a stranger but as a second son and brother. In the old house of this pastor's widow, I soon felt so at home that I could take part in the joy of my dear friend Wyneken, as if I had come once again to the beloved place of my childhood, with its sweet memories." p. 40

A few times in the report we hear about Dr. Harless (Gottlieb Christoph Adolf, 1806-1879). I think this is where he comes up for the first time.

"On Saturday, the 20th of September, early in the evening, we arrived in Leipzig, as was already mentioned. Soon, to his great joy, the author could see for himself that a great change had taken place in the time since his last stay in this city, a change for the better at that. The traces of great mercy can be seen everywhere. In these blessed workings we think especially of Dr. Harless, who, during the short time that he was active here as a professor at the university and as pastor at the St. Nicholas church, contributed a great deal.

Dr. Harless' successor at the university, Dr. Kahnis, is now making an effort to continue the blessed work that has begun. among other things, the numerous student groups founded under Dr. Harless's initiative, who bear the name Philadelphia, remain intact under Dr. Kahnis' direction. These groups named "Philadelphia" seek to build an inner fellowship among those students (including those who aren't studying theology) who hold fast to the ground of faith of our Evangelical Lutheran church amid the currents of human opinion and wish to preserve themselves from the same. Another important aspect and further ground for joy in regard to this student group is that as the young ken mutually assist one another spiritually, they have their eye more to the practical than to the academic. However, great earnestness and zeal for study show themselves among these students...

We hear about these student groups several times more. Walther must have really enjoyed them. It reminds me of the work of some of the more influential professors I know or have heard about. They develop student groups and take a great interest in these students. One of them them is Dr. John Patrick from from Augustine College who speaks for the Love Life conference on occasion and the CMDS in Edmonton (Christian Medical Dental Society). He takes groups of students to Africa regularly and started groups of Agnostics 101 at the University of Ottawa, when students challenged him to do something other than complaining about the lack of formation for students at University. I also think of our confessional president at the local college, after whom a few students are called Krispinites (maybe a better name could be found). It also makes me think of Bror who cites Dr. Rosenblatt as a mentor. These really strike me as the great people, who can nurture well the generation coming up behind them. It also makes me think of Jesus taking on the twelve disciples--what skill, what depth, what patience and time required! What faith for the future.

Anyways, Dr. Harless, seems to be this kind of man. Later Walther meets Harless in Dresden, but did not hear him preach in his role as the High Court Preacher.

"The next day we traveled from here to Dresden. We hoped that the next day, Sunday, we would be able to hear Dr. Harless, the High Court Preacher, preach. Customarily he preaches only every second Sunday. Much to our chagrin, we came ton a Sunday when Harless was not to be found in the pulpit. Indeed, in the whole of this large capital city with is many churches, no preaching of the pure divine Word was to be heard on this day. The only exception was in the hall of a hospital, but we got word of this too late. Thus we had to be content to speak in private with the High Court Preacher, who already when we were in Leipzig, sent us an inviation to come to Dresden. This we did. And although Dr. Harless is overloaded with extremely i8mportant duties, which he can only manage with a great deal of effort (he is Hight Court Preacher, vice president of the High Consistory, advisor to the Department of Worship abnd Chruch order, Examiner, and responsible for church visitations), nonetheless, he devoted numerous hours to us every day of our stay... In the High court Preacher we made the acquaintance of a man whose entire appearance filled us as much with the most heartfelt reverence as with full and unreserved trust. In him we found paired with his exhaustive erudition (it does not even cross our minds to think that we could testify to it) true Christian simple-mindedness, with the urbanity necessary for his high and unique position. We found German integrity and a true sense of unswerving duty. With his great strength and energy there is an astounding gentleness and patience. He has an utterly unprejudiced appreciation of everything new that is truly good, and yet he has a decidedly assiduous faithfulness to the old and ever new Confession of our Church and humble submission to our old teachers. This last characteristic especially filled us with great joy... As Bavaria is now the place in Germany where an interest in American Lutheran affairs has been awakened, Dr. Harless presented us first with a letter of recommendation to Her Majesty, Queen Marie of Bavaria, and to her confessor, Deacon Lord von Burger in Munich, to take with us." p. 57-59.

Dr. Harless seems to be a singular shining light in Dresden. But everywhere matters seem to be very complicated. I don't want to get into the stuff with Queen Marie, and Loehe and the State church of Bavaria. It gets too convoluted. Well, how I understood it, Loehe is in trouble himself over the unionistic practices of the Lord's Supper, which he rejects, so Walther with his even stricter approach to the confessions, really can't accept support from the church that gives Loehe troubles. So, no go with Queen Marie. In the end, then, Dr. Harless' intervention was therefore useless, as well.

I'll quit here for today. Going for a walk with my neighbor at 1:15 and 20 below Celsius, for our New Year's Day refreshment. In other years we went to New Year's services together at the Catholic church in Gibbons, which actually held such things, at the time.

If this is too much quoting from his book for Rev. Harrison, he will have to complain. :) The book is easily obtainable on the internet. I recommend it.
Blessed New Year. Brigitte.

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