THE TOWN: Eilenberg, Germany
THE DATE: 1620-1650
THE PLAGUE: Typhus Fever—infected body lice
THE FAMINE: Starvation in every household
THE WAR–PLUNDER, CHAOS AND TERROR: The 30 Years War- -8 million casualties
THE PASTOR OF NOTE: Martin Rinkart (1586-1649)
-Burying up to 50 people per day, eventually his own wife and 5 children
-Tending the sick
-Feeding others as he could
-Comforting the Mourning
-Died one year after war ceased
THE HYMN: “Now Thank We All Our God” (tune: Johann Crüger (1598-1662))
-the text (translated: Cathrine Winkworth 1827-1878)
Imagine our Coronavirus Pandemic lasting 30 years. Who among us would surface as servant to all? The man who wrote “Now Thank We all Our God” was such a man.
Here is his story–living through the 30 years’ war.
Here is his hymn of praise in the face of unimaginable suffering. It is written to the people ABOUT GOD. It is about God’s character of faithful love to unfaithful people who bring unnecessary sufferings upon themselves.
- Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.
- Oh, may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And guard us through all ills in this world, till the next!
- All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given,
The Son, and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven—
The one eternal God, Whom earth and Heav’n adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore
During devastation and loss, this pastor revealed that his calling did not come with the perk of happiness and security. He found God in the opposite of circumstances. It was in this crucible he practiced his faith in a faithful God by beginning with praise. This makes no sense to the lost man for it is contrary to his bent. But to know the Savior is to see and feel life as He.
This is where God is during times of plague, war and famine. He is nigh to our heart and as close as the utterance of His name. He becomes hands, feet, lips and tongue through those who avail themselves as servants and slaves.
THE MORAL: Gratitude that demands health, wealth and prosperity knows nothing of true gratitude and thanksgiving. As such, it will perish for the lack of humility and sobriety. There is an equity that belongs not to this world and all things material or physical. Therefore, Christians build hospitals, visit jails, feed the hungry and comfort those who sorrow. Christians even love and care for their stated enemies.
It was Jesus who said,
“You have heard people say, “Love your neighbors and hate your enemies.” But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you. Then you will be acting like your Father in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both good and bad people. And he sends rain for the ones who do right and for the ones who do wrong. If you love only those people who love you, will God reward you for that? Even tax collectors love their friends. If you greet only your friends, what’s so great about that? Don’t even unbelievers do that? But you must always act like your Father in heaven.” –Matthew 5:43-48
First Plymouth Church, Lincoln Nebraska, September 23, 2018