I’m teaching the Lord’s Prayer at a Friday morning Men’s Bible Class on Friday mornings. It’s sort of like teaching a bunch of Junior High boys, except these “boys” are retired. We always have lively discussions with plenty of good natured insults flying back and forth. Can you imagine spending time with Jesus’ disciples? Given the diversity in their personalities there must have been some raucous discussions.
One of the sources I’m using is a series of sermons preached by Helmut Thielicke in Stuttgart, Germany in the summer of 1944, during the allied bombing. In his introduction he refers to the “People continued to assemble throughout the horrors of the air raids, the declining days of a reign of terror.
“The whole world rests in the hand of the Lord, like the golden orb we see in medieval pictures. And it also rests in our hands when we lift it to God in prayer.”
It’s interesting to read these sermons, against the background of continuing destruction of the city. When Thielicke preached on “Thy Kingdom Come,” the church had been reduced to ruins, the center of the city destroyed. He preached in the choir of the church. The choir is that area in front of the church where choirs would sit and chant the psalms antiphonally. This sermon was preached on the weekend after July 20, 1944 when an attempt to assassinate Hitler and overturn his regime failed.
During “Thy Will Be Done” the sirens and an ensuing air attack occurred. A second attack shortly thereafter destroyed what was left of the church. The series continued in the parish house of St. Matthews, since all the churches in Stuttgart were destroyed. However, repeated interruptions occurred and sometimes the service could not be held at all.
Preached against a backdrop of terror and death, Thielicke’s sermons are a well spring of hope during a dark time, even more than 70 years later.