Randy and Katy Smelser

Americans living in Germany but citizens of heaven

Newspaper - Thoughts for Sunday PN 2021

Peine has two newspapers, PAZ and PN. One is for those looking west towards Hanover (PAZ) and the other is for those looking east towards Brunswick (PN). In January I wrote and article for PAZ and in March for PN.

PN -13.3.21
A Word for Sunday
Randall Smelser, Peine-Stederdorf

The Longing for Peace

In front of the UN Headquarters in New York City stands a sculpture from Jewgeni Wutchetitsch. The man in the sculpture is beating his sword and making a plowshare out of it. This symbol from “from Swords into Plowshares“ was also used by the East German Peace Movement and later also in the West Germany. We hear this phrase in many hymns, Spirituals and even Michael Jackson. The phrase comes originally from the Bible – the prophets Micha and Isaiah used it. “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore” (Is.2:4 NIV).
This thought is so beautiful and in theory, a wish from the entire world. But there is a catch. This Bible text is used as human ideology from both atheists and believers although many atheists try to blame believers for all wars. Richard Dawkins maintains that without the „virus of Religion“ there would be no great world wide violence. Apparently he has not read a world history for the 20th Century. Violence is not a problem of religion, but of humans. Humans without religion – Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao – killed millions. Even though the wish remains that the UN, a human organization, can stop war or can create peace. In theory the UN is wonderful but practically is hugely lacking.
The problem is that the beginning of Isaiah 2:4 is always left out: “He (God) will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples.” Without God, and I do not mean „religion,“ this wish for peace is impossible. Without God as Judge there is no standard, no rules for the entire mankind. Peace consequentially starts where God is admitted. Peace has to start in your heart.

Newspaper - Thoughts for Sunday PAZ 2021

Below is a scan of the newspaper and the English translations of the January 31 „Thoughts for Sunday“ for the PAZ.

I was surprised to open the paper and see that the editors had added a picture and a very fitting subtitle. The subtitle reads: "A surgeon holds a scalpel in the had in an operating room. Plastic surgery is not the proper way to reach contentment." I had not expected this and I have never seen them do this with any devotional in the paper. Maybe it struck a cord with the editor?

PAZ Gedanken zum Sonntag 31-1-21

Thoughts for Sunday
By Randall Smelser
Preacher of the Christ Church Peine-Stederdorf

God is with you

Self-contentment is big on the wish list of many people, maybe even of most people. Somehow we are never content with ourselves. Cosmetic surgery is big business with 400,000 operations in Germany every year. Most of the operations are not necessary and on women. Many men work out but never reach a point where they are content with their bodies. A “six pack” remains allusive. There are numerous books, workshops and advisers to somehow arrive at “self-contentment.”
One of the greatest figures in world history was Moses. He had the best education one could have at his time. He was a leader and was gifted. But even so, when God gave him the assignment to lead the children out of Egypt, he hesitated. His excuse: Who am I to do this? And later he added: I am not one who can speak well. Recently I read this Bible story and was surprised how God responded to his objections. God did not use the current Psycho-Tips. God did not try to make understand how good he was in different things. God’s answer was: I am with you.
We will never be good enough, never beautiful enough, never popular enough, nor healthy enough, nor strong enough, nor faultless enough, nor sharp enough, never emotionally stable enough, nor sexy enough, etc. There will always be something about which we feel bad. Or something that we do not like, a weakness in our bodies, in our lives, in our pasts or something in our psyche. I am never good enough but I can go forwards and tackle the tasks of life because God is with me. Not in me lies the power and contentedness but in God. Moses learned and lived that – and thitherto ought we go.