Today, I put on an old hat, which I retired some 10 years ago. I became a chef for a day again. The Lutheran Church in Rehoboth, Delaware, which my wife and I attend sponsored a seminar by Dr. Paul Maier. Since this was to be an all day seminar with four sessions, two coffee breaks and a lunch, I was asked to prepare the lunch for today. There were 125 people in attendance which is a small gathering in my book. I decided on a menu of my award winning Chicken Salad with Snow peas, Southern Style Tuna with Apples, Red Bliss Potato Salad, Caesar Salad, Fresh Fruit Salad and Assorted Cookies. On Thursday morning a few of the men and one lady came to give me a hand cutting some of the vegetables necessary to make all these salads. This morning, early I went to the church and assembled all the necessary dishes. While doing my chores I managed to listen to Dr. Maier over the intercom in the fellowship hall. I actually found it amazing and at the same time it brought back memories of my childhood. In order to explain my feelings I have to backtrack to the early days of my childhood.
As many of you know I was born at the end of the great war to end all wars. There were only two religions in Germany: Roman Catholic or Lutheran. Judaism was not a choice anyone spoke about for obvious reasons, although I did have two Jewish boys in my classes. During the time of my childhood, Germany did not have separation between state and church. America has enjoyed this freedom of religion since the signing of the Declaration of Independence. I mention this because after every war that we fought in modern times, for punishment we would lose one of our states; the Saar. To Germany, the Saar was important because a majority of coal used in Germany came from the Saar. France on the other wanted the Saar for the same reason. So each time a war ended and a treaty was signed the Saar was given to France. After World War II this was the same situation. After a few years the public began a campaign to return the Saar to the Germans. Only this time it fell on deaf ears. Germany, for the first time had a democratic government, elected by the people and a Catholic Chancellor was in power. Chancellor Adenauer was aware that to return the Saar to Germany was political suicide. 90% of the Saar's population was Lutheran and it would upset the powers to be. In 1957 the Saar was finally returned to Germany by an overwhelming vote by the people of Germany. This in spite of Chancellor Adenauer’s refusal to ‘give his blessings’.
Why am going into all this history when I was talking about Dr. Maier’s seminar? Simply put, I grew up in a state of segregation and today for the first time I heard an American bring this to light. There are things to be said about whether segregation is good or bad. Although Dr. Maier did not get into this, I can say that, although I do not believe in segregation, it does have its points. Just before I immigrated to the US, things started to change in my country. New Christian denominations arrived in our land and attempted to convert us. This I objected to. When a church sends it members out as missionaries it is to find those who have never heard the word of God and convince them to take on a religion. But these churches came not to save us from paganism, they came to convert us to their way of thinking. I was born Lutheran and I will die Lutheran unless I find flaws in my religion and opt to change it. I know, the argument is: “How would you know what is the right religion for you if you have nothing to compare it to?” That is why God gave me a brain and allowed me to think.
Dr. Maier spoke at length about the churches of Europe from the time of the Holy Roman Empire to modern times. It was so refreshing to hear this, especially from an American. You see, being born in Germany and subsequently moving to the USA, I learned one thing. History is recorded with the eyes of the beholder. The only thing that remains constant are numbers, i.e. dates of battles, casualties or troop strengths. Oh, sorry, we even found ways during the Vietnam conflict to fudge those numbers. So History is no longer an exact science. Dr. Maier, however, managed to keep it honest.After four sessions today, he is spending the evening in Rehoboth Beach, all this and he is 80 years young, and coming in tomorrow morning to be part of all three of our services. This is one service I will not miss. I usually do not look forward to any long speeches, especially about religion. I have my own take on that subject, but I will not miss this for anything