Like new! – Letter of Hope: Prof. Dr. Annette Scheunpflug

Like new! – Letter of Hope: Prof. Dr. Annette Scheunpflug

A Message of Hope to Colleagues around the World in GPENreformation

Like new!

Dear Colleagues, Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

there are surely some of you who have heard the word “Quasimodogeniti” before. A real word monster! Many have to guess which language that is, and only a few know what this word really means. This term denotes the first Sunday after Easter. It is Latin, and actually there are three words: “quasi”, “modo” and “geniti”. These can be translated as “like newborns”.

These three words form the beginning of a verse from the New Testament, in the 1. Epistle of Peter. This verse is the beginning of a reading in the church service on the first Sunday after Easter. Since services were held in Latin in earlier centuries, this Sunday, which starts this week, got its name from the Latin version of these initial words.

The whole verse from the Epistle of Peter says that the first Christians at that time were as interested in the gospel as the newborn children who are thirsty for good milk. This reminds us that after Easter everything is new and full of energy.

The image of the newborn goes well with Easter, the festival in which we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus as the victory of life over death. In many countries, Easter is also remembered for the awakening of nature after the cool winter. Here in Central Europe, eggs are painted and hidden for children in the house or the garden. That should express: Life is born anew.

We can use this idea very well at a time when the pandemic spreads fear and terror in almost all countries around the world and so many people fall ill or even die. All of us, whether we are affected or not, should think of them, provide help wherever possible and express our sympathy to all concerned. But we also need hope, which gives new courage to live and the energy for the next weeks and months despite the threatening dangers. Hope is like milk for the newborn, the hope that something new will grow up again.

For our schools and for all students, this is an encouraging thought for this period shortly after Easter: the gospel gives new energy and let “taste that the Lord is good” (1 Peter 2,3). It’s like invigorating spiritual milk. Such new energies can be good news that gives courage: maybe supportive help individuals who needs urgent assistance; maybe a good idea to do things differently and better in the near future; maybe a common song that expresses delight and confidence.

“Quasimodogeniti” reminds us to think every day of the new energy that we draw from our faith and that God always gives us anew. As “God gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” (Isaiah 40, 29)

On this Sunday, exactly 460 years ago – on April 19, 1560 – Philipp Melanchthon died in Wittenberg, a leading figure of the Lutheran Reformation who brought together gospel, reason and education like hardly anybody else. Learning is the energy from which a lot of new things can emerge and which gives hope, energy and confidence – just like milk for the newborn.

With warm regards and good wishes from Germany

Annette Scheunpflug