Faithlife Sermons

Thielicke's Ministry in Bombed City

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In 1936 Thielicke was awarded a professorship at the University of Heidelberg. But four years later he lost his position when the Nazis became sensitive to his growing criticisms of the Hitler regime. He eventually moved to Stuttgart, where he preached despite changes in venue from week to week due to damage from Allied bombing.

At one point during the war Thielicke felt in desperate need of rest. He reasoned that some weeks spent in a quiet village in the countryside would be good medicine. Yet the retreat to the country failed to restore him, and he soon returned to the city. Yes, the village had been peaceful. But something was missing, which left him restless.

He concluded that people in the village were of a different mind, not deeply touched (yet!) by the war. And he craved to return to the city where people were clawing for survival. Among them he found a spiritual strength and vitality that was far more restorative than the "escapist" life of the countryside. So Thielicke returned to the bombs, the damage, the suffering, with the ever present threat of harassment or arrest from the Nazi’s.

One time he was helping clearing rubble from a bombed out street, helping to search for survivors. Dirty, sweaty and tired, then a woman come up and asked if he was indeed Thielicke. When he replied that he was she related how a few weeks before husband, who was on leave from the front, and her had attended one of his services. There he had preached the Gospel and they had accepted Jesus into their lives. However she had not long learned that he had been killed soon after his return to the front. “It has been a great source of comfort to know that he has gone to be with our Lord. It helps me get through each day. Thank you for what you are doing.”

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