When my father boarded a ship to New York in 1938, he brought his trunks of family silver and linens—and his faith. Years later he returned to Germany with my mother and me and showed us the magnificent church where he was baptized, raised and confirmed, St. Mary’s in Lübeck.
When I was 16, my father gave me a book of sermons by Helmut Thielicke. He raved about Thielicke’s ability to connect with students, professors, farmers and shopkeepers alike. He admired the theologian’s brave repudiation of Nazi propaganda. It was a high homiletical bar set by my father, who died before I preached my first sermon but not before handing over the glorious inheritance that has shaped my life.