The Life of the Reverend J. An. A. Grabau, Pages 7 - 11


"respectable and honorable character. The undersigned heartily hopes that Mr. Grabau will obtain a better outside position with suitable compensation; with sadness he sees him depart the school and he regrets that the patron of the school has not recognized his worth adequately to retain him at the school." Superintendent Dennhardt gave him the following reference: "Mr. Johann Andreas August Grabau, until this date appointed teacher at this upper high school for girls and designated rector of the state school in Sachsa on the Harz, is known to me in the most positive of fashions for his diligence and eagerness in the commission of his theological studies as well as for his personal comportment. It is with regret that finances are insufficient to retain him any longer at the school, for which he has worked so beneficently. One may consider the school and congregation, to which he renders his praiseworthy activities, fortunate. In many ways he has fortified the Christian congregation in this diocese through his excellent, well-prepared and well-executed sermons. I extend my heartiest wish for his continued success and for his further sanctifying work; may these things follow this man, worthy of the greatest respect, in his new appointments in life. *)
         Magdeburg, August 1, 1832.
                                    Dennhardt, Superintendent

On February 20 the dearly departed in Our Lord took his ministerial exams, passed with the ranking of "very good" and was deemed well qualified for the ministry by the Examining Board of the Royal Consistory of the Province of Saxony. On January 10, 1834 he received a call from the magistrate of the City of Erfurt to take up a probational posting at the St. Andreas Church along with 2 other candidates. The parish vacancy was brought about by the departure of Pastor Frobenius and it had to be filled. The Consistorial Councilor Möller gave him for the sermon the text of John XII, 23: "The time has come for the


*) With regard to his later activity as rector of the state school in Sachsa, the Royal Directory of Erfurt gave him this letter of reference: "From a report by the school council we have perceived with great satisfaction that you have fulfilled our expectations of you through your honorable comportment during your appointment in Sachsa. The external measures you took while at the school demonstrate insight and passion, which may be perceived as consistent with a successful inner life of scholarship. To that end we list for you examples of your achievements thus far...etc." Return to text


son of man to be glorified." Whatever the sermon was, which he delivered on February 16th at the Sunday invocation, it resulted in his being chosen by the congregation on March 2rd of the same year and this choice was confirmed by the magistrate.

In consequence of his appointment to the pastorship it was necessary to resign from the rector's post at the school in Sachsa. The following commendation was sent to him: "Concerning the theological and ministerial candidate and rector of the school in Sachsa, Mr. Johann Andreas August Grabau, I hereby bear witness that he loyally and blessedly administered his school posting in Sachsa since his appointment in 1832 and that he also comported his affairs in a moral and judicious fashion."
         Nordhausen, March 13, 1834
                           Superintendent Förstemann.

On Tuesday, June 17, 1834 the rite of his Christian ordination took place in the Barfüsser [barefoot friar] Church presided over by Senior Minister and Consistory Councilor Möller of Erfurt, the same man who had given him the text for the sermon on John XX, 21! And on June 22nd of the same year, the 4th Sunday after Trinity, he was permanently installed in his previously probational position as minister to St. Andreas Church. His commencement sermon was based in the text from 1 Peter II, 5: "you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." After the commencement exercise in which the new pastor greeted his congregation and assured them of his love and dedication, he then demonostrated how the souls within a congregation were intertwined with that of the Son of God as this concept is grounded within the church, supported by and proven through scripture:
I. This is what we should be - living, not dead stones; alive in faith in the one savior, Jesus Christ.
II. This is what we should do - build, construct ourselves! As living stone which gained power and life from Christ through the Holy Spirit in order that we may build ourselves and be constructed together; - a) into a spiritual house which in turn may be of one heart as a congregational residence of God. The spiritual house belongs to heaven and is thus eternal. Earth sees merely the beginning but the full fruition happens in heaven b) in the holy priesthood.


Thus all true-believing Christians are priests and priestesses, who raise up their spiritual offerings, which are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ and these offerings are made for the honor and praise of God.
III. What is the goal of our act - to raise up spiritual offerings, which are pleasing to God. We offer our bodies and souls to God and consecrate our entire lives to His service and glory. Through Jesus Christ this is pleasing to God; that is, for the sake of Christ, to whom we are linked through faith and in whom we seek grace and forgiveness for our sins through true repentance.
IV. Who helps us to attain our goal? Answer: 'Jesus Christ!' As the apostles state: "through Jesus Christ, without whom we can do nothing. However in His Name there lies all power including the power to sanctify. When we do everything in His Name, we are capable of anything." This too the apostles state: 'Build yourselves into a spiritual house and into a holy priesthood, raise up your spiritual offerings, which God will find acceptable through Jesus Christ.' Without Jesus there is no Christendom and no Christian goal to lead us. Whosoever eliminates Jesus Christ, who lives in the scripture and the church, from Christendom and intends to find his way to God alone, is deceiving himself. He alone is the way, the truth and the life. Without Him we can do nothing. We also do not wish to be without Him. All things happen in Him and through Him; all things happen in His Name; thus there are spiritual offerings made pleasing to God through Jesus Christ. Not through ourselves do we come together in one mind and one intention but through Jesus Christ. And indeed there is still more: through His Spirit, which resides in us. Not by ourselves do we raise ourselves up in accordance with a single doctrine to a rank of chosen race and holy priesthood but rather we achieve it through the divine order of the Son of God. Thus God have placed us in the realm of His Holy Son. Not by ourselves and in accordance with the striving our our hearts is our being pleasing to God but rather it is through the divine striving of God's Son, who has mercy on us all but never with a cold love, etc."

This commencement sermon bears witness, as does his entire later ministry, life, conscience and suffering for the sake of faith, to his heart, which was permeated by the love of God.


Jesus was his anything and everything; the glory and truth of Jesus was utmost in all his thoughts, his words and his actions until his final end.

Before the dearly departed Pastor Grabau's ministry there was much cool and lazy Christianity, which had torn apart the St. Andreas Church but soon thereafter with the grace of God it was otherwise. The Lord God granted his blessing upon the true and unflinching testimony of his servant Grabau. Through the Word of God he sparked within the congregation a new life. Church services were well attended and soon thereafter a serious and decisive brand of Christianity awoke.

On July 15, 1834 the dearly departed entered the bonds of holy matrimony with the Christian maiden, now his Christian widow, Christiane Sophie, neé Burggraf. She was the daughter of the government official with the Prefecture, Mr. Johann Andreas Burggraf, and his wife Friedericke Louise Elisabeth, neé Beulke. The marriage was celebrated at the Barfüsser Church presided over by the Consistory Councilor Möller.

_____

III

Testimony against the Union; Beginning of the Persecution

The steadfastness of conscience with which Pastor Grabau continued to read and study the Word of God, the great love of divine truth, and the earnestness and conscientiousness inherent throughout his ministry could not keep him any longer from recognizing that the unionizing of the Lutheran Church with the Reformists by the Royal Prussian Decree, pronounced in 1817 and enforced in 1830, was unacceptable to God and indeed contrary to Him and His Holy Word. Reformed Christians were different from Christians of the true church of God. Such ever-intensifying light of conscience forced him to openly declare in 1836 that he could no longer in good conscience support the united agenda, especially in regard to the alignment of reform teaching on the sacrament of the Eucharist whereby


the profession of faith is completely eliminated from the church of God. Additionally he felt bound through the vows of his ordination to conscientious loyalty to the Lutheran Church. Already by 1835 Bishop Dräseke of the Thuringian Synod had testified: "Grabau's sermons are full of truth and life, only they are far too Lutheran."

On August 30th of that year Consistory Councilor Möller wrote to Pastor Grabau, asking him "whether he himself, as one usually says aloud in public, would allow deviations in his ministry from the previously posted united agenda." Pastor Grabau responded in writing on the same day, declaring and answering in a sincere and humble manner that he could not be forced (namely to use the united agenda). He also communicated that his congregation was of the same mind as his, thus on September 5th he received another letter from the Consistory Council in which he was summoned to clarify in writing his position as quickly as possible:
    1. Whether he held to the modified church agenda of 1829 in the execution of all matters of spiritual ministry with regard to administration of the Holy Eucharist, performance of Holy Baptism, presiding over weddings and funerals without changing anything, omitting things or replacing them with other things and was he willing to serve within the limits to freedom that the agenda itself, whose steadfast usage had been proscribed by the November 12, 1829 decree of the Consistory?
    2. Whether he (as he had stated) had used another church prayer in place of the one ordained by the (united) agenda?
    3. Who gave him the authorization to read the Confession of Sins after the sermon?
    4. What was understood between him and his congregation?
    5. Whether the congregation has the right to change church order?
    6. Whether this could happen without the individual congregation having been introduced to separatist thinking in opposition to the united congregations of the country?
    7. In what manner and where did Pastor Grabau instruct his congregation concerning the faultiness of the liturgy?
    8. In what form and through which treatment


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Text provided by the Reu Memorial Library, Wartburg Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa - Call No. BX8080.G72 G7
Imaging and Translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks