Rev. Zejler and an Old Wendish Sinner

The Rev. Handrij Zejler (1804 – 1872) is the second most famous pastor who was both Lutheran and Wendish. The most famous, of course, is our own Rev. Jan Kilian. Rev. Zejler is also one of the two most famous Wendish poets who wrote in Upper Wendish, the other being the Catholic priest Jakub Bart-Ćišinski. (The Rev. Mato Kosyk was a Lower Wend and wrote in Lower Wendish.)

At the two summer Wendish courses I’ve attended (and health permitting, I hope to attend next summer’s, too), we visited Rev. Zejler’s church in Lohsa (Wendish: Łaz). It’s a sad example of how the Lutheran Wends in Lusatia aren’t keeping up their language like the Catholics are. At the first summer course I attended (2012), the church warden told me that they had discontinued Wendish services back in 1960.

Anyway, on to the humorous story about Rev. Zejler and an old Wendish sinner. I’ll tell it in English and add a couple of comments:

The water in the creeks, lakes, etc. of Germany is awfully cold by Texas standards. Rev. Zejler had warned an elderly member of his congregation who liked his daily morning swim that he was much too old for that sort of thing and was running the risk of pneumonia. As the Bible says (Matthew 4:7), we’re not to take risks with our health or safety. Well, his parishioner refused to heed his warning and continued to go for his swims anyway.

One day Rev. Zejler was out for a walk and noticed the man taking his swim. He gently chided him, to which the man replied “Satan tempted me again.” Rev. Zejler said “I’ve told you to remember Matthew 16:23 and say ‘get thee behind me, Satan!'” The man said “that’s exactly what I said, so old Satan did get behind me.” Rev. Zejler then asked “and what happened then?”

The old sinner replied: “He shoved me in!”

There’s actually a lot of truth in this story. We often sin and then blame it on others. I recall a story which the sainted Dr. George Beto told us in religion class at Concordia High School more years back than I care to count:

A woman went to see her pastor about her troublesome son. She said “Pastor, those boys my son hangs out with got him drunk again last night.” Her pastor said “now hold on a minute! Did they tie him up, pin him down, put a funnel into his mouth, and pour whiskey down his throat? If not, it was your son’s fault for giving in to temptation.”


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