Can you leave an outlawed biker gang?
Dear congregation members, dear readers,
many people gathered at the temple in Jerusalem on the last day of the so-called Feast of Tabernacles. One hears singing and music, sees the solemn ceremony of the priests who pour freshly drawn water on the altar as a symbol of purification and fresh life. But suddenly Jesus calls out to the people: “If you are thirsty, come to me and drink!” What an imposition for the celebrants. How would we react if someone disrupted our service in such a way?
For many, this claim of Jesus is still an imposition today.
We run to all kinds of potions. Many ideologues, theologians and ideologues promise us: Peace, freedom and redemption can only be found here!
But: What are people actually thirsting for? There is a thirst for something lasting, for a meaning in life, for creative achievement: “I want to do something meaningful, to be there for something. I thirst for justice and justice, for love. ”Jesus meets this thirst with his offer. He steps into a real niche in the market. “On the last day of the festival, which was the highest.” There are people who suddenly feel very thirsty at the height of their lives. Now that they have everything, money, house, family, success, reputation, the deepest longing for the permanent, the eternal comes up. Jesus says to them: “Come to me, drink.” Will Jesus be heard? Or do thirst and water not come together because there is a barrier in between? "Oh this Jesus and all of that with faith, this is not a drink for modern people" say those who have ordered a double whiskey in the bar. “This Jesus, whose water comes from the“ Church ”cistern. It's stale and stale. That can't even help us in the "Corona crisis". "
Let us return once more to Temple Square in Jerusalem. Can the claim of the lonely man who calls into the intoxication of the festive joy, into the longing of the people and their thirst for life: "Who is thirsty, come to me and drink!" Still apply today? That is why they laughed at him precisely because of this claim and finally killed him. It will therefore no longer be sufficient to only use the language of the traditional beliefs. It's good, but it has become alien to our time. For example the unsurpassable question 1 of the Heidelberg Catechism: "What is your only consolation in life and in death?" am my own who pays perfectly for all my sins with his precious blood and redeems me from all the might of the devil and thus protects me. ”Hard bread for our ears today.
We have to take the call of Jesus “come to me” seriously again, even in the difficult “Corona times”. We should not hear opinions, not discussions about him, he himself should be heard again. “Do we know Jesus?” It seems that many no longer know him. But he offers us to get to know him again. “Come drink!” Says Jesus. "Whoever believes in me, rivers of living water will flow from his body." We are invited to drink and are to become a source of thirst to quench ourselves. Then we find support ourselves in the "virus time" and can become a support for others. Three heads can be seen in a woodcut by the painter Rolf Müller. The crucified one in the middle, the two hanged criminals on the sides. One turned away, cramped, with his lips pressed together, the other with his lips wide open. A person dying of thirst, turned to Jesus, to whom the saving drink is served. This means: "If you are thirsty, come to me and drink." Drink because life depends on it!
We are invited. But we have to drink ourselves. We are not forced to do so. Because you can lead a donkey to the well, you can't get it to drink. One can discuss Jesus very intelligently and yet stay away from him. On the other hand, one does not need to understand much about theology and philosophy and can still find life with him if one hungers and thirsts for truth and life, love and freedom, for a firm faith and good courage in difficult times. Jesus offers us this: "If you are thirsty, come to me and drink!" , a breeding ground for pathogens of all kinds. If we receive the gifts that God gives us but do not pass them on, then the rivers of quaking water dry up. However, where the good gifts of God are shared, we become the source of life for others. Especially today, when hunger, poverty, bondage, homelessness, disease, old age and a virus that triggered a pandemic torment peoples from all parts of the world, we need a Christian from whom rivers of living water emanate. Our world is divided into different camps in many ways. People with a different opinion quickly become enemies today. Shouldn't healing currents and a new spirit flow there? Let's look at our world. Corona emergency everywhere. In addition, there is hunger in the south. In the East there is often atheism and here in the West there is disorientation. Everywhere an endangered creation. We need a spirit that we cannot give to ourselves. We have to have it given to us. From God himself. We are approaching Pentecost again. Not only because it is so in the calendar, but because God wants to open the floodgates of his spirit and give us gifts. “But that's what he said of the spirit that those who believed in him should receive.” Pentecost encourages us to pray for the spirit of renewal. And today's Sunday Exaudi is the preparation for it.
We can, may and should ask God for his spirit. The spirit of renewal, freedom, communion with God, people, all of creation. I am sure: He will not refuse our request and then we will experience how our thirst for life is quenched and we ourselves become a source of living water for others!
Your Pastor Andreas Gutting
Devotion to 1 Kings 8, 22 - 4 + 26 - 28, Ascension Day 2021
Dear congregation members, dear readers,
The Bible text for today is aimed at heaven and confronts us with one of the most difficult questions of all: "Where does God live?"
The joke about the bathroom immediately occurred to me on this difficult question. "Where do you think God lives?" the religion teacher wants to know from her students. "In the bathroom," Fritzchen replies without hesitation. "Yes, how do you come up with that?" asks the teacher, puzzled. "Well every morning when my father gets up he pounds on the bathroom door and yells," My God, are you still in there? "
Where does god live? Well, we can paint the bathroom. Even if a look on the shelves of the drugstore discounter could make us doubt it again: "Shower bath heavenly joys" or "In 7th heaven nail polish remover ..."
If we orientate ourselves in our search to German classical music, a certain Friedrich Schiller immediately occurs to us: “Brothers above the stars, a dear father has to live…!” Someone once said: “During the week God lives in heaven - he knew his Schiller - ... and on Sunday in church. "
And on Ascension wherever worship is celebrated and people come together in his name…. can. Of course, this only applies if Ascension Day is a public holiday. Walter Ulbricht had abolished it before. As a result, high-ranking church representatives launched the following joke among the population: Walter Ulbricht died and word got around in heaven in no time at all. Marx, Engels, Lenin and Thalmann wait for him for two weeks, but he comes and does not come. Finally they go to Peter to ask where Ulbricht would stay for so long. To which Petrus replies: "Well guys, Ulbricht abolished Ascension - now he has to walk."
But: kidding aside, come here seriously: where does God live now? Who would have a quick answer? In a quiet room? But where else is there, a room that is really completely silent?
In the church? But in which of the many? In our heart? But that would be a flat share with quite a few other interesting - or dubious - types. Over the heavens? There again in heaven, which has a heaven again, which has a heaven again. That goes towards infinity. God lives in infinity? Difficult to imagine ... And if so, then he would be quite aloof and we could no longer quite believe him that he wants to be with us.
Where does god live? We commemorate the ascension of Jesus - he goes home to his father. Back to where he came from. He needs an address, an address.
And we need them too, we should follow him, not right now, but then someday.
Where are you going now? Where does he live? Maybe someone already has the solution and just won't tell us? For example: “God lives everywhere and nowhere!” Well, that would be something!
“Tell me where God lives and I'll give you 1 shekel. Tell me where God doesn't live and I'll give you 100 shekels. ”This is how people answer our question, who have known God a thousand years longer than we Christians. In a nutshell. They don't preach around the matter for long - without saying anything ...
But of course that's not enough for us ... “Everywhere and nowhere!” And if you look closely, it wasn't enough for them almost three thousand years ago. A modest temple had to be built there. With golden door handles and solid wood laminate and all the bells and whistles. And at the inauguration ceremony, the keynote speaker simply says: We have built a house for God in which he cannot live. Just because he is God.
If the heavens, the heavens, are too small for God, then every earthly hut is even more so. And yet we keep making such suggestions to him at all times: Here in our church in Zeiskam he could live quite well. That is why we are renovating it, among other things, so that he likes it with us ... But God is one and not two, and that is why he cannot live with the others and with us. So he only lives with us.
The Methodists came to Germany across the pond and brought God with them from across the sea. From God's own land! Did you mean. Of course, that aroused those who were convinced that he would always live with them in Germany. The Methodists weren't the only ones who challenged God's ancestral rights of residence in well-Lutheran and strictly Catholic Germany. With them came the Baptists, the Adventists, and many others who angered the good German Christians. Who is he living with now? And all together shouted it in each other's faces: With us, of course! The same game was played as early as the 16th century, when the good Catholics were just as excited about the fact that the good God should suddenly no longer be present alone at a good Catholic mass. Back then they even waged a real war over who God really lived with. For thirty years. Without really clarifying the question.
So it is somehow relieving, even peacemaking, when we can no longer be so sure whether we have found the right answer to this very important question: "Where does God live?" Where does he live? That is always the question: Who does he live with?
Or does he not live with us at all, but rather for himself? All alone? And more light and airy than solid and fixed to a place? The first attempt to build a house for God, 3000 years ago, was viewed with great suspicion and had deeply divided the guild of theologians of that time. And Solomon, king, builder and speaker cannot hold back from accepting the voices of the critics: We have built a house for God in which he cannot live. Just because he is God. So why a house now? For a person?
Why shouldn't the old tent suddenly stop doing it? God as a camper, that's how he was known. But not with a motorhome that looks like a coach and you wonder why they didn't stay at home when the monster rolls onto the campsite.
No, it used to be a 1-man tent: only separated from real life by a piece of fabric. Set up in the evening to sleep and take it down in the morning, stow it away and get back on the bike ...
Suddenly it had to be something massive, a property. Clearly: They copied that from their neighbors in ancient Israel: They all had a temple. At least one ... Oh - we want something like that too! This is what they thought and said. And then they built. As for eternity. But let's look at what is left of this dwelling of God today: a single wall. And it comes from the 2nd attempt! The first was already in ruins 400 years after its inauguration.
What lesson do we learn from this today? You should keep your hands off real estate when it comes to eternity. It is also interesting in this context that on the very last page of the Bible it can be read in black and white that God will camp with people again one day. Camping! Promised. Of course, that doesn't help us much today on Ascension Day. Especially since it's the opposite direction. "... God's tent with the people ..." We don't go to him there, it goes a different way ... he comes to us.
"Where does God live?"
We could now bring something very modern into play. The latest craze in science: God in the brain! Heaven is on our minds now. I mean, somehow we might have always suspected that. As the saying goes: "The will of man is his kingdom of heaven ..."
If the modern neurotheologists are to be believed, God dwells in the convolutions of our brain. Strictly speaking, in the so-called temporal lobe. Temporal lobe! “Temporal” means “temporarily”. So now and then. So in the part of the brain that is only used temporarily. That would fit. One day a week it is on, always on Sundays, and the rest of the week it is on "standby" ...
Nevertheless, of course, there are still two objections.
First: It could be that God simply went to the neurotheologist's head personally - during the week even and against the rule - with the temporal lobe theory. And there, in his brain, he then lifted the temporal lobe and placed the information under it that he would now live here. So to speak, to lull him into safety and to immediately cover his real track again. So the louder someone shouts: “I have it!”, The more certain he could be wrong. It is God whose abode we are looking for and not some piety neuron.
And secondly: If the theory is correct, God lives in the brain, then the second question is again: In which of the many?
Where does god live?
I come to the end n. And now I would finally commit myself and say unequivocally: "God always lives - opposite!" In the YOU. We can recognize him in the face we look into. Whether we like it or not. Yes and also in nature, his good creation, which is entrusted to us - we can recognize him there too. Even if we have been trying very hard to disfigure his face in it for some time.
But because we are used to getting something very certain from a devotion - a solution, an answer - now finally give one of the most beautiful answers to the question "Where does God live".
It is a Jewish answer and it is: "God lives where you let him in."
Try it out! And be protected! Your Pastor Andreas Gutting
Dear congregation members, dear readers,
a man wants to hang a picture but doesn't have a hammer. He quickly dismisses the idea of borrowing one from a neighbor: the neighbor might not want to lend him anything. He probably doesn't like you at all. He is almost certain that the other is a completely impossible person. Just don't let him think you have to depend on him! In the end, our man runs to the neighbor and hurls the unsuspecting person in the face that he is a bully and can keep his hammer.
Paul Watzlawick tells this story in his 'Guide to Being Unhappy'.
And with that he also tells a lot about me. He talks about the inability to openly approach others with a concern. And he tells of the prejudices that sometimes hinder us in such a way that they destroy any approach to cooperation.
The text from the Gospel of Luke depicts a scene from ancient Palestine. More precisely: from the poor people's milieu at that time. There is no baker, but in the village you know who has bread in the evening.Hosting a guest is a matter of honor. You have to make an effort, even if you don't have anything yourself. So you knock someone out to at least borrow bread. It is unthinkable that he refuses to do the auxiliary service. Perhaps he helps, growling, but just the fear that everyone in the house might wake up drives him from his bed to the door.
The request of the pleading friend would have remained unheard if he had not even set off - out of sheer modesty or mistrust. My request will go unanswered if I don't go. As in the story of Paul Watzlawick.
Our story from the Gospel of Luke is a beautifully compiled teaching piece on prayer.
Our text begins with the request of the disciples: Lord, teach us to pray. Apparently, the example of Jesus praying is not enough. You need help.
But the disciples learn precious little from Jesus about how often and on what occasion to pray. And I think that's on purpose. Because prayer is something personal and therefore has to match the personality. It may or may not be useful to pray at the table before dinner. It may or may not be good to pray in the evening or in the morning.
Consequently, Jesus speaks of prayer as of acting among friends. The pleading friend doesn't care why he got the bread. The main thing is that he has it and can fulfill his duties as a host. He seriously disturbed his friend, but was successful. A friendship has to be able to withstand that. Otherwise it is no good.
I can talk to God like a friend, a sentence that always amazes people because they seem to experience different things. It is said that one must appear worthy before God. The Bible tells very different stories. It tells of people who do it like the friend in this story. They just go out and ask. Who trust that they are allowed to talk to God and that he wants to hear, no matter how unfiltered or stammered my prayer comes across. It doesn't matter whether I pray daily or irregularly. Of course, there are benefits in my praying regularly. Then I get to know myself better and learn to trust more in God. But God wants to hear me when I need him or just want to say "thank you". Even when I come to him in the middle of the night, when I disturb and get on his nerves.
Just as no father or mother would voluntarily disappoint children, so neither will God disappoint us. And even where parents disappoint their children, we can rely on God not wanting to do just that.
What Jesus wants to say is what I do.
How do I deal with this invitation to talk to God? Like a friend I blindly trust? How do I approach my God?
Since the temple curtain was torn at the crucifixion of Jesus, we have had a very personal approach to God. We do not have to approach God slavishly and respectfully, but with the self-confidence that comes from our calling: I am God's child, and I may ask for that. I can walk upright and talk to him. I can discuss with him and contradict him. I can be annoying.
However, I have to find my own way to pray. Jesus' commandment is not aimed at prayers for grace or good night prayers. All of this can become a terrible compulsion. But prayer should never be compulsion! Rather, Jesus is concerned with liberated prayer. To talk to God with confidence. But also with the awareness: God's will can often do more than what I can understand or what I expect. That is why the “Our Father”, which Jesus himself taught us to pray, also says: “Your will be done”.
All of what I pray may not fit God's will. But I can say it. I can and should bring myself to say "Please".
That could also change the way I deal with my fellow human beings. “Please” is one of the most difficult words for many people. To say “please” means to admit my dependency, to tell of my need for help. That was still a matter of course for the old. No egg in the house? Are the stores closed? Then you go ask. And receives.
I need the courage to ask and pray. Jesus' answer is an invitation. Prayer to God. It should and may be just as natural as asking a friend or neighbor for help. And it won't go unheard of. Just try it out!
Your Pastor Andreas Gutting
Dear congregation members, dear readers,
when I hear the melody of this song, doors open in my memory. Doors to when I was a kid. The song belongs to the soundtrack of my childhood. It wanders through time with me and us. For many generations and I was very happy when it found its way back into our hymnbook.
It's a song for the evening. When it's already dark outside and only one night light is on. It's a song for summer. One that you hum to yourself when you sit outside, the sky is wide open and maybe it's a vacation. In any case, enough time to look after the clouds and count them: one, two, three, four ... eighty-five, eighty-six, eighty-seven ... and then start dreaming.
Do you know how many little stars there are in the blue sky?
Do you know how many clouds go over the whole world?
The Lord God has counted them so that he is not lacking either
On the whole large number, on the whole large number.
In the summer of August, I often looked at the starry sky. Because it was so warm and you could sit outside for a long time on many evenings. I waited for shooting stars to be seen in the sky. I always find that fascinating. Ok, I fell asleep in a deck chair before. But that doesn't matter. Sleep in the open air is also something special.
The song directs our gaze to the sky. So many stars. So many clouds. Nobody can count them. The question "Do you know how many stars there are?" Is not a real question. She nudges us so we can look behind the stars and beyond the clouds. It wants to encourage us to look further, into infinity, so that we can find God in the infinity of the stars and in the freedom of the clouds. He, around whom the stars revolve, he, who gives clouds their way, knows it. God knows about stars and clouds. God doesn't care about clouds and stars because he's the great accountant or mathematician. God is not the omniscient here. He's the one who cares if one thing is missing. When a light goes out. When the clouds are missing because the earth is sweating so badly. God is a carer. He notices when something is lost.
We may think it doesn't matter that much. We're just one person among many. Meaningless. Like a tiny grain of sand on a huge beach. God looks at us very differently. He's missing something when we're not. He'll get a hole in his heart when we go out. He wants our light to shine. That is why this song is so important for both children and adults. That is why it is so right when we baptize children and assure them: God is anything but indifferent to you. God loves you And we want to hear it for ourselves: God wants you to be there. He wants your light of life to shine.
Do you know how many mosquitoes play in the hot sunshine?
How many little fish cool themselves in the bright water?
The Lord God called them by name that they all came into life
That they are so happy now, that they are so happy now.
God calls into life. We are called. We are made aware of this in our baptism. At baptism the name of the person who is being baptized is mentioned. This means: you are not just anyone. You are not number 38 in the baptismal register. You are a person God brought into being. That he wanted and thought. You come from the love of God and still have stardust in your hair.
Parents often speak of the miracle that happens when a child is born. A miracle that, in spite of all explanations, has a secret in it and leaves us amazed.
We are called. The song assigns this call of God not only to us humans, but also to the little fish and mosquitoes, which are among the smallest living beings in his creation. Everything that lives is part of it for him. Is wanted. Should be!
This makes it clear that we humans are just a part of his creation. As God willed us, so he willed and affirmed all the riches of creation. "Our life is life in the midst of other life that wants to live." (Alberst Schweizer)
We are called. It is wonderful when a loved one calls us by name. Loving, distinctive, irreplaceable. We notice that when we miss this loved one. As he or she called us by name, no one else can. That's how I imagine God calling us by name. Loving and unmistakable. He calls us into life, at the beginning, when we come from his thoughts, from his heart and from his dreams. In life, his reputation gives us courage to really live - with more courage, with more strength and with more love. Some say we are born to die. In God's call we experience something else: We did not come to die. We came to love. We are called. Until the end. God calls us by name when we cross the border. Then we come home. How a child comes home at the end of the day.
Do you know how many children get out of their beds early?
That they are happy during the day without worry and trouble?
God in heaven has his pleasure and pleasure in everyone
Knows you too and loves her, knows you too and loves you.
It has never been just like that. Even back then, when Wilhelm Hey wrote the song. In his time childhood was often marked by poverty, hunger and hard work. It has never been just like that, that children are happy during the day without worry and effort. Not today either. Not here with us. And certainly not in the poor countries of the world. Every day, children everywhere experience violence, exploitation, disdain, poverty and hunger.
“Do you know how many children get out of their bed early so that they are happy during the day without worry and trouble?” To hear and sing that today, not as a description of carefree childhood, but as an assignment, a warning. That's how it should be. This is how God wants it, who knows and loves every child. It is God's dream for this earth that children are protected so that they can develop. That certainly does not mean keeping everything resistant and difficult away from them. But still, to enable a basic trust that it can turn out well.
With every child we have a task to shape this world in such a way that children can be happy in it. That you get what you need. That they can become people who believe, hope and love. Bless the world and glory to God!
Be protected! Your Pastor Andreas Gutting
Dear congregation members, dear readers,
"Phylloxera". This is not only the name of many a wine bar, but also a pest that was introduced from America to Europe in the middle of the 19th century and threatened to destroy the entire viticulture here. The animal sucks on the roots of the vine and finally turns it off. American rhizomes, which are resistant to the pest, brought healing. Since then, European types of wine have been grafted onto them. And the phylloxera peeps into the tube.
One or the other illness is also critically attested to the vine church today: general stunted growth with dwindling substance. Lean or inedible fruit. Dwindling roots in society. To name just a few. For some time now, people have been thinking again and again about where something should be pruned and how useless blackheads, i.e. phylloxera, should be removed. And of course there are also ideas to graft the church onto supposedly better root stocks if necessary. E.g. the American variety "Willow Creek" or the widespread variety "McKinsey". Fundraising is also prescribed for the entire vineyard. That means in German “raise capital”, but in the church it is often translated as “to raise treasures”. Confused with the parable of the treasure in the field, which is about something completely different. It is obvious that in all of this we are dealing with an attempt to fundamentally improve the soil for the vineyard church.
I don't want to discourage all of the appointed and self-appointed plant doctors and viticulture experts in the church. I find, however, that phylloxera and other diseases do not play a role at all in our sermon text. They do not occur. In the vineyard that Jesus paints before our eyes, there is only one winegrower at work: namely God himself. And finally the church has to accept the "offense" that it is not the vine, but only the branches.
Christ is the vine! And the Church, so to speak, only depends on him. Or falls off, withers and is only good for burning. “Because without me you cannot do anything,” says Jesus. Church activists, who also exist, often find it difficult to hear or accept that.
But in every “insult” that a word of the Bible has in store for us at first sight, there is also something salutary. Or is it not a relief when Jesus assigns us the place as a vine and grape, which God the vine-gardener takes care of? He is careful with us; cuts off one or the other wild growth, binds and also takes away something that we are attached to. That may be painful, but the wine grower knows that the goal is good. "You are already clean for the sake of the word that I have spoken to you," says Jesus, relieving his disciples of the fear that the vine gardener might just grab a spade or an ax to chop off the wing completely. Whoever grows in Christ in the vine has a future forever. For God will not reject this vine forever. That is why this is also an Easter text. That is why it belongs to the Sunday Jubilate: We can fully belong to those who tore down the walls of death forever at Easter. It may sound strange that Christ should tell us to stay. A branch on the vine does not have to be said separately. For them it is an "impossible way" to separate themselves from the vine. But Jesus knows what kind of fruits will be and that "impossible possibilities" keep coming back to our minds. Our pride doesn't like being dependent. And that is why we often do not want to bother to distinguish the good from the bad, the vital from the destructive possibilities. The enlightened and modern person in particular has a talent for sawing off the branches they are sitting on: they destroy the habitats on which they live. He poisons the air he breathes. He consumes the earth's treasures as if there were no more tomorrow. He forgets his limits and that someone has to tell him first what is good and what serves peace. When we open our eyes to this world, we don't know yet. We must first be educated in order to be prepared for this world. And that is why the church must count education in the broadest sense among its basic concerns, because it knows about this truth: the juice that people need to bloom and bear fruit, they cannot produce themselves. Like the branch, it depends on the vine. We all know enough examples of what happens when people are deserted from all good juices, or better said, from all good spirits. You only have to turn on private television once in the afternoon, or watch some people in Corona times. Live or in the so-called "social networks".
So it makes sense for Jesus to tell us to stay. We can see without great excitement what such abiding looks like in the picture of the vine. A vine doesn't have to worry about this every day. You don't even have to explain this to her as a special work and urge her to make greater efforts. Anything but cramped, she hangs on the vine. Is it presumptuous to draw attention to the “vegetation of faith” with this picture? Faith clings to God, self-evident and unspectacular. The vine gardener will even loosen some of the hold that the vine develops in order to give it a better direction. So it would be really ridiculous to write a handbook for the branch explaining in detail how to stay on the vine. It really works without it. But it doesn't work without two things: Without Jesus Christ and his word. From the vine Christ comes the juice that gives the Church vine everything it needs to grow, bear fruit and stay healthy: His word gives orientation and support and his sacrament, which establishes community. And here, after all, belongs what is called “fruits” in the image of the “vegetation of faith”.Now in this last April and coming days in May we are experiencing what we thought was almost impossible just a few weeks earlier. Nobody can ignore the miracle when the first warm rain starts to grow overnight. And in my birch the star sits and jubilates all the melodies from the repertoire that he has acquired on his travels. Starlings are educated birds. A voice needs education. A heart much more. Not everyone has a heart for children or for their neighbor in general. Not everyone also brakes for animals. Not everyone who has a lot has a lot left. Grumbling about it doesn't help anyone. All the more to pray for: For lush “vegetation of faith”, for education of the heart, for mindfulness with fellow creatures, for a good dash of humanity every day. Because these are the fruits that the true wine and world gardener is most happy about.
Your Pastor Andreas Gutting
Dear congregation members, dear readers,
"I only believe what I see" - this is the abbreviated and simplified creed of not so few people. And apparently also that of the disciple Thomas. But in reality he doesn't believe his eyes. You could be deceived. Just like them who told of the resurrection of Jesus, who told of what they saw, of what they believed they understood.
“I only believe what I see!” “That which can be proven can be repeated at any time.” I have often heard sentences like this when it comes to faith. From people who feel they are enlightened and modern it is actually a contradiction in terms: what I see, what I can establish experimentally, scientifically secure, I no longer need to believe, I know! But that would mean that belief would become superfluous once and for all Rubbish from human history disposed of. And the proverbial "incredulous Thomas" would then be something like the forerunner of this development. Just the first modern person we meet.
But it is not that easy. Not with Thomas, not with science, not with unbelief.
First: What can I really check for myself of what science has to say today? I am not even really able to understand much of what constitutes today's worldview. When it comes to elementary particles that have such beautiful names as "up" and "down" and "charm", of quarks and quanta, of gluons and neutrinos, of particles that can no longer be seen, of those one can only prove traces - and sometimes not even that: they are mathematically necessary, so to speak, but cannot be proven experimentally.
If I take that into my worldview - then I believe. Believe what the few say who can grapple with it. I trust them - no more, no less.
Secondly: What is really important to my life is beyond scrutiny and experimentation. That someone loves each other, that I am loved, cannot be proven. Anyone who demands proof has already failed before the experiment has even started. Only faith, trust and experience help here!
And by the way: do the findings of science really influence my life? Whether I know that the earth revolves around the sun does not change the fact that I see it rise in the morning, describe its arc in the sky and set in the west. Whether I know that the seasons depend on the inclination of the earth's axis does not change the fact that I see the sun higher in the sky until it sinks again - and a rainbow does not become more beautiful because I know that it is created by breaking down the Sunlight arises. How much less does my life affect the existence of dark matter that no one can see or the possibility of parallel universes with which by definition no contact is possible.
Third: In the story of the Gospel of John Thomas actually only continues something that Jesus himself had started: When he met his friends for the first time as the risen One, it is said that "he showed them his hands and the side" - he showed them the wounds that the nails of the crucifixion left behind to make it very clear to them: It is really I, I am the one whose crucifixion and death you witnessed, whom you buried and whom you mourned - and no one else the disciples of Jesus who were there, Thomas who had missed this moment.
He never doubts for a moment what his friends have seen - much less doubts what the weekly newspaper "Die Zeit" once called the "most incredible story in the world" on the cover of its Easter edition. The raising of Jesus from the dead seems to him, Thomas, neither impossible nor unbelievable. Rather, he wants to make sure that this event really took place. That what the disciples saw was not an illusion, not the result of exaggerated senses, stressed nerves, not a pipe dream or even a ghost. That is why it is not enough for him to have seen the wounds of Jesus. He wants to touch them. He wants to make sure that they are real, that they are real.
That the risen Jesus understands and even approves this wish is shown by the further narrative: Again the risen one appears to his disciples and asks Thomas: "Reach out your finger and see my hands, and reach out your hand and place it in my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believing! "And now comes the decisive moment - decisive for Thomas, decisive for faith: Thomas renounces what he wanted so much - he does not touch the nail wounds, grasps the spear wound in the side of the The encounter with the risen one overwhelms him, just as it will later and quite differently also overcome Paul.
"Jesus said to him: Because you have seen me, Thomas, that is why you believe. Blessed are those who do not see and yet believe!" For us who live according to the disciples, according to Thomas: We trust in what the disciples saw and experienced: That the crucified one lives. We trust in this because it influenced, shaped and determined their lives.
But above all: we too can experience Christ as the living - when he meets us - meets in the power of God's love - in faith, love, hope. In a world that could not produce any of it by itself.
Paul once wrote about the cross that it was an offense to the Jews and a foolishness to the Greeks, but that it was God's power for us. (1 Cor 1:18) I think we can say the same thing about the resurrection: for some people believe in it as stupidity, for others it is something that annoys them deeply - but for us it is the strength that gives us Life made possible. Life for us, with and for our fellow human beings - and the will never go out of fashion! Amen
Your Pastor Andreas Gutting be protected
Dear congregation members, dear readers,
“The Lord is risen! He is truly risen! Hallelujah! "
With these words, Christians around the world greet Easter Day and each other. With these words we proclaim the good news of our faith: Jesus lives! Death is overcome! God made life victorious!
A message that is almost too good to be true. Death needn't frighten me any more. I am allowed to live here and now and forever. Isn't that great?
Is it! So great that it is beyond the imagination of a few, provokes doubts, sometimes even ridicule. Immediately after the first Easter there were doubts about the message of the empty grave, there were even allegations and bad rumors. For example, that the disciples stole Jesus' body, that he was not really dead, etc. etc.
In the following story, some of what was thought and said then and now is repeated when it comes to the topic: Has there been life after earthly death since the resurrection? Read for yourself:
An unborn pair of twins is chatting in their mother's womb:
"Tell me, do you actually believe in life after giving birth?" asks one twin.
"Yes, in any case! In here we grow and become strong for what is to come outside, ”replies the other.
"I think this is nonsense!" says the first. "There can be no life after the birth - what should that look like, if you please?"
“I don't know exactly either. But it will be much brighter than here for sure. And maybe we'll walk around and eat with our mouths? " “I've never heard such nonsense! Eating with your mouth, what a crazy idea. There is the umbilical cord that nourishes us. And how do you want to walk around The umbilical cord is far too short for that. " “Yes, it will definitely work. Everything will just be a little different. " "You're crazy! Nobody has ever come back from after the birth ’. Life ends with birth. Period. "
“I admit that nobody knows what life will be like after the birth. But I know that then we will see our mother and she will take care of us. "
"Mother?? You don't believe in a mother, do you? Where is she please? " “Well here - all around us. We are and live in it and through it. We couldn't be without them! "
"Nonsense! I've never noticed anything from a mother, so she doesn't exist either. "
“Yes, sometimes, when we are very still, you can hear them sing. Or feel when she caresses our world ... ”
Some discussions about God and life after earthly death run like this or something similar to this day. Since Easter we have been able to be certain: Jesus has opened this path to eternity of life for us. And if we are attentive, if we keep our senses, feelings, our soul open for God, for the beauty of his creation, for love, then here on earth we can always feel and experience something about him and his eternity.
And that has consequences. For our life here and now. Because we no longer need to worry about the last things, we can confidently and calmly turn to the penultimate things - our lives.
The Swiss pastor Kurt Marti once put it in a poem:
You ask: how isthe resurrection of the dead? - I dont know
you ask: when isthe resurrection of the dead? - I dont know
you ask: there isa resurrection of the dead? - I dont know
you ask: there isno resurrection of the dead? - I dont know
I knowjustwhat you don't ask for:the resurrection of those who live
I knowjustwhat he calls us to:to the resurrection here and now
What Kurt Marti would like to express is that we as Christians do not forget to look at the here and now because of the sheer uncertain view of the hereafter. That we recognize that the resurrection can and must also take place here and now in the midst of us. Because all too often the forces of death, violence and destruction rule our world. But for you, the whole world, life should flourish and we are all invited to participate in this life and asked to protect and preserve life. To seek true life in the hereafter would be religious cynicism.
Whoever believes Easter because he trusts God can stand up for life here and now and can enjoy it to the fullest. Because not only eternal life, but also the time between birth and earthly death is a wonderful and unique gift from God.
A good year of the corona pandemic allows me to understand Kurt Marti's text in a very specific way as to our situation as a church and community. At some point, hopefully in the not-too-distant future, we will return to the life we led before the epidemic broke out. Hopefully we won't collectively act like a horde of runaway Malle vacationers. But do it slowly at the beginning. Go step by step. With caution. But confident. And hopefully grateful too. Because then we can see and meet again. Share our lives with each other without having to keep your distance and counting people. Because we can sing together again carefree and without fear, we also celebrate. Just be happy and share our faith. Hopefully we will not forget what was wrong before then. Hopefully, the gratitude to be able to leave this dark valley behind us will lead us to appreciate life more, to be more careful with it. And not just with your own. Then, I am sure, we as individuals and as a community will experience this feeling of resurrection here and now. And we will learn what a great gift we were given with Easter and which is always made anew.
This is my Easter wish for you, for all of us this year: That we may experience and experience resurrection together. In the here and now. That we will celebrate this together with great gratitude and that we will not fall back into a thoughtless daily routine too quickly.
Because: Our Lord is risen for us. He is truly risen! That is true! For eternity and for here and today!
I wish you a happy and blessed Easter in special times!
Your Pastor Andreas Gutting
Devotion on Good Friday 2021
Dear congregation members, dear readers,
There is one to be discovered in every Catholic Church: Jesus' path to the cross, shown in pictures. A way of the cross. Just followed up and emulated by our Catholic sisters and brothers in church services on Good Friday.
I would like to cordially invite you on this special day, Good Friday, to follow your path in your thoughts while reading and thus to trace this secret that God did not spare his son for us either. Exposed him to the hatred, wickedness, thoughtlessness and delusion of the people who eventually nailed him to the cross.
He took death upon himself so that we could live and break the cruel logic of death.
Station 1: Jesus was condemned to death, to death on the cross
He wanted to be the good shepherd. He was ready to give up his life for his sheep. He wanted to be a good herdsman. But he also said: “I and the Father are one.” He is both Son of God and Son of man. That irritated the authorities. That annoyed, outraged and unsettled her. The one like the other government. The Jews did not want to release him after he was captured. The Romans were no longer allowed to release him because the excited crowd had decided against him. The screamers wanted Barabbas free, the son of Abbas, not this Jesus from Nazareth. The crowd shouted, "Crucify him!" And that decided the matter. There must be law and order in Jerusalem so that the authorities can retain their power. One like the other.
Pretend to protect God.
Feeling about life and death.
Refrain from talking about their fear. Kill god.
Station 2: Jesus has the cross placed on his shoulders
"What you did to one of my neighbors, you did to me too."
He said that himself. And he stuck to it. He is the true servant of God who holds out his hump so that we don't get broken. So that we don't collapse. Neither under the cross of an unjust government, nor under the burden of self-committed injustice. For this he holds out his hump so that we can live.
I've accepted all the pain - now don't let it bring me down.
I have borne all the humiliation - now let it show me the way with the pain.
I screamed for death. - now let my life drift into your hand God, who struck after me.
Station 3: The first collapse under the cross
He knew what to expect. Here no unsuspecting person goes to the ground on the night he was betrayed, he had prayed: "Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me, but not my will, but your will be done."
Even then it happened that he was struggling with death. And prayed harder and harder. Until his sweat fell on the ground. In the garden of Gethsemane. Middle of the night. Here we see during the day what he has loaded on himself.
The loneliest walk from treason to Golgotha.
Through the alley full of ridicule, scorn, insult and desecration. To the cross.
No word can express this suffering.
Only silence, darkness and the earth tremors.
Station 4: Jesus meets his mother
The Gospels have not reported that Mary accompanied her son on this journey. Compassionate people have looked at it, thought it over, and added it to it. There was nothing more they could do. Neither then nor now. They couldn't prevent injustice, they couldn't turn the world on its hinges, they couldn't change the course of events. They were too weak for that. And now they suffer with them. With him as he goes his ordeal.And with his mother, who couldn't prevent suffering from happening to him.
THE Man was born as he died
with pain, blood and water
leaves a broad stream in life as in death - WARMTH
Station 5: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross
There is no question that Simon of Cyrene was a particularly good person who helped Jesus carry his cross. Matthew doesn't know about it. He only knows that the same soldiers of Pilate, who mocked Jesus as King of the Jews, seized the nearest human being and forced him to carry the cross for Jesus. A block far. So that everything is in order here. So that Jesus could come to the place of the skull with his cross. Exactly according to service regulations.
Who was blind looks away.
The one who was lame does not help.
Those who have been cured of gout are absent
He carries the cross alone
A stranger arrives and carries away the fear to the cross
Station 6: Veronica dries Jesus' face
When one of them starts to help, the others dare. The man from Cyrene had been forced to help Jesus carry the cross. You could see that. And Veronica saw that Jesus needed refreshment, that his face was wet with sweat. She dries his face because Jesus, who bears the cross, has no free hand for it. That's why she does it herself, with a dry cloth, with her hands. There is nothing more she can do. But what little it can do, it does.
Blessed are the merciful; for they will receive mercy.
Be merciful as your Heavenly Father is merciful!
Station 7: Jesus falls the second time
That was to be foreseen. The cross is too heavy. And the way is too far. From the execution house of Pilate to the place of the skull. And always uphill. Small aids are not enough. Jesus has to do it alone. Although he is really not an athlete, not a long distance runner, not a heavyweight lifter. He has not yet practiced carrying such a cross.
Send us angels to guard us, to assist us on our ways.
Station 8: Jesus meets the weeping women
Who has come to meet whom here? Who meets whom? Jesus to the women who have brought their children, or the women here to the one who is dragging his cross towards the place of execution?
The women cry. What else could you do? He has long since said what should be said here: "Don't cry for me, cry for you and your children."
He has no more strength to speak. On this way of the cross he did not speak a single word.
“And God will wipe away all the tears from their eyes, and there will be no more death, nor will there be sorrow, nor crying, nor pain; because the first has passed. And he who sat on the throne said: See, I am making everything new! "
Station 9: Jesus falls the third time
He fell all alone. Collapsed under a burden that he can neither bear nor shake off. Maybe someone was watching him from afar. How badly he does what he has set out to do: to come to Golgotha with his cross. It is not pleasant to watch him do it. Neither up close nor from a distance. Because he said: "If you want to be my friend, take your cross and follow me:"
God wants to give us the strength to carry our cross. Not in advance, but when we need it, "
Station 10: Jesus is stripped of his clothes
When Jesus arrived at Calvary, the soldiers gave him wine to drink. But the wine was mixed with gall. When Jesus tasted this, he did not drink it. Then they stripped his clothes off and left him only a loincloth. They divided his clothes among themselves, except for his skirt. It was woven seamlessly from top to bottom. It was too good to be shared. You will draw who it should belong to.
Whoever wins my garment makes me sore.
Now he jerks into my skirt and doesn't look back anymore.
He wears the skirt to women to be happy and to free himself from fear.
Father, let him rejoice with his women and make him free from the horror.
Father, don't cast a curse on the brother in my handkerchief.
Father, don't throw a fire on the brother in my robe.
Earth, don't gape far in front of the brother in my dress.
Wind, cool the hair of my brother who is what I was.
Station 11: Jesus is crucified
According to Roman regulations it happened like this: The cross lies on the ground. And whoever was condemned to death was placed on this cross. Arms stretched out on the crossbeam, hands nailed with nails. At the bottom, on the vertical beam, the feet were tied, then both feet were pierced with a nail. A sign was attached to the top of this cross. The Latin letters "I.N.R.I." That should also be his guilty verdict: "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews."
Less than hope in him
This is man
Only the crucified
The: Here I am!
Station 12: Jesus dies on the cross
When the soldiers had erected the cross and rammed it firmly into the ground, they paused and guarded it. Onlookers came by and mocked the crucified: “If you are the Son of God, then come down!” And some scribes were no more refined. They said: "He has trusted his God, he may also redeem him if he feels like it."
Under the cross gathered Mary, his mother, and another Mary, as well as Mary Magdalene and John, his favorite disciple and some acquaintances who had followed him from Gallilee to Jerusalem. Before Jesus died, the Evangelist John reports, he said: "It is finished."
He who completely relied on God hangs on the cross, abandoned by God
Who is grace, cries out in pain, who is merciless
He who fought for love dies pierced by hate
You great man of sorrows, so beaten by your father
Thank you Lord Jesus for all your plagues
For your fear of soul, for your band and need
For your flagellation, for your bitter death
Station 13: Jesus in his mother's arms
When Jesus died everything had to be very quick. Because it was the Sabbath, a Jewish holiday. The corpses were not allowed to get stuck on the crosses. Pilate had allowed a councilor of Jerusalem, Joseph of Arimathia, to take the body of the Nazarene from the cross and bury it. And his friends helped him. Maria was always there. She had said goodbye to her son.
Who-up-there wanted to set an example
For love, he says - and became the one down there
Honor his feelings, but where would we go….
You can't just turn everything upside down!
It wasn't that easy.
In any case, it is back, namely upstairs, where it belongs.
Station 14: Jesus is laid in the grave
There was a garden near Golgotha. And in the garden there was a new grave carved in stone that no one had ever lain in. It belonged to Joseph of Arimathia. But now they put Jesus in it, he was anointed and wrapped tightly in sheets. When that happened, the women turned back. At home they prepared new ointments and spices. And then they kept the Sabbath.
The next day the high priests and scribes went to Pilate and asked him to have the tomb guarded because Jesus had said: “After three days I will rise.” It could be that his disciples steal the body for the people to proclaim: “He has risen from the dead.” Pilate gave them armed guards. And the locking stone in front of the grave that was sealed.
Was someone who had let himself be nailed to his word.
That they set up a cross as a warning to everyone.
Was one who called out loud in a human voice for human assistance.
But to those who heard it, he died.
Was someone who didn't clench his teeth, his hand clenched into a fist.
Just endured - and survived.
Your Pastor Andreas Gutting
Dear congregation members, dear readers,
there he comes ridden, the scapegoat. The one they'll blame for everything. Over which they will break the rod. For whom they will demand the death penalty: "Crucify him‘! "
But that doesn't quite fit into the scene our Bible text describes. Aren't people really excited? Don't they shout, “Hosanna to the Son of David”? Don't they receive him like a king? Today we would say: like a pop star?
How does that fit together? Pop star and scapegoat? Savior and criminal?
Let's hide a little: Jesus set out after his baptism at the Jordan and the clearing process in the desert. Drawn across the country. Healed the sick, treated the socially ostracized as human beings, treated like children of God. Had painted his contemporaries a picture of God that was incredibly attractive to some, but did not fit into their worldview for others. And now he went up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. THE Festival of the Jews. The annual reminder of the ancestors' liberation from bondage in Egypt.
Before Jesus moves into town with his friends, however, he sends a silent impulse to everyone who can see him. As predicted centuries ago by the prophet Zechariah, he is riding a donkey towards the city. He doesn't need heralds to herald him. No propaganda and advertising machine. He rides in silence and everyone knows who is coming. The Messenger of God, the Messiah, the King of Salvation for whom you have been waiting so long and longingly. To which they have linked their very personal wishes and expectations. And so they are completely beside themselves. They prepare the way for him with their clothes and palm branches. You receive Jesus like a king.
Great events cast their shadows ahead. Today we know: It was the shadow of the cross. Jesus probably knew that too. The crowd, on the other hand, indulged in their hopes and expectations.
But Jesus disappointed them. He neither wanted to be a military leader leading the resistance against the Roman occupiers, nor did he want to be everyone's darling. He messed with the religious elite, kicked the merchants out of the temple and spoiled the business. No! That was not how people had imagined the Messiah at the time. That couldn't end well.
We know that from our everyday life. If one (or one) disappoints expectations and hopes, it’s up to him. First someone is cheered, frenetically celebrated, lifted into the sky, only to be finished with the same fervor, torn apart by the media, mocked, and made ready. You label him, make him a scapegoat. Responsible for everything that goes wrong.
Politicians are often branded as such scapegoats, who are then made responsible not only for their actual mistakes, but also for all evil.
Over the centuries, Jews in Europe have been scapegoated and cruelly persecuted, tortured and killed. And today it's Jesus' turn. It's your own fault. If you ignore people's wishes like that. Stubbornly pursuing his own path and incidentally bumping into it with his nose that not all that glitters is gold in yourself. That you have enough dirt to clean up on your own doorstep to talk about that of others. Or as Jesus put it: That one would rather be upset about the splinter in the other's eye than worry about the beam in one's own eye. No. Somebody like that needn't be surprised if things go wrong with him. When he hits this wall of hatred, violence, ignorance, stupidity and arrogance and fails. It's your own fault if he becomes a scapegoat in the end.
We still scapegoat others to this day to divert attention from our failures, our guilt. It's like any village gossip. As long as I help people talk about others, I won't be talked about. So take part. Hell come out. Funny pun, you might think. But isn't it so? In the sense of the word?
Back to Jesus.
The crowd, which celebrates him frenetically, is just as fanatical about his death. Just five days later. When they see Jesus, they recognize how one should and could actually live. But can't or doesn't want to. The look at Jesus has become unbearable like the look in a mirror, which shows the naked truth in front of your eyes. So get away with him. On the cross. Nail him to his role as a scapegoat. The main thing is away. Out of sight, out of mind. History takes its inevitable course.
It is sacrificed to the interests of the people so that they do not have to deal with themselves. He is found guilty. Degraded from messiah to scapegoat.
And yet he is the only innocent man on the cross and around it! Even more: He takes all the guilt, all the inability, all the hatred of others and of himself, so that what God actually intended for his world can come to light: life and love.
But did this sacrifice that Jesus made really bring about the reign of love, mercy and justice in the world? Does love rule our world now?
If we are honest we have to say: no. At least not everywhere. Neither in societies nor in the churches.
But that's why this Sunday, Palm Sunday, is so important! He directs our gaze from the cheered Jesus to the innocent scapegoat on the cross. He reminds us that we can only expect salvation and healing for our inner wounds that we carry in and on us if we hold on to faith in him. Faith that brings us closer to God as one who is faithful and stands by his promises, as one who comes towards us, becomes human and is close to us and who in the end takes on everything that we screw up in the course of our lives. Out of whichever reasons. Look at him on the cross, trust in him and therefore give him what our fault is. It's all about this. Because only in this way will we be free for a life in and out of the love of God, which at some point ends this murderous cycle of the search for scapegoats. Because he went to the cross for us innocently!
Be protected! Your Pastor Andreas Gutting
Sermon on Genesis 22 on Sunday, March 21, 2021, Judika Sunday
Dear congregation members, dear readers,
it is an archaic scene that this chapter from the Book of Moses brings to our eyes.
A father hears the voice of God who wants to tempt him and test his faith. "Take Isaac, your only son, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering on a mountain that I will tell you."
And the father - Abraham - evidently has not the slightest doubt as to whether he may not have misheard or whether the voice is not that of God at all. No, he obeys, ready to go to extremes.
Sacrifice, even human sacrifice, to do God's will? Prove your faith? To show obedience? To please God?
Comparisons come to mind. In some ancient religions, sacrifices and, time and again, human sacrifices were part of it. In South America as well as in Scandinavia or here in Europe.
In general, we react with a feeling of rejection, of horror, to such ancient and traditional customs. Thank goodness we are over that today in our modern and progressive world.
But is that us? I have images from a few years ago when so-called IS fighters beheaded scourges in front of the camera to shock our societies. Or the suicide attacks, attacks on people in the midst of us. People were sacrificed in the delusion and belief that they were doing God a service. God supposedly gave the commission and the believers obeyed. Without asking too much, without doubting or hesitating. The story of Abraham in the 21st century?
But anyone who wanted to turn the whole thing into a religious problem, e.g. for Muslims, is also going astray. It is not too long ago that in the Christian West people of different faiths, witches etc. were put on the stake and burned. Allegedly because God wanted it that way. Incidentally, even after the Reformation!
Again you could say: it's all cold coffee! Long gone! We don't have it anymore!
But is that so?
Well: Perhaps we no longer sacrifice anyone on religious altars and in the name of God. But Luther did not recognize very correctly: "What you hang your heart on is your God?"
Aren't we still sacrificing thousands of people every year on the altar of mobility? Free travel for free citizens! Do not children constantly become victims of an unbounded, unbridled sexuality of adults? Or women who are victims of male power fantasies? Or people who have been bullied. Already at school, at work, in the so-called “social networks”, yes, also in politics? We too are constantly sacrificing other people. New idols, our interests. And last but not least, we unrestrainedly sacrifice God's creation on the altar of our greed and stupidity.
The question about the victims arises for me.Also the question: Does God need our sacrifices? Does he want sacrifices in order to be favored?
To be honest, I don't understand God's motivation to try Abraham - that is, to put him to the test. But that's the way it is with God sometimes. Or should I say in the stories that have come down to us from him?
What strikes me is the similarity between Isaac and Jesus. Both carry the wood on their shoulders. Both are intended as a sacrificial lamb. Except that Isaac gets away with his life. But: Jesus can also continue to live. After three days. The story of the prevented sacrifice of Isaac as an anticipation of the story of Jesus on the cross? That's how you can see it.
In the cross that Jesus took upon himself, God himself took the guilt of mankind on himself. This is how we Christians profess. And that's my belief too.
But God showed us something else: namely, where it leads when we humans act solely according to our standards and convictions. Then others get under the wheels, put in drawers and nailed to the cross. In the truest sense of the word or in a figurative sense. No matter. The result is always the same: People who are different, who think, believe, feel and live differently are stamped and finished. Crucified. Victim. Pointless. Godless! By not sparing Jesus - and thus himself - the cross, he showed us where the path leads, people think they can walk without God: In death and annihilation.
And that is why he set a counterpoint in the resurrection of Jesus: life triumphs over death. Not just about the biological one. Also about the millions of emotional and social deaths that people have caused over the centuries. In the name of God or in the name of idols, ideals, ideologies. The victims should be pretty much the same in the end.
“I want mercy, not sacrifice!” (Mt 9, 13) says Jesus, referring to a word of the prophet Hosea from the Old Testament (Hos 6, 6). But that brings us to the annual motto for the year 2021: "Be merciful as your Heavenly Father is also merciful." (Lk 6:36)
Mercy, love, life. These are the values that are recommended to us as Christians. New every day. No matter what everyone else around us says or does. God neither needs nor wants sacrifice! That's what I got! That we can even be given eternal life due to Good Friday and Easter is an incredible gift from God. But it does not release us from the question and decision of whether we want to continue to belong to those who make sacrifices - in the name of whoever - or who serve life as God wants it for everyone and everything!
Passion time is a good opportunity to reflect on who our hearts belong to.
Your Pastor Andreas Gutting
Dear congregation members, dear readers,
"Latars". “Rejoice!” That is the name of Sunday on March 14th. Strange actually. That name. Rejoice. In the middle of this quiet, reflective time when we Christians think of the suffering of Christ. And yet: “Latars!” “Rejoice!”. The Sunday Latare marks the middle of the Passion time. It indicates: Spring is not far away and sadness will not last forever. That is why in “normal” times on this day the Latars are held in many places - parades during which the winter is symbolically burned. “Latars. The joy returns! "
We can now observe it everywhere in nature. The miracle of life.
On the trees and bushes, buds form on bare branches that will soon develop into leaves and flowers. From last summer's small, hard, inconspicuous seeds sprout young green that will develop into a splendor of flowers that our insects will eat. In the fields in the dark earth, our bread of tomorrow sprouts from many individual grains. Actually quite natural. We think. It's like that every year. And yet it is always a miracle for me. The miracle of life!
It is hard to believe what energy and how much life there is in such a small, single grain. All it takes to grow is light, water and earth. Then the miracle of life can happen - the grain bears fruit.
Jesus takes up this picture of the grain of wheat, of course he relates it to himself. The grain of wheat that has to die in order to be able to awaken to new life. But it also says something about life in and of itself. Times of rest and growth, time to blossom and bear fruit, and times to say goodbye. Life and death. All of that belong together. Condition one another. Everything together makes up the miracle of life.
There is a story about a little grain of wheat that wouldn't die. That always just wanted to live. And because it was so greedy for life, it was left alone. But that made it lonely and very sad at some point. It became downright depressed. Yes, there is: Despite all the energy, despite all the possibilities that were in him, it only saw his loneliness and sadness.
That little grain of wheat, dreamed of the light. Dreamed of warmth and security. It dreamed the wonderful dream of the sun laughing from the sky. And maybe it would be able to laugh again if only it could see the sun. Little Korn wanted a lot. Not only did it want warmth, light, and the energy of the sun, but it was thirsty too. Very much thirsty. Thirst for life.
Yes, water for life. "I want that," said the grain of wheat to itself. In doing so, it forgot that it also needed the earth to live. But if you need and want the earth, then you have to feel the earth. Then you have to go into the earth. It had a strong will, this depressed grain of wheat. Many depressed people have a strong will and persistence. In its stubbornness, the grain of wheat just wanted sun and light. Quench your thirst, drink your life. Why crawl into the dark earth? Nope, it didn't mean that. And so it was left alone.
But then, suddenly and unexpectedly, it happened. Our little grain of wheat that didn't want to go into the ground was thrown into the ground. He was miserable to die. Everything became different, transformed and changed. It no longer knew itself. Suddenly the little life of the grain became great and abundant. It was no longer alone, stood in a large field with many others. I saw how the sun rose, how the rain came and how it grew. Everything was brand new. Many grains of wheat ripened in this swaying cornfield, had heavy ears and bore a lot of fruit.
As Jesus says, “If the grain of wheat does not fall into the earth and perish, it remains alone; but when it dies it brings a lot of fruit. "
The story of the wheat grain wants to tell us in the middle of the passion time how rich our life can be. How much fruit we can bring when we embrace life as a whole.
Life is not just sunshine. Life is not just about quenching your thirst for life. Life that can be a painful process, with ups and downs, community and farewell, joy and sorrow, life and death.
The history of this grain of wheat also shows us how we often live as people, as individuals and as a community: We would like to have only one side whenever possible. The beautiful, light, pleasant one. Because we fear the dark side of life. In doing so, however, we run the risk of missing out on life at all, of not taking advantage of the opportunities we have in us, of not bringing the fruit we could bring. But since Jesus' suffering, death and resurrection, life as a whole has acquired a whole new dimension and promise: death is no longer dead in the sense of from and over. Through the darkness of death we can and should advance into the light of a new, eternal life. But in order to be able to live anew, one has to die first. Must go into the earth to be transformed and then start over.
What is related in the Bible text to the end of Jesus and earthly life, we can also relate to our life here and now. Also on our life as a community and church. Nobody can, must or should live alone. That only leads to loneliness and the fact that no real fruit can grow. The promise of fruitful life rests on community.
If the new is to arise and grow, the old must always be dropped. We find that particularly difficult to accept. Say goodbye to the familiar, what has become dearly. To go new ways, of which we don't know where they will lead, whether they will lead to the goal. Only on trust. That is not easy. That is why we so often do not dare to dare to try something new and leave many opportunities that were actually in us unused.
The story of the grain of wheat that first has to die in order to really live and bear fruit, it wants to encourage us. Courage to let go of what cannot be held. Courage to live together, to get involved with others, because God has placed his promise on such togetherness. I am convinced that if we learn to live like this with trust in God, then we will always feel the miracle of life anew. On your own body, in our community and community. Yes and at some point in the end also deep in our soul.
“Latars” - “Rejoice!”, “Joy returns”. In the middle of the passion time. This should encourage us to re-enter the miracle of life that God gives us and promises, not to remain alone, but to bring much fruit. So that life blooms for all of us! Bless the world and glory to God!
Your Pastor Andreas Gutting
Grain that sinks into the earth, into death (Evangelical Hymns No. 98)
Grain that sinks into the earth, into death,
Germ that seeps out of the field in the morning.
Love revives that seemed to have long since died:
Love grows like wheat and its stalk is green.
The world broke its rod at God's love,
Rolled her rock before the grave of love.
Jesus is dead. How else should he flee?
Love grows like wheat and its stalk is green.
God's seed lost in the rock,
Our hearts caught in thorns and thorns -
There went the night, the third day appeared:
Love grows like wheat and its stalk is green.
Dear congregation members, dear readers,
When we read the Bible, we are addressed directly enough often: "You", "You" ... we read that over and over again. That means: We are meant! I am meant and addressed very personally. From God. Without a safety distance. Straight. "You!" "You are meant!" That can sometimes be very comforting, encouraging, uplifting. But it can also be a bit uncomfortable at times. When we feel caught that we're not living the way we should. For us, our world and our fellow human beings. In God's eyes. But even then, yes: it is precisely then that it is not worthwhile to strike the Bible straight away, following the motto: out of sight, out of mind. In such moments it is worth looking, listening, exposing yourself to what is being said. So that something can change for the better. Because God is not about condemning, but about healing, about turning adversity, about alleviating suffering.
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