Johannes Weissingers Predigt vom 2. Dezember

Luke 21: 25-35

The Return of Christ

25 There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN A CLOUD with power and great glory. 28 But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."

29 Then He told them a parable : „Behold the fig tree and all the trees; 30 as soon as they put forth leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that summer is now near. 31 So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. 34 Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap ; 35 for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth.“

Sermon

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with us all. Amen.

„It is time“ – that´s in the language of football an incomplete message. To say “It is time” is banal. It is always time for anything. The decisive question is: For what it is time? And it will be good to answer this question not until we would have answered another question: what´s the time? What is our time characterized by?

I invite you to follow me on a curvaceous line of thought.

We heard in the scripture from Luke: “stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” An elder friend told me the following story about one of his uncles, who had a farm. This uncle took the scripture literally. He was sure that he knew the day of coming again of Jesus. And this day was so near that it makes no sense to farm the fields. You can imagine the outcome of this story: Jesus did not come again and the farm went bankrupt.

There is another story which is used to keep people off from this folly. It was told that the story happened in your country. I don´t know where and when. A committee was deliberating upon a difficult issue, as someone entered the meeting-room and cried: Jesus the Lord is going to come again. Some members of the committee jumped up and wanted to see Jesus coming again. But the chairman called them back: Sit down. Either Jesus is not going to come again there is no reason to stop our discussion or he is going to come again, then he should find us at work.

I have a favor for this story. But there is a hitch in this story too. We know people who escape into their work. We call these people workaholics. They need to work every time to hold off urgent and tormenting questions from themselves. May be, one of these questions is the following question: Is it reasonable to trust any longer in the promises of God? The disaster is that the history always goes on such as before, said the philosopher Walter Benjamin.

That applies according to the faith: We have heard the promise that “Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: The Lord is our righteousness.” But we see the contrary if we are looking to Jerusalem today. The Prophet Isaiah says about Jerusalem: “Your gates shall always be open; day and night they shall not be shut.” Yesterday the Palestinian guest-speaker in the meeting in St. Francis Iyad Burnat told us about himself: Jerusalem is only twelve kilometers distant from me, but I have never been in Jerusalem, because there is a many meters tall wall and a closed border between. Jerusalem will be a place where people gather each another. But now Jerusalem is hard fought between Israel and Palestine whose capital Jerusalem should be.

And what´s about the scripture from Luke: “So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place.” Not only the generation who heard this died without that the Son of Man came with power and great glory. The following generations died too. Nothing is to see that violence and injustice disappeared from the earth. In one of in my church used songs to baptism is said: “Fight and war rend the world, someone pushed down the other one. Thereby power and money count, cleverness and healthy.” And then: “Courage and freedom are gifts we need badly.” But: how to get these gifts? The Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote to his friend: The invisibility of God fatigue, exhaust all of us. And some people come to a point where they say: We don´t any longer want to hear these pious stories. We want to see the world as the world is. They want to be and call themselves realists.

But: This by themselves so called realism is often a very restricted view to the world. For example the advertisement slogan “the time is now” is not the whole truth. The knowledge of the past belongs to understanding time so much as the responsibility for the future belongs too. And if someone says: I don´t need hope, I enjoy my life from day to day, then it is from another viewpoint seen the pure luxury. For many people on this earth hope is so much necessary as the daily bread. I have in my mind the picture of people who raise their heads when they come to Sabbath. Their life is dictated by the logic of production and profit six days the week, but on the seventh day, on Sabbath they celebrate a day of their dignity, of their freedom. They eat and drink together and praise the name of God.

But we must do a further step to understand our times. The times are changed. Former generations became humble by looking up to the starry sky. When we are looking up to the starry sky we don´t see only the stars for example the Jupiter beside the moon, we see also the planes blinking and other products of our hands and our intelligence. In the time of former generations the men have to protect themselves against the power of the nature, now they have to protect the nature against the power of the men. Now the men live in their own created world. But the result is not totally enjoyable. Some psychiatrists speak about a new illness of mind. They called this illness God´s complex. The people who are ill in such a way live their life wanting or thinking they would be God or would be God as they imagine that God is: almighty, omniscient, invulnerable, unable to compassion, without any grief and any fault. But it is paradoxical: The best way to heal people from this God´s complex could be the reading of the bible. In the bible we read that God is with his or her people, suffering the suffer of his people. And Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in one poem about the Christians: They stand by God in his suffering.

I reached my last point. It is time to read the bible once more again hearing the explanations of the Jewish tradition, too. For example: The Hebrew sentence in Psalm 119, 126 is translated in most of the Christian bibles: It is time for the Lord to act, for your laws are broken. But another translation is possible too: It is time to act for the Lord. It is time that we act, that we protect the name of God against every making his name empty or worse: against every attempt of manipulating people in or by the name of God. It is time to protect the name of God against the use of his name in such a way that people should be kept off from asking, from seeing injustice, from trying to make a difference. God is not the answer to all our questions, in contrary: he asked us: Where is your brother Abel? Where are you? It´s our case to answer: Here we are, speak to us, we want to listen and follow. The hymn to the baptism I spoke about begins with questions: To what we will bring you, which songs will you sing, to which aims will you dare? We adults are asked if we are ready to give the treasure of promise, which the bible delivered to us, to the next generation. The quoted hymn finished with the verse: Don´t think you stand alone, you ought to build bridges of peace, you can trust in the power of love. May be, God, so understood, does not make a life easier, but God makes a life richer and more senseful. The Hebrew word for the attitudes of God means originally the footsteps of God, the footsteps of the way which we ought to go following him.

The Hebrew Language uses two words for the word “hand”. The one of them is used if the word “hand” is meaning the organ by which we can receive one thing, which is given to us. This word is the sign of the letter “kaf”, (looked like an open hand). The other word is used if the word “hand” is meaning the organ by which we can catch something, by which we can start to act. God gave us two hands. We ought to use both of them.

It is time to act for the Lord, for justice and righteousness, for peace and dignity among all the people God loves. And it would be good to hear to another Jewish voice in our times: After all we have done the word of faith is not loud and bombastic, but low and gentle, spoken like the prophets have spoken: reluctant and hopeful: perhaps, perhaps.

I finish with an citation of Dietrich Bonhoeffer about optimism: “It is wiser to be pessimistic; it is a way of avoiding disappointment and ridicule, and so wise people condemn optimism. (But) The essence of optimism is not its view of the present but the fact zhat it is the inspiration of life and hope when others give in; it enables a man to hold his head high when everything seems to be going wrong; it gives him strength to sustain... It is true that there is a silly, cowardly kind of optimism, which we must condemn. But the optimism that is will for the future should never be despised, even if it is proved wrong a hundred times; it is health and vitality... It may be that the day of judgment will dawn tomorrow; in that case, we shall gladly stop working for a better future. But not before.”

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.