2020-11-29 - 1. Advent - Pfarrerin Nicole Otte-Kempf

( Sermon Revelation John 21: 1-7 ) [ German Sermon ] [ Announcements (German)327.14 KB ]

Dear Congregation,

Last week we bid farewell to the old church year.  During the last 12 months we have experienced sorrow and joy.  And the year turned out so differently than we would have ever imagined.   We shared and also endured a lot together.  I now wish each and every one of you a happy new year.  A year filled with goodness for us all.

Traditionally we welcomed and celebrated the New Year yesterday. And with it, of course, the season of Advent.  The Christmas market was a delightful celebration.  It was a good start.  And now, at home, all the boxes with Christmas decorations are being taken out.  Maybe there’s an Advent calendar with little Christmas draws near…. Our senses celebrate Christmas with us.  The taste of cookies, the smell of gingerbread, candle light and beautiful ornamental balls.  All these familiar customs and traditions help to us create the Advent and Christmas atmosphere. 

Lift high the door, the gates draw wide (Macht hoch die Tür,die Tor macht weit). This hymn encompasses everything that is Advent to me.  Daily we open doors.  When the doorbell rings, it is quite normal to first check who it is and we will most probably open the door if we know the person or at least consider them to be trustworthy.  Whether you invite the person in, that is up to you.

Scripture Reading


Dear Congregation, the prophet Zechariah is addressing the people of Israel many centuries before the birth of Jesus.  Israel is surrounded by hostile neighbors.  Cities are burning and becoming uninhabitable.  But, Israel should rejoice and shout for joy.  Why?  Because Zechariah, God Himself, announces the coming of a King and not just any King, but the Messiah: “See your King is coming to you.”

He is coming to you.  Quite unusual for a king.  He is coming to the people.  Normally it is this the other way around.  But this King is different and his arrival is also unusual.  Not on horseback, but on a donkey.   What will this promised King be like?  Fair and just.  Just as you would want a king to be.  What else will this king be like?  In the German test, He is said to be a helper.  In the Hebrew translation the passive form is used.  In other words, he is being helped.  Thus he becomes a king, through the grace of God.

It is also said that the King is “poor” and does not value social status.  He renounces reputation and fame.  But he will speak a very powerful word:  Peace!  For all the earth!  What a wonderful promise.  We are also waiting for this.  Because images of conflict are all around us.  And we also experience life in broken fragments.  Some of us are completely hopeless at times.  Someone gets the diagnosis:  terminally ill, someone else loses his job, I don’t have any friends at school, a loved one dies…

With all of this going on around us, it is of course difficult to find inner peace.  And inner peace is just as important.  For only if you find that inner peace, you can share it with people around you.  But peace for all the earth can only be given by this promised King.  World peace is not something I can give.   The Bible speaks of “Shalom”.  Peace as a complete and restored life.  Inner peace is possible when  I realize:  the King, the righteous one, the helper is coming MY way.  He notices ME.  Many centuries after Zechariah’s words were spoken, they became a reality for us Christians.

Lift high the door, the gates draw wide

A king set over all Kingdoms reign

A Saviour unto all nations the same

Who bringeth with Him water and life

Thus cry for joy, thus sing and rejoice

To Him, my God, be praise

My Maker, rich in advise.

Yes, for someone like you, God, I lift the door high and draw the gates wide.  This song goes hand in hand with Advent to me.  I ask the Lord:  Come to me, O God.  

So, what role do I now play in this process?  The King is coming.  Am I the silent observer on the sidewalk?  One thing is clear; I have to act accordingly.   An important visit is announced.  How do I prepare for this visit?  Advent involves two things:  joyful expectation.  The longing for peace is so great.  And Advent also means participation / preparation.  Zechariah cautions:  Open your eyes and prepare yourself internally for his coming.

Traditions and customs help and remind us of the coming of Jesus.  I hope that you will succeed in creating a little oasis in everyday life, to consciously bring Advent and the meaning of Christmas to life.  God becomes man.  He surrenders Himself to our broken world to bring salvation.

Dear Congregation, it is Advent.  Inner preparation and active participation go side by side.  Perhaps the Advent calendar is a very good symbol for this:  every day we open a door anew for Jesus to invite Him into our hearts, but we should also open the doors for the people around us who need our help.



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