2020-12-06 - 2. Advent - Pfarrerin Nicole Otte-Kempf

( Sermon Jacob 5,7-11 ) [ German Sermon ] [ Announcements (German)386.88 KB ]

"In the course of their lives everyone should make the world a little better." Every year at Christmas, the film classic "The Little Lord" reminds me that in their lifetime everyone should make a difference, because in the end it does matter whether one has lived or not. It doesn't have to be a big change, a small difference made in someone’s life is enough. I would like to leave behind traces of love. I am inspired by people who have lived an exemplary life.

Today is not only the 2nd Advent but also St. Nicholas Day. He lived in the early 4th century. When his parents died, he inherited a lot which he did not keep for himself but used it to help others in need. So, he won the hearts of many people. He was elected bishop in the port city of Myra. He accepted the election modestly and humbly.

During the whole of Advent we are reminded of people who stood up for others, e.g. Johann Hinrich Wichern, who is said to have invented the Advent wreath to give the orphans in his care light and hope during the long wait till Christmas. Or St. Lucia, remembered especially in Scandinavia, or St. Barbara, both of whom held on to the Christian faith despite the danger. All these witnesses of faith remind me that all along there have been people who showed patience and did good in the craziest of times. This gives me hope for the present and the future.

We still remember them today. Will we be remembered hundreds of years from now? …But that is not the point. Making a difference here and now, that is what it's all about. And that is what the author of the letter of St James wants to convey. I am reading from St James 5: 7-11:

Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

Dear Congregation, the people who received these words at the end of the 1st century, are predominantly Jewish Christians who live scattered and as a minority and suffered from persecution.

In their suffering they asked: when will Jesus come again? The constant waiting wears people down. Look at us. The burning issue we are currently concerned with and which will probably stay with us in 2021, is: when will the corona crisis end? Only when we have a vaccine? Or will we have to learn to live with it?

What we have in common with the people back then is having to learn to be patient during a difficult time. The longing for change is just as great today. The author reminds his listeners to be patient and to stand firm.

The farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains.

Jesus often used examples from agriculture in his parables because his listeners were familiar with these illustrations. Especially in agriculture, we realise today that the freedom to plant at will needs to be in balance with taking into consideration dependent factors.

It's hard to be patient. Who likes to wait? Making the best of a situation that you cannot change is often a challenge. Patience is also needed where precision is required, like when crafting things by hand. The writer admonishes his listeners: in anticipation of the approaching second coming of Christ, they are responsible for shaping their lives creatively and leading a moral life at the same time. Deciding what is right is a constant challenge. Here too, patience is often required. Sometimes this can be done only as a team and it takes time until a generally accepted opinion is formed.

Do not grumble against one another lest you be judged. See, the judge is at the door.

Don't sigh at each other ... rather pause to think before you say something to someone too hastily. Too often one says too much or the wrong thing. In this challenging time, it is our relationships that give us stability, but they are also at risk. Maintaining good relationships and talking to each other constructively is today as important as ever.

This is the difference I referred to at the beginning, the difference one can make in the way we co-operate with each other in everyday life, on Sundays and holidays. Be patient and stand firm (supporting each other), because the coming of the Lord is near.

The writer of the St James letter said that the risen Christ will come again and with that the world as we know it will end.

This did not happen. The first Christians died, and the world went on. The next generation passed away, and the world went on. This has been the case until today, each century bringing new horror and hardship. Were the words "the coming of the Lord is near" a mistake? Did the people back then have false hopes? Does the fact that Jesus did not come again mean that we must adjust our dream of salvation as a pain-relieving ointment? It sometimes feels like this, even faith can dwindle, not to mention skepticism and doubt creeping in. We must learn to accept crises as something that needs to be overcome to be able to to gain new life, new hope.

If I don't understand myself, if I have doubts and struggle with God, I can take a look at the bigger picture, be inspired by the Christian history of faith or be consoled by people who have preceded me or stand by my side today. That can make a difference in my life. And when I then sing along: “O Savior, tear open the heavens” and “Even those who cry at night, will happily join in. The morning star is aware of your fear and pain ... “

Doesn’t it then feel as though the Lord comes to you and fills your heart completely? I am sure that many before us have experienced this. Their waiting came to an end and they suddenly knew, despite all the madness of the world: everything will be fine "because you are with me, your stick and staff will comfort me".

During Advent and Christmas, maybe especially this year, you will realise: I can look forward. You are there. You are coming to me. I need this certainty in my life, and it strengthens me. So that I can also strengthen others.



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