2020-12-20 - 4. Advent - Pfarrerin Nicole Otte-Kempf

( Sermon Gen 18,1-2.9-15 ) [ German Sermon ] [ Announcements (German)519.82 KB ]

Two confiladies (that was also the name of our whatsapp - group) celebrate their confirmation today. Confirmation class: we discussed, meditated, got to know the Christian faith together and from there we thought about what is right and wrong, possible and impossible. We also talked about what we actually believe in as well as what is difficult to believe.

Some things seem so unbelievable, not tangible with the mind, that one doubts it logically. Because the human being in itself would like to understand, to explain the world, to pursue evidence. But when it comes to the Christian faith, many things cannot always be explained rationally. Especially when it comes to biological miracles that far exceed our imagination. And so two confidantes, who like to discuss and explain the world, encountered the transcendental in the Christian faith. The things that do not quite fit into the explainable life.

But you are not the first women. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was like that when the angel came into her life and promised her the Son of God. And Sara too. We meet her in the sermon text.

What cannot be, cannot be. Or can it?

Genesis 18 :1-3, 9-15 The Three Visitors

1The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day.

Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.


 9 “Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him. “There, in the tent,” he said

10 Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”

Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. 

11 Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 

12 So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”

13 Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ 

14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

15 Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.” But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”

Through Abraham's eyes we see them standing there. The three men.

For Abraham there is no doubt. “When he saw them, he ran to meet them from the entrance of his tent and bowed low to the ground, saying, "Lord, if I have found favour in your sight, do not pass by your servant. “

For Abraham it is certain: God is present in the visit of the three messengers of God who come to visit Sarah and him.

To hear it with Christmas ears, and that is what we are moving towards, makes me listen attentively. Already at that time, already many years before Jesus' birth, we have to do with completely human looking manifestations of God in the world.

God shows Himself, He does not remain with himself.

Dear congregation, because His nature is love, and love ... never stays with itself, but wants to reach the other and give itself to him. And again and again Love seeks its way to the people.

So God comes to visit. He sets Himself in motion.

Abraham and Sarah were obviously not prepared for this. There is now also movement in the still life in the grove of Mamre. Abraham bows low to the ground and then they become busy. Abraham and Sarah, full of hospitality, do what is proper when such a high visitor comes. Water is brought to wash feet, bread is baked, a calf is slaughtered.

And the messengers of God wait patiently until the preparations are done. This preparation time gets its own value here. We know how much there is to do to prepare a feast: Christmas, a confirmation, a birthday, the Christkindlmarkt. One wants the guests to feel comfortable. And the preparation itself is good and important for one's own inner process as a host.

Dear congregation, God does not come because everything is already done, but He waits patiently, because when He comes, He comes completely. And when God comes, He has good reason to come.

Looking up at the starry sky, God had promised Abraham: "Look up to heaven and count the stars, can you count them? Your descendants shall be so numerous.

God now wants to keep this promise. Better late than never... But now... ? Abraham and Sarah are very old by now and when I say old, I mean it. Namely so old that one puts his last things in order and certainly no longer thinks of his own offspring.

This story today is not about a long time unfulfilled wish for a child becoming reality as it was the case with Hanna, the mother of Samuel.

And it is also not about the announcement of a pregnancy that is not possible according to human judgement as in the case of the Virgin Mary, but ...here God announces that He gives new life in the face of death. The text thus provokes not only a Christmas faith, but ...an Easter faith.

What Sarah and Mary, whose stories are the focus of the service on this 4th of Advent, have in common is that the birth of a child is announced to them.

Mary falls into a song of praise. And Sara? Laughs, just as Abraham before her had laughed when God announced to him that Sarah and he would have a child, he at 100, she at 90.

Sarah laughs, who could blame her, because it is crazy what God promises. Because it is so unexpected that it should happen.

But in the midst of the laughter, God asks the all-important question: Should anything be impossible for the Lord? Of course not!

Do we believe that the impossible becomes possible? Do we give God the freedom to act, even when it goes against everything that is expected, biologically possible, rationally explainable?

I believe we should. Whether young or old, everyone can encounter God and He can implant in us a hope that sparks new courage and allows us to go into the future comforted.

Later, Sarah will also rejoice and exult after the birth of her son Isaac, in whose name the meaning has remained. She will later say, "God made me laugh; everyone who hears about it will laugh at me."

Dear congregation, one thing is certain: joy is found where God shows Himself to people. Where he meets people and they receive him joyfully. On the one hand God is incomprehensible and on the other hand He is so close to us.

I wish you, Hannelore, and you, Schellie, that this will remain in your lives. That you feel: God is very close to you, but also the wholly other One, whom you cannot explain so easily, namely not at all. Count on surprises and promises. He has a plan for your life, for all our lives.

And He wants to be born in us again and again.



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