2020-12-25 - Christmas Day - Pfarrerin Nicole Otte-Kempf

( Sermon Isaiah 52:7-10 ) [ German Sermon ] [ Announcements (German)824.91 KB ]


Theme of the sermon: Salvation … complete

"The Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw his glory”. That is what is promised to us in these days: we can see it: the child in the manger. The Word became flesh. We can hear it: the angels proclaim it: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of his good pleasure. 

Shepherds praised and glorified God for everything they first had seen and heard in Bethlehem and returned to their everyday lives. An everyday life changed... for sure.

Where did the glory of God touch you yesterday and... did it change you? Was it a joyful Christmas Eve or rather a longing for salvation and peace? It was a year that has turned out so differently to what we expected. There is also much uncertainty about what may await us. Perhaps you are actually  looking at the wrecked fields of your life and this clouds the joy of the Christmas season? I imagine that back then in Bethlehem there was no joy either.

There was also no joy about 500 years earlier among the people of Israel. Driven from their homeland, deported to faraway Babylon. Their homeland destroyed. The temple in Jerusalem torn down. There seemed to be no way back. For 40 years they had lived in a society in which they always remained strangers. But times changed. The Babylonian Empire was conquered and fell.

For every believing Jew, this turn of history must have been cause for rejoicing: God has visibly turned to his people again. Of course, this news also had to be announced in Jerusalem. Hear the words of the Prophet Isaiah, the 52nd Chapter

7How beautiful on the mountains
    are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
    who bring good tidings,
    who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
    “Your God reigns!”
Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices;
    together they shout for joy.
When the Lord returns to Zion,
    they will see it with their own eyes.
Burst into songs of joy together,
    you ruins of Jerusalem,
for the Lord has comforted his people,
    he has redeemed Jerusalem.
10 The Lord will lay bare his holy arm
    in the sight of all the nations,
and all the ends of the earth will see
    the salvation of our God.

Joy upon joy after decades of mourning and homelessness. God had not abandoned them after all, he enables a new departure. The messengers of joy, I can see them, feel their hurried breath because they are so excited, because their feet do not stand still, because feet never stand still where there is joy. Because where there is joy, there is movement in a person.

And so, the messenger of joy, and surely soon there will be many messengers of joy, proclaims peace to the people of Israel; they preach good news and proclaim salvation.

Peace, good news and salvation. That is what Israel needed... They needed to experience peace, good news and salvation in the return of the Lord, in the comfort, the redemption, his revelation.

Peace, goodness and salvation, dear congregation, always come to us from outside. We are fundamentally dependent on God showing himself to us.

And so, this morning, we are now standing here at his manger. God shows up... again... years later... all the years... throughout the year... in my life... in the world.... We stand here at the manger... agitated or devout and each brings what he or what she has. Debris of the year or great joy or longing or a mixture of all.  And we can lay all that down at the manger in a moment of silence.

I look at you with joy and I cannot get enough of you; and because I cannot do anything else now, I stand worshipping.

Standing there ... unable to grasp it at first ... trying to understand what happened on that Holy Night. So here is the one who brings salvation and life and peace. Here at the manger a wonderful exchange takes place. It changes my life. And that is something I first need to try and grasp.

God becomes tangible. He becomes man for ME and remains God. In his Son he feels like me, experiences what I experience, is close to people. Especially close to those who do not fit in, who are on the fringes instead of being part of it, the doubters and sinners.

Jesus has seen those who have been overlooked: the women, the children, the disabled, the strangers. And the lost sheep... There is no one so far away from him that Jesus could not find him. And people have experienced that, and afterwards their lives were different.

With these thoughts I stand at the manger. And there I feel: yes, there are debris in my life, unsolved problems, discord. But it does not have to stay that way.

God has made a new beginning with the child in the manger to enable me to make new beginnings. And maybe I realise even that the wreckage in my life is good for something. I would not be who I am without these fractures in my life.

And then after that silent moment at the manger, dear congregation, then I run....When I can feel it happening... Then ... and only then... I can dance and rejoice.

It is a custom in Sweden, for example, to dance around the Christmas tree. This brings joy into the living room and into the parish halls of the churches. And those who do not feel that way, are also carried away and infected by it, at least for a moment.

We bear responsibility for one another.

We are the messengers of joy who are to proclaim, preach, say, shout and rejoice: our Lord is coming, our Lord is here. In every moment, in the joy and in the rubble and he wants to comfort, to redeem, to reveal himself. Again, and again in the child in the manger and in our hearts.

This is how the message of joy can multiply. Look, accept it... he wants to comfort you, to be close to you now. Plant a spark of joy in your heart.

Look at the signs that are happening, listen to the salvation that is being proclaimed, let yourself be taken along....

"How sweet on the mountains are the feet of the messenger of joy who proclaims peace."

Yes, the Prince of Peace is here. And he says: Do not be content with all that is so unholy. For this, dear congregation, God came to earth. So that we never give up hope. To look, to listen. The Saviour is born: we would be lost otherwise. Rejoice with all your hearts, all you Christians, come to the babe in the stable.



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