2021-10-31 - 22. Sunday after Trinity - Reformation and Confirmation - Pfarrerin Nicole Otte-Kempf

Sermon Gal 5,1.13 ) [ Afrikaanse Vertaling ] [ Deutsche Predigt ] [ Abkündigungen713.69 KB ]

Move 1 Arrival, a journey together, taking flight

Dear congregation on this festive day and especially dear confirmands, today 2 years of confirmation lessons end with a celebration. It marks the end, but actually rather a new beginning.

Let’s look back. (Show backpack) Like these young people in the photo with their backpacks, you too have come to class. Some shy, uncertain, with questions in their luggage: what is in store for me? Will I be liked, will I like the others? Will I find friends? You also brought with you your experiences with church, children’s church. Scouts. Religious education. And, of course, your own life: with happy times and also with turbulent and sad times that you have already experienced. Goodbyes that you had to say. New beginnings that you have dared to make.

And, similarly, our start two years ago also marked such a new beginning.

We set out together.

You have grown together as a group over time.

And despite limitations due to Corona we had two wonderful camps together on the topic of friendship and the Lord’s Supper.

And some activities are still outstanding and we may be able to catch up on them later. But today is the celebration of your confirmation and also, because it is 31 October, the celebration of the Reformation.

And these two celebrations go together really well.

New beginnings. As an Evangelical-Lutheran church, we remember Martin Luther, who had the courage to see things differently. The posting of his 95 theses on the church door in Wittenberg marked the beginning of the Reformation in 1517.

Here I am and I can’t help it. God help me. Those are said to have been his words. He moved more than he might have intended. It was not his aim to found a new church. He was striving for a renewal of the church. Things often turn out differently than one thinks.

One theme he focused on was the theme of „freedom”. He spoke of the freedom of a Christian person, which can be experienced by those who believe that they are justified before God through Christ and do not have to perform any services in order to be accepted and loved by God.

So I read from the letter to the Galatians 5:1.13

For freedom Christ has set us free! Stand firm therefore, and do not

submit again to a yoke of slavery.

For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters! Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

You, dear confirmands, are called to freedom. You are to be and to remain free. That is our wish for you today, that you will always feel free. Because you are called to freedom, to make your own decisions, to follow your own path.

Confirmation is meant to be a step toward that.

Move 2 The story of the eagle who could not fly

A man, so the story goes – found a very young eagle that had fallen out of its nest. He took it home, put it in the henhouse with his chickens and gave it grain to eat.

After a few years, someone came to visit who was knowledgeable about birds. He noticed the eagle and said, “That bird there is no chicken, but an eagle.“

“Yes,” said the man, “that’s right. But I raised him to be a chicken He is not an eagle now, but a chicken.”

“No”, said the other, “he is still an eagle. He has the heart of an eagle, and that will make him fly high in the air.”

“No, no,” said the man, “he has become a real chicken. He will never fly like an eagle again.”

Then they decided to test the matter. The man who knew birds took the eagle, lifted it up in the air and said, “You are an eagle. You belong in the sky and not on earth. Spread your wings and fly!“

The eagle looked around. Behind him he saw the chickens pecking at their grains and he jumped down to them and pecked along.

But the man did not give up yet. The next day he climbed onto the roof of the house with the eagle on his arm, lifted it up and said, “You are an eagle, spread your wings and fly!”

But the eagle looked back at the chickens in the yard, jumped down to them and scratched along.

Then the chicken owner said, “I told you, he’s a chicken and he’s going to stay a chicken.”

“No,” said the other. “Let me try again. He certainly has the heart of an eagle. Tomorrow I will let him fly.”

The next morning he took the eagle up to a high mountain. He lifted him up and said, “You are an eagle. You belong to the sky. Spread your wings and fly.”

The eagle trembled, but did not fly. Then the man made him look directly into the sun (picture of the eagle) and suddenly the eagle swung its wings, rose into the air with a cry and never returned.

Move 3 Longing for freedom – have courage

It requires courage to make use of freedom. And for parents it also takes a lot of courage to let go of the children. To let them take their flights.

In life, there are moments when we feel constrained. We do not do what we actually want to do. Or do not have the time and strength to do so. Then it is as if we only pick the grains which are lying on the ground and do not look into the sun or into the sky.

You young people said that you long for freedom most when it is stressful at school, when you have to practice the piano, when you feel insecure or afraid. But there was also the thought of being trapped within yourself when you have bad thoughts or when you can’t allow others to indulge or when the expectations, the social norms, are simply too high. These are feelings that keep you imprisoned and take away your freedom.

With adults, there are often very similar feelings. There, too, you experience that things get tight, that possibilities are missing: the pressure of expectations at work, the lack of energy to try something different. The time that seems to be running away again and again. Or also one’s past, past experiences, which always get in the way.

“You are called to freedom.” You can do things you always thought you couldn’t. You’ll never make it. You have to try, or you’ll never get a taste of freedom.

This is also what the story of the eagle that can’t fly wants to tell us: there is much within ourselves. Often more than we give ourselves credit for. And yet there are times when we are like chickens, just looking at the earth and pecking at grains.

But actually we can see the sun and look into the distance:

If you don’t start flying, you won’t make it. He who always remains only dreaming, will not feel the freedom.

Move 4 God and Freedom

And that is exactly the direction in which God wants to take us. He trusts us that we can do something. He wants to give us strength. He believes in us. He hopes for us.

It is similar with faith: it is easy to say, God doesn’t mean anything to me. I don’t feel anything. I am not religious. But here too: if you do not try to pray, to read the Bible, to talk about faith with others, then you simply can’t know. Hoping, believing, trusting only works if I try it, get involved in it, if I take flight. A living relationship with God gives me freedom.

Move 5 Placed in the world

One last look at Paul’s word to the Galatians. He writes: Brothers, and sisters, you were called to freedom! Not, however, to a freedom that gives room only to flesh, that is, provides the pretext for what you selfishly desire. Rather, to freedom to serve one another in love.

Freedom, dear congregation, I think we agree, cannot be limitless.

Serve one another in love. That is the foundation on which my freedom stands.

When I am freed from the fear of falling short, we can experience new things and freedom in each other, in love.

Then, dear confirmands, your backpack, which you have symbolically brought with you to the confirmation classes, will continue to be filled with things necessary for life.

We’re still on our journey together, if that is what you want. You’ll always find open doors here.

And you are freed to freedom, to look into the distance, the sun before you, the sky above you. To soar like the eagle.

God says “yes” to you, again and again. You are good, just as you are. Free from the pressure to perform, especially in matters of faith.

That is freedom. And I wish us all this freedom and, especially, I wish you, dear confirmands, this freedom.



covid 19

Logo and link provide as required by Government Notice No. 417 of the
South African Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services