21. November 2018

Sermon on August 26th, 2018

Sermon: Gerhard Weissenbrunner 

John 6, 56-69  Mystery of faith

Dear Parishioners!

A missionary is long searching for a word called „faith“ in the Papuan language. One day a native came to him and said, „You tell us about Jesus and say he was crucified and risen for us. Did you see Jesus? “ “ No!“ „But even your grandfather’s!“ „Neither!“ „Then Jesus does not live in your home country, how do you know that Jesus is alive? „Meanwhile, a cloud was ahead of the sun pushed. „Do you see the sun?“ – asks the missionary. The man shakes his head. „It’s the same with Jesus. The sun is shining, even if you do not see it. I do not see Jesus and I know that he lives! „The man thinks for a long time, then he says:“ I understand you. Your eye has not seen Jesus, but your heart knows Him. With the heart you have seen Jesus! „Now the missionary had found the word for“ faith „:“ to see Jesus by the heart. “

“To see Jesus by the heart“ does not mean to turn off the mind. In Psalm 53, we read, „God looks from heaven to the people. He wants to see if there are any who have reason and ask for him.“

Rather, „seeing Jesus by the heart“ means taking Jesus to heart. To heed what he said and did. According to the example of the Papuan language, the belief in Jesus would be „to carry the sun in the heart“. The Sun of Justice, the Sun of Grace of God, the Sun of Mercy, the Sun of Love, the Sun of Peace, the Sun of Life. The sun that warms us and shines on our way.

We want this sun. We love her when she seems to us. – We long for her with all our heart, when she does not shine. We should also want Jesus. We should also want to believe in him, even if we do not see him. Jesus should get a permanent place in our hearts. (Just as we have a firm place in the heart of God).

„Giving Jesus a place in his heart“ means „faith“. That is also meant when Jesus speaks:

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them (John 6,56).

Reason and reason alone can not grasp this statement of Jesus. It needs your heart! And it also means: „You only see well with your heart!“ That’s why Jesus leaves some disciples. They say, „What he’s talking about is unreasonable! How can one ask someone to listen to such a thing? „(V. 60) Jesus‘ signs and wonders could not convince them. They had their own ideas. Her image of God was another. They were stuck and not ready to change.

We are familiar with Jesus‘ words: „Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them„. For us these words are not new. We hear it every 2nd or 3rd week at the Last Supper. In memory of him, his words, his ministry, his death and resurrection, we eat bread and drink grape juice. And we hear the words, that is „the bread of life,“ that is „the cup of salvation.“ We call it „mystery of faith“.

What at first is a mystery becomes reality in the Lord’s Supper. We eat „life“, we drink „salvation“. We not only taste, but we taste it and it tastes good. We swallow it down into our midst – the center of our body, the center of our soul and the center of our mind. We have indeed received life and salvation.
A central message at the Lord’s Supper is forgiveness. Forgiveness of guilt and sin. Some say that sin is an invention of the church. Then they have other methods of hiding or shifting guilt to others. However, guilt needs forgiveness. If this does not happen, we harm ourselves. The consequences are that relationships break down and depression increases.

At the Last Supper, Jesus speaks to us, „but if we confess our sins, then God is faithful and righteous, that he forgives us our sins and cleanses us from all unrighteousness“ (1 John 1: 9). or Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life(1 Tim 1,15-16).

There are different points of reference in our execution of life where forgiveness seems necessary. I mean there is God forgiving me. Then I learn to forgive myself. Third, to forgive fellow human beings and, fourthly, to forgive God.
What is easier or harder will probably be different. When the Lord’s Supper states that „we bring our personal confession and our prayers before God in silent prayer,“ our confession will probably not be able to affect all of our previous lives, but concrete, current events.

I would now like to go through these 4 reference points with you individually. And perhaps the need for forgiveness can be made tasteful. In addition you get now a piece of bread and I ask you first of it to eat, if I say it.

Action: Distribute Bread –

So when we eat of this bread, I ask you not to understand it as the Lord’s Supper. But only to connect the taste with the memory, where forgiveness seems necessary and important to you personally.

1st point of reference: I ask God for forgiveness of my transgressions!

Especially for our own arrogance and self-righteousness

Jesus gives us an example (Lk 18,10f) „Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.“ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.“

„I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.“

I ask you to break off the fourth part of the bread and eat it. Maybe with the thought of the customs officer.

2nd point of reference: I want to learn to forgive myself.

I often suffer from the fact that I can not stand myself. This does not just apply to some stupid announcements I give carelessly. But I do not like my look. I would like to be a head taller than my brother was. I would like to have full hair and a slim body. But it is not only my appearance that saddens me sometimes, but also some awkward habits that I can not get rid of; or bad thoughts.

When I’m really down, I think of the comforting Bible word (1 John 3:20): „If your heart accuses you, then God will protect you. God is greater and recognizes all things. „Or,“ I loved you from the beginning! „Or:“ I called you by your name, you are mine! „(Isa.43,1)
There is a note in my bathroom sticking to the mirror, and I can read it every day: „Thank you, loving God! Because you like me, I like myself too. I look in the mirror and see how you made me. And you said, „It’s good that way!“ Thank you for your love and please go with me through this day! “
If God forgives me long ago, then I can forgive myself. Or?

Break off now the second piece of your bread, eat and eat as you are. By the grace of God in Jesus Christ. Tastes how friendly the gentleman is! (Ps.34,9)

  1. Point of reference: I want to learn to forgive my fellow man.

God dislikes sin, but he loves the sinner! Jesus says, „Do not judge so that you will not be judged!“ „Revenge is mine, saith the Lord!“
It is not our job to repay evil with evil. Yes, it is our task to show „wrong“ and to act against it with all available means and strength. But, if we can not do it in love, then in respect and dignity to the creature of God.
An impressive example of this are doctors who have to treat serious criminals. The doctor sets himself a limit. It does not matter to him whether he is treating a murderer or a drug dealer, he has to focus on his task. And that is to help the sick and let him have his human dignity. That’s hard to understand, but you see, you can learn it.
Mahatma Ghandi realized that the only means of peace in the world is love of the enemy. As Jesus recommended.

Please break off half of the remaining bread and eat. I think of people who are against the grain, what they say and do. I would like to learn not to judge her. But I put it before the cross of Christ. And I ask God to free me from my bad thoughts. And to give me strength and good thoughts, what I can do for them.

  1. Reference: I want to learn to forgive God.

I think that is probably the most difficult task in the life of faith: to put oneself, our neighbors and the whole world in God’s hands.
I remember a dear colleague with whom I talked about God. He meant that if he were God, he would do much better; e.g. he would not allow illness, suffering, pain and death. People would then be able to live much more carefree.
He has made it very clear why many reject God. It is their concern!
And others would add to war and death to war and all the injustice in the world. Although they are healthy and live in peace, they worry. They care about their children, their marriage, their jobs, their prosperity, the future and much more. And the worries make them sick first!
The worry is a bad poison! It hurts the body and the soul. It anticipates the feared misery and torments ahead of time. It fuels the fear of what might happen tomorrow. It prevents the blessing of today and the abundance of the present from being enjoyed.

The concern is not only a bad suffering and a bad illness of the soul. It is also an attack on God and an insult. It is the cause of the open or secret indictment of God.
Jesus helps!

„Cast all your cares upon him, he will take care of you (1 Peter 5: 7)!“ „Do not worry about anything! Rather, turn to God in every situation with pleadings and supplications, and with gratitude to God, and bring your concerns before Him. Then the peace of God, which reaches far beyond understanding, will watch over your thoughts and keep you in the depths of you – you who are connected with Jesus Christ (Phil.4: 6-7). “

I ask you now, take your remaining piece of bread and eat. May God forgive us when we make ourselves God. God says, „I am the Lord your God, and you shall have no other gods beside me! (Exodus 20: 2) „May he help us that his first commandment finds the best place in our hearts.

Forgiveness is apparently necessary in several facets. Let me remind you of the 4 points of reference: that God forgives me. Then I learn to forgive myself. Third, to forgive fellow human beings and, fourthly, to forgive God. You can learn to forgive!
Dear Ones,
We see Jesus with our hearts, we learn Him through His Word, and we taste Him in the Lord’s Supper. Our daily life should be permeated by Jesus. It succeeds when we look at it.

As Jesus walked on the water, Peter said, „Lord, I want to come to you!“ Jesus said, „Come!“ And Peter went on the water. Then he wondered, looked at the wind and the waves and sank.
Let’s not look at the world first, but at the God who created the world and loves it! Let’s give him our hearts!

Amen