22. Januar 2019

Sermon on Sunday, January 6th, 2019

God’s loyalty as covenant                          Jeremiah 31, 31-34, Iasaiah 54, 10

Dear Congregation, dear sisters and brothers,

today’s topic is the covenant. The God’s covenant and our covenant with God. Every year we celebrate a very special service with a very special liturgy, which has the purpose of renewing the covenant with God. I am consciously using this terminology “special” because whether or not it is the highlight of the liturgy is something that leaves room for discussion. Needs every celebratory promise we are doing lead the stepping back of God’s doing?

In my opinion, apart from that, it needs awareness for what is happening. What covenant is it that we are talking about? How is God’s covenant with us different to the covenant we are making with God? How do we find a way to approach our promise, when we suffer or are unsatisfied with our lives?

First of all, it is important to note that there is and needs to be a difference between God’s covenant with us and our covenant with God. This is simply due to the fact that the creator and creature cannot be identical. When God renews his covenant, it is truly a promise. When he draws the rainbow in the sky as a sign of preservation, then this is an undestroyable promise. Something that unalterable. Something that we can count on and that we can trust in. This promise had been hardly written down anywhere better than in the promise, which we will today hear again during communion, “For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”

I do not believe it can be said better than that. This image says more than a thousand words. This love is the basis and the rock that carries our life.

In this very image, we see we can also see that our covenant with God needs to look differently and needs to have a different focus because who can truly say this for themselves, their own human love?

Our love, even if it has been promised with the best intentions, cannot reach this dimension of an unalterable promise. This is and would be asking too much of us.

Our covenant with God has more the character of a conscious and willing declaration of intention. A declaration of intention, which is available to all people, which we believe to be true and yet we would be very aware of our own weaknesses. A declaration of intention, which is asking and hoping for God’s hand. If we are looking for an image that would depict this kind of covenant, like the departing mountains, then maybe it is more like open hands. Our image is open hands.

I believe with this we can express our direction and our expectations very well. Where can I find help? My help comes from the Lord, who has made heaven and earth.

Like a sunflower, I turn to the source of my strength, which is God.

But what do I do, when I am actually fighting with God at the moment? When I am anything but satisfied and really do not want to be put aside? Because I have, in my opinion, been put to the side long enough and I am not more willing to suffer through my life?

Dear Congregation, this is a hard but very important question. Not a question that can be answered easily while passing. A question, that we as humans might never or at least not very satisfyingly be able to answer. In the best situation, we might be able to slowly approach it.

Yet it might make a massive difference, whether we are at that moment affected, not at all or just slightly affected by it. It makes a difference how much pain we have or how much pain we are able to suffer through.

Starting to approach it could be the character of love.

Whoever thinks about the character of love will probably be able to follow my expression that love cannot be a dictate. One cannot prescribe or order love. Love is in its character freedom and thus also able to be declined. This is why love can never be without its opposite.

In my opinion, this is a good way to start approaching the question, why there is something like sorrow in a world that has been created by a loving God. A God, who himself was able and ready to experience those sorrows through his own body. Who has shown his love by suffering through evil and eventually overcame it.

This might be a way to start approaching this topic and I am aware that this is not an answer to the question, “Why me, God?”

Just as I said, those are not easy questions and the frustration and despair, the pain and anger are real and true feelings.

All of these feelings have in common that they have a tendency to separate us from God, rather than leading us to Him, which might be the reason, why we are only able to meet Him when saying thanks. Thanks?!? Are you insane?

At first sight, this might seem impossible and absurd but thanks is a movement towards God. When giving thanks I can see the good things, despite all the bad things in life. Giving thanks gives me the opportunity to see even greater despair. Giving thanks leads us back to our community with God.

Ultimately, today’s promise is always about our very personal view: Where can I expect help?

My help comes from the Lord, who has created heaven and earth.

Amen.

Frank Moritz-Jauk