19. September 2019

Sermon on May 26th, 2019

Sermon: Frank Moritz-Jauk

He made everything beautiful in his time Preacher 3, 11

Dear Brothers and Sisters, „He – God – has made everything beautiful in his time.“ This part of the eleventh verse from the Wisdom Book Preacher we heard today was the motto of the East German Annual Conference. Last week I was near the city of Zwickau and participated as a guest delegate in this conference. This word, from the rather not so well-known Old Testament book, touched me a lot. Touched, because this part of scripture says something very existential, something very fundamental about God. And that’s why I think these verses are especially suitable for today’s teenage blessing service. From these few words, the whole wealth of Christian theology can be spread.

Well, that may be a bit presumptuous, but today I just want to go through that passage of the Bible and, as I said, expand its abundance and put it into words.

„He made everything beautiful in his time.“

With this „he“, God, the foundation of Christian faith is addressed: God is there. It not only gives him, but he is the origin of all things. Christians, together with Jews, which has to be said here of course, believing that this God exists.

This means nothing less than that all beeing is not coincidence. Life is no coincidence. Everything we see and experience or have seen and experienced is not an impersonal current event somewhere in an indefinable cosmos. No – God is here. He is the origin of all things, of the visible and the invisible world.

The next words say something about the relationship of God to his creation. He – God – does everything. God does everything means God acts. He is the creator. How this action looks like and how we imagine this act of creation today, can be talked about. I remember an hour with the teenagers, in which Esther Handschin brought us one of the two creation reports from the first book of Moses. It became clear how this biblical account of creation picks up the knowledge, observations and ideas of mankind at this time of their development. That we stand today with the theory of evolution at a very different point in human history, is completely understandable. But with the image of the Creator, something very fundamental is still being said today about our understanding of the world: it is not mankind in the center of the world, but mankind is a part of this world.

We humans often behave as if we were the center of the world but we are not. With this first very simple statement a basic attitude of Christian faith becomes clear: man is not alone, but he was created, that is, he is in a relationship with his creator and this creator is outside of himself, he is outside of man.

What this relationship looks like or may look like, perhaps the most central word in this biblical passage gives us a hint: God has made everything beautiful.

This reference to beauty is central to me because it expresses the attitude of God towards his creation.

Everything is beautiful, is a rating. An appreciation. What God has created is basically beautiful, it is basically good.

In my opinion, the beauty of creation is shown again and again in nature. Especially when we take our time and look at things more closely. Then we mostly discover how filigree and beautiful the individual parts of creation are. How many patterns a leaf pulls through, how many colors a butterfly’s wing has to offer, how interesting the proboscis of an elephant looks like and how even a snake or a scorpion is shining and basically beautiful. Man reproduces this fundamental beauty over and over again and creates his own beautiful works, but in its fullness the beauty of God is unequaled.

In fact, only a picture or a photo of a sunset can be cheesy, but the real event will always be beautiful.

Everything has been made beautiful by God, that means nothing less than that every person is made beautiful. At the same time we should not bring out our everyday human assessments of beauty: Of course, in our eyes a person can be extremely ugly. In our eyes and with our, also culturally conditioned, sense of beauty we call some people ugly. But in the eyes of God they are all beautiful.

I am beautiful in the eyes of God. You are beautiful.

With this statement we come to the essence of God on the track. I am beautiful in the eyes of God. God looks at me with benevolent, loving eyes.

Here we have arrived at the center of Christian proclamation: The essence of God is love and in this love he has made me, his creature, beautiful.

You can not create something really beautiful if you do not put all your love in it.

We can even say that for human works of true, sublime beauty. Inwardly, uninvolved or under duress or resentment one can not create anything beautiful. You have to put your heart into your own work.

If I continue to say that God is putting himself into the world he loves, then I leave the frame of the Old Testament text, but come to Jesus.

Christianity says that God, in the form of His Son, enters into our world as a human to redeem it. To save it.

What else is connected with the person of Jesus, I do not want to go into today. 

But again I want to return to this previous setting, because that seems to me to be a decisive finding for the Christian faith: I can not believe from a distance.

Just as God gives his love into his creation and enters into the world in Jesus, Christian faith can only be experienced when, as a human being, I am ready to enter into it. I’m sorry, maybe I’ve been a Christian too long, but it seems terribly logical to me. In human relations, I can not be uninvolved or love from a distance.

I have come up with another example for this connection: is´nt it like swimming or learning how to swim?

I will not learn swimming or how to swim, if I never go into the water. If I always stay on the shore or at the edge of the swimming pool and try to imagine from a distance how it could be: Swimming.

So if I want to swim, then I will have to go into the water one day. And familiarize myself with the element of water. And maybe listen to someone who can already swim and train me in this strange swimming.

Anyone who does that will usually come up with a high probability that the water carries him or her. At the beginning it might not look very elegant, but over time not only different swimming styles can be learned, but you can even dive. Dive, be weightless. At least for a time.

For me, in the example of swimming and swimming, there are many immediate parallels to faith.

If I do not go into faith, that is, once I accept it in principle, then I can not have the experience of faith either. I have to familiarize myself with the element of faith, which usually happens when I either read or hear biblical texts myself. Being in dialogue with other Christians means exchanging ideas about swimming, that is, about faith. And then, when you swim away and experience for the first time that faith is bearing, then that may just be a vague realization of God’s love. A first warm feeling. Then the elegant swimming styles may still be in front of me. And the picture of the dive might sound like Psalm 18: „With my God I can jump over walls.“ (Ps 18, 30)

Over all the small, tentative steps of faith in God, God has made a great promise that we find in both the New Testament and the Old Testament. I say it today with the words of Nehemiah, chapter 29: „You will seek and find me; because if you will seek me with all of your heart, then I will let you find me. „

What reason should a loving God have not to be found?

In all human existence, in our whole life, in every single moment of our existence, we are confronted with the question: What are you putting your hope on?

You can dodge the question for a while, you can try to ignore it, you can also answer it inside with the big nothing: I am born without reason, without intention and I will decay again to dust and the worms will eat my dead body and that’s it, it’s over. That sounds incredibly sober and serene, but does it make you happy?

My hope is different. My hope is: He did everything beautiful in his time. God has made me beautiful in his eyes and he loves me. Like I love him.

Amen.