Sermon: Gerhard Weissenbrunner
Luke 11, 1 – 13 you should love…
A Pastor from our church in Serbia told a story „Approaching the end of the civil war in Yugoslavia a young soldier came home. He had great accusations for his parents, ‚Why have you not taught me how to pray?‘ He was not relieved that he has not been hurt. It was unbearable for him to experience the brutality of war and have no God to whom he can turn to.
Wherever one has death before their eyes, has felt the hardship and misery in their body, is exposed to the human capability for violence, the question arises, what caries one through?“
Jesus knew what he was carrying! His disciples realized that as well and asked him, „Lord, teach us how to pray!“ And Jesus formulated a prayer, which has not lost any of its impact or power to this day. We pray it every Sunday in the service; Christians around the world pray it. Helmut Thielicke described the „Lord’s Prayer“ as „the prayer, which embraces the world“.
It starts by Jesus introducing God as „father“. God, who is no human but a spirit, is for us like a father or a mother. Parents usually believe they know what is good for their children. And they look after and fight their children as well as they can. Especially a mother lives with a deep connection to her child. After all, it is a part of hers.
Jesus believes thus every person is a creature of God and a part of His. And how much more is God capable to fight for His children. He knows even more what humans need than a mother or father could ever know.
Christians say: God is „love“! Love, which is so unimaginably great, we cannot put it into human words. Paul has tried to do so in his first letter to the Corinthians, „Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.“
It has to be mentioned here, that this is only an attempt of describing love.
Love never vanishes. It is eternal. God is eternal. Love is the highest. God is the highest. This highest and eternal God, Jesus introduces to us as „father“. By saying „father“ we are carrying „love“ on our tongue. We intend to be in a relationship with the eternal, the highest. In our time we connect with eternity, with the eternal.
To talk of God as „father“ is already known to us from the Old Testament. Yet what is fascinating and new is that Jesus leads us into this intensive, intimate and gentle relationship, which is capable to say „father“ to God. Even more! Because we are so overwhelmed by this love, we say „Abba (meaning Papa), dear father“.
Despite all the patriarchal, meaning men-dominated notions of God, Jesus introduces us to a loving God. It is best described in the parable of the lost son. It is a cornerstone of his notion of God. The father rushes towards his son, even though he would have every reason to put him into his place. Through this parable, Jesus wants to enforce our instinctive trust that God will approach us. Showing us that God will take us with all our borders and weaknesses and will always look for the good in us.
By calling him „father“ Jesus makes us understand that God is deeply connected with our life story. What could possibly be capable of connecting humans with God, if it is not a bond of love? Love connects the time with eternity. The bond of love keeps humans and God connected.
God, love, keeps this bond steady in his hand. And he offers the other end to us. With his desire for love for every single person, he wants us to take it with conviction. Taking this bond means acting. Acting with love means, „you should love“. Jesus says to his disciples, „love each other, as I have loved you!“ And somewhere else he says, „You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself because he is like you“!
We are not forced to take this bond of love. We could just accept that we are loved by God and sit back and do nothing. But in the safety of love, we are constricted in our development. Love can only grow by doing it. We should grow towards God, the eternal.
I say, „You should love!“ You could say, „This demand is too much for me, I will not be able to do this.“ I say, „You can do it! It isn’t hard. In fact, it is quite easy. It says, ‚What you want others to do to you, you should do to them!‘ You know what love means to you. You know how others should talk to you. You know what to expect from others and what you want from them. You want to be loved. We can read up on how this is supposed to work in the first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 13. Read the verses and say it to yourself, every day 150 times, ‚you should love‘! Before you think, before you speak, before you act, say in secrete to yourself three words, ‚you should love!‘ I promise you can do it! You will see how after a short time your life will change. Your life and the life of your surroundings.“
At the World Cup, 2010 in South Africa Nelson Mandela has stressed in his speech, „Sport has the power to heal the world!“ I do not believe sport can do that, but love can heal the world, „Love has the power to heal the world!“
We have heard Jesus’s word, „Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.“ We pray I want the end of all wars, bread for the hungry; healing for the sick, more love for this world. Jesus answers, „Yes, you can have all that when you love! You should love! You are a man, you are a woman, you are human! You should love!“
We look at the cross. It is empty. Christ has risen and gone back to heaven. He is no longer here. But he has us. He has no hands but ours. He has no feet but ours. He has no lips but ours. He has no help but ours. Christians, are no observers, they are active. By doing acts with love.
Reach for the bond of love and listen, „You should love!“
Living God, our father, my love, I thank you for the peace and the safety in your presents. But also for the promise of a healthy world, because you love everything you have created. I thank you for you have gathered me and everyone else at this place and ask us to act so we too can be part of this healing process. I also thank for your love through which we are connected with you. I ask, give us courage, endurance, and wisdom to live this love. For you great, eternal, almighty God there is prayer, honor and all glory for eternity. Amen.