Sermon: Christoph Petau
to Jer 23:1-6 and Lk 23:33-43
A young man entered a store in a dream. Behind the counter was an angel. Hastily he asked him: ‘What are you selling, sir?’ The angel answered friendly: ‘Anything you want.’ The young man began to list: ‘Then I would like to see the end of all wars in the world, better conditions for the marginalised groups of society, elimination of the slums in the world, work for the unemployed, more community and love in the church, and…and…’
Then the angel interrupted him: ‘Excuse me young man, you must have misunderstood. We don’t sell the fruit, we only sell the seeds.’ (Hoffsümmer 1)
Maybe you know this short story. It was the first that came to my mind when I thought about the texts of the readings. And I had it handy on the cover of a collection of short stories.
With the crucifixion, a common concept of God comes to an end. No God who intervenes in the course of history, who frees from foreign rule, who, just like that, establishes a kingdom in which justice and righteousness reign.
And yet a God who makes history. To whom we want to say: ‘Think of me when you come into your kingdom.’ The kingdom of God does not come with the end of the world or with the creation of an earthly paradise, but with every seed that rises. And every fruit needs different soil, a different climate, different plant communities… We are invited to pay attention to this with this story. The tradition of our church calls this stewardship or collaboration in a new creation.
The request of the Lord’s Prayer “Thy kingdom come” is the second thing that came to my mind. And I am deliberately making this request today, at the end of the church year. The kingdom of God is among us and yet Jesus teaches us to pray “Thy kingdom come”. Our life is embedded in this already and at the same time not yet. A year is coming to an end and the lights of advent are already sending their heralds. And with Christmas we celebrate again the coming of the Redeemer.
Thy kingdom come, in taking stock of a year and in the expectation of something new. In this transition, the request has its special place.
I exemplify a third thought with two proverbs. An African proverb says: Many small people in many small places who do many small things will change the face of the earth. So let us look for many small people in our community with their dreams, their ideals, their imagination, their talents and abilities, their warmth and creativity and build a never-ending puzzle of community and church.
An Asian proverb says: When the wind of change blows, some people build walls and others windmills. So let us not resist the breath of the Spirit of God, but let us seek his breath in the world and use his energy.
Following, it is said, means to enter the force field of God. With the baptism, we have already bought the ticket, but we ourselves are actors on the stage of life. With Martin Luther, we can say: With the water of baptism, the old man is drowned and must be born anew every day. Jesus’ way to the cross and resurrection shows that peace and justice are not easy to obtain, but that it is worth the effort.
In conclusion, I add unto the wisdom of two continents the verse of a prayer from Brazil: … God is enough for himself, but he preferred to count on you.
Literature: Willi Hoffsümmer. Short stories 1 (Kurzgeschichten Band 1.) Mainz (8) 1986, Cover