18. Januar 2020

Sermon on December 22, 2019 – 4. Advent

Sermon: Ute Frühwirth

„Here I am Lord, send me! Romans 1, 1-7

Christmas is coming in two days. We will once again follow our annual rituals, which we surely love. We will enjoy a Christmas meal with our loved ones, open presents together, go to church before in the afternoon to hear the Christmas story and maybe go to the evening mass as well.  We will not only read but maybe hear the Christmas story, we will also sing beautiful Christmas songs about the birth of Jesus. We can experience the fascination of Christmas. Or has this fascination become a routine and the sparkle in the eyes in front of an illuminated Christmas tree does not shine like it used to. Here I envy the children a bit who are fired up for this celebration but maybe we adults only have a little flame. 

Find again the fascination of Christmas? Paul wrote in his first letter to the Christians in Rome about his Christmas. „God called me to be his apostle and destined to make his message known which he had announced a long time ago through his prophets in the Holy Scripture. It is the gospel of his son. „This stems from David according to his earthly origin, and after he rose from the dead, he was given the power that belongs to him as the son of God.“ And in verse 7 Paul continues to write,  „You are loved from God, you are called and you belong to his holy people.“ Paul does not say anything about Maria and Josef, a search for a hostel, no stall, no ox and donkey, no angels and no sheppards. But he told about how Jesus was born in him when he least expected it. And Jesus fulfilled the rest of his entire life, because God called him to be an apostle and destined to make his message known. 

„You are loved by God, you are called and you belong to his holy people.“ These three points – loved, called and belong to him – is what Christmas means to me 

But first things first. Regarding the first point: we are loved by God? Let me tell you my own Christmas story. Like every day, God sees his earth. He observes it and everyday has to look for what is new, what has changed on his earth. Nothing is like what he made. Peace and quiet are gone. Instead there is war, unrest, people suffering. People cheat one another, they lie to each other and they do injustice to each other. They do not do anything good to each other anymore. So, God decides to change something about this. The best way to change something is to get directly involved. But how should God appear? People have forgotten him or rather they put in it in their heads in a drawer of its own. He is still somewhere but will he be recognized when he roars in with all his might? Perhaps God thought about what would please the people, what they are not afraid of? God takes on the form of a little, helpless person. One which is dependent on the help of others, who needs lots of love, alone would not survive. Unimaginable! The almighty God, “does this to himself” and spends a bit of time as a human on earth in order to help them, to give them hope, to later take the sins of mankind. But God does more than just come to this earth as a small child. He puts his love in the hearts of people. Whether or not this seed grows and love overflows to others, is up to us. Yet what is more enjoyable and simpler than sharing so that there is more afterwards!

 This is my personal Christmas story and just as Paul told about the birth of Jesus, I wish all of us that God our lord is born again in us every year.  We can celebrate God’s eternal love on Christmas Eve.

 „Then God also loved the world in that he gave us his only son so that for all those who believe in him do not get lost but have eternal life.“ And this „surrender“ began with Christmas. 

We are also called to give the message of Christmas to others. To tell them what the Christmas story is all about, why we celebrate the festival of love, because we know it! We should be fired up for the message which God sends us new again every year through Jesus Christ in the form a new born baby  

During our last Christmas celebration I had a talk with my cousin’s wife. She told me about Omega 3 fat which is so important for the body. But we do not get enough of it in our diets. One should take it in the form of an essential oil. It helps against inflammations and prevents many illnesses. She was fired up as she told me all about it and one noticed that she was totally convinced about this product. She is committed to this product. 

If you are fired up for something, then you want to set the whole world on fire or at least those around you. One wants to convince and tell his/her family, his/her friends and acquaintances, „Hey, I have something real special, something essential, something what you need every day. And it is totally free! (you can’t say that about the oil).

Regarding the third point:: and you belong to his holy people. We are part of something really big. We belong to God’s people. God lives together with us. He is happy with us, he suffers with us. He fights with us, he reconciles with us. He mourns with us and he rejoices with us. God not only comes to us on Christmas Eve but he lives with us every day. The question we have to ask, if whether or not we feel the same. Do we notice that God is with us and around us every day? In my case, I can, thank God, say yes. Early in the mornings, I ride with my bike to work, sometimes at freezing temperatures and ride past a fog covered field where the sun is just going up. An incredible beautiful spectacle. And I can thank God for this new day and ask for him to be with me. In situations where things are not going well, I can pause for a moment, ask him for peace, patience and help and continue. This is pure luxury! We want to give this luxury to others. 

Sometimes when I see people whose soul life is emaciated or they are constantly living in fear, then I wish that they could be convinced of God’s love and presence so that their life can have a different quality. It is not everyday life that constantly depresses them but that they are allowed to experience what it is like not to have to worry about everyday worries, everyday stresses and fears alone. To be able to sleep peacefully because you know that you are safe in the great hand of God, without which life would not be possible.

Back then Paul did not call, „Here I am Lord! Send me!“ Nonetheless, God made him to one of his tools. And God also wants to send us. Us, who know about the fascination of Christmas, about love through which this tiny worm came to the earth. And we can say, “Here I am Lord”! Send me!”