SYR

Sermon on 24/12/2022

Andreas Latossek , Kirche am Bahnhof, Frankenberg

Unbelievable – tangible

This sermon is translated from German into English. You can find the original video here

 

A poor, old woman writes a letter to God in her distress before Christmas with the urgent request to send her some money, only 100 EUR, so that she can fulfill a few small wishes and have a happy holiday.
Somehow the letter ended up in a roundabout way at the tax office. The employees of the office are moved by the poverty and religious simplicity of the woman and spontaneously pool money for her in their department. They send it to the woman with warm regards from God, transmitted by the tax office.
The old lady is very happy about the kind words and the money and immediately writes a thank you letter. She was happy to receive the money, thank you very much and ask you not to send the money through the tax office in the future, because the rascals would have withheld EUR 30 in taxes from her.
Incredibly nice of the employees of the tax office, right?
 
I can imagine that you children are already very excited about the gifts you are getting this evening .
I used to feel like I used to think: when is the service going to end, and we can save on the food too. where are my presents
 nd it would be unbelievable if there was nothing, wouldn’t it?
It is probably unbelievable for many adults how quickly the Advent season passed again.
Some may have bought and wrapped the last presents today. But now the shops are closed and you can sit back, relax and enjoy this service.
A lot of what happened this year is also unbelievable.
Who would have thought that war would break out in Europe.
Who would have thought that energy would be scarce and that we should save on heating.
Who would have thought that prices would rise so much here that some would no longer know how to pay for their daily lives.
People are currently suffering or experiencing incredible suffering and pain.
But some have also experienced incredible moments in other ways.
Some of you had a child this year. It’s unbelievable to hold this little creature in your hands, which has everything it needs.
Some got married this year.
The moment when the groom sees his bride for the first time is unbelievable.
Unbelievable for some parents, their children have grown up, got their driver’s license this year, finished school, have moved out.
Some moments are also incredibly beautiful when we pause and enjoy them, a glorious sunrise or sunset, for example.
Incomprehensible are things that we cannot grasp and cannot understand.
And so is God. Incomprehensible. He’s incredibly big and incredibly creative. We can see that in our creation. But we can’t grasp him, we can’t understand him, and if we think we can, then it’s not God we supposedly understood.
He is infinite, eternal, and the Bible says God dwells in bright light and no man has ever seen him.
As a result, in view of some situations in our world and in our own lives, people ask themselves what God is like and how he relates to them. Is he even interested in me?
But something incredible happened at Christmas
the reason we celebrate Christmas and the answer to these questions is that God becomes tangible. He comes into this world in Jesus Christ. He is born as a small child. He no longer remains intangible, he makes himself tangible.
First it becomes comprehensible for the people in the Christmas story itself.
For Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, the wise men from the East. They all stand in amazement at this small, fragile baby, who has such an effect that they go back touched and tell enthusiastically that they saw and probably touched the savior of mankind today.
As Jesus grew older, he went about telling people what God is like.
And that’s what attracts her. It made me think of the Argentines when they won the World Cup and they came home and there was a huge reception.
Millions of people all wanted to see them, preferably touch them. Some even tried to climb onto the bus on which the team rode around town with the trophy on top.
Jesus was followed by the masses because he was not just a distant preacher.
  • He lived what he said.
  • He did miracles and people were healed.
  • He was touchable.
Unlike the Argentines, where apart from a select few personalities, nobody really got close to them. There are situations in which even the stars make time for ordinary people, but they are rather rare.
With Jesus it was different. He took his time. Not only was he touchable, he touched people.
  • He touched the lepers, the untouchables, and healed them.
  • The children, whom one wanted to keep away from him because they seemed too insignificant, he let them crawl onto his lap and blessed them.
  • He gave the prostitute, sinner, scum of society, new value and a new perspective.
In the letter to the Philippians we read how unbelievable it actually is what happened at Christmas:
Equal to God in all things and equal to Him , He did not use his power for his own benefit. On the contrary: he renounced all his privileges and placed himself on the same level as a servant. He became one of us – a man like other men. But he humbled himself even more: in obedience to God he even accepted death; he died on the cross like a criminal.
 
From heaven to earth – what a descent, it’s really incredible
From the riches with God to the limited body of man. He, the greatest of all, who fills the whole universe, makes himself small, powerless, in need of help like a baby. He renounces all privileges and makes himself a servant.
Up to now, his whole environment has been characterized by love and justice and holiness. Now he puts himself in the hands of sinful people, surrounded by hard-heartedness and hatred, greed and envy, lies and deceit, slander and plots against him.
This is unbeliveable.
Why is Jesus doing this?
Because he wants to bridge the distance between him and us, because he wants to show us that he is there after all. He wants us as God really is. We can see that in Jesus.
He ‘s interested in us. he loves us He is touchable and approachable so that we cannot say:
God – you wouldn’t have a clue if you knew.
Isn’t that what we accuse our politicians of – being unrealistic, losing touch with the grassroots?
God knows what it means to be human, with all facets of our lives. That’s why he can understand us. Also with what moves you right now.
God does not come as a great unapproachable ruler who wants to subdue and dominate us,
but he comes as a child because he wants a relationship, a friendship with us.
In the Bible, 2 Cor. 8: 9 , we read:
You know what Jesus Christ, our Lord, did for you in his love. He was rich and became poor for you; because he wanted to make you rich through his poverty.
God became tangible, and that meant he shed his wealth. The Bible says to make us rich because we are poor.
We have our bank account, we have our roof over our heads. But that is not what is meant, but what lies behind it.
We’re poor. When we look into our world, we see something of it. And when we look into our own lives too.
Everything that can be found in heaven, that belongs to God’s world and that makes God’s world so beautiful, so desirable, is what we lack – the light of God. Love, Forgiveness, Peace, Freedom, Safety, Justice, Hope. We revolve around ourselves instead of God, destroying ourselves and our world in the process. This is our poverty.
In God’s eyes, even the richest person on this earth is poor as long as he does not know God. The Bible calls this guilt and it creates an unbelievable distance from God. But we have just read that Jesus bridged this distance and even died on the cross.
That’s also why he came, because
We are redeemed through Jesus’ blood: all our debts are forgiven. This is how God showed us the riches of His grace. (Ephesians 1:7)
What is this wealth?
  • Jesus gives up his sonship so that we can become children of God
  • He forsakes the glory with God – that we may be resurrected in glory
  • He takes our sins upon himself on the cross so that we may be clean.
  • He dies so that we may live forever
This is the riches that Jesus brings us: forgiveness, peace with God, a restored relationship and His constant nearness, the Holy Spirit as our companion, the assurance that we are ordained of God as his heirs and have eternal life.
God shares his riches with all who call on him in prayer. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”. But it’s like this: you can only call on the Lord if you believe in him. (Romans 10:12-14)
Faith means more than believing that God exists.
In the word faith, as the Bible means it, is the word trust. And trust has something to do with relationship. Only where we live it do we discover the other and may learn that he is trustworthy. And so it is part of this kind of faith to ask and to go by how God imagined life.
The Bible makes it clear that precisely because we ask so little about God or only do it when it suits us, our world looks the way it is. But because Jesus becomes tangible, we can live a relationship , we can learn to trust him, and wherever we start to live with his help the way God intended life, our world and our environment changes for the better .
That will not be finished here on this earth, because there will always be people who do not want to know anything about God.
But Jesus has promised that one day he will take people to him who trust him and seek his closeness. Then we will experience what it means that love and justice reign and there will be no more suffering, pain and death.
Christmas is more than just a beautiful tradition that we celebrate every year.
Just like in the play earlier, where it suddenly affects the whole audience to bring the Christmas story to an end, even if only acted out, the Christmas story is still waiting for its end today, with you personally. We cannot touch Jesus like people did back then, but we can get to know and experience him. We can still have a personal relationship with him today and he wants to touch us. He came to pay our debts, to offer us friendship and his closeness, to show us that he loves us and understands us.
God makes himself tangible – that is incomprehensible and a reason to be happy and to say thank you to him.
He is giving us an incredible gift, and like the kings in the play, we too can give him gifts.
For example, you can give him your time, get to know him better while reading the Bible and do what is important to him, pass on his love to other people. Or you give him your empty hands, your longing for love, forgiveness and hope, but also your doubts.
Where you may not really know what to do with this Jesus. It reminds me of a person in the Bible who was like that: the disciple Thomas. He honestly wants to know. And what does Jesus do with him:
He meets him and allows himself to be touched, so that Thomas realizes that it is true, Jesus is alive, he really rose from the dead after being crucified beforehand, and with that God has confirmed everything he said and did.
Jesus invites you too. Come to him, even with your questions and doubts. Just tell Jesus: If you really exist, then show yourself to me, then I want to get to know you.
At the end, in our play, the king is given a compass and we would like to give you a Bible. For the Word of God says:
Ps. 119:105: Your word is a lamp for my life, it gives me light for every next step.
At the exit we have laid out bibles, of which you are welcome to take one with you.
And you are always welcome to ask your questions.
Perhaps you also say that I would like to accept this invitation from God and place my trust in him.
What Christmas stands for should become my very personal Christmas. I want to belong to God, accept his forgiveness and invite him into my life.
In this way, 2000 years of distance are transformed into a tangible closeness to Jesus even today. And you are welcome to tell us about your decision and we will be happy to help you with your first steps in life with Jesus and God.
What was said to the shepherds at that time also applies to us:
Behold, I bring you news of great joy that shall befall all people; for today the Savior has been born to you. It is Jesus Christ the Lord.
God’s love came to us, we are no longer lost , because God becomes tangible, intangible, that’s what we want to sing now.
I wish you an incredibly beautiful and blessed Christmas with a tangible and incredibly close Jesus Christ.