2023-09-03 - 13. Sonntag nach Trinitatis - (EN) - Pfarrerin Nicole Otte-Kempf

( 1 Joh 4,7-12 ) - [ Deutsch ]

There are things you have heard many times before. And sometimes perhaps too often and it sounds trite to you. And yet, so I believe, it is necessary to say things again and fill them with new life. Yes, I want to talk about love. The most beautiful thing there is. The apostle John writes about this very thoughtfully in his first letter to Christians unknown to us, who were probably counted among the "meaningless people", around the year 90 after Jesus' birth: 

Bible text 1. Joh 4, 7-12

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 

This is how God showed His love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 

10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 

11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 

12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.

Perfect love. A beautiful thought. How wonderful that would be, dear ones. How wonderful that is. We feel this perfect, unconditional love with God. And those who know they are loved and love themselves recognise in this love the God who is otherwise invisible to our eyes. 

Love is from God - and we should live it. In our family, with friends, Christians or non-Christians... and... and that is the challenge, especially also with those whom we may not like at all. 

Love always meets us where people form relationships. I have highlighted the verbs in the Bible text: to love, to have loved, to be born, to know, to have appeared, to be sent, to live, to be loved, to stand, to see.

And I also noticed the nouns: Beloved, Son, World, Reconciliation, Sins, God, love God and Love dominate these lines. And related to that, all actions that happen out of love: God becomes man in his Son, comes into the world because He loves us so much. He wants us to know him, to have our eyes opened. God wants life for us, to love us out of every entanglement in which we are caught. And that becomes possible when we accept the love of God in his Son and let ourselves be reconciled with God, with others and with ourselves, again and again. 

Here am I and there are you. In what spirit do we deal with each other? In a marriage and family, in a church community, among neighbours, work colleagues and friends? Is there something of this spirit of love perceptible? In our Johannesgemeinde congregation, too, many relationships come to life and people get involved in the various groups and circles. Just where their heart beats. You, dear Visitation team, have been able to get an idea of this since Friday. Even if it is only a small part of the whole. You were able to have many conversations and hear for yourselves where people form community, treat each other with love and also sense needs and perhaps also hear where there are disagreements. 

Where everything works, love is easy, but, then, especially when things are not going well, it depends on the spirit in which we deal with each other. Is Love then also noticeable? To love can be hard work. Especially when the other person doesn't quite fit into my ideas or has a different opinion from mine. Love sometimes requires sacrifice, dear ones. It can be given voluntarily or demanded with power. The word sacrifice sounds strange at first in the context of the word Love, but those who live in relationships know that sacrifices have to be made. When one does not insist on one's rights, for example, but holds back, when one cares for someone one loves because illness or old age comes into one's love - all this and much more can be sacrifices for the sake of Love. So also for the sake of God, who is love and hopes and asks us to love one another. 

Some relationships do not last. I am not in favour of ending relationships lightly when something does not go well, nor am I in favour of frantically maintaining a relationship to the suffering of all. In any case, it is not for any outsider to judge and condemn other relationships. I would rather be a help to someone or simply be there when there is a crisis in the relationship. 

Love is more than a glittering game that you play today and maybe leave behind tomorrow. Love is not usually like that. It is sometimes a beautiful rush, thank God, sometimes it is hard work. And sacrifice. God himself knows that. We can study in Him how love breaks through resistance and sets new beginnings. God's love spares nothing. It became visible in Jesus Christ: how he met people, took them in his arms and comforted them. Nevertheless - despite all failures. And who finally went to the cross. Sacrificed himself. Out of love. Who rose from the dead and made a new beginning. 

We are used to being recognised and loved for what we have achieved, what we represent in life. Here our habitual thinking is turned upside down: God loves you - we don't have to work for that, we can accept it and let ourselves like it. 

This love is boundless and we can do nothing about it. Whoever feels this boundless love cannot help it. He himself goes beyond boundaries and makes new beginnings. 
God's love for us is infinite.

This love is boundless and there is nothing we can do about it. Those who feel this boundless love cannot help themselves. He himself goes beyond borders and makes new beginnings. 

God's love for us cannot be separated from the love among us. 

Love, as God means it, comes from Him and has His way about it: merciful, peaceful and liberating - to be alive. 

This Love is manifested in everyday actions and deeds. 

Love when parishioners call others because they know that the other person is happy about it, when it is clarified in a whatsapp group who is cooking whom food for a sick parishioner. 

When people visit another taking initiative their own or with a visiting service listen to them and offer comfort. 

When a group meets to prepare for a course in mourning, all needs and sadnesses find their place and then one strengthens oneself together. 

When love overflows, beyond our congregation, into townships through all the diaconal projects we have. 

I could give a lot more examples from our congregation. Where love overflows, on people, this love does not come from us. It is God who is behind it because He first loved us. A comforting thought, I think. I don't have to make the love myself; I may ask God for it. That we can fulfil his wish as often as possible and feel it in the process: if we love one another, God remains in us and His love is complete in us.

Where there is Love, we see God. For God is Love. Amen.

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