2023-11-19 - Vorletzter Sonntag im Kirchenjahr - (EN) - Pfarrerin Nicole Otte-Kempf

( Mathew 25:31-46 ) - [ Deutsch ]


Dear family of the children we had baptized,

Dear Congregation,

We have just baptized Liv and Noah and we lighted candles for them at the Easter candle. This is a symbol of light from Jesus for them to take home. They will need a light in their lives. They will need it to be a light in the world themselves and to be a light for others and for animals.

There will be days when they will be happy and content and all will be going well. There will also be days when things go wrong. And then there will be in-between-days; both black and white; light and dark. Because life can be light and dark at the same time.

That can complicate life. We would actually prefer it to be separate; we would like to be able to split it into either good or bad.

We would also like to split people into groups of good and bad. Innocents and sinners. We can judge and condemn.

Why do we do that? Some people do it to find themselves and their way around the world. It makes them feel good about themselves. Because you classify yourself as one of the good ones. The others? Well.... they belong to the other group.

Our Bible Text for today is in Mathew 25:31-46


31 When the Son of Man comes in his Glory and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.

32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.

35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,

36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?

38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?

39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,

43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”


Dear Congregation,
That was our first hearing. Then we hear Jesus' judgement: He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left. But everything is not as easy as that. For Jesus it is also not so easy. Of that I am convinced. Jesus tells us what could have happened, not what must happen. Parables are stories that help explain things to us. In this case it explains the Last Judgement. The last judgement of God over the world. This is what Jesus want to make clear with this parable.

He wants to show us what will be happening in God's court of law. God, who made mankind has the right to question our justification in the world. That is God's judgement. God wants to evaluate us at the end of the world. He can actually do that any time. This is the question that he can ask all of us. How did you treat your neighbour? Did you treat your neighbour well?

That is the benchmark of God's court of law. What comes afterwards even Jesus does not know. He can assume, but He does not know. We need not know either. It is enough that we have to live with the question: How did you treat your neighbour? This question is a light upon our life. And it will be a light on the lives of our two baptized children. The parable of God's court of law is not a simple one. It is not peace and quiet.

It is definitive. Separating. Evaluating. Eternal life or damnation. Life or death. All or nothing. Black or white. Nothing in between.

Art, through the ages, but mostly in the middle-ages, have depicted the last judgement in all it's gory detail. There we do not see the softhearted Jesus but the judge of the world with all his terrifying power. The pictures of hell scare us. Maybe the pictures of today are even scarier.

We do realise that one day the world will come to an end and that the Son of God will come again. But we do not think that it will happen soon.

We are mistreating nature and terrible things are happening because of that. How will we be judged for how we treat nature? When judgement day comes we will have nowhere to hide. It can be too late. Jesus is warning us against this.

Jesus shows us how easy it can be to end up on the right side. The fact that Jesus will be in the judge's chair is comforting.

Jesus the Son of Man will judge us at the end of time. We won't judge each other. Jesus will do it. He who sacrificed Himself for us will judge us. The two belong together and therefore Jesus is the only one who can forgive us and judge us.

The judgement day not only is about the last days of the world but also about the time that precede it. It can be now. Where do you stand? Nowhere is it counted out what you can do or not do to be on the right side. But is is made clear where you will be able to find Jesus. Jesus will be with those who are suffering. He suffers with them. How do you react to this? You can serve Jesus if you give everyone the right to live, when you forgive others, when you accept that we are all different. If you accept that we are all brothers and sisters.

That means that all nations will be gathered around His throne. And we will all be judged on how we treated each other.

Dear congregation, charity, the golden rule, whereby you must treat others in the same way as you would want to be treated, is found in every religion. Atheists also know all about charity. There are no spectacular requirements that God wants. Only to see the suffering in others. The punishment that lasts for ever, namely hell, is found in lovelessness. When you don't notice the suffering of others or ignore it. People who talk about Jesus but who want a good life and are unaware of their cold hearts, their lack of compassion and lack of charity, they are already living in hell without knowing it. The last judgement will begin when Jesus judges us. He will be looking with love but very carefully, so that sinners may not escape. And that murderers do not get away with murder. Because then charity will be meaningless. When the Son of God comes He comes as a judge but also as a shepherd. A judge and a shepherd go hand in hand. Sinners will come to their senses and broken relationships will heal.

We cannot judge others. That is actually a blessing. The way to real fellowship will open up. Live in the light of Jesus.

It is as if we are lighting our candle of baptism again and again and are spreading the light of Jesus further and further. We do it on all days, days of darkness and days of light.

May we all be successful in sharing the light of Jesus.

Amen

 

 

 

 

 

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