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ISSN 2195-3171

Predigtreihe: Reformationsfest - Reformationens dag - Reformation Day - Día de la Reforma - Dzieñ reformacji , 2017

English: John 8, 31-36, verfasst von David H. Brooks

Sermon Text: John 8: 31-36




In his book The Wounded Healer, author Henri Nouwen offered the following advice to ministers:

Perhaps the task of the minister is to prevent people from suffering for the wrong reasons. Many people suffer because of the suppositions on which they have based their lives. That supposition is that there should be no fear or loneliness, no confusion or doubt. But these sufferings can only be dealt with creatively when they are understood as wounds integral to our human condition. Therefore ministry is a service of confrontation. It does not allow people to live with illusions of immortality and wholeness. It keeps reminding others that they are mortal, that they are broken, but [it also serves as a reminder] that with the recognition of [who and what we truly are] liberation starts.

I think that Nouwen offers a moment of profound insight that can help us grasp what Jesus means when he discusses freedom, especially the freedom that the Son brings. To begin, it is very important that you notice that Nouwen does not say that ministry is meant to stop or prevent suffering. Indeed, Nouwen assumes suffering is part of the human condition, and the only issue worth examining is what kind of reasons are the sources of a person’s suffering. For Nouwen, liberation arises out of clarity about who we are and what is true—we are not immortal, we are not whole, but we die and we are broken—and begins when someone enters into relationship with us. The truth Nouwen means to communicate about who we are and what is true about us begins in particular relationships, and is why God is at work in our world, why the Lord Jesus is sent to bring true healing and true liberty.

Read again the passage from John. Whatever we might say about this passage, its force is dependent on the relationship that exists between Jesus and those who have answered his call to become followers. And the reason it must be this way is hinted at in the Nouwen passage: the only way to address the effects of sin in the world is to address it relationally, because sin is not simply contained within each of us alone, but sin is social—what each of us does, thinking ourselves private and apart, falls upon and affects all of us together. This is why the Gospels show Jesus again and again entering into relationship with those that common wisdom would say you should avoid—the only way to turn back the corrosive effects of sin is to deliberately enter into relationship with others, and be willing to accept what happens for having done so.

This is the only answer to any of the things that happen to us—illness, poverty, loneliness, betrayal, grief. If we deny them, or if we declare that when they happen to others that we cannot be involved, then we lose a chance to find true healing, true riches, true companionship, true loyalty, true joy, true freedom. But to embrace what comes our way—to embrace one another, to take upon our shoulders the griefs and sorrows that the person sitting next to you is surely bearing right now—is the way forward, because it is when we recognize our need, our pain, our fear, we can also recognize those same needs and pains and fears in the eyes of another, and discover Godly gifts that we didn’t know existed, gifts that we would have never thought we needed. It is for this truth that God calls the church into existence—we need one another, and the one who has a gift, who has something to offer needs the one who is bereft or lacking just as much as the one who lacks needs the one who brings abundance. For all the words that will be spoken and written on this 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the only words that matter are these: we are justified freely, for Christ’s sake. Christ, who has everything worth having, freely enters into relationship with us, who have absolutely nothing, and makes such a trade—everything for nothing--that the very universe itself is shaken to its foundations. That cosmic earthquake reverberates down to this very day, where we can remember again that we are broken, but in God we have a refuge; we are weak, but God is our strength; we may have all things taken away, but Christ, who is our one true treasure, has won the day and so we are free. Amen.

The Rev. Dr. David H. Brooks
Raleigh, NC USA
E-Mail: Pr.Dave.Brooks@zoho.com

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