Can people shine brightly like a diamond

Göttingen sermons





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Brilliant
Sermon for Matthew 5: 13-16, written by Güntzel Schmidt

 

Jesus speaks:

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt becomes stale, what should one use to salt? It is no longer of any use, except that it is thrown outside to be trodden on by people

You are the light of the world. A city cannot be hidden when it is on a mountain. Nor do you burn a light and place it under a bushel measure, but on the candlestick, and it shines for everyone in the house. Let your light shine before people so that they will see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

(Own translation)

 

Dear sisters and brothers,

have you heard of a brilliant idea or did you have one yourself?

When you first hear it, you think there has to be at least something worthy of a Nobel Prize that you could call "brilliant"; something that astonishes others in amazement and admiration. This adjective used to be more generous. It was already a brilliant idea to go to the swimming pool or the cinema - just take a look at the old films from the 50s and 60s ...

"Brilliant" - this adjective has gone out of fashion; hardly ever does one say that an idea is "brilliant". At best, it's "good": a good idea. When you're younger, you might find them "cool" or "awesome". With increasing age, however, one becomes more stingy with praise, seasoning it just as sparingly as adding salt to the food. Praise costs less than a pinch of salt, and unlike salt, you can never "get engaged" - on the contrary! Everyone has already felt how good praise is, and you can't really get enough of it.

As stingy as we are often with praise, and as much as we shy away from superlatives like "brilliant", something will never go out of style: the stone from which the word "brilliant" is derived.

        "Men grow cold

As girls grow old,

And we all lose our charms in the end.

But square-cut or pear-shaped,

These rocks don't lose their shape.

Diamonds are a girl's best friend ",

sings Marilyn Monroe, in German:

"Men get cooler

the older women get,

and in the end we all lose our charms.

But square or drop,

these stones never get out of shape.

Diamonds are a woman's best friend. "

       

I.

Jesus praises us. He calls us "the salt of the earth" and "the light of the world". These are just as much superlatives as the word "brilliant". We are not just salt for our partner, not just salt for our family or, what would be an incredible amount, for this community. No, we add flavor to the whole earth! It is the same with light. We not only shine for ourselves, not only in our room, but we are the light of the world. We are not just any light, like sun or moon, but the light par excellence!

Is that what you thought of yourself? Have you ever thought of yourself that way? We Christians have a hard time with superlatives. Modesty, that is our profession. "I'm just a little light!" - this sentence is much closer to us than that we are the light of the world.

One also instinctively looks for the hook in these two sentences with which Jesus praises us; one looks for the little word "if": you are the salt of the earth, if ... you are always good when ... you do this and that ... but there is no "if". There is a point. You are the salt of the earth. Point. You are the light of the world. Point.

But we cannot leave it as it is. That can't be true. After all, we don't taste salty unless we sweat. And our faces only shine when we smile at another person. With this we even make it light for this one person, we give her or him a very special moment, maybe even save her the day. But our little glow has no influence on the whole world.

 

II

The salt has gone down in literature. This should come as no surprise with a substance that is just as vital as it is important for good taste. The Greeks already transferred the salt figuratively to speech. When they said that a speech should be "salted", they urged the speaker to be witty, humorous, cheerful - in one word: brilliant.

Spice must not be missing in interpersonal relationships either. At least as important as external beauty is whether someone can entertain well. Whether he or she is witty, humorous, cheerful - in one word: brilliant. This stimulus remains when the external stimuli have to give way to old age.

So does Jesus think we should be brilliant: witty, humorous, cheerful people and thus spice up or brighten up our environment? - When you think of the many embittered people who feel disadvantaged and betrayed by society, who are jealous of the help given to people who are much worse off than them and who are away from the AfD and the PEGIDA movement feel represented, then one would like to wish each of them a brilliant person at the side who shows them how good they are and how little reason to be jealous of the poor.

It is also good for the church when brilliant people think differently in her than previously thought; when brilliant people in the congregation develop new ideas or simply bring their happiness and optimism to the church service or to a congregation group. That actually has effects that go beyond the small circle - if you only let these people. Perhaps one can say in general that brilliant people shine in our society and their radiance makes it a little brighter for all of us - it is not for nothing that we call such people "stars".

 

III

If it should behave like that; if Jesus should mean these special, brilliant people with his word about salt and light, whom one meets so seldom - then he cannot mean us by his praise. Then it is only the few diamonds among so many semi-precious stones and pebbles that count.

But Jesus insists that, to keep the picture, we are all diamonds. We are diamonds because we have the potential to be brilliant. But we often live below our possibilities. We often don't even know we own them. We desperately want to be able to do what another can and do not value our own abilities. Or think that brilliance is something completely different from what we have and can do.

With his praise, Jesus reminds us that we too can do something, that we too are someone. And not only at some point when we have learned a certain skill, deepened our faith, changed our lives. But here, today and now we are salt and light. Just as we are. With the little that we have or think we can offer.

We are not praised by Jesus because we did impressive things, because we were so pious, so industrious, or caring. We are not of our own merit, the salt of the earth and the light of the world. But we are because we are God's children, brothers and sisters of our Lord and brother Jesus, of whom it is said in the Gospel of John: "In him was life, and life was the light of men. ... That was the true light, that of all Enlighten people "(John 1: 4,9). In John's Gospel, Jesus says of himself that he is the water of life, the bread of life, the door, the light of the world. First and foremost, Jesus is the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Because it is him and because we belong to him, therefore we are too. As I said: We are not salt and light because of our abilities or our deeds, but solely because we belong to Jesus!

 

IV

Marilyn Monroe sings about the precious stones that are a woman's best friend. But if you listen to this happy-frivolous song more closely, you discover that it is actually very sad. Because Marilyn doesn't sing about the diamonds because they are so beautiful. But because they give a woman security when her husband leaves her for someone else, when she loses her job, when she gets old and is no longer attractive enough to other men. Then diamonds are her best friend because they help her pay the rent.

The brilliance we have as Christians is not that we look or are like Marilyn Monroe. It consists in the fact that the woman who gave herself the stage name Marilyn Monroe, among us, in our church, could be Norma Jeane Baker, as her baptismal name was. When Jesus calls us the salt of the earth and the light of the world because he trusts us to be brilliant, then he means our ability to let people be as they are. Not to torment them with exaggerated expectations, because we do not expect everything from them, but everything from God. Don't fix them to their past, because God doesn't fix us to our past either. Not to see their flaws and flaws, but their kindness, their abilities and their beauty, because that's exactly how God looks at us.

Norma Jeane Baker was unhappy because she always had to be Marilyn Monroe and couldn't just be a person like everyone else. We're not as famous as Marilyn Monroe, but we're also locked into a role or committed to ourselves, and not just allowed to be who we are. By calling us the salt of the earth and the light of the world, Jesus gives us the freedom to give up these roles - ours and those of others. Because we are infinitely valuable - salt of the earth, light of the world, real diamonds, just - we don't need to strive for other values ​​that do not represent real values ​​at all. We don't need to become or be stars, because we already shine, brighter than the sun.

 

V

We - you and I - are brilliant. We shine like cut diamonds, like salt crystals we add flavor to life. Not through ideas that are worthy of a Nobel Prize, not through superhuman efforts or tireless efforts. But simply because we are human and let other be human. This is our brilliance: We don't try to be like God or play God. We do not presume to judge others; we do not withhold forgiveness from others; we do not determine who and what is beautiful or good; who has a right to life and who does not; who is allowed to stay in our country and who is not. We leave all of this to God and limit ourselves to being human. In this way we can also let other people be human.

You may be disappointed now. Is that supposed to be brilliance? It sounds so simple, so small. But try it once: you will quickly find out that it is the hardest there is! When we actually want to be human and no longer want to be than human; when we let other people be and let them be human; if we do not downgrade others as "foreigners", "economic refugees", "work-shy" or take away their humanity by calling them "subhuman", "Spasti" or "anti-social" - then that will actually make the world brighter than the sun and moon can together.

 

"Diamonds are a girls' best friend," sings Marilyn Monroe. How about if we became best friends for the Norma Jeane Bakers among us, so that they can be the people they really are? Then they could sing songs other than the one about the diamonds that are a woman's best friend - songs that praise God, like what we're singing now:

 

EG 272 I praise my God