13.9.2009 - kázání na Øím 12*1-8 pronesené v Annapolis anglicky


To believe in God means to belong to Him completely. With all our being, personality, with our whole lives. By what I do, by what I say. By my belongings and by my desires. If I want to give God just a part of something - for example just certain hours of my time, a certain part of my income, a particular piece of my heart, then I don't believe in one living God, the Creator of the universe and Redeemer of the lost, but in an idol with whom I can do business, or I believe in fate, in which I can try to grab the biggest piece of happiness, or I believe in an ideology like communism or money.     To believe in God doesn't mean only to think about Him, to learn a certain creed, to revere certain commandments, but to be wholly and completely connected to Him. Even closer than a parent is connected to his child, a man to his wife, or real friends together.     Is anything like this possible at all? Is it possible to have even closer ties to God than to the closest person? When I was younger it seemed to me a bit exaggerated. I understood it was supposed to be like this but I couldn't imagine such a deep relationship to someone who is extremely close, but at the same time still distant, not understandable and not accessible. Komensky, a great Czech theologian of the 17th century, educator and the last bishop of Unity of the Brethen [you know this church now as Moravian Church], this man addressed his wife in one of his letters: "Jewell of mine, after God the most treasured one!" Komensky's style has filled me with a frosty astonishment. How deep his faith must be, I had told myself. But at the same time I subconsciously felt I wouldn't want to be his wife... Today I perceive the superiority of a relationship to God as something natural. I don't know what has changed and when. Pehaps a person goes through an infirmness and vulnerability of everything human and on the other hand through God's faithfulness and intimacy just in human imperfectness. Perhaps it's like when a person realizes that he or she has a real home somewhere, where he belongs and where he is always accepted, whatever happens; where he can find a shelter when all others fail.     The most self-evident assumption of a life of faith is what the apostle Paul submits to the church in Roma as a reminder and a pleasure at the same time. To bring myself to God as a sacrifice - it means as an exceptional gift to worship Him and also to express in this way my gratefulness - should be the rule number one for a Christian. At the same time we also set in motion our knowledge about an existence of such a basic relationship, relationship to God, which is different from all others and still brings a real meaning to them. We could say: This is how we apply our faith in practice.     To search in our lives what God's will is and what will therefore direct us should be as certain as opening eyes in the morning when we wake up. This is the true, sensible, literally logical service, worship. This is a result of our faith, our consistency in a life. Attending a church service on Sundays is really secondary. We actually do it for ourselves - we reawaken and make present God's home, that we don't have in our world, but still we are able to nurse together a little piece of it - under God's word and thanks to an impact of the Holy Spirit, in receiving sacraments and sharing God's charisma.     And it is again and again necessary to encourage, challenge and be pleased when we seek a natural and self-evident answer to God's mercy. It is necessary because we are still not at home at our Lord, where all live by that and live it completely naturally. We live in a world where people around us often ascribe to other values than we do. The real home hasn't been discovered by them yet or they refuse it for different reasons. It is not always easy to keep rules and values given to us by God's upbringing, when people around us cast doubt upon it and argue that we pass and survive only if we start to "run with the wolves".     The only help, as shown by Paul, is not to adapt to the world. We should stay ourselves even if people consider us fools. Again and again we go back to the basic and essential what we were given from God's home. The apostle uses a term close to a religion and pagans of those times: metamorphosis, transmogrification. Perhaps we could recall an idealistic slogan which was used after the velvet revolution in my country and which unfortunately didn't work: We are not like them. It means not like communists. We haven't worked it out, because we started to build on certain fictitious qualities, which were not so supportive to hold a birth of a new society, a new morality. However as Christians we don't build on ourselves but on Christ. He changed us radically, transformed by sacrificing His own life and brought us as well in front of His - and therefore also our  - heavenly Father as purified, renewed, newly born, metamorphosed. This we should think about again, we should find ourselves in Christ's work and follow Him.     And now Paul starts with particular things. Where our often noble aims and good resolutions end, there we have clear instructions from the apostle. This will enable us to transform such nice words into our particular lives. The first thing is to think of ourselves in a modest, healthy, sensible way. Without illusions, vanity, exaggerated self-confidence and self-justice, but also without a false humility and underrating, without shying away from a place designed for me. The apostle uses the verb think and its forms four times to balance well a healthy Christian self-confidence. It is based on an extent of faith that God gave to each single person according to His mercy. We should evaluate ourselves, our own abilities and skills, our gifts, which shall serve toward a common growth, a common celebration of our Lord, by faith. We should measure our possibilities and tasks in relationship to people, mainly in a church, with the same tool which we use to relate to God. It means to be aware of God's generous goodness and of all we manage, have and mean, to accept it as His gift and such that give it back to Him in a living sacrifice of our bodies, our lives in a sensible everyday service to God. It is similar to breathing: the air that animates our bodies is inhaled and again exhaled. If we want to hold it forever, we will suffocate. We live in the same way in our trust in God; we breathe the faith in ongoing acceptance and sharing.     We can find our place in a congregation faithfully and honestly in a plain self-evaluation of the faith, and still in a modest and self-evident way. It is important to realize there are no small tasks here. It is only foolish, emotional faith that is not satisfied with God's mercy and has an eye on places which don't belong to it. Or on the other hand such a faith can desire to be fed and watered and forgets or does not want to hear that  true greatness and fame lies in unselfish service.     We cannot make anyone in church accept a certain task. If we are supposed to judge ourselves by our faith, then no one from outside can judge it really objectively what my relatinoship to God is like and what sort of tasks He gave me. No one can make me do anything that I know is not God's choice for me. However we can mutually ask and encourage to have such a modest and responsible faith as we have talked about. We can lead each other's attention to skills or possibilities, which we ourselves marginalize both on purpose or unintentionally. We can together look for the best cooperation in God's vineyard to complement each other and to help each other in our tasks. When we find our mission, then we should give it all it needs.     So I paraphrase with Paul in particular: The one who has a gift of service let him serve and not try to get a position which seems to him more important, for example to rule over others. The one who has a gift to teach, let him teach and not look at something to earn extra money. The one who can encourage and cheer, let him encourage and not meddle in affairs he does not understand, even if he feels doing so because he knows how powerful his word is. The one who donates let him donate in a hearty, sincere way and not be ashamed for that and not think it is too little how he serves the church. The one who stands in the forefront let him be dedicated, not to show off his service and not to complain. The one who cares about suffering ones let him help with joy. And when he is not strong enough to do it, let him not worry and leave this to others.     If we have not found ourselves here then let us think, search and find our place. The church is like a human body. When one part of a body is missing or working improperly, the whole body is somehow handicapped. And in the opposite way: if a part of a body is working properly it can be usually seen only from a cooperation of the whole body. We diminish mainly ourselves when we separate ourselves from the work of Christ's body. ...So then, brothers and sisters, because of God's great mercy to us I appeal to you: offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to Him. This is a true worship that you should offer. Amen.