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Text For The Month / Monatsspruch

Texts for the months of April and May 2013
Monatssprüche für April und Mai 2013

 

April 2013

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflow with thankfulness. Colossians 2.6-7

Forty years ago, around this time, everybody at the German YMCA in Craven Terrace was busy preparing the new Lancaster Hall Hotel and Association Centre to open its doors and be ready to serve its chosen purpose. After a few last minute setbacks, the first guests could be welcomed on 1st August 1973. Several decades of searching, planning, petitioning, negotiating, fundraising, all the determined hard work, had come to an end and allowed a new beginning. The actual building process on the Craven Terrace site started in 1969 with the demolition of the abandoned and dilapidated Congregational Chapel, together with the two adjoining early Victorian narrow houses. The latter literally held each other upright, because they had very shallow foundations, being large oak beams, placed horizontally in the ground. The new building needed a much stronger foundation, piled deep through the geographical layers of sediment of old rivers and brooks, which run from Hampstead through Hyde Park into the Thames. The concrete columns stand in the solid, grey-blue London Clay. We know that they are there, but as a foundation they are hidden from our eyes. They are not visible like the piles under the Bronze Age stilt houses (Pfahlbauten) in lake Constance. This comparison can serve as an illustration of Luther’s observation: One cannot know a Christian by looking at him.

Bronze Age stilt houses

Photo: Andreas F. Borchert

So, in 1973, the Association had, on a good foundation, a new building in which to develop, expand, stabilize and adjust in changing times its aims and purposes as expressed in its motto: We will serve the Lord, for he is our God (Joshua 24.18). It is a place in which the Association can build up its Christian values, a useful tool to serve the Lord through everyday deeds, beneficial to others.

More about this can be found in the book “It Can Be!”, the history of our Association.

It may not be obvious, but already with the first sentences I interpret the text written by the Apostle Paul to the Colossians, by homing in on the metaphors (word pictures) rooted and built up, and using them together as one image, namely the laying of a foundation for a building under construction. On such a foundation, sunk deep and firmly in Christ as the solid rock, a superstructure can be developed in an atmosphere of continuing activity, ever stronger in the Christian faith.

The city Colossae lay on the Lycus River in Asia Minor (today Turkey), and was never visited by Paul. The region was evangelized through the mission of Paul’s colleague Epaphras, on whom Paul was dependent to receive reports from the Colossian church. He affirms again and again his unqualified support of Epaphras as a trusted leader and teacher: ... as you were taught.

Paul had great respect for the efforts of others in places where Christ had not been named: It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. Rather, as it is written (in Isaiah 52.15): Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand (Romans 15.20).

This leads to Paul’s emphasis on gratitude: ... overflowing with thankfulness, a reminder not to fail to give thanks for the new outlook, the new life they have found in Christ. The expression of this gratitude for God’s graceful gift of Christ takes away the temptation to seek something else, alternatives: ... hold fast that what is good (1 Thess. 5.21).

If now we leave this excursion into the past behind and pray to God: Thy will be done, then we find an answer in the text given for May: Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute (Proverbs 31.8). This is the power of service, emphasised by Pope Francis in his homily at his Inauguration Service on St. Joseph’s Day on 19th March.

 

 

Mai 2013

Öffne deinen Mund für die Stummen, für das Recht aller Schwachen! Sprüche 31,8

Wenn wir uns in der heutigen Welt umsehen, gleichsam in unserem ja engen, unmittelbarem Lebenskreis, dann wissen wir, dass wir der unmissverständlichen Aufforderung dieses Monatsspruches gar nicht gerecht werden können. Diese Erkenntnis kann lähmend wirken, ist aber kein Grund zur Untätigkeit. Albert Einstein drückte es so aus: “Die Welt ist viel zu gefährlich, um darin zu leben - nicht wegen der Menschen die Böses tun, sondern wegen der Menschen, die zuschauen und nichts tun.”

So gilt es für unseren Verein, sich im Rahmen seiner Möglichkeiten da einzusetzen, wo es wirksam angebracht ist. Wie das in der Vergangenheit war - ich denke da an die bereits erwähnten letzten 40 Jahre in Craven Terrace - darüber gibt die Historie Auskunft. Wie sich das heute auswirkt, darüber geben die Programm-Hefte, die Website und die Jahresberichte Einblick.

Nun ist der German YMCA in London keine seelenlose Maschine, die in Betrieb kommt, wenn man auf einen Knopf drückt. Der Verein ist so gut und wirksam, wie die Menschen, die sich mit seinen Aufgaben identifizieren und sie ausführen. Für einen jeden von uns gilt da die in den Paulus - Briefen im Neuen Testament zu findende Aufforderung: Wohlzutun und mitzuteilen vergesset nicht. Einen fröhlichen Geber hat Gott lieb.

Unser Verein braucht Menschen, Menschen die sich sein Motto zu eigen machen und sich in praktischem Einsatz, je nach ihren Gaben, mit seinen Zielen solidarisch erklären. Dabei gilt für jeden, für was sich schon Martin Luther einsetzte: “Ein Christenmensch ist ein freier Herr über alle Dinge und niemand untertan. Ein Christenmensch ist ein dienstbarer Knecht aller Dinge und jedermann untertan.” Luther beruft sich dabei auf Paulus: Ihr sollt niemand in etwas verpflichtet sein, außer das ihr euch untereinander liebet (in Römer 13). Dies geschieht in der Tat, so wie es ein Gebet aus dem 14. Jahrhundert ausdrückt: “Christus hat keine Hände, nur unsere Hände, um seine Arbeit heute zu tun …”

Bernd Hildebrandt

 

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