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Text For The Month / Monatsspruch

Texts for the months of February and March 2016
Monatssprüche für Februar und März 2016

 

Februar 2016

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. Mark 11.25

In Jesus’s time it was customary to stand for prayer. But arguing whether standing, sitting, kneeling or indeed lying would be the right way of praying would be missing the point of this verse. Different people in different traditions may be helped to focus on God by a certain position of the body, but Jesus is more concerned with the inner attitude. It doesn’t matter much whether your head tilts upwards to expect to receive God’s grace or you look down in a show of your humility, the real crunching point is the heart and mind. Are they free to focus on God?

... , if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, ...

That’s the right position to be in to be able to pray properly: Forgive anything you hold against anyone. This is an all-and-everyone-inclusive command. A pretty steep demand, isn’t it?

I at least find it difficult to swallow. There are people who stepped on my toes or did something terrible to others, who would deserve some punishment rather than forgiveness to satisfy my sense of justice. This would only be fair, my natural impulse tells me.

Occasionally I cringe when I think of stupidities I have committed myself. Even to myself I can be a bit unforgiving. And I shouldn’t exclude myself from the “forgive anyone/everyone”.

It is a tall order indeed to forgive anyone to whom I hold anything against. How do you feel?

Injuries to our property, our health or our pride are often very keenly felt. They stick with us and can niggle us for a long time afterwards. Whenever we meet the person who did it or just hear the name, it all comes back. This can develop a life of its own and grow over time rather than pale into insignificance. It can become the proverbial mountain from its humble beginnings as a mole hill. Is that good?

Nursing a grudge locks us into negative emotions. It can turn us sour to life itself. It ties us to a bad event in the past and blocks out the good ones that might be ahead. Life is full of little injuries we suffer and we inflict on others. Do we need to collect them until they block out the sun, until we get a dark outlook on life?

... , if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, ...

That could be the way forward, the liberation from all the negative perspectives we have. I don’t think we can forget the bigger problems we faced or caused, but that should hopefully help us avoid them in the future. Having said (or written) that, these parts of our history could come without the emotional baggage, if we can forgive, if they have changed to episodes we remember as something past that has taught us something rather than open wounds we still feel like yesterday (or even stronger than when they first occurred).

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.

It sounds rather like God would only forgive once we have done our part of the deal. I’m not sure how much hope there would be for me, if that was the case. Luckily instead of condemning us Christ rather died on the cross himself in our place. There on the cross and in the resurrection God wants to show us that he is rather forgiving than punishing to us. This is what we celebrate every Easter. “Your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins” even before you have started to be forgiving yourself. God help us to follow his example!

 

 

 

The saints are the sinners
who keep on trying.

Robert Louis Stevenson
(1850-1894)

 

 

 

March 2016

Jesus Christus spricht: Wie mich der Vater geliebt hat, so habe auch ich euch geliebt. Bleibt in meiner Liebe! Johannes 15,9

„ ... geliebt hat” – wieso Vergangenheit? Ist das denn vorbei? So ist es wohl nicht gemeint. Vielleicht kann man es so verstehen: „Wir haben unseren Teil getan. Der Vater hat mich geliebt, ich habe euch geliebt. Jetzt seid ihr dran diese Liebe mit Leben zu erfüllen.“ Jesus hat Gottes Liebe gelebt und sie den Menschen in allem, was er tat, gezeigt. Jetzt ist es an den Menschen, zu zeigen, dass sie dieses Vorbild verstanden haben.

Wie geht das? In den folgenden Versen findet sich die Antwort:

„10 Wenn ihr meine Gebote haltet, so bleibt ihr in meiner Liebe, gleichwie ich meines Vaters Gebote halte und bleibe in seiner Liebe. 11 Das sage ich euch, damit meine Freude in euch bleibe und eure Freude vollkommen werde. 12 Das ist mein Gebot, dass ihr euch untereinander liebt, gleichwie ich euch liebe. 13 Niemand hat größere Liebe als die, dass er sein Leben läßt für seine Freunde.“

Der letzte Vers weist auf Christi Tod an Ostern hin, was ja passend ist in diesem Monat. Aber mir wäre es lieb und ich hoffe, dass sich für uns nie die Gelegenheit ergibt, die Nächstenliebe bis zum letzten zu leben und vor eine Entscheidung auf Leben und Tod gestellt zu werden. Auch im weniger drastischen Bereich gibt es ja genug für jedermann zu tun und zu lassen um in Christi Liebe zu bleiben und sie am eigenen Leibe zu leben. Und im weniger Drastischen kann – wird – es sogar Spass machen Nächstenliebe zu üben, jeder in seinem Umfeld. Fröhliche Ostern!

Udo Bauer

 

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