How can I stop being so protected?

Göttingen sermons

Göttingen Sermons on the Internet ed. by U. Nembach

Sermon for 2 Corinthians 4: 6-9, written by Dörte Gebhard

Dear Congregation

How do you start quitting?

A few bright minds will roll their eyes very easily and only very briefly. You are already thinking to yourself:

It's best if you never stop starting!

That is true, but the needy heart still does not believe it for a long time!


Therefore again:

How do you start quitting?

Then come the few, wise romantics. At some point you read Hermann Hesse. Almost everything. Some of it several times. And the "steps" have almost been memorized, because they hope for deep consolation:


"Like every blossom withers and every youth

Age gives way, every stage of life blossoms,

Every wisdom also blossoms and every virtue

In their time and must not last forever.


The heart must with every call of life

Be ready to say goodbye and start new

To be in bravery and without grief

To give new ties to others.


And there is a magic in every beginning

Who protects us and who helps us to live.

We are supposed to walk through room after room,

Cling to no one like to a home,



That will probably come true one day, the wise heart suspects.

But it doesn't easily get into my stubborn skull, which still knows how to assert itself. Not yet. Far from it.


In turn:

How do you start quitting?

The excited playwrights also have something to say about this. They provoke attention and get it loaned too. (Not for free, oh no. Just for a moment!)


Alain Claude Sulzer gave a precise and catastrophic answer to the question of how to start quitting. He has written a fast-paced novel called "Aus den Fugen".

It's about a concert evening that ends too early

which leads in terrible chain reactions into interpersonal chaos, into almost complete chaos. He writes barely 100 pages, then the world is out of joint.

The famous pianist Olsberg, he thought, starts the second fugue of the evening - and stops before the end, in the middle of the run, in the middle of the note, three minutes in front the end.

"Silence. Persistent silence. Unexpected silence. Terrifying silence."

Marek Olsberg stopped suddenly and slowly raised his hands. It was immediately clear to those who had never heard this sonata before that the piece was not over but that he had broken it off prematurely, that something extraordinary was happening now. .. [He] closed the lid of the piano with a movement that left no doubt about the finality of his decision. And he said loudly and clearly ... in a toneless voice: 'That's it.' ...

One was amazed, shocked, moved, horrified, beside oneself, speechless, each and every one touched in their own way. "[1]


The question still remains unanswered:

Is this how you start with quitting?

Afterwards, after the blessing, we sit down again - calmly - and listen to the third movement of Haydn's Organ Concerto.

At the end of the day.


But the good end is not easy to make yourself. It is a gift. The happy ending - in peace with oneself and the world - is one of God's gifts.

The bad examples come to mind immediately. People who completely missed the right moment, Helmut Kohl, the former Chancellor of Germany at the time - and so many since then and to this day. It can affect anyone, athletes, bosses, politicians and circus acrobats.

I think of those who hadn't even started thinking about quitting when quitting was over.


But there seems to be an exceptional talent in the 2000-year history of the Church, the famous exception to the rule: the penultimate Pope! The Pope of all people, active in the only office in the world in which quitting during his lifetime was never seriously intended. Especially the office that most people only start when they are old, when everyone around them is not just beginning to stop, but is almost finished with it.


But even if you both, J. and Y., go to Rome now, the Pope will tell you that you self have to stop, he can't even start it for you! This cannot be done on a representative basis.

Quitting is a life and belief task that everyone faces, with force or with long foresight.


How do you start quitting?

In the reading (Mt 17: 1-9) we heard what happened on the Mount of Transfiguration. Everything stopped again before - according to the disciples - it had really started. It was over before people got to grasp it.

But the sky was open, its light illuminated everything, the tiny moment was long enough to begin to understand how to stop.


Whoever starts to stop has to start listening to God.

To stop means to listen to what we cannot say to ourselves.


At this point we stop ...!


We stop ... the word of God, as it was handed down to us incessantly (!) In 2 Corinthians:


Because the God who said:

Light shall shine out of the darkness,

it is he who made it shine in our hearts so that the knowledge shines,

the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of Jesus Christ.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels,

so that the abundance of power belongs to God and does not come from us.

In everything we are pressed but not cornered

perplexed, but not desperate,

pursued but not abandoned

knocked down but not devastated. (2 Cor 4, 6-9)


Dear Congregation

There the light shines out of the darkness!

A bright glow comes into the heart!

A lot ends there, something new begins.

We have the treasure in clay pots!

In very earthly containers.

That's not the trend.

But the truth.


Very robust and even after long use, with many signs of use, just as functional as at the beginning.

No, it is not the clay pots that are hard-wearing, but the truth about them ...


But everything stops there !?

Is there anything that is even more impractical?

The precious in extremely fragile packaging ?!


In the world they usually start differently. Everything has to look suspicious from the outside! Otherwise nobody is interested in it, otherwise nobody will buy it. The noblest forces are invested in the packaging. Nothing works without advertising.


Sometimes on long nights

in those who don't want to begin

Nights when you get a feel for eternity

before it finally dawns

Sometimes I have an inkling that the church is in danger of turning itself into a treasure chest that is very nice to look at on the outside, but has a lot of shards of clay on the inside ?!


Will we start again to think that above all we have to sell everything and ourselves well? Market the Faith, Find Many Customers for Hope, Offer God's Love at Heavily Discounted Prices?


We have nothing to sell.

The treasure is not ours. He is God's - God's power in abundance.

We don't even own the clay pots, made of earth and clay - we are these "old pots" in the picture of Paul!

So the earthen vessels are also not for sale!

Regardless of whether they remain intact and unharmed or whether they crack or go completely to pieces.

We really have nothing to sell.


Everything is there to be shared: the treasure and the responsibility for the earthen vessels, God's power and the caution not to let it fall when we go through life and share it with others, bring it with us and keep it with us.


Paul communicates this in a special way.

By the way, the apostle is, according to his own conviction, only something like a fragile flower pot.

But he can do without fundamentalism because God is his foundation

he gets by without blanket slogans that only seem to do everything at once. He gets by without the idea of ​​having ready-made solutions for everything and everyone and only killing people.

Paul gets along without "completely" and without "not at all",

he doesn't say "Mega!" lightly, but also not "You can bend ...",

he does not need "always" and not "never",

- and that makes his words a treasure.


Just for comparison:

It is much more common to speak and think in general terms.

"The atrocities of Cologne?"

"It was the refugees!"

Or even more terrible:

"The men!"

Such sayings create new space for even more hatred and revenge and violence.


Paul stops making such general accusations.

Paul stops doing that.
Paul stops - God.

And his words to the Corinthians describe exactly how some refugees are doing in Germany these days:

In everything we are pressed but not cornered

perplexed, but not desperate,

pursued but not abandoned

knocked down but not devastated.

One might get the curious thought that Paul invented the debate about the half-full or half-empty glass. Far be it! Paul is only interested in the fact that people are beings who are thirsty - and that there is water! For all. Enough if you don't sell it, but share it.


Dear Congregation

Whoever starts to stop has to start listening to God.

To stop means to listen to what we cannot say to ourselves.

We trust that God, who alone is called the Eternal, will not stop listening to us when we pray, shout, thank, lament, beg ...

last but not least, a good ending.

At this point I stop ...!

What remains?


The peace of God that is higher than our reason! Who may strengthen and keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, amen.


[1] Sulzer, Alain Claude Sulzer: Out of the Joint. Roman, Berlin / Cologne 2012, p. 110f.