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Gemeinschaft statt Konkurrenz

Universitätsgottesdienst zum Beginn des Wintersemesters 2018/19

Dienstag, 9. Oktober 2018

19:30 Uhr

ZHG Hörsaal B (BTU Zentral-Campus)

Internationaler Gottesdienst (in Deutsch und Englisch) vorbereitet vonStudierenden der BTU und Studierendenpfarrer Reinhard Menzel.  Wir wollen gemeinsam singen, beten und auf Gottes Wort hören. Anschließend ist im Foyer des ZHG Gelegenheit zu Begegnungen und Gesprächen.


University Church Service

Tuesday, 9. October 2018, 07:30 pm

ZHG Lecture hall B (BTU Central campus)

International service (in German and English) prepared by students of the BTU and university chaplain Reinhard Menzel. We want to sing together, pray and listen to God's Word. Afterwards, in the foyer of the ZHG you will have the opportunity for meetings and talks.


Sermon on Revelation 3:14-20

(by Rev. Reinhard Menzel)

Somebody's knocking at the door.

How often has this been the sign for him to interrupt his work, to leave his desk, covered with books, with notes, drafts and manuscripts, ... unwillingly, sometimes grateful for interruption.

I think many of you know this situation. And unlike Frederic, you are often happy that there is a knocking. Especially when you are new here in Cottbus and hardly anyone knows. Maybe it's a fellow student you met in a lecture or seminar. If you have been to Cottbus for some time, you may expect a good friend.

This isn’t different today than it was 250 years ago. Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher had recently come to Berlin. At the Charité he got his first job - today we would say as a research assistant. Maybe he still felt like a student.

On the way to the door, Frederic puts the lamp on the other, larger table, so that it becomes the shining center of the whole room. What is outside of its appearance that isn’t important any longer. The whitewashed walls of his makeshift first home. But it doesn’t matter. The knocking and the voice of the friend in front of the door are important and later the light in their faces as they sit opposite each other. Since there is another light than that of the lamp. “I can pour out not only what is already inside of me. But also many things which had slumbered has been set in motion in me through the inexhaustible flow of new views and ideas, which flows incessantly to him,” so he writes later about his friend.

What would have happened if Friedrich Schlegel had not knocked on the door of his friend Schleiermacher on this 21st November 1797? Would we remember the 250th birthday of Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher this year?

There is a knocking at the door. And a room opens for the friends, for talks and ideas. This is how Friedrich Schleiermacher experienced it. The conversations with his friend, the ideas that they discuss, they stimulate him. And they challenge him.

“I really had to shake hands with him for wanting to write something of my own this year.” This is how Schleiermacher later remembers.

That was on November 21, 1797, on his 29th birthday, in his first home of his own. He was still a preacher at the Charité in Berlin. For a theologian this was not very representative as a first employment. The “own thing” Schleiermacher wrote – with some delay – were his famous Speeches on Religion from 1799. They made him famous in Berlin and far beyond. They were the first step in a successful career in church, science and politics.

Music: Somebody's knocking at your door

Somebody's knocking at the door.

A messenger brings a letter. In the ancient city of Laodicea there were staff opened the door and answered, as one answers to this day, if you want to rid someone already at the door: We do not need anything!

But that's true: They do not need anything in Laodicea. Because there they are rich and have more than enough. There were trade, banking and textile and pharmaceutical industry in this city. Laodicea was not only famous for its eye salve. The city's scientists have discovered how to dye cloth quickly and efficiently without Syrian purple snails. Laodicea – a center of research and innovation!

When an earthquake destroyed Laodicea around 60 AD, they were able to rebuild it entirely on their own. The help offered by the Roman state has been kindly rejected. Money, warm blankets or bandages – “thanks, no, we can manage ourselves. We do not need anything. We cannot even be shaken by an earthquake.” Laodicea - a center of energy and civic pride!

And then somebody’s knocking. And a letter comes saying: All this is worth nothing.  You in Laodicea, you have everything but taste. Because you are neither hot nor cold. You taste like lukewarm water. And lukewarm water is an emetic. Everyone knows that.

But listen for yourself!

To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich;  and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

(Revelation 3:14-20)

Somebody's knocking at the door.

And there is an offer to the rich and beautiful and healthy. What can be offered to those who believe that they need nothing?

The author of the letter knows that they actually have everything in Laodicea. He does not talk to them about their need for help. He offers them a different quality of what they can produce themselves: Gold, white clothes and eye salve. They should be not just wealthy, but really rich. They should not only be well dressed with a noble purple cloth “Made in Laodicea”, but brightly and beautifully dressed in white. And their eyes should be able to see more than what is in sight.

Music: Somebody's knocking at your door

What can be offered to those who believe that they need nothing?

Daniel Ernst Friedrich Schleiermacher thought about it. That was at a time when there had just been an earthquake. The earthquake of Lisbon in 1755. It had almost completely destroyed the city. A disaster of the century. The images of the world and God had faltered. The optimistic idea of living in the best of all worlds, for example. The Faith in an Almighty and Kind God.

Ultimately only the idea of a God that indeed created the world but does not care about it anymore was to agree with the ideas of the Enlightenment. God is consistently left out of the world. People arrange themselves among these ruins and say: Thank you, we do not need anything.

This was not enough for Schleiermacher. He took the ruins of this image of God and saw what can be made of it. He wanted to approach the infinite again. He wanted to transfer his romantic experiences with love in its various forms to religion. He wanted to give “meaning and taste for the infinite” again for those who believe that they don’t need anything more.

His religion is deeply romantic. It is a feeling of loving merging with God. The much-cited “feeling of absolute dependence” needs no institutions, rituals and sacraments, but only the fellowship with like-minded people. Religion, as he understands it, is determined by love, not by sin and judgment.

Schleiermacher's religion remains strangely unaffected by temptation and doubt. It is harmonious and beautiful. And in his book “Doctrine of the Faith” it was formulated at a time in his life that must have been anything but harmonious and beautiful - even for him personally.

Several times in his life Schleiermacher was in love passionately and unhappily – for example, with Eleonore Grunow, the wife of a colleague. In 1802, Schleiermacher fled the city to distance himself from his unfortunate love. Although Schleiermacher married late and founded a family but led a deeply unhappy marriage. The romantic yearning for friendship and love has never left him. He achieved everything as a philosopher and theologian, famous preacher and influential churchman and yet he was still full of yearning.

The rooms of his own stately apartment in Berlin may now also be wallpapered or covered with silk – the memory of his first years in Berlin must have been alive in him. The knocking at the door, the face of the friend in the light of the lamp, the limp walls of the makeshift preacher's apartment at the Charité, the never-ending conversation, that was what he needed and what he longed for his entire life.

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. (Revelation 3:20)

Somebody's knocking at the door.

And at the door of the world, there is a friend, a man with a face and a voice. Jesus Christ stands before the door, not the loving universe, as Schleiermacher said, but the love of God in person. This is what the letter says, which arrived in Laodicea and in Berlin and Cottbus and all over the world.

Of course, you can open the door and say: “Thanks, I do not need anything!” And you will be able to live so – and not bad. But if you want more, if you want something, even though you have everything, if sometimes everything feels lukewarm in your life, if you know inside yourself where you are miserable, poor, blind and naked – then do it, open the door.

If you dare. If you dare to say: “I need this. I long for it.” And it will be a life with a different taste. At least that's what the letter says arrived in Laodicea, Berlin, Cottbus and everywhere.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

After a sermon idea by Kathrin Oxen.

Letzte Änderung am: 11.01.2019