November brings our future to life like no other month. It reminds us that at some point we must give our lives back into the hands of the Creator. But it also has a promise: eternal life with God.
If you take these two messages seriously, think about the specific consequences. What if God knocked on me in a week, or even tomorrow?
Lichtenberg: Everything in view of eternity
In the diary that the Provost of Berlin Cathedral Bernhard Lichtenberg wrote while in custody, we find the sentence: Today I want to see everything in the light of eternity. Lichtenberg will have had his future path quite clearly in mind. So he took earthly things very seriously, but saw everything under the standard of eternity. A good basic attitude for a spiritual life.
Spiritual Exercise: What else do I want to do with a view to eternity? What do I want to change? What do I want to let go?
The wide ditch
You know the parable of poor Lazarus and the rich man. Both have to die, one goes to heaven (Abraham’s womb), the other has to suffer in hell. Heaven and hell are simply described here by reversing the living conditions: Whoever has had a good time in this world has to suffer, and whoever had to suffer, paradise is now given to him.
This explanation makes me very thoughtful, almost afraid. Because I have to say that I’m doing really well in this world. Do I then have to expect the same fate as the rich man?
But Jesus gives another explanation in his parable. There is talk of a wide ditch that separates the two from each other. Who made this trench? God? And so slowly the rich come to the realization that they dug this wide ditch, back in their lifetime, when did not see the poor and did not want to see them either.
Another spiritual exercise: Where do I see such rifts in my life? What or who do these trenches separate from me? Am I ready to see such rifts and maybe even to bridge them?
None of us live for himself … (Rom)
The second message of November is the promise: And await a new life in the glory of God.
I would like to give you a text from the Holy Scriptures that you know from many funeral services. The apostle Paul wrote:”
For none of us live for ourselves alone, and none of us die for ourselves alone.
If we live, we live for the Lord, if we die, so we die for the Lord.
Whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. (Rom 14: 7-8)
In the talks, reference is often made to the second line, the relationship with God. But before that, Paul puts our relationship with one another. None of us live for ourselves, and none of us die for ourselves.
Our relationship with God is therefore closely related to the relationship we have with people. And if Paul then emphasizes that we have to give an account to God (Rom. 14:10, 12). None of us live by ourselves. A sentence that could be interesting for me in the long term.
Karl Borromeo – Reformer of the Church
None of us live for ourselves. What does this mean, and what consequences this also means for the communion and unity of the church, can be seen very well in a reformer: in St. Charles Borromeo. Let’s go back to the 16th century. Martin Luther’s theses caused an uproar in the Church in Europe. The church was divided. How could one find the unity again? The answer was sought in a council: the Council of Trent. One of the key figures at this council was St. Charles Borromeo. His uncle was Pope and he had a brilliant career ahead of him. But he has withdrawn completely, was very undemanding, and has dedicated all of his work to the church. One life for – in this case specifically for the Church. Unity was more important to him than himself.
The coming Christ
The time of Advent stands before us, the time when we will be reminded of the second coming of Christ. We as Christians have apparently got used to it: if he hasn’t come back for 2000 years, then it won’t happen in the next 20 or 30 years either. It looks different when it comes to my very personal life. It can happen very quickly that I stand before the face of God. The broad rift could then be a crucial issue. So maybe for this Advent you will take the will of our founder Rev. Johannes Schneider again to hand, or even better to heart.
Prelate Dr. Stefan Dybowski
November 22nd, 2021 monthly lecture St. Augustinus Monastery, Berlin-Lankwitz