Is your past bitter or sweet

"In the ruminant team" sermon by Pastor Corinna Zisselsberger on February 16, 2020

Introduction sermon_2. Sunday before Passion Time_16. February 2020_Ezekiel 2,1-10; 3.1-3

The grace of Jesus Christ and the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit power be with you all. Amen.

(I. love goes through the stomach)
The way to a man's heart goes through his stomach. From the beginning of life, from the first suckling of the newborn, greedy for food and warmth. The way to a man's heart goes through his stomach. Love flutters in the stomach as butterflies and, as is well known, lovers only feed on air and their affection for one another.
The way to a man's heart goes through his stomach. Because in addition to spiritual closeness, love is also characterized by the urge for sensual connection. Through looks, touches, smells and tastes. Eating together, shared physicality: so warm the skin, so cool the wine, so unmistakably familiar the scent, so fast the heartbeat, so sweet the tiramisu, so bitter the tears. If love fails to materialize or changes, then it also goes through the stomach, yes, it even hits a full pot on it. Bam! Loss of appetite, cravings, stomach ache are the consequences ... Those who love do this with their whole existence:
Love, the most gastroenterological of all emotional states.

(II. Stand on your feet)
Not only does love go through the stomach, but also the call to proclaim God's word. One gets shaken up quite a bit. God calls Ezekiel and drives him through his stomach, marrow and bones. Overpowered by God's splendor, Ezekiel falls on his face. And now follows the first step of the calling: God puts him back on his feet.
God said to me: Human child, stand on your feet, then I will talk to you. As he spoke to me, spirit power came into me - it raised me to my feet. That's when I heard what God was saying to me.
Ezekiel is raised up by the power of the spirit - to hear. In trust in God he lets himself stand on his feet and his feet in a wide space. If you have ears, listen! God says: come up, friend: in! You human child. Stay upright. You child of God, you one among many, called and blessed.

(III. In the open)
Yes, if you have ears, listen to Ezekiel:
God said to me: Son of man, I send you to [those] who rebel suspiciously against me. To this day, she and her fathers and mothers broke with me again and again. The daughters and sons have frozen faces and hardened hearts. I send you to them to say to them: "Thus speaks the living, mighty above all". But they - whether they listen or not, because they are locked like a locked house - will notice that prophetic speech was being made among them.
Listen up! God says: Come out into the open, friend * friend! Don't be locked like the locked house! But open and ready to speak God's word!
Standing on your feet in trust in God's spirit power, that was the first step. And now follows The second step of the vocation: Ezekiel is sent to the closed, hardened and frozen. There, where distrust and turning away from God's instruction grow, where doubts prevail and dark thoughts spread like a creeping poison. Where the stomach is filled not with love but with anger and fear.
God says: Yes, child of man, you are sent there. Where it pulls in the pit of your stomach and freezes your face. It's not just the others who have hard, narrow hearts, you too. What do you live on? And what nourishes you?

(IV. Chewing God's word)
God's love, it goes through your stomach, human child!
God said: Open your mouth and eat what I give you! I looked: There - a hand reached out to me, and in it was a scroll. The front and back were described. It said: 'deep lamentation' and 'oh' and 'woe'. God said to me: Son of man, eat what you have in front of you! Eat this scroll and then go speak to the House of Israel! Then I opened my mouth, and God gave me this roll to eat and said to me: Human child, feed your belly and fill your stomach with this roll that I am giving you! So I ate it, and it was sweet as honey in my mouth.
Open your mouth: Heavy words, alas and woe, full of bitterness Ezekiel has to swallow. What food! The miracle is: They become as sweet as honey when he chews on them, they get a new taste. So the third step of the calling: to chew, swallow and digest what God gives up. Even if it's hard and bitter. Internalize the words, absorb them, let them through the stomach, digest them well. Like love: bittersweet.
Ruminatio ("Ruminating") is called the method of sensual development of God's Word. The aim is to find the way from the word to the heart. There God's word can unfold its full aroma. According to the Jewish interpretation, before a person speaks in the name of God, he should first absorb the word of God: Your instruction is in my heart it says in Psalm 40.
And I ask myself? Am I a ruminant like Ezekiel? Have I penetrated God's word fully and sensually? I chew on it, every day, over and over again. I chew. And swallow. And digest. Sometimes something hits me or comes up again.
The indigestible: For example the systematic contempt for women, woven into the book of Ezekiel as in other biblical books. Israel's failure is portrayed several times with the image of a promiscuous woman who would spread her legs for anyone who passed by. Well, where is the sweetness of the letters here? Unfortunately, there remains the bitter aftertaste of the millennia of discrimination on the basis of gender. Children of men!

(V. Finding the sweet in the bitter)
The way to a man's heart goes through his stomach. And God's word goes through the head and heart and to the kidneys. We also chew the complaints, the woes and woes of our mothers and fathers, our ancestors and predecessors: inside. Swallow the guilt and failure. Taste the bitter betrayal, the stale sadness of loss and the sweet hope. And feed us on the fruitful promise.
We are served all that is written on the scrolls and woven into our history. In these days the tetragram above the Parochial Church stands before my eyes. Almost 81 years ago the parish council decided to remove the Hebrew name of God. Behind this was the false belief that the Jewish God does not belong to a “German-Christian” church. It did not come from the moon, but from hardened hearts in the middle of the community, creeping in through dark thoughts that were becoming more and more normal. To take responsibility for this failure without stopping to blame, but to learn from the past for the future and to make the bitter, if not sweet, at least less bitter - that is my task.
Incorporated into God's Word, with the whole of existence, spiritually and physically-sensually. The word of God is not something abstract that hovers over our heads. No, it penetrates us razor sharp. And asks us to put ourselves completely at his service, to use and to allow ourselves to be changed.

(VI.Prophetic Food for 2020-22)
God's wholesome word goes not only through the stomach, but through the whole person. It loosens the frozen and hardened areas and makes them sweet and fluid. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee of success that the people we meet will be the same. Whether the closed open or the mistrustful gain trust lies in God's spiritual power. It is she who sends us!
Yes, you human children. With this trust, put on your feet by God's Spirit, walking upright into the world, some (hopefully) nourishing thoughts for the next three years:
- Prophetic message, as I hear it from Ezekiel today, is interpreted for the future with reference to what has been. And it is political because it looks at what is said and done at the same time, i.e. wants to shape the way people live together. Sent to bring good news to the afflicted, to bind broken hearts together, to proclaim freedom and grace, to comfort the grieving. God's word goes through the head and heart and hand. How good that prophetic work in the center of Berlin no longer has to be a lonely one-man show with performative consumption of scrolls! All of us, men and women and queer people, together as a “team of ruminants” are called to knock on closed houses, to soften hardened hearts and to make hardened hearts soft and to turn bitter things into honey in order to stay in the picture.
- Like love, God's word has many flavors. Sweet and salty, sour and bitter. And umami. I think it's important to make these nuances in speaking and acting tangible. So sharp positioning against all devaluations and exclusions based on origin, skin color, gender, sexuality or religion. And to fully enjoy all the colorful diversity that our tradition and its careful further development bring with them. In a language of reconciliation that is refreshingly stimulating, flowing and integrative-open.
- God's presence permeates all human existence. This can be experienced with all senses, with eyes, ears, nose, mouth and skin: in the colors of the church year, through the taste of bread and wine, touching blessings and flickering candlelight, in the tones of the organ and in the interaction of the many voices.
- God's word has many faces: In the center of Berlin you can find people of good will, network partners: inside, old alliances and new solidarities, across supposed borders and rifts. When we are not closed like a closed house, but open, curious and undisguised. The hope is that this work will continue to bear fruit, that God's Word will, so to speak, fill and enrich itself with all the concerns of the people with whom we are connected. That we chew what others have to nibble on. And make it honey-sweet in the light of God's Word.
- Let's savor the diverse tastes to the full! Continue to share positive visions and a community that has come true of peaceful and colorful coexistence in the middle of the city as nutritious food.
Love and God's word go through the stomach. And make our body and mind a fertile land. Standing upright on your feet, mandated to be open, strengthened with the nourishing Word of God, which touches all the senses.
Today, tomorrow, the next three years and beyond.
Amen.

The spoken word is valid!