Monday 25 December - Christmas Day - 8am - Markus Duenzkofer

Readings: 1 John 3:1-6 & Matthew 1:18-25 (KJV)

I loved my grandmother very much.

We had a very special relationship, not just because she was my “Oma” and I was her grandson. There was a very close and tight bond between the two of us. I also loved visiting her – even thought this involved a 500-mile trip. Eight hours in the car or eight hours on the train. Eight hours of jubilant and nervous expectation before being able to hug her once again, smell her familiar scent, and listen to her voice, which intoned sentences so differently from the way my South German friends and family speak.

Her house was a second home.

And, yet, as I was growing older, as she was growing older too, things were not always easy between us. As I discovered my own tastes and likes, we clashed. She loved the old songs of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. I love classical music. Yes, I know I was a weird child – no news there…

And it wasn’t just personal music choices. Later in life, my grandmother developed an odd distrust of everything and everyone. Maybe it was because she had lived by herself since 1984, after my grandfather had died. Maybe it was an unprocessed feeling of being unwanted, because she had been born out of wedlock. I do not know. But for a time, conversations with my grandmother often revolved around how people had mistreated her.

It was all quite hard to take in, because these supposed mistreatments often turned out to be my grandmother’s dislikes and disappointments projected unto others. Not only was “wrong” only done to her. “Wrong” also was rather subjective defined by what bothered her.

I do not think my grandmother is alone in this regard.

When I consider the twitter-war between the US President and our Prime Minister at the beginning of Advent, I am pretty certain that Donald Trump’s definition of evil is closely linked to his selfish understanding of the world and his egocentric interests. And sometimes, when I receive letters about worship here at St John’s, about what kind of furniture should go into our new development, or about how we are to use or not use our buildings and land, I can only shake my head: How on earth can judgements be so void of considering the needs of our neighbours, so void of considering our mission to the world?

But at this point I have to be honest: Right now, at this very moment, I am doing exactly, what I am accusing those grumpy letter-writers, Donald Trump, and my grandmother of doing: Yes, I, too, define faults, and even sin rather personally: It is what irks me, rather than how I irk God or others. And this despite the fact that my life, how I live and how love, have often been described as sinful, as an abomination. I should know better not to judge others. And yet, at times, I fail to remember what these subjective judgements feel like. And I turn around to inflect the same kind of pain and judgement unto others.

It is not very obvious. But today’s reading from the first letter of John