What does Revelation 21 3 5

Sermon on Revelation 21: 3-5

Uwe Sundermann

November 24, 2002 in Schieder

"Wipe away tears"

Dear Congregation!

I.

Wiping away the tears is a tender picture. It describes tenderness, closeness and security. Thus it brings back memories of our childhood. When we were hurt as children, we would run to our mother and be comforted by her. She hugged us, listened to us and wiped away the tears. Then maybe she would blow our nose and everything would be fine.

Wiping away tears means a very personal affection. Words of comfort can be addressed to many people at the same time, but wiping away tears can only ever happen to a single person. To do this, someone has to turn to me completely. To do this, someone has to look after me as an individual.

In the last book of the Bible this is now said of God: "God will wipe away all the tears from your eyes." (21, 4) God turns to us. He keeps an eye on each of us personally. And he always takes a personal interest in our fate. The image of wiping away tears is an image of the closeness and security that God gives us in faith.

These thoughts are very comforting. Because they show us: We belong to a God who doesn't just take our worries lightly. Rather, God sees our worries. He takes our grief and suffering seriously. He puts himself under the burden that lies on us.

And then he doesn't glimpse our sorrow from a distance. Rather, he comes to us personally himself. He meets us tenderly, touches us and touches us. God himself will wipe away our tears. Where even a tear in this world is weeping; God knows Our life with joys and sorrows is in his good hands.

II.

Consoling, wiping away tears, it can look very different. That depends on the situation we are in. Sometimes it is consolation when someone tells us: "Just look at what you have in your life! There are many who are even worse off than you. And yet see: As alone as you feel, you are not at all. You have some people you can rely on! "

But sometimes such thoughts do not help us at all. Sometimes such words are of no use. They pass us by and seem to us like memorized phrases. They are said with good intentions and want to comfort us, but they do not reach us, they leave our hearts untouched. Then it is more important that someone is simply there for us and makes us feel that he is listening to us.

Sadness is a process, a way. When a loved one has died, then the process of mourning begins, then we are at the beginning of such a path. Consolation is human accompaniment on this path.

The way of Sadness is not always the same. It consists of different phases and aspects. Sometimes there are very different thoughts and feelings that awaken in us on this path. Sometimes we feel a certain external pressure that certain things have to be done and endured. And then we feel strong inside. Sometimes we lack inner support and we feel like we are falling into a deep hole. Then feelings and tears break out of us.

The path of mourning has very different faces. As different as the phases and aspects of the mourning process are, the shape of the Consolation be. If consolation is the accompaniment on the path of grief, the most important thing is to show the other person closeness and to share his life in the specific situation. Depending on how the mourner feels and what situation he is in, words and gestures must be chosen so that they are perceived as consolation.

When it says: "God will wipe away all the tears from your eyes." - then that means: God will accompany us in the different situations on the path of mourning. In view of the individual aspects of this path, I have brought a few things to illustrate:

III.

Perhaps the first thing we hear about the death of a loved one is shock. We are scared and concerned. Or maybe we can't even imagine that the person has passed away. We may have seen him a few days ago. How are we then to understand that he is no longer with us?

The news of his death surprises us. This news makes us helpless and powerless. In the first moment we are unable to react, perhaps also unable to show feelings. We feel paralyzed, petrified. That is why I have one as the subject for this first aspect of the mourning process piece of wood elected.

Of course, this state of shock differs from situation to situation. When I know that a person is long and seriously ill; if I know that there is not much life left to him, then at least I can deal with his death in advance. But if death comes suddenly and suddenly, due to a traffic accident, for example, then I am thrown all the more off course. Then it takes longer before I can understand what actually happened.

Most of the time, this state of shock only lasts for one to a few days. On the path of mourning, however, he can always come back from time to time; by remembering the first few days and with it the situation when I found out about death.

But sometimes it happens that mourners stop at this point of paralysis and horror. That something is holding her at this point. Then there is the danger that they will become bitter inside, that they will become hard on their own life and hard on the suffering of other people.

The "Wipe away tears" and to comfort a person in this phase means - helping him to get out of this paralysis. It is good for us when a person encourages us to let our feelings run free, be it tears, be it aggression towards death or be it screaming in horror. It is good for us when someone accompanies us in this situation. Perhaps with his help we will also be able to find words for what has taken us speechless.

IV.

A second phase on the path to grief is that of self-control. There is so much to do in the days after someone dies. You have to think about the type of burial, choose a coffin, arrange flowers, print funeral cards and compile addresses for shipping.

The insurance companies and offices must be notified, maybe some of the black clothing is still missing. Many people come into the house, relatives, friends, neighbors. And then the day of the funeral still has to be survived.

During this time you don't have any time to think. You are externally and internally under pressure from everything that has to be done. You can't let yourself down there; because you have to go through there somehow. For this phase I have this thermometer elected. The "temperature" of mourning must remain in a narrowly defined area in order to regulate and survive the many pending things.

This corresponds to what many have learned from the older generation: When the going gets tough, you have to be brave. Then you shouldn't let your feelings show. Then you have to grit your teeth and get through the situation. "Should we go hard, let's stand firm and never complain about burdens even in the heaviest of days ..." (EG 391, 2).

In certain times of the mourning process, it is good that our body and soul react in this way. There is no other way we could cope with some things. But self-control and calmness must not become the sole attitude on the path to grief. Sadness and tears that cannot be expressed can make you sick. They clog the soul. That is why it is important that feelings and tears also have their place and their place. Crying frees us and we find ourselves again through our feelings.

The "Wipe away tears" and to comfort a person is to support him in the things that need to be done. And - when this has happened - help him to find his way back to his feelings and thus to himself again.

V.

This is followed by the phase that we experience as the actual grief. The thoughts go back to the past. Memories are awakened. Memories of what you have experienced together. Memories of happy hours and also of the hardship that you endured together. The past comes back to life in the memories as if it had just happened.

Linked to this is the feeling of the void that has arisen with death. Every person is unique and cannot be replaced by anything. So, from one day to the next, life has become completely different - right down to everyday things. It takes time, a lot of time, to face this change.

As a sign for the sensations and feelings, also as a sign for the tears associated with them, I have this cloth brought along. On the one hand it marks the memory of the shared experiences, on the other hand it stands for the pain of parting, for sadness and grief.

In the same breath, however, other thoughts wake up in us: "Why did he leave me alone? How am I supposed to manage all of this alone? Couldn't he have lived at least a few more years?" - They are angular and angular thoughts, thoughts of lamentation and aggression towards death. I have this as a symbol for these angular thoughts stone brought from Kahlenberg.

Often both things get mixed up on the path of mourning. If it was just deep sensations and the shine of beautiful memories, then in the next breath thoughts of lament break the ground. Beautiful and angular, Cloth and stone lie close together on the path of mourning.

But - can I even allow the lawsuit? May I think such thoughts? The deceased can't help it. Nor was he asked. He would probably have liked to stay in this world himself.

The "Wipe away tears" And to comfort a person means to listen to the memories, to help the mourner to look at the past beautiful not so much with sadness, but more and more with gratitude. Consoling a person also means enduring grief and pain, encouraging them to allow even angular thoughts and mourning.

Because we are allowed to show sorrow and pain. We don't have to be strong. We Christians are also allowed to be weak and express our grief. With our lamentation and despair, we can ultimately turn to the God who is once all "Wipe away tears" becomes.

VI.

At some point on the path of mourning you start again to take life into your own hands. Step by step you learn to walk again, first very carefully, then increasingly more safely. You take on one thing or the other again. You seek contact with others again. You set yourself new goals, small everyday goals, but also broader goals for the next few years; Goals worth living for.

This is supposed to be the kind of person who is just starting to stand firm again, who has the first steps behind him. He feels how his gait gradually becomes safer and firmer. He looks up again and looks ahead; namely forward on his way and forward into the future. He sees that there are still opportunities for him to shape his life. Step by step he goes his new way.

When someone we trust dies, we have lost the goals we were worth living for. To put it in a picture: We are then, as it were, on a bowling alley and look ahead, but all the cones have been cleared. There is nothing left that we want to live towards.

In such a situation we first have to rediscover what we want to live for. We first have to look for new goals. We first have to learn again to take life into our own hands and shape it ourselves.

The "Wipe away tears" and to comfort a person means to encourage them to take a step on their own. To comfort a person means to help him discover that life still has possibilities and encourage him to set goals again.

VII.

Being paralyzed and shocked - pulling yourself together - memories, pain and at the same time lamenting the loss - steps on the way to the future; these are all stages on the path of mourning. On this path we are accompanied by the one of whom it is said: "And God will wipe away all the tears from your eyes." (21, 4) We can rely on this tender feeling of security in God's vicinity.

The gesture of wiping away tears also becomes a sign that God is wiping away death. Because the reason for our grief is impermanence, is death. Wiping away tears is at the same time a coup against death.

The near and tender God, whom we experience in the drying off of tears, is at the same time the one who will create a new creation, a new world: "And God will wipe away all the tears from their eyes, and there will be no more death, neither will there be sorrow nor outcry nor pain; for the first has passed."

God has this new world ready for us. A world without death and therefore also without tears. Everything that causes us pain, all impermanence, all guilt, all illness - will be wiped away in God's new creation. What a tremendous picture! As much as we are familiar with the image of wiping away tears, the thought that there will one day be no more death is alien to us. This thought is the reverse of everything we experience in our life!

Actually, that is incomprehensible. Actually, we transient people cannot understand that at all. But so that the promise of the new world without suffering and death does not remain an alien assertion, the image of wiping away tears is given to us.

God has many ways to comfort us. He does this through his word, through an inconspicuous experience or through meeting someone. When we experience such comfort, we experience how God is close to us, how God touches us tenderly. And this touch of God in our life may become an indication and a sign for what will one day be.

Amen.