This weekend, Iceland has been paying close attention to the major challenges facing our world in terms of climate change. Different parts of our blue planet experience the changes, not least in our northern corner. From many countries, we have been gathered to confirm the seriousness of the changes and what it means to people and nature. The creation of God in its beauty is threatened. People already suffer – and the poorest among us feel it most.
Nevertheless, we are also here to encourage one another and highlight what we can contribute together. The worst thing is if we become indifferent and give up hoping that change is possible. However, we can only make a difference together, and we can only do it together if each one of us wants to contribute. The church is the world’s largest grass root movement. In prayer and work, we can make a difference. We are one humanity, loving the world and life, so we are called to work together with people of all good will to make a better future for everybody. When we understand that this affects us all, we are also able to agree on the solutions.
The church never gives up faith in the future - the church keep hoping that change is possible - we are to open up our eyes and realize that it is now and it is about us - not just our children and grandchildren. We ask for Gods power and grace so that we together are willing to see what is necessary to do –and to do it - now.
The gospel today is also about a serious situation – and of a person who in his crisis saw what to do and did it:
It is desperately difficult to stand by a cot to someone you love: Sharing the pain and not being able to help. It is hardly anything more painful than being with your child who is suffering from serious illness.
That is the starting point for the gospel today.
Again, Jesus was in Cana of Galilee. That was where he did his first
sign when he made water into wine at a wedding. Joy and celebration was
the context. Some would say it was a luxury miracle.
Today, there are other circumstances.
One of those men with much power came to Jesus in his impotence. He
was a royal officer - he had heard of Jesus - about the sign that he had
done - in his distress he went from Capernaum up to Cana - and begged
for help from Jesus.
He did not belong to the group who flocked to Jesus - he belonged to the power elite - who was used to being protected and having control - he was not among the marginalized in terms of wealth and material goods of life. Nevertheless, he was an outsider in another way.
As a powerful person in an occupied country, he was not well-
respected – he remained at a distance from most people and had little
contact with locals.
However, as for the love of our children, when it comes to fear of losing those we love - some boundaries between us disappear. Then we are equal - regardless of position. Then we need to go where we hope there is help to achieve - if it is at a doctor or hospital or psychologist - then we know we are in the same boat - people who need others. It is so recognizable!
Then we will lose our façade, position and embarrassment and seek help.
The rumours had reached just as far as Capernaum about Jesus and that he was within reach. We have little reason to believe that the officer was a Jew who longed for the Messiah or that he was a practitioner of their religion so that he could pray and formulate what belonged to the faith.
Nevertheless, without shy he asks Jesus to come down and heal the
boy, asked him to come home to him and make his dear one healthy.
He trusted that he who could make water into wine also could make the sick healthy.
It was a bit of a transition - but we see a strong faith. Then Jesus says: „Without seeing signs and wonders, you do not believe. “
It is not easy to know how these words sounds like in the desperate situation – it is easy to interpret it as a rejection or ignorance from Jesus’ side. However, he went on, begging in his desperation:
“Come, Lord, before my boy dies.”
He brings no well-formulated prayer; it is an expression of fear:
Come before it is too late. He did not know the pious words, but he
went straight. It was not packed, but understandable to all.
The faith in Jesus is so strong. It is as he clings to Jesus - his hope in all his vulnerability.
Then Jesus said: Go home, your son lives.
Moreover, he believed and the unimaginable met him. By the word of Jesus, the boy was healed. This was another sign - on whom Jesus was - the divine who walked on the roads and made signs. Through him, God had come close - and that was the second sign he did. By this, he did break down the walls between the chosen people and Gods own people – which inspire us all to open up for the stranger among us and offer hospitality.
Moreover, his entire house came to believe in Jesus.
God looks past all the great formulations and is not impressed by the words. He sees the trouble - the strong and anxious. Moreover, he sees the naked faith, the one who holds our simple yes, which results in the fact that we seek him, opens for his presence and his grace in the midst of our chaos, whether it be sickness, depression, and fear of the future or just the self-image that pushes us down. Whether it is our regret for something, we have said or our bitterness that closes for goodness and the living. The belief that often does not find words, can also find help in the church’s prayers or hymns or liturgy.
The contents of the Christian faith are of neither correct doctrines nor values. It is a person who, through his life and his encounter with people, makes God visible to us. Moreover, he shows us the gracious face of God. The faith in him is personal. However, faith is also common, we are woven together in Christ. I cannot bear faith alone on my shoulders, but we belong to the local and global church. In spite of borders and cultures, this is the spot where it is possible to rest when the doubt gnaws and the body shakes. Meeting Jesus changed lives and saved lives - in light of what happened, people still find hope.