Not the first wall in Germany


Sunday, 12th of August 1962

Berlin Spandau, Melanchton Church
Priest Franz-Gerhard von Aichberger's sermon on the first anniversary of the erection of the Berlin Wall

Romans 8, 17

Dear community members!

As a priest, sometimes you would like to know what the people sitting in front of you - whether you know them or not - are thinking about, and which kind of questions, sorrows, or even joys they carry with them when they enter church.

It's not out of curiosity that you want to know that, but simply because you want to tell them the Word of God with regard to their specific situation, their joy or pain, instead of addressing all of them just the same in a general way.

Today I think I'm aware of what moves all of you people, even though I donīt even know you. Today we even know what moves the people in Berlin who are just about to leave their beds and buy the Sunday paper, those who are not here with us. We do know whatīs the number one topic and problem for all of us nowadays.

These days all of us think of the fact that itīs one year already that our city has been split in two by a wall, or rather split completely. We think of all the sad consequences of this splitting. We think of the loved ones in East Germany and we know they think of us, too.

And all these thoughts are connected with questions, things we want to know about the past and about the future. And we came here filled, entirely filled, agonizingly filled with these questions. You the same as me. And while plenty of our fellow citizens will trace the news most intensively today and tomorrow, hoping to find an answer, after all, to the questions "Why?" and "What can we do?", we meet here in the face of our Father in Heaven and we can't help asking Him as well: "Why?". And we do have to ask Him what will happen to us. Will He answer us? Let us listen again to one of the Acts that was given to us for today:

God says: "You can be my children. You shall be my children and you shall live. Live your lives by yourselves and the end will be dead."

Is that an answer? Of course it is! For this offer includes a question, or rather several questions:

Who built the wall at the end of the day? Isn't it a reflection of the last warīs remains? It's not the first wall in Germany, either. What about the walls and fences around the concentration camps? What about the invisible walls that Jews were surrounded with in our country a couple of years ago? "You are Godīs children." Was that so when we accepted these walls? If we ask Him, He will answer by asking us! We shouldnīt get annoyed about that. For these questions don't intend to trip us up. Instead, they intend to help us up, help us to take the one thing seriously again which is the most important thing for God: That we shall be His children. And by saying that we shall be His children He is answering the question "What will happen to us?"

You are allowed to be my children, if you trust me and live according to my judgements then you shall live. Is that an answer? Isn't it the perfect one? But do we bear this answer in our hearts - or only in our minds?

Think about the verse "If they take our house, goods, fame, child or spouse, wrench our life away, they cannot win the day. The Kingdom's ours forever!" Was that just a pious song or was it really a resolution worth keeping?

You shall love your neighbor as yourself! Do we get closer to each other in the congregation? Or does everything simply take its course? And do we keep contact to our brothers in East Germany? And do we know that the suffering people all around the world are our brothers, too?
Those in South Africa and South America?

We came here in a sad mood, but in a happy mood we shall leave because God's answer to all of our questions is "You are my children!" And because He still gives us the chance to live as His children. It's true that we became unable to do many things, but we're still able to do the most important thing: love. And we can be sure about all of this, that God has not yet given us up, He offered us to be His children, and even though we have disappointed Him again and again, He still keeps our heritage: A home in His Kingdom.

So let us cheerfully and gratefully repeat the words of the Acts:

"...and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him."