Monthly Archives: April 2024


Dear congregation on Good Friday!

Up to Good Friday Lent can be a time for reflection on what is good in my life and what may have gone or is going wrong. Where am I on the right path and where might I have ended up at a dead end? The older one gets, the clearer the moments and situations often become in retrospect where I may have reacted wrongly and rashly, where I did not do justice to my fellow human beings in my thoughts, words and deeds.

On reflection, I can think of quit a few situations from my life. They are often rather small episodes but they still concern me. Why did I behave this way and not differently here and there and why did I not react better? For example, in a disagreement or in a situation where I had to make a decision? Our lives consist of many small everyday episodes. Again and again we are challenged to decide and behave rightly.

But what happens when I realise my shortcomings and mistakes in my own life? It is often not possible to undo them. But I would like to get over them and perhaps make a new start. I would like to be reconciled with God, with myself and with my fellow human beings. Such questions are at the centre of Lent, which in the Christian tradition is a time of repentance and conversion, as it used to be called.

What is it like when I have to recognise that I have done something wrong? When something has happened in my life that can no longer be undone and therefore cannot simply be put right? And what if something has gone really wrong in my behaviour and in my dealings with others? What if I have possibly even made a serious mistake? Does that then overshadow my life for all time? Do I simply have to live with it and the rest of my days are marked by it?

That is often the case in our world. There is no turning back with the possibility of a new beginning. My environment, my fellow human beings don’t give me a second or even a third chance. There is no forgiving and forgetting. What has happened can no longer be erased. It doesn’t seem possible to put it right.

In the public debate, examples like this come up again and again. There was a discussion on the radio the other day about whether a political party here in the UK can accept a significant donation that comes from someone who has made a clear mistake in their dealings with each other. Is an apology enough? Many listeners had the opinion that an admission and apology was no longer enough. That sounded like a final judgement. Repentance and a new beginning are out of the question. The donation should either not be accepted or go to a charity.

We are probably all more or less familiar with this from a certain age in our own lives. There were situations in which I unfortunately did not make the right and good decision. Some things cannot be undone in retrospect. I am then somehow stuck with it for the rest of my life. There don’t have to be big mistakes and wrongdoings.

Our lives consist of many small everyday situations that determine how we live together with our family, neighbours and colleagues at work. Things happen that make us uncomfortable, where we realise that something went or is going wrong. Perhaps an argument that happened a long time ago, but which still determines the way we live together. An injustice, a misbehaviour that was and is also my fault.

It doesn’t have to be a dramatic incident like in the biblical Passion story, where the disciple Peter denies Jesus at a crucial point. Peter denies his dicipleship and even denies to know Jesus out of fear and fails at a crucial moment. But in his case, this is not the end of his story as a disciple. He then even becomes an essential building block of the young Christian community and ultimately of the whole church. Jesus accurately predicted that Peter would be weak at the crucial moment. But for Jesus, this is obviously no reason to reject anyone. He does not judge Peter for his weakness. He even trusts him to do great things: “I will build my church on you.“ In the story of Peter, it becomes clear once again what Jesus is sometimes criticised for also by his own disciples: He gives people a chance, even if they have done wrong.

If Jesus recognises that someone has repented and longs for a change in their life, he or she is welcome with him. According to the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells this most vividly in the story of the prodigal son. God is like the father in this parable: God rejoices over every one of his human children who is ready to repent. And in a moment at the very end of the Passion story, this also becomes dramatically clear once again in the Gospel of Luke. In all the darkness and sadness of Good Friday, the light of God shines. While dying on the cross, Jesus turns to the people lost and condemned in this world, the criminal crucified next to him, but who turns to him:

“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. And Jesus said to him, Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

This is how God answers us fallible humans. By offering us the opportunity to repent even when the world has long since written us off and to the very last minute of our lifes. Amen.