How can we stop Bible campers?

Sermon to 2 Kings 4, 18-37 (from Pastor Silke Stürmer)

September 11th, 2016, 16th Sunday after Trinity, St. Gallus Church in Welzheim


Dear Congregation,

sometimes death breaks into life. Then we stand in awe of a grave, weeping for the father, mother or even the child. We look in disbelief at a coffin that is much too small.

Sometimes death breaks into life. A story from the 2nd Book of Kings tells us about this. Almost 900 years before Jesus was born, the prophet Elisha promised a rich woman a son. She is suspicious. “Don't deceive your maid,” she asks him. Don't get me wrong, don't let me down. She gets pregnant.
Life breaks into life with laughter and children screaming, babbling and crawling. But where there is life, there is also death. I read our sermon text:

One day, when the boy grew up, he went to see his father out in the field with the reapers.

Suddenly he screamed:
"My head! My head hurts so much! "
The father commanded a servant:
"Carry him home to his mother!"

She kept the child on her knees until noon, then it died.

The mother took the body to the upper room, laid it on the Prophet's bed, and closed the door. Then she went out into the field

and said to her husband: 'Give me a servant with a donkey! I want to ride quickly to the man of God; I'll be back soon. "

"Why are you leaving today of all times?" He asked. "It's neither the Sabbath nor the new moon day!" "Let it go," she said,

saddled the donkey and ordered the servant: "Give me the animal hard and don't stop until I tell you!"

So she came to Elisha on Mount Carmel. The prophet saw her from afar and said to Gehazi: “Here comes the woman from Shunem!

Run towards her and ask her: 'Are you okay? Is your husband okay? Is the child well? ‹« The woman replied, Gehazi: “Yes, it is well!”

But when she reached the man of God on the mountain, she fell down before him and clasped his feet. Gehazi wanted to push her back, but Elisa said: “Let her! She is very desperate. And the Lord didn't tell me what happened! "

“Oh, sir,” she said, “perhaps I have asked you for a son! Didn't I tell you not to give me false hopes? "

Then Elisa said to Gehazi: "Go to Shunem as fast as you can! Don't stop to greet anyone! And if someone wants to greet you, don't answer them! Take my prophet's staff with you and place it on the boy's face. "

But his mother said: "As surely as the Lord lives and you yourself live, I will not leave here without you!" Elisa went with her.

Gehazi had hurried ahead and put the stick on the boy's face; but he gave no sign of life and did not move. Gehazi went back to meet Elisa and said to him: "He did not wake up."

When Elisa came into the house herself, he went to his room and found the boy lying dead on his bed. He locked the door behind him and prayed to the Lord.

Then he lay down on the boy so that his mouth touched his mouth and his eyes and hands touched the boy's eyes and hands. After lying like this for a while, the boy's body warmed up again.

Elisa got up and paced the room once. Then he lay back on the boy's body as before. The child sneezed seven times and opened its eyes.

Elisa called Gehazi and ordered him to fetch the mother. When she came he said to her: "Here you have your son!"

She stepped up to Elisa and prostrated herself before him. Then she took her son and left the room.


Sun, summer, brown bare feet run across a mown stubble field. All is well. There is prosperity and love. And suddenly: a pain. It could only have been a few hours that the mother had with her child:
She kept the child on her knees until noon, then it died.

Probably a cooling cloth around the head, whimpering that is getting quieter and quieter. And what nobody suspected when the sun sent its first rays over the fields is certainty when it is at its zenith: the child is dead.

No look that is returned, no handshake, no smile.

End of dreams and plans.
No: He should have it better.
No: It is already so big that it will grow to be.

Just silence and cold and darkness. This is how death breaks into life.


Why didn't you tell me I'm your man

Not a word to him. Only: give me a servant and a donkey.

He is surprised at the timing of her trip, but not that she is leaving the sick son at home. Don't ask: Are you getting better? Is he crying?

The decisive thing escapes him. Trapped in everyday life.
Maybe he was angry about a reaper.
The work. Always the work. The responsibility.

And the woman doesn't bother to get him out of his world.
Everyone lives in their own world right now.
All she wants is the servant and a donkey.

Do we notice the restlessness in the other's voice?


She saddles the donkey. "Drive them until I tell you" and the servant will have pulled a stick over the animal. Fast fast fast.
From Schunem to Mount Carmel, from inland to the ridge by the sea. 30 kilometers or more.
It is harvest time. It is hot. The animal is sweating. Fast. Fast. Fast.

Nothing is in a hurry anymore.
He's dead. The future has broken away.
Time no longer matters without a future.

Or is there still the future? Hope? Why else in the rush?

"Well". We are fine.

This is what the woman says who held her dead son a few hours ago. It's fine, she tells the servant.

Just don't let that be stopped.
What shall this question be for.
How am I supposed to be? What do i care
My son! My child. It's all about this.
The mourner rejects the man who means well, who asks on behalf.
In her desperation, she cannot take it into account.
There is no etiquette in grief.
Grief only knows the "why?"


When she saw the prophet, the man of God, she fell down before him, clutching his feet. Your whole body screams "Why ?!"

All determination is gone for this moment.

The Contenance. Attitude. Strength.

There is only despair and anger.

Why? Have I asked you for a son? Didn't I tell you: don't deceive me! Do not disappoint me. I did not say that,
you shouldn't give me false hopes?


Why did I love? My heart opened and given away?
Just so that everything will be taken from me now?

Why did I make myself vulnerable by attaching myself to someone?

Didn't I always secretly know: everything passes?
The living. Love. The passion.

Didn't I always secretly know: what remains is emptiness and pain?


And the servant wants to intervene. He can't stand the woman throwing herself in the dirt, clutching Elisha's feet.
The grief of others is hard to bear.
It should be quiet. Keep the form.

But the big feelings are not quiet, they are ecstatic.
Love and the death.

Can I take loud grief?


The prophet understands. Death has broken into life.
And he's irritated:
Why didn't I know my girlfriend was doing so badly? Shouldn't I have known? Need to feel? Was i blind to you


Elisa sends Gehasi to the child: Go as fast as you can! Don't stop to greet anyone! And if someone wants to greet you, don't answer them!

Here too: where grief is involved, etiquette fails and there is no etiquette.

But that's not enough for the mother.
"As surely as the Lord lives and you yourself live, I will not leave here without you!"

Not like that. Not with me. I won't leave here without you. Not without God's help. That's why I'm here. So please help.

Do I feel when I am asked myself and cannot send a substitute?


Elisha, the man of God, helps. God helps. Again the mother falls to the ground when her child is alive. The same attitude, inside and out.

The woman came in desperation and thanks. It falls down because there are great emotions involved - and God.

She owed her child to him.

She rushed to meet it when it died.

She hurled her questions and reproaches at him.

She clung to him like Jacob wrestling with God at the Jabbok: I will not leave you, you will bless me. You owe me an answer. Life.


What a woman! It doesn't even have a name in the Bible.


How do we react when death breaks into our lives?

When the future suddenly falls away.

Because we are standing at a grave and have to say goodbye to a loved one.

Because getting older robs us of our beauty and strength and thus our image that we have made of ourselves and that we try with great effort to maintain in front of others.

How do we react when death breaks into our lives?

By cooling off love. Annett Louisan sings:

We lie awake like two strangers under one roof.
I can barely move, trenches run through the bed,
one is just wrong
when you no longer love each other.

How do we react when death breaks into our lives?
What do we fear?
What do we think


How would I wish all of us that our stories end like those of the rich woman and her son. Happy end.
Life is stronger than death. And love anyway.

How much I would like us to get on donkeys and get help when death presses into life. It is not always a sign of strength to do everything by yourself. Sometimes crying is more courageous than shedding tears.

How much do I want us to drop the labels when they stand in the way of life. We don't have to abuse each other. But consideration always at your own expense is not beneficial to life - including coexistence.

And above all, I wish us the tenacity of the rich woman.
Take God by the ankles.
Not like that.
Not with me.
You come with me and please have a look at it.
What's left of my life.
I won't let you, you bless me
Even if we have to lay flowers at the grave and the happy ending is still a bit long in coming.