Ansprache in der Bach-Vesper in "Christ the King Lutheran Church", Houston

Die Ansprache hielt Pfarrerin Taddiken während ihres Aufenthaltes in unserer Partnergemeinde "Christ the King Lutheran Church" in Houston, Texas.

  • 06.10.2019 , 16. Sonntag nach Trinitatis
  • Pfarrerin Britta Taddiken

Johann Sebastian Bach

Halt im Gedächtnis Jesum Christ

Kantate BWV 67 zum Sonntag Quasimodogeniti (EA: 16.4.1724, Thomaskirche)

 1. CHOR

Halt im Gedächtnis Jesum Christ, der

auferstanden ist von den Toten.

2. Timotheus 2:8



Mein Jesus ist erstanden,

allein, was schreckt mich noch?

Mein Glaube kennt des Heilands Sieg,

doch fühlt mein Herze Streit und Krieg,

mein Heil, erscheine doch!



Mein Jesu, heißest du des Todes Gift

und eine Pestilenz der Hölle:

ach, daß mich noch Gefahr und Schrecken trifft!

Du legtest selbst auf unsre Zungen

ein Loblied, welches wir gesungen:



Erschienen ist der herrlich Tag,

dran sich niemand gnug freuen mag:

Christ, unser Herr, heut triumphiert,

all sein Feind er gefangen führt.

Alleluja! Nikolaus Herman, 1560



Doch scheinet fast,

daß mich der Feinde Rest,

den ich zu groß und allzu schrecklich finde,

nicht ruhig bleiben läßt.

Doch, wenn du mir den Sieg erworben hast,

so streite selbst mit mir, mit deinem Kinde.

Ja, ja, wir spüren schon im Glauben,

daß du, o Friedefürst,

dein Wort und Werk an uns erfüllen wirst.



Friede sei mit euch!

Wohl uns! Jesus hilft uns kämpfen

und die Wut der Feinde dämpfen,

Hölle, Satan, weich!

Friede sei mit euch!

Jesus holet uns zum Frieden

und erquicket in uns Müden

Geist und Leib zugleich.

Friede sei mit euch!

O Herr, hilf und laß gelingen,

durch den Tod hindurchzudringen

in dein Ehrenreich!

Friede sei mit euch!



Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ,

wahr’ Mensch und wahrer Gott,

ein starker Nothelfer du bist

im Leben und im Tod:

drum wir allein · im Namen dein

zu deinem Vater schreien.

Jakob Ebert, 1601


Am Abend aber dieses ersten Tages der Woche, als die Jünger versammelt und die Türen verschlossen waren aus Furcht vor den Juden, kam Jesus und trat mitten unter sie und spricht zu ihnen: Friede sei mit euch! Und als er das gesagt hatte, zeigte er ihnen die Hände und seine Seite. Da wurden die Jünger froh, dass sie den Herrn sahen. Da sprach Jesus abermals zu ihnen: Friede sei mit euch! Wie mich der Vater gesandt hat, so sende ich euch. Und als er das gesagt hatte, blies er sie an und spricht zu ihnen: Nehmt hin den Heiligen Geist! Welchen ihr die Sünden erlasst, denen sind sie erlassen; und welchen ihr sie behaltet, denen sind sie behalten.  Thomas aber, der Zwilling genannt wird, einer der Zwölf, war nicht bei ihnen, als Jesus kam. Da sagten die andern Jünger zu ihm: Wir haben den Herrn gesehen. Er aber sprach zu ihnen: Wenn ich nicht in seinen Händen die Nägelmale sehe und meinen Finger in die Nägelmale lege und meine Hand in seine Seite lege, kann ich's nicht glauben. Und nach acht Tagen waren seine Jünger abermals drinnen versammelt und Thomas war bei ihnen. Kommt Jesus, als die Türen verschlossen waren, und tritt mitten unter sie und spricht: Friede sei mit euch! Danach spricht er zu Thomas: Reiche deinen Finger her und sieh meine Hände, und reiche deine Hand her und lege sie in meine Seite, und sei nicht ungläubig, sondern gläubig! Thomas antwortete und sprach zu ihm: Mein Herr und mein Gott! Spricht Jesus zu ihm: Weil du mich gesehen hast, Thomas, darum glaubst du. Selig sind, die nicht sehen und doch glauben!

Johannes 20,19-29


Dear congregation,

There are many good reasons to relate to the introductory chorale of today’s cantata: “Bear in mind Jesus Christ who is risen from the dead.” Feel free to read along with these lyrics in your program: “Bear in mind Jesus Christ who is risen from the dead.” That is the contradictory nature of God and the revolt against all destructive forces at play in this world. One could also say: it is the triumph over the hopelessness of death. I believe: this power is needed very much in our world right now! Everywhere! Jesus brings the New Life into the world. The new Creation. It already shines through in the old one, here and there, and maybe we sense it when listening to music like this one. However: it’s not easy to believe in it. Because every day, some people reinvent hell. In my home country Germany – and also here in your USA, it happens time and time again that people run amok. That lunatics shoot at people who are gathered to worship God or celebrate another feast. This can only make us despair every time and we might join in with what the tenor aria expresses: “My faith recognizes the Savior’s victory, yet my heart perceives strife and war, my Savior, do appear!”

The one who represents this longing to find his Savior, to finally touch him with his own hands, is the namesake of our St. Thomas Church in Leipzig: the disciple Thomas. He wants to be sure that the destructive forces at play in this world have really been overcome. And no less by the one whom they apparently defeated, the one he saw die with his own eyes. What the others tell him: “Jesus is alive” – he cannot comprehend it. He wants to put his finger into the deadly wounds. He just cannot make believing so easy for himself. Although Thomas’s name is not mentioned, his sentiments do resound in this cantata from 1724, Bach’s first year in office at St. Thomas Church. His contestation and his doubt of the fact that the risen Christ is indeed the same one who was crucified earlier. Bach may be alluding to this, when he echoes the chorale “Lamb of God, pure and holy” in the introduction’s motif under the lyrics “Bear in mind Jesus Christ.”

This desire to want to know for sure is often ascribed to a lack of faith for Thomas and his followers. In our church we tend to refer to him as Thomas, the non-believer. However: Jesus does not deny him his wish and lets him have his way! He allows him to make sure! The Thomas window in the choir of St. Thomas Church shows a depiction of this exact moment: Jesus lets Thomas put a finger into his wounds. He opens himself up to Thomas’s thoughts and feelings. Let’s see how the second part of the alto recitativo puts this into words: “Yet to me it seems that my remaining foes whom I find so great and ever so dreadful, will not leave me in peace.” Jesus is now the one who lets Thomas find his way to exactly this peace. Not only through the repeated – and oh so harmonious and soothing: “Peace be with you”, but also by taking Thomas and his concern seriously. This makes it clear right away: “Faith needs doubt, or else it becomes uncritical, distorting of reality, self-opinionated, manipulative and dangerous.” That’s how the well-known German journalist Heribert Prantl summed it up quite fittingly in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. What a sentence in a newspaper, good news! And it surely wouldn’t be wrong to add: where doubt as a good partner and smart corrective of faith and ideology is not accepted, things can get inhumane really fast. In the absence of doubt, faith can turn into dangerous fundamentalism.

The risen Christ foregoes this from the outset. He allows Thomas to get there on his own way. By inviting him to convince himself, he is, in the words of the alto recitativo’s first part, “laying a song of praise upon his tongue”: my Lord and my God. Thus Thomas recognizes Jesus as the one who is on our side in the fight against everything that is trying to bring us down and dash our spirits. His peace is higher than all reason – and especially higher than anything unreasonable – wherever we may face it. Amongst ourselves, in politics, among the people of this one world whose welfare also depends on us, humanity as a whole, being reasonable together…

Thomas’s actions, his desire to see this peace-bearer in the flesh, teach a very important lesson: the faith in the resurrection must not be diluted into a trivial optimism saying “everything is going to be alright.” Nothing will be alright if you don’t do anything for it and give a pass on tangible results. And in this sense, the end of this cantata is also dominated, both lyrically and musically, by the fight for peace, for fresh resources, for perseverance. A fight? Yes. But of course with the means of the Prince of Peace who stays with us in his words and in his deeds. Through this, we can find encouragement for our everyday life to object against a supposed lack of alternatives to death, so that every day anew we can say to ourselves and to others: “Bear in mind Jesus Christ who is risen from the dead.”

Let us pray:

Before you, God, even doubt is dignified. You also have high respect for our careful exploration and our questioning. We are not always well-informed about you and guess more than we know: yes, indeed, you are alive to us and in you we find the purpose of this world. Therefore we ask you: please don’t let us pretend like we are already done with you and with ourselves. Don’t let us appear to others as if we had the answers to their questions before they even find the words to ask them. And don’t let us depress the ones, who are more rattled by doubt than we are, with put-on confidence, but let us pray for them:

Our Father…

Britta Taddiken, Pastor at St. Thomas Church,